Veteran Star Trek figures Michael and Denise Okuda are back with their latest project, Star Trek: The Next Generation – On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise, a book and CD-ROM package from Carlton Books that whisks fans on a virtual tour of the iconic ship. Available now, On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise includes spreads and gatefolds with 3D features that illustrate the Enterprise from every angle, including a side-on cutaway diagram depicting the craft’s interior; a double-page spread chronicling the history of the Enterprise in illustrations and words; floor plans, photos and artifacts from TNG; views of the ship’s bridge, showing main consoles, the captain’s chair and the functions that the consoles control; and living quarters, among them Picard’s suite, junior officers’ quarters and other spots fans will recognize right away. StarTrek.com recently caught up with the Okudas, who shed light on creating the book.
There's no way, 25 years ago, that you could have presumed that people would still be so interested in Star Trek, in the finer details of the Enterprise. Taking that into account, how well does the design of the ship hold up to close examination, even intense scrutiny?
Mike: I’m probably the wrong person to ask. The Enterprise-D is very special to me. I loved it back then, and I think I love it even more now. I was and am incredibly proud to be a member of the team that put it together. To have worked with such amazing talents as Herman Zimmerman, Richard James, Andy Probert, Rick Sternbach, John Dwyer and Jimmy Mees was a tremendous rush. And a privilege.
Denise: The Enterprise has a clean, futuristic elegance, and those guys really sweated the details. It’s not just beautiful, but it has its own distinct personality and a real sense of believable functionality, and that’s why the ship holds up so well today.
This book was in the works for a while. How pleased are you that it's out for fans to buy and enjoy?
Denise: The book has been in the works for a while, but to us, it’s been even longer. It’s been nearly 20 years since the TNG sets were dismantled at Paramount, since we’ve really gotten to stand on the deck of the Enterprise-D. It’s hard to believe. But there is literally a whole generation of fans who love that show and that ship. I guess that’s why TNG is experiencing a rebirth of sorts.
Mike: You know, when TNG was in production, every once in a while we’d be able to sneak a friend onto those sets. It was great to see someone’s face light up when they walked down the corridor or stepped onto the transporter pad. But studio security was pretty tight, and we really couldn’t do this very often. Now, this book lets us share a little bit of that magic with anyone who shares our love of that ship.
What was your aim with On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise?
Denise: Very simple. We wanted people to rediscover the Enterprise-D.
Mike: Or if you’re new to TNG, to have a chance to explore it for the first time. Tobias Richter and Somchith Vongprachanh, who did the digital models and renderings, have done a wonderful job of capturing the magic of “what did it feel like to stand on the deck of that starship?”
Some fans out there may already own the TNG Technical Manual and/or the Omnipedia. What does On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise offer that the other two books do not?
Mike: When we were first approached with the project, I told the publisher that I thought Rick (Sternbach) and I had done a fairly good job with the original TNG Technical Manual, and I really didn’t see a point in doing the same thing. Fortunately, the folks at Carlton had the same thought. They wanted to focus on the ship as seen on the show, to give fans a chance to rediscover the Enterprise that they know and love.
In what ways does the 3D CD enhance the On the Board the Enterprise experience?
Denise: The 3D tour CD is a fun little bonus. It lets you make that studio visit that was impossible back when the show was in production.
After all these years, do you both feel as if you've lived (or still live) on board the Enterprise?
Denise: That’s exactly right. The Enterprise was our home for many years when we worked at Paramount on the various Star Trek productions. It’s amazing, after all these years, that it’s still our home, thanks to projects such as this one and the remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation for Blu-ray. It’s been a lot of years, but we still love it.
Mike: The Enterprise is not just a ship from a science fiction show or an icon of popular culture. It’s a symbol of our hopes and our dreams, and of our aspirations to better ourselves as we to reach for the stars. Many, many people around the world think of the Enterprise as their home. We’re proud to be among them.
Click HERE to purchase Star Trek: The Next Generation – On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise.