Book review–Your next travel guide will chart your first stay in the Final Frontier


The first entry in Insight Editions’ new Hidden Universe Travel Guides series will prompt you to book your next vacation early, and a bit better informed.  Dayton Ward provides his take on the Lonely Planet and similar travel guides with the target of our first Final Frontier pleasure trip–not to Risa–but to Spock’s home planet Vulcan.  Don’t worry, it’s not just shrines, volcanoes, and caves.  You’ll find Vulcan the planet is more fun than most Vulcan people you know.

This in-universe book works because of Ward’s humor and his creative choice of content, tapping his extensive Trek expertise from his decades of producing Star Trek novels.  Ward’s travel guide is loyal to the format of Earth destination books (I compared it to my travel guides to Jamaica), which to some extent requires repetition.  But Ward makes that work, too, coming up with clever examples derived from Star Trek canon that will test your knowledge of the planet, the people, and the culture.  So you’ll see for each of eight selected regions how to get around, sights and activities, shopping and entertainment, dining and nightlife, and lodging, but you’ll find a broad variety of events to keep each chapter fresh (try Spring Break at Lake Yuron, orbital skydiving at Vulcana Regar, or re-enactments of prison life at the Veklar Prison Museum), plenty of different bars and (primarily) vegetarian cuisine to choose from (I crave some plomeek soup, but no Whataburger?), including the familiar now-franchised Quark’s Bar (but don’t try to steal the menus!).


Like Earth guides, you’ll learn helpful information about local culture and customs (want to try out a lirpa at a Vulcan marriage ceremony?), etiquette, warnings (how to get rid of an unwanted katra), and safety information like tourist traps, and souvenirs to avoid (buying fake Vulcan ears is tacky).  I particularly like the idea of the B’jinglan Air and Space Museum, including the displayed starship Ni’Var, now suspended in the same drydock in which it was built.  Definitely some detailed thought went into this book.


Unlike Earth guides, the Vulcan guide is filled with diagrams and artist renderings (we don’t really have comprehensive photographs of Vulcan, do we?) thanks to the work of Livio Ramondelli and Peter Markowski, who also designed some excellent mapwork.  The surface attractions are rendered by the artists true to canon, with images invoking landscapes we have seen in Star Trek III, IV, and Star Trek (2009).  Many sidebar commentaries endorse your trip to Vulcan, too, and you’ll find them here from Spock, his mother Amanda, T’Pol, Saavik, T’Pau, Tuvok, and even some high praise from Dr. Leonard McCoy.

Of course this guide is for fans of classic Trek, as the Kelvin timeline (or Abramsverse) had the Romulan Nero destroy the planet.  But for those fans, it can serve as an enlightening historical document.

A fun read with plenty of references to every Star Trek series and some good humor for your favorite Trek fan, the Hidden Universe Travel Guide to Vulcan is available now here at  The next installment, Qo’noS and the Klingon Empire, is due out in July 2017.

C.J. Bunce

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