Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Star Trek at 50/Buried Treasures: USS Enterprise Officer's Manual

Karen: This one's a twofer: both a Star Trek at 50, as we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Trek's debut, and a Buried Treasure, as we look at a piece of Trek memorabilia I discovered in one of my many bins of books in our garage.

Karen: Almost exactly two years ago, when we started the Buried Treasure category, I discussed the original Star Trek Technical Manual, one of the early Trek books to look at the universe of the show, and one that has been a perennial favorite. Today, I have its  poorer cousin, the USS Enterprise Officer's Manual. This was a fan-produced, spiral-bound book circa 1980, whose chief architects were Geoffrey Mandel and Doug Drexler, both fans at the time, who later went on to work on official Star Trek series, as well as other sci-fi projects. This is essentially a follow-up to the Technical Manual, retaining the styling of that book, while adding additional information, mostly based off of the original series, and with a few updates from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nowhere does it say it was authorized by Paramount, so the information in it isn't 'canon' but it's fun to look at. I'm pretty sure I got this back in 1980 or '81 at one of the Los Angeles Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror conventions (that's what they were called).

Karen: For a fan product, it's of high quality. The graphics are solid, the same clean designs as the Tech Manual. The only times it really looks at all amateurish is when whole pages are given over to text, and the font makes it look like it came right out of a typewriter (which it might have). It's broken down into sections - Personnel, Familiarization, Ship Recognition,etc. - that one might expect an officer of the Enterprise would need to know. Like the Technical Manual, you won't see the words 'Star Trek' anywhere in it. It's as if a time traveling Star Fleet officer accidentally left it behind for us  to glom on to. The majority of the material is a continuation of the TOS-era ships, uniforms, weaponry, etc. But the beginning of the manual lists the Enterprise's personnel, and this is broken down not in the usual "Command, Sciences, and Engineering/Support Services" from the series but rather the six divisions from ST:TMP. Also, characters such as Will Decker, Lt. Ilia, Lt. Cmdr. DeFalco, and others from the film are listed, as well as animated series regulars Lt. Arex and Lt. M'ress.

Karen: Full-page bios of the bridge crew from the television series are provided. There's some interesting stuff here. Check out Spock's page below -nice first name they came up with huh? Recall in "This Side of Paradise," he told Leila Kalomi she couldn't pronounce it. This guarantees it. Under Kirk's entry we are told he has a tendency to become overweight and frequently is put on a special diet. Sulu's first name is given as "Itaka" and Uhura's as "Upenda." Chekov is described as being like Kirk in many ways "although is extremely active sexually" ! I don't see how that's not like Kirk. Anyway...

Karen: One thing seemingly missing from the original Technical Manual, as David B. pointed out in comments in the post on that subject, were any schematics of enemy starships. Here, we get a couple of pages of Klingon ships in profile. Klingon uniforms (as well as Romulan ones) are also presented. I'm sure at some point full blueprints for a Klingon D-7 must have been published but I don't recall ever seeing them. Anyone know about that?

Karen: Oddly enough, the new Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture was not detailed in this manual. Maybe the book was assembled before they had enough good pictures of it to work from. But the image below should be recognizable to any of you who have been following the news about the upcoming series, Star Trek: Discovery.   Look familiar? The Discovery ship design has been around a long time. It was originally conceived by Ralph McQuarrie around 1976 for a Trek project but was nixed. And I think for good reason! But apparently someone saw it and liked it, 'cause it's coming back.

Karen: It's impressive to read through this book and see how much effort  -and love -these fans put into it. This kind of dedication is what kept Star Trek alive all these decades!


Edo Bosnar said...

"This kind of dedication is what kept Star Trek alive all these decades!"

QFT, Karen. It's good to remember that now that it's the 50th anniversary of Trek, esp. given those guidelines for fan films that CBS/Paramount released earlier this year. It really put the kibosh on some fan projects I was interested in, and makes me worry that eventually the studio will clamp down on Star Trek Continues and Phase II (New Voyages), both of which I like better than the "official" Trek movies now being released.
And speaking of official Trek, yes, I had seen those starship images for the new Discovery series, but I had no idea it's based on this old design. I agree with you that it was good thing that design was rejected, and it again makes me question the wisdom of the people now officially in charge of the Trek franchise.

Anyway, thanks again for posting another buried treasure, Karen. As you noted, it's fun to look over stuff like this, especially when it's put together by fans. I like the fact that Spock's bio references his childhood meeting with his "cousin" Selek from that TAS episode. Nice touch.

Martinex1 said...

I like that people had creative hobbies like this and handled it as professionally as they could given the tools on hand. We recently talked about geeks and nerds, and 30 years ago somebody doing this may have been classified as such, but it is a great creative outlet and really quite amazing when you consider the time and effort and thought that went into something like this. It seems fun. And it also seems crazy to me that the powers that be would crack down on fan creations, particularly since we seem to be in the golden age of organic marketing ( i.e. Twitter, blogs, etc).

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, I think you may now be boldly going where no nerd has gone before, so more power to you. I'm also in awe of the dedication to which this kind of project speaks. This kind of thing seems less single-minded and loner-ish in a world where you can whack something up on the net and 700,000 people will read it before tea time. The dedication required in the non-virtual universe of 1980 is huge.
Post 1979, in the fever of Star Trek returning, I imagine a lot of fan projects were started but not completed, (especially when the somewhat ponderous film was released) so full marks to these guys.


Anonymous said...

This looks pretty cool...although if it was meant to be "official", I'm not sure if having stuff about the officers' sex lives would be appropriate!

Karen, I found these plans for a Klingon D-7 online. (It opens as a PDF file.) I think it's from a role-playing game, though I'm not sure which one; the FASA Star Trek RPG also has blueprints for the D-7. I'm not sure if info from the RPGs is considered "canon", but they sure are nice to look at!

Mike Wilson

Unknown said...

I'm a major fan of the Original Series, and along with the original novels written in the 70s, this is a terrific early document. A real gem that is intriguing and, to me, awe-inspiring. As Spock would say, it's "fascinating."

Anonymous said...

Thank the Powers That Be that Uhura was not saddled with "Upenda" as a first name!

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