“Do yourself a favor. Read the book on impulse power, slowly, carefully and with the respect this book truly deserves!”
When it comes to TV shows that endure throughout the years, none seem to have the staying power of ‘Star Trek‘. From the very start of the franchise back in the 1960s right up to the present day, there has been nothing like it on our screens. From William Shatner‘s first foray to the final frontier through Patrick Stewart‘s tenure aboard the Enterprise D and up to the present day with the upcoming ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘, there has never been a time when the cultural phenomenon has been off our screens.
One of the best incarnations of the franchise is ‘Star Trek: Discovery‘. Now into its third season and showing no signs of coming to an end, the show gave the fans a slightly edgier and more adult version of the classic themes the show has been famous for throughout the years. Darker than the shows that have preceded it and with more up to date and inclusive topics pushing the envelope further than before, the show has been and continues to be a revelation. I am going to admit here though that my favorite part of the entire run so far is still the ending to season one. Being a child of the original series, it brought tears to my eyes and shivers down my spine when the Enterprise made her cameo appearance at the end of the episode with the classic fanfare to boot followed by the original theme playing over the end credits. Perfection!
Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann are no stranger to writing and bringing to us, the fans, a multitude of books dedicated to our favorite science fiction television franchise. Between them, they have brought us ‘Star Trek‘ novellas, many behind the scenes books dedicated to the franchise, and many other books regarding other movie and TV productions. These two know their stuff and then some. Block has nineteen years of experience as the director of licensed publishing for Paramount Pictures and CBS Television while Erdmann has twenty-five years of film publicity under his belt. Although they thought they had finished with their time inside the Trek universe, they have both returned one more time and have delivered ‘The Art Of Star Trek: Discovery‘ to their resumes’. And, of course, their collaboration has proven to be one that is out of this world. Just one look at the front cover is enough to engage any fans of the franchise and to whip them up into a frenzy, ready to part with their cash and bring home yet another sublime book.
The Art Of Star Trek: Discovery | By
Paula M. Block and Terry J Erdmann
The front cover is eye-catching and intriguing, just as it should be. The bottom left-hand corner proudly displays the title of the book in the correct font we are accustomed to but it’s what the cover displays that grab our attention. A wonderful color shot of outer space, all brightness with nebula clusters but with one bonus: The U.S.S Discovery herself, all resplendent and viewed from above, the ship looks beautiful, a vision that deserves her place amongst the stars.
The spine of the book again displays the title alongside the Federation logo whereas the back cover shows us two pieces of wonderful art which we will discover inside the pages along with a photo of First Officer Saru and the bridge of the U.S.S Enterprise with Captain Christopher Pike taking the center seat alongside Number One and Spock in the background. All this bodes well for what we will discover when we open the book itself. And we make it so as we enter into the contents of the book.
Not much is forthcoming as we turn the opening pages until we come across a wonderful two-page spread, an artwork that is completely impressive and awe-inspiring. Up next is the contents page where we are treated to a terrific picture of Michael Burnham standing in shadow approaching a set of turbo doors. We now come to the foreword which has been written by none other than Alex Kurtzman himself. The showrunner and executive producer of the show are addressing us, the fans before we see what lies in store for us over the page.
It is here that he reveals he spent part of his childhood wishing he could draw like the acclaimed artists such as Ralph McQuarrie, Syd Mead, and others. He remembers poring over the pages of Franz Joseph’s ’12 Authentic Blueprints Of The Fabulous Starship Enterprise’ (I think I have a copy of it somewhere in my attic) and imagining himself in these future cities and alien worlds depicted within the pages. He admits he still can’t draw (neither can I) but he offers the blueprints and designs contained within in compensation and with the hope that they may inspire us.
First up is ‘The Basics‘. And what a way to introduce us to what we will find inside. The U.S.S Enterprise and the U.S.S Discovery, nose to nose in a shot from the climax to season one and my favorite moment. If only I could get this shot in a canvas art for my wall, then I would. It is glorious. As we turn over the page, we come to the first text that runs through the book. And it is here where we will discover Alex Kurtzman and co-creator Bryan Fuller’s vision for the show, to make it a TV show that had the spectacle of a big-screen movie. The text and descriptions that are included are incredibly detailed and the art and photographs that go hand in hand alongside it are nothing short of works of art. The concept art that is displayed here is beyond reproach and gives us a fantastic look at all the hard work that went into creating these new worlds, characters, and the universe we will see on the screen.
The opening credits to the show are covered in great detail with descriptions of what they were going for and what they wanted to get across to the audience from the start. We are shown John Eaves’ almost final design for the Discovery herself, complete with exterior markings from artist Thomas Pringle. Ok, so I’m a sucker for the main ships in any ‘Star Trek‘ show or movie and Discovery is no exception. She is sleek, she is fast and she is beautiful. Everything we ever wanted to know about her is here waiting for us as well as the U.S.S Shenzhou, her design reminiscent of ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan‘ and the U.S.S Reliant. The insignia badges are covered in-depth also as are all the props we will see during the show and their throwback designs to the original props used on the original ‘Star Trek‘ in the 1960s. Everything we could hope for is covered in so much rich detail in this first section, in a way that will blow the minds of the fans. Even my beloved Enterprise gets a look in.
We now come to those pesky Klingons. The enemy of the Federation for so many years and the villains that just HAVE to make an appearance in any ‘Star Trek‘ film or show, no matter what. It is what is expected and demanded from the fans and the makers didn’t disappoint in any way, shape, or form. We get to see the designs of the hostile race from their original 1960s incarnations with their greasepaint and stuck on beards up to the present day with the prosthetics that now make up our favorite people to boo. The elaborate designs of the Klingons are here for us to dissect on the pages that follow, showing how their new look was created, their armor, and even their season one marketing artwork. Also featured are their weapons, the interior of their ships, and everything that went in to bring back the familiar enemy to the screen and reinvent them for the show and the new generation of fans and viewers. Next up, we have the section devoted to the effects we will see during the episodes. Again, we are presented with the before and after shots, the green screen work that went into creating a certain shot we will view, the creative art that first designed the shots, the concept art of the bugs and creatures we will encounter on our travels and the easter eggs that have been subtly placed throughout the episodes, ready for the hardcore fans to notice and chuckle at while bringing a sense of continuity to the show and what has gone before it. It is in this section where the artists’ designs and concepts are explored to the full.
There are other sections, equally as impressive from here on in but what I have presented to you is but a taster, an Hors D’euvre for what is to come and to be discovered inside the epic pages of the book. If that isn’t enough to whet the appetite, then nothing will.
This isn’t a book to be rushed through, to be looked at, and pages skipped without reading the informative and frankly wonderful text that accompanies every part of the book, every section, and almost every piece of concept art, drawing, and full-color photographs. The book is like a full course meal, one that has to be savored, enjoyed, chewed upon, and slowly digested to get the full experience and flavor. It can’t just be chewed quickly and swallowed, thought little of as it goes down, it needs to be consumed carefully and thoughtfully. The amount of hard work and dedication that has been created by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann deserves no less. The dedication to what they are bringing to the reader is exemplary, the attention to detail, the carefully selected words and descriptions, and the entire tone and way they approach the material the book contains are incredible. This is exactly how the subject material should be handled, with respect, integrity, and with the love it deserves. We cheer when the Discovery, Enterprise, and such go to warp speed during proceedings.
With this book, withhold the urge to read at that pace. Do yourself a favor. Read the book on impulse power, slowly, carefully and with the respect this book truly deserves.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note | A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy.