Bold new 'Star Trek' book marks 55th anniversary of the original series

It was 55 years ago that "Star Trek: The Original Series" first aired on television. This made it an international sensation and helped to ignite a star-bound generation of optimism.
Star Trek: The Original Series A Celebration (Hero Collector 2021) is a hardcover book by Ian Spelling and Ben Robinson that celebrates the anniversary. It explores all aspects of the iconic sci-fi series. This 256-page volume contains revealing interviews, archive transcripts, network promotional material, never before-seen illustrations and concept art. It also includes set stills, makeup tips, make-up techniques, spaceship miniatures, and more.

Robinson realized that there hadn't been a book that covered all aspects of the show. Space.com told Robinson that he wanted to cover makeup, costumes, and art departments as well as writers and celebrities.

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Spelling and Robinson, both of whom have been writing for years about Star Trek, delved into the books that were available, especially those written by actors, in order to better understand the history.

The pair also re-watched every episode on "The Original Series."

Spelling said that he was excited to see "The Cage" again, referring back to the original pilot episode. "[Star Trek's creator] Gene Roddenberry, [actor] Leonard Nimoy were still fine-tuning Spock and it's, pardon for the pun, fascinating."

It was then time to fill in any gaps. Spelling explained that Robinson and Spelling went through old magazine interviews and found studio memos. They then approached people who had not yet shared their Star Trek stories.

He said, "All that lets us approach Star Trek: A Celebration from a unique perspective."

Spelling stated, "There was a story that we hadn't heard about Muhammad Ali visiting the TOS set, hoping to meet Nichelle Nickels [the actor who played Uhura]". Larry Nemecek, a 'Star Trek' authority, had done some amazing sleuthing and found April Tatro (actress and contortionist who played human form of cat Isis in "Assignment to Earth"). It was long assumed that a different actress had played the uncredited part. Larry interviewed Tatro for his podcast. However, I believe this to be her first print interview.

The authors were particularly interested in the evolution of Nimoy’s Spock character.

Spelling observed, "With Spock I was fascinated to watch how all the pieces of him fell into place." It was easy to see how the pieces came together, something that Leonard Nimoy could not fully express. Another thing is that Dorothy Fontana, [writer/editor] was able to talk to me about her views on Spock and Vulcans. It was amazing to recite that conversation and then put it together with Nimoy's words.

It also examines why Star Trek's appeal has not diminished over the years.

Robinson believes that William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk so well in the series is on to something when he declares the show a modern mythology. He said, "It's as close as we can get to 'The Odyssey.'" "Homer would have written many fantastic episodes of Trek! It's about people, ideas and a cast that was perfectly suited for their roles.

Spelling believes "Star Trek" encompasses much of what we, as a species, aspire to.

He said, "It's all about exploration, about improving ourselves individually as well as as a species. It's also about getting along, about getting along, about putting aside hatred, and so on."

Spelling said, "It's science fiction, but it all seems possible." "Roddenberry was a genius, and he had a unique vision. The right actors performed the roles and the right writers and crew completed their parts. It was a magical combination that resulted in magic on screen. People can see themselves as different characters. They would love to live on the Enterprise. Star Trek is entertainment at its best.

You can purchase "Star Trek: The Original Series A Celebration" from Amazon or Bookshop.org.

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