Thursday, November 17, 2005

On the Lost Star Trek 40th Anniversary Book

I’ve just posted an essay on Star Trek VI, the latest in my “Trekalog” series on all ten films. It’s quite long, so I’ll keep this short.

I’ve decided to go public about some discussions I’ve had concerning Star Trek’s 40th anniversary. As most readers here know, I wrote an article for the New York Times published in August 2004, concerning prospects for Star Trek’s future. It had been edited for space, and I posted the full text here, which got this blog going.

At about the same time I started putting out feelers about writing a book for Star Trek's 40th anniversary in 2006. At first everyone was encouraging, including several people at Paramount, and Star Trek figures like Leonard Nimoy and (more recently) Eugene Roddenberry.

A few weeks after my Times piece appeared, Marco Palmieri at Pocket Books expressed interest, and I had a meeting with him and other editors there by telephone. They asked me to write up some ideas for such a book. Several seemed enthusiastic.

They cautioned me, however, that they weren’t sure Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster would okay any new nonfiction book on Star Trek, because nonfiction Trek books hadn’t been selling well recently.

I didn’t hear from them for awhile, but eventually I had one more phone conversation with Marco Palmieri. He told me that they had liked my ideas, and they wanted me to write the book. But as they feared, Pocket Books was saying no to publishing any such nonfiction Trek book. The only possibility then was if Paramount got interested enough to “support” the book by guaranteeing some of the cost.

That’s how things stood earlier this year: if a 40th anniversary book was to be published, I would be writing it. But unfortunately, there isn’t going to be one. I’ve sent a few emails since, but haven’t heard back, but I assume nothing has changed.

Of course, this is very disappointing. I was especially looking forward to working with the editors and others to put together a book of text and visuals to celebrate Star Trek by taking a step back and looking at it in a larger historical context than has been explored before. To celebrate its significance in its time, and for our time, and especially for the future.

Much of what I’ve written for this blog has been written with that book—or a book-- in mind. Response to what I’ve posted here has helped me define what I want to do and how best to do it.

At this point I still intend to write a book for the 40th anniversary, though it’s likely I’ll have to publish it myself, probably through one of the print-on-demand services (I reprinted my book originally published by Morrow, The Malling of America, through Xlibris). That way it would be available through all the major online booksellers.

But that will depend on how much time I can devote to it without outside resources. And it will be a different book. In some ways, more limited, because I won't have access or rights to Star Trek photos. But in other ways, I probably have more freedom in an unofficial book. You know, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"?

In the meantime, I’ll keep posting here when I can, and I’ll be looking for your responses to what I’m trying to do. I’ve been heartened and inspired by some of the generous comments I’ve received. (I’ve passed a bunch of them on to Pocket Books!) I hope you’ll support this 40th anniversary book project.


Rambling Rose Cottage said...

I stumbled upon your blog. My family and I are big Star Trek fans. Thanks for the info!

Rocket Pistol said...

I am so sad to hear that! Find artists to contribute to the book. Architects, Industrial Designers and Illustrators. The book will still be amazing as long as you are involved!

-Rocket Pistol

Steve said...

So did anything come of your plans to go it alone? Is the book still in the works, even if it is a little late?

Captain Future said...

Thanks for the encouraging words. In response to Steve, I'm still hoping to do a book, though no longer a 40th anniversary one, or even a 20th TNG, alas. These days I'm aiming to publish near the time the new movie comes out. Working title--SOUL OF STAR TREK, naturally.