Monday, February 6, 2017

Books: The Trekker’s Guide to the Kirk Years by J.W. Braun

This thick compendium offers insight into all Star Trek series, movies and cartoons featuring the cast of the Original Series. Author Braun begins with all 69 episodes of TOS, dividing entries into episode title, grade, summary and a “Did You Know?” section. He then features the 22 episode animated series and concludes with all of the original cast films. As an extra Braun also covers “Star Trek Continues,” fan-produced episodes with new actors in the Original Series character roles.

Braun’s notes are exhaustive—summaries are clear and simple yet communicate the core of each episode. The “Did You Know?” facts are fascinating, as Spock would say. I’ve read dozens of books on the original ST, and Braun offers up many interesting details I didn’t know or hadn’t read before.

Of particular interest is Braun’s grading system for each individual episode. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it works—favorites are so personally subjective. For example, my personal favorite episode of the original series is “This Side of Paradise," where plant spores are sprayed onto the crew and they become unbelievably cheery and rather mutinous. Leonard Nimoy explores Spock’s character in a touching and humorous performance. Braun gives the episode a C, saying it is “slow moving with little action and just a middle of the pack offering for TOS.” Another absolute favorite of mine, “Balance of Terror,” gets a B+. Braun points out some minor faulty logic in the episode, but so what? I loved it! At least the horrible “And the Children Shall Lead” got the F it so richly deserves. I probably would have gone for an F-. Braun’s grades don’t always match the ones I would give, but that’s okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, depending on the grade, the system may cause some raised eyebrows among loyal ST fans who disagree with the author’s summations.

Overall The Trekker’s Guide to the Kirk Years is a wonderful compendium of Star Trek information and trivia for all ST fans. Recommended.

(Full disclosure: The Trekker’s Guide to the Kirk Years includes a blurb from me regaling fans of my amusing meeting with William Shatner at a pop culture con a few years back. You can find the original story on the blog here. I was provided a complimentary copy of the book. Which I appreciate!)

Rating: **** stars out of 5

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