Most people would think twice before buying a book that only contained 96 pages. No matter the subject, it’s a low page count, and unless you’re looking at books for little kids most adults would pass. You’d be missing a gem of a compilation were you to pass up the photo-packed Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary. Published by DK, the publishing house known for over-sized hardcovers full of lavish, detailed photography on a variety of subjects, Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary delivers where recent Star Trek books have come up short.
As we discussed in past reviews here at borg.com, the Star Trek Vault and Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 both suffered from poor quality photographs and images featured in their book design that were simply too small to glean much detail. Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary delivers exactly what it promises, rare imagery and props from the studio archives, including material from all five live-action TV series and the first ten Star Trek movies. DK’s high-quality, many over-sized, images provide fans with a unique opportunity to see Star Trek characters, aliens, and technology in a level of detail that hasn’t been achieved in a full-color Star Trek volume since the Michael Westmore and Alan Sims book Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts released 13 years ago.
First and foremost Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary offers an overview of the Star Trek universe for newbies. Like the bulk of the Memory Alpha fansite, it presents facts from the Trek canon in an “in-universe” fashion. It provides a double-page spread of the major interplanetary races and single page spread for other races. These include the Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Andorians, Tellarites, Ferengi, Xindi, Suliban, Talosians, Tholians, the Ocampa, the Borg, Talaxians, Breen, Kazon, Vidiian, and Hirogen, with close-up images of costumes, make-up, prop weapons and other ephemera linked to the race. The costume detail is superb, offering images of some costumes not found anywhere else. Details of actual screen-used props can be found in nearly every page, usually with multiple props and facts related to the use or purpose of the prop.
Long overdue for Star Trek publishing is the inclusion of many references to the Enterprise TV series, including overviews of alien encounters and Captain Jonathan Archer and his crew and ship. Even images from the original series are reprinted here larger than life. Every series and key characters get ample treatment considering the page allotment for the book.
No doubt most long-time Star Trek fans would likely prefer a volume 5 to 10 times this size. However, compared to past offerings, Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary will provide many hours of viewing and re-viewing. Diehard fans may also be able to spot photos reprinted incorrectly, such as a photo of Leonard Nimoy as Spock reprinted from a negative’s reverse image, in addition to notations that are simply incorrect. These are few, however, and do not detract from the overall impact of the book.