Ossus Library Index Star Trek Index


By Larry Nemecek (2003, Pocket Books [original copyright 1992])

Summaries and commentary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes and movies.



3 stars

Read April 1st to June 19th, 2003  
    The third edition of this book continues what was started in the first two editions, this time with the addition of the last three TNG movies. In it, we now have a complete set of information on all of the episodes and movies. Unfortunately, this edition has not updated the stuff from the last edition. The entire book, consisting of all seven seasons, is completely cross-referenced. It is terrific that way, because we are referred to future or past episodes where similar information occurs, or when the crew used the same trick to defeat their enemies. But the last three movies are not included. They are referenced among themselves, but nothing from those movies makes its way into the TV episode guide.

This book has given me a fresh look at the Next Generation episodes, which is always welcome. This was the series that brought me back to Trek, of course, and even reliving the early episodes is fun.

Some of the trivia presented among the episode descriptions has become more interesting and important, as guest stars and writers became better known on DS9 or Voyager, or even afterwards. It was cool to see how they began their careers.

I have more than a fair share of complaints, though. I checked back with my earlier version, and although the pictures provided there are not terrific quality, they are several times better than what we get here. It's almost as if they used the earlier version as an original. They are getting darker and murkier with every version. I don't understand that. Some of the pictures have changed from one version to the next, but I still wonder why Data is presented with Newton in the photo accompanying "Descent", while Professor Hawking was excluded, especially when he is mentioned so prominently in the text. Add to that the lack of research into even the title of Hawking's book - "A Brief History of Time", not "A Short History...", and he must be feel very short-changed!

Although it was obviously updated for the second edition, it doesn't look like the author revisited much of the book to deal with the movies. There are several mentions of World War III, which are referenced to earlier and later episodes, but First Contact is never mentioned, which takes place immediately afterwards. The book still feels like it was written in the early 1990s, as the sitcom Cheers is used in the present tense, indicating that it is still in first run, and beauty Ashley Judd is mentioned without any sign of her thriving film career. Even in-house, the author neglects to mention that Robert Duncan McNeil, who guest starred on one episode here, became a regular cast member on Voyager! It was also McNeil who brought the black-and-white concept to Voyager with Captain Proton, while they wanted to use it back in the sixth season of TNG. As part of the analysis for "Lower Decks", it is mentioned that the Bajoran character might still be used on DS9, even though the series has been off the air for several years, now!

After reading the Deep Space Nine Companion, this one just can't compare in terms of style. I suppose the author would have to rewrite the whole book to make it like that one, and there is no way that would happen -I wouldn't want it to, anyway. But I don't like the way the author changes topic in the middle of the paragraph, with events, or especially discussing characters. More paragraphs would have been necessary, I suppose. This goes together with my dislike of the font used for discussion. It is distracting, which makes the text even more difficult to read because of the topic changes. The analysis is better in the seventh season, however, showing perhaps that he should have gone over the whole book in the second and third editions, smoothing things over.

In the introduction, which is where I expected to see most mentions of new stuff, I was disappointed in two ways. The first was the mention of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 (he doesn't even give the year), because it wasn't necessary at all. The second is the lack of a mention for the DVD releases of all seven seasons. The DVDs were available during the time this book was being rewritten, and it was easy to see that they were successful. I think some mention was deserved, especially when he talks about Trek's longevity and revisiting episodes.

On the good side, there is a terrific amount of information concerning just about everything, and within the seven seasons, there is an incredible amount of cross-referencing.

The author also managed to clear up a small problem that I had with the movie Nemesis. When Data meets his mother in the seventh season, the trivia mentions that there were three failed androids before Data. Even if this includes Lore, that means B-4 must have come from one of those incarnations. I had no memory of this, so it was a good refresher.

I don't understand why the summary for Generations was so short, not even mentioning Kirk at all, when the other movies had such long descriptions, though they were very poorly written. The behind-the-scenes stuff for the movies, though, was great to see. It was not just trivia, which was also included, but story development, as well.

So the guide is a mixed bag. For learning about the episodes, and for people wondering about certain aspects of the episodes and movies, this is a great reference book. But it is lacking in some areas, many inexplicably. It is a keeper, however, because of the amount of reference material here.



3+ stars+

Read throughout 1998  

This book (the first edition) was frustrating in more than one way.  Obviously, the author was caught off guard when the series abruptly ended, because only five seasons were documented.  It is not his fault, and a second edition was published after the movie Generations came out, this one with a burgundy cover. 

Once again, the introductory part of the book describes briefly the evolution of Star Trek, and how a second series came to be.  The selection of actors to take up the roles that some saw to be replacing Kirk and company.  There was a lot of doubt, but it was a phenomenal success. 

Most of the book is an episode guide, as with the Original Series Compendium.  Only this time, I had already seen every episode, some of them twice, and I had no intention of watching them again for a long while.  So the synopses gave me a good refresher, especially to the first season.  Most of those episodes I had only seen once, because I abandoned the series early on (after two episodes, actually), and only came back during the fourth season.  During this time, I noted that the series had made a drastic improvement somewhere along the line. 

The commentary, and behind the scenes are a lot shorter than in the Original Series Compendium, and they relate a lot less information.  I found myself wishing for a few extra sentences, to flesh out ideas, but there were none. 

And, to top it off, there are two seasons missing.  It is my guess that the author expected the series to go ten years, and this book would be a companion to the first half.  Unfortunately, it didn't work that way.  And it seems that the second edition to this book is out of print.  Either version is worth picking up, though, because it does remind me of the spirit of the series, which was top notch, when it was in form, and was never too bad when it was bad.


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