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The Meaning of Star Trek
Thomas Richards
Doubleday Books, 224 pages

The Meaning of Star Trek
Star Trek
STAR TREK began in 1966 as a science fiction television show created by Gene Roddenberry. Some thirty years, four TV series and eight movies later, STAR TREK is as alive and strong as ever.

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A review by Neil Walsh

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The Meaning of Star Trek is a literary and cultural analysis of the Star Trek universe by a former Harvard professor. No wait! It's not what you think. Sure it's scholarly in its approach, but this book is anything but pedantic. On the contrary, it's eminently readable. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I found it a joy to read.

It is Richards' evident love of the Star Trek series and movies that makes The Meaning of Star Trek so enjoyable. When he illustrates a point with reference to an episode, you can feel his admiration and appreciation shining through his easy prose.

The first half in particular is masterfully written, with clever segues which give the work a sense of unity as Richards takes an engaging look at some of the major themes that the series and movies of Star Trek have dealt with over the past three decades. More importantly, he invites the reader to think a little more deeply about what Roddenberry's vision, as it evolved over the years, has to say about our own culture and our own individual selves. He demonstrates the depth and richness of the Star Trek universe, despite what many critics have pointed out as its imperfections.

Although this book is intended for an audience that is somewhat familiar with the Star Trek universe (I guess that covers about most of the world), it also helps to be a fan. You don't have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie, but a healthy appreciation for Roddenberry's great creation is in order. But then again, if you don't already have that, maybe this book will inspire you to see Star Trek in a new light.

Copyright © 1997 by Neil Walsh

Neil Walsh is the Reviews Editor for the SF Site. He lives in contentment, surrounded by books, in Ottawa, Canada.


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