Tag Archive: Star Trek books

Review by C.J. Bunce

For Star Trek fans, since the 1990s the first place to look to dig into the artistry of the sets, props, and costumes was the book The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the ultimate art reference for decades of Star Trek productions.  It explored the concept art and creative works from the original Trek series through the seventh film in the series, Star Trek Generations.  Herbert Solow’s Star Trek Sketchbook and John Eaves’ Star Trek The Movies Sketchbook supplemented these books further and in 2016 Terry Erdmann and Paula M. Block’s Star Trek Costumes honed in on an end-to-end look at costumes spanning the franchise up to that date.  In 2016 CBS re-branded the three most recent films “the Kelvin Timeline,” since the storyline splintered from the original series events beginning with the destruction of the USS Kelvin in the 2009 Star Trek film (formerly the “alternate reality” or J.J. Abrams trilogy).  Separate and different from typical “behind the scenes” books, the volume of Star Trek reference material (and the large fanbase) allowed for these many, detailed looks into the creative process.  Many of these books and much more can be found in our 2011 survey of Trek books found here and here.  Bringing us closer to the present, the first look into the artwork of the Kelvin timeline was Mark Cotta Vaz’s Star Trek: The Art of the Film and last year’s Star Trek Beyond: The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow, but fans now have access to a broader look at the artwork behind all three Kelvin timeline movies: Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond, in Jeff Bond’s new book, The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline.

Star Trek fans will find The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline a must-read and a natural extension, or sequel of sorts, to Reeves-Stevens’ original art overview.  With chapters on each of the three films, expanding on the material from Cotta Vaz’s book, this new volume provides insight into the reboot and updates to the starship Enterprise, the bridge set, and Starfleet and alien costumes, and great attention is given to the concept art that resulted in the strange new worlds in these films.  Best of all is access to interviews with concept artists John Eaves, Ryan Church, James Clyne, John Goodson, Sean Hargreaves, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, visual effects art director Alex Jaeger, makeup supervisor Joel Harlow, production designer Scott Chambliss, supervising art director Ramsey Avery, creature designer Neville Page, art director Yanick Dusseault, production designer Thomas A. Sanders, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, Star Trek Beyond costume designer Sanja Hays, actors Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin.  The artists’ environmental, planetary, and geological concept work in many instances is the quality of final production matte paintings.

Those who already have read Cotta Vaz’s book on the art of the 2009 film will be happy to see this book provides photographs and discussion of ideas not covered before.  Fans of Sanja Hays’ costume designs in Star Trek Insurrection get to see how Hays approached returning to the concepts of both Starfleet and aliens of new civilizations in Star Trek Beyond.  And although he is not interviewed for the book, costume designer Michael Kaplan’s costume designs can be found across the book’s coverage of the first two films.

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Star Trek Book 2016

The in-universe book can be found in all sorts of genres.  In Star Trek we’ve seen this type of book recently with Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years and The Autobiography of James T. Kirk.  You’re either a fan of this type of work or you aren’t–these books attempt to take readers deeper into the world and stories of our favorite characters.  More than found in the basic canon, in a way that often seems less imaginative than something like a tie-in novel.  Rarely have we read this type that knocked our socks off.  An exception is DK’s Star Trek: A Visual Dictionary–a simple but enjoyable look inside all facets of Star Trek (reviewed here previously at  A new in-universe book by DK qualifies as a good read and maybe even a great Star Trek work.

The Star Trek Book celebrates 50 years of Star Trek with what amounts to a school textbook from Star Trek’s future.  Detailing the lives of key players in the Federation, chronicling major events, technologies, cultures, and locales, The Star Trek Book lives up to its promise.  The chronicle itself is brilliantly executed.  Not simply a time period by time period account, such as taking each series one by one, instead this account weaves the facts and features of all series and movies together as a singular whole.  This makes for a reference you won’t simply read and file away on the shelf, but one you keep coming back to (as we have in the weeks since we got a first look at the book).

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The reboot universe of Star Trek, here designated for the first time as the Kelvin timeline, is handled alongside the original series cast and stories.  The Enterprise series is intermingled with Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager, and the key events from the movies, all in a way that finally gives each component equal coverage.  So fans of one or all the series will find something of interest here.

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Hobbit book Chronicles from Weta

We have reviewed many incredible books about movies here at  Beginning with Special Effects: The History and Technique and its master class in film study to the book on movie posters The Art of Drew Struzan, to the recent Syfy Channel Book of Sci-fi, we have discussed a variety of the very best books on films and filmmaking, but also the best books on specific productions that the market has to offer.  If you missed them, here are links to some of the best books out there:

Each of these books had great content and a great way of sharing it with the reader, making for an immersive experience for the true fan.  And there are even more great books in our review pile, from Raiders of the Lost Ark and even more from Star Wars.  Then we laid our hands on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Art and Design, thanks to the folks at Weta.  In my view Weta is the best magic and fantasy shop in the world.  Where we once were dazzled by the spectacles created by Industrial Light and Magic as the coolest, newest cutting edge movie factory, since The Lord of the Rings trilogy ILM has been replaced by the artists, the painters, designers, sculptors, modelers, costumers and builders at Weta studios in New Zealand.  Their elaborate sets, props, costumes, make-up–you name it–in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made for the most incredible fantasy world put on film.  Ever.  So it’s awesome that Weta put together a book that not only highlights The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s wondrous creations, but the actual artists that made it all happen.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Art and Design was compiled by Weta Workshop senior concept designer Daniel Falconer.  In itself it has the look and feel of a prop from the film, from its finely tooled cover to its pull-out, glow in the dark Thorin’s map inside the front cover to the three page fold-out of Bilbo’s contract.  It’s the first book in a series to cover different artistic aspects of The Hobbit movies.  Containing 1,000 images of concept art, sketches, a cross-section of the 9,000 paintings created for The Hobbit, props, costumes, hair designs, and sets, it reveals the vision behind the Weta departments that created them.  Unlike any book I have seen before, it has a key code that credits each department, designer, or artist that developed what you see in the photos.  Some of these are tried and discarded face applications and wigs, like this one for the dwarf Oin:

Hobbit chronicles Oin spread

Other pages focus on characters’ props, including pencil designs, paintings, and detail that any cosplayer would love to delve into for his or her favorite character, like these hand props for the dwarf Ori:

Hobbit Chronicles props

Other pages show the elaborate costume designs.  And all include commentary by the artists who came up with concepts and designs.  Production designer and Academy Award winner Dan Hennah sums up why this focus on the artists make so much sense: “Film is a collaborative medium and requires the complete attention of every person involved to find the images that will make the final cut.  Each artist is encouraged to bring their individual vision to the project and work it in with others to make a cohesive part of the big picture…. For a fantasy movie to succeed, it must transport the viewer into a totally believable world where Dwarves, Dragons, Wizards, Elves, Goblins, Orcs, Trolls and hobbits all exist in a seamless mix of complimentary environments.”


The book begins with views of Hobbiton, which had to be re-created from The Lord of the Rings in exacting detail and fleshed out for expanded use in The Hobbit.  We find Bilbo and his costume designs and concept art for Bag End.  It moves on to Thorin and his band of dwarves in comparison art showing final designs down to each dwarf’s boots.  Dwarf by dwarf we’re given access to trial shots of each dwarf, all used to develop the final look for the film.  Each belt, purse, sword and shield is shown for each character, again, with explanations why one design was chosen over others from Dan Hennah, “3 foot 7” Costume Designer Ann Maskrey, Academy Award Winners Peter King, and “3 foot 7” Make-up and Hair Designer and Weta Workshop’s Design and Special Effects Supervisor Richard Taylor.

Hobbit contract in Weta Chronicles

The book then turns to the flashback scenes of historic dwarves, of ancient battles and armor designs.  We get an introduction to Radagast the Brown, the new wizard we meet in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Two chapters turn to environments chosen, from real life cliffs modified digitally for scene use to a revisit to the elf town of Rivendell.  And we get to see up close trolls, stone giants, and goblins, including the thoughts behind the development of the hideous Great Goblin, and a look at the familiar Gollum.


The book showcases the art of concept art directors Alan Lee and John Howe, and work from the several artists of the film’s “3 foot 7” Art Department, Costume Department and Weta Workshop–dozens of creative filmmakers who live and work in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Art and Design  can be purchased from Weta at their website here.  Their second volume, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Creatures and Characters will be published in April 2013 and we will preview it here at  It can be pre-ordered now here.

C.J. Bunce

You may have seen the Star Wars vault, the Marvel Comics vault, or the DC Comics vault.  On October 1, 2011, we’ll finally get to see the Star Trek version of this book and fandom memorabilia series as Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives is released.   The 128 page book will be the first Star Trek retrospective book to include behind the scenes details of the last Star Trek series, Enterprise.

The book promises to cover all 40 years of the Star Trek franchise, but only the first ten feature films–Star Trek 2009 will apparently not be covered in this release.  It is available at before its release in October for a discounted price of $26.40.  The street release price after October 1, 2011, will be $40.00.

Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives is illustrated with 350 photos and art images.  The extra replicas memorabilia will feature 13 items, including set signage, hand-drawn story boards, blueprints for Picard’s captain’s chair, a vintage comic book, trading cards, patch, pennant, fan poster, Japanese poster for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and a vintage T-shirt transfer.  Look for a review of Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives after its release in October.

Past versions of the vault series have been popular and included both good information and fun extras.  The Star Wars Vault: Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilm Archives is probably the best of these released to date.  It includes removable reproductions of memorabilia, too, along with two CDs containing vintage radio ads, original cast interviews, George Lucas’ commentary, and Carrie Fisher singing in the Star Wars Holiday Special.  It also featured a questionnaire for the first and only test screening of the original Star Wars— and the invitation to attend it, George Lucas’ hand-written treatment for The Empire Strikes Back, Lucasfilm Christmas cards, an iron-on T-shirt transfer, the first concept sketch drawn for Star Wars and blueprints of Star Wars vehicles and sets.

The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe is another great book in the Vault series, with lots of fun features, including never-before-published memorabilia, early sketches, covers, memos, press materials, a working reproduction of a 1942 Junior Justice Society of America decoder, a series of Public Service Announcements starring Superman and Batman, and the original pencils and inks for Wonder Woman #63.

Although it was the first of the bunch and includes a little less by way of memorabilia, Marvel Comics fans and fans of comic books in general will like The Marvel Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the World of Marvel.

Hopefully the Star Trek version of the Vault will include the best of these past books in the series.

C.J. Bunce


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