Whether you are a Star Trek casual watcher or an uber-fan, whether you are a cosplayer or a collector of real Trek memorabilia, there is always more out there to catch up on or watch all over again. Unlike any other franchise, there is more information available today than ever before in case you want to check out more about a replica of your favorite tricorder or disrupter, or get into real props and costumes. Or maybe you like to make your own replicas, and the more info you have available the more accurately you can create replicas from the Star Trek universe. Resources today fall into four categories: First, the episodes and movies themselves, the primary source material, including the artifacts from the actual shows. Second, websites have an endless supply of Star Trek information on any subject. Third, general reference books have been created by various publishers since the first series. And fourth, auction catalogs get you as close to costumes and props from a show as you can get other than looking at the real thing.
The TV series are available on DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, and streaming video, by series and in compilations.
Here are the key websites you need to know about:
- Memory Alpha – A detailed, currently maintained encyclopedia of all things Star Trek.
- Trek Core – A great source for screen caps of all series episodes, including some HD versions.
As to reference books, several licensed Star Trek books are available, some still in print, and the following are what I consider the best resources publicly available. I have also provided links to the books at Amazon.com, but your local library can also get these for you. Today we will run down the best Star Trek reference books for the TV series. Tomorrow we will continue with reference material for the eleven Star Trek movies. (Book cover thumbnails are a bit fuzzy since I used direct links to Amazon listings).
Star Trek – General
Star Trek: The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1997. If you only have one book about Star Trek behind the scenes, it should be this book. Full of original paintings, behind the scenes photos, and close-ups of costumes and props, this is the best book available on the Star Trek television shows and feature films. If you have it you will read it over and over again. It is only lacking in the fact it was made before Star Trek Generations, so for everything after that you should seek out some of the other suggested books. Also, you’ll notice on this list the Reeves-Stevens are a great source of all sorts of Trek material. Highest recommendation.
The Star Trek Encyclopedia, by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 1999. With two Star Trek insiders like the Okudas writing this reference guide, it’s no wonder this is such a popular book. Literally the A to Z guide to the Star Trek universe, make sure you get this most recent version that includes all updates. Unfortunately it has not yet been updated to include the latest films and the Enterprise TV series. Still, a single source for the obscure and the general in the franchise. Highly recommended.
Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future, by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 1996. Another reference by the Okudas, this time aligned in chronological order of the events of the Trek universe, as opposed to the order of production of the series, which is the format of all other Trek reference books. Handy to see overlap between series and whether the Battle of Wolf 359 comes before or after the destruction of Praxis (in case you get confused on that).
Star Trek The Next Generation: Technical Manual, by Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda, 1991. An unprecedented look at the science and technology of Star Trek. The masters of the Trek art production team include here detailed drawings and explanation to support the science behind the stories portrayed in the television series and films. A must for all Star Trek fans.
Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, by Michael Westmore, Alan Sims et al, 2000. This book provides key views from the main make-up artist and the propmaster for the later Trek series. Lots of close-up photos of alien races and make-up, but a lesser focus on props. Good behind the scenes stories. Highly recommended.
Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages and Captains’ Logs Supplemental: The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages-Entire Deep Space Nine & Voyager History, by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, 1996. Although this episode-by-episode guide has has been replaced for the most part by the TrekCore free website, it’s still worth flipping through to find episodes you may have forgotten about. The first contains the original series, the supplement expands into later episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Star Trek Generations.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, 1996. A source for those wanting an insider’s look at the making of the original series. Not much on costumes and props. A lot of information on the business of television production. Useful here for the impact of the business and budgets on creative decision-making.
The Star Trek Sketchbook, by Herbert F. Solow and Yvonne Solow, 1997. Great images of the art of the original series, including sketches and paintings in full color as well as a look at the various Starfleet and alien costumes created by William Ware Theiss. A great art book. Recommended.
Star Trek: The Animated Series
See Star Trek: The Art of Star Trek referenced above.
Star Trek Phase II
Star Trek: Phase II : The Making of the Lost Series, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1997. The TV series that never was. The only detailed account of the Phase II series that turned into Star Trek: The Motion Picture after the success of Star Wars. Includes hundreds of pages of material, with sketches and photographs of production material that didn’t make it to the screen.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Continuing Mission (Star Trek: The Next Generation), by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1997. THE sourcebook for all things Next Generation. Episode summaries. Costumes and props, including photos of original art and design. Text includes the environment in which each season was created. Insight from cast and crew. Next to The Art of Star Trek, the best Trek resource out there. Highly recommended.
The Star Trek The Next Generation Companion: Revised Edition, by Larry Nemecek, 2003. The only comprehensive look at all Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons and movies through Star Trek: Nemesis. Well researched trivia about each episode and movie is covered. Delves into the world building for the series, including a look at technical and scientific continuity across episodes. Hundreds of good black and white photos. A great book even compared to The Continuing Mission. Nemecek shows he really knows his Trek trivia. Highly recommended.
Editor’s Update: Check out this new addition to resources from this series: Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 here.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Making of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1994. Lacking only because it was made too soon, this look at Deep Space Nine was created before the third season got underway. It provides good black and white illustrations of props, costumes and set design. This also has some good information on alien creation, including make-up decisions.
Deep Space Nine Companion, by Terry J. Erdmann, 2000. The best book available documenting the series with episode descriptions and behind the scenes information. Recommended.
Star Trek Voyager
Star Trek Voyager: A Vision of the Future, by Stephen Edward Poe, 1998. I only recently discovered this book. It provides a wealth of information about the business of creating a television show, including insight about Star Trek Voyager’s specific creators and what role each person plays (note several individuals worked on several series so this is a good guide for TNG and DS9, too). The book covers in a journalistic style the background events surrounding a few first season episodes of Voyager. It includes a detailed analysis of what happened when Genevieve Bujold commenced filming as the original Captain Janeway, and manages to avoid “dirt digging” type commentary. Includes a small peek at key staff such as Alan Bernard, Alan Sims, and Michael Westmore, Michael Okuda, Rick Sternbach, and the entire writing staff. Highly recommended.
Star Trek Voyager Companion, by Paul Ruditis, 2003. One of the best written of all Star Trek source material, this book delves into each episode with great sidebar material, insight into the cast and crew and hundreds of black and white photos. Highly recommended.
Unfortunately, the best resource for Enterprise information is Memory Alpha, TrekCore and the current Star Trek Magazine. One of the biggest gaps in the Star Trek universe is a comprehensive book about the last series in the franchise.
Also, invaluable costume and prop information can be found in the following catalogs:
- Christie’s December 2006 Auction Catalog
- Profiles in History 12, 14 , 41, and 44 Auction Catalogs
- Julien’s 2010 Star Trek Catalog
Check back tomorrow for some recommended books covering the eleven Star Trek feature films.