A guide to the history that informs the world of Star Trek - just in time for the next JJ Abrams Star Trek movie!
For a series set in our future, Star Trek revisits the past constantly. Kirk and Spock battle Nazis, Roman gladiators, and witness the Great Depression. When they're not doubling back on their own earlier timelines, the crew uses the holodeck to spend time in the American Old West or Victorian England. Alien races have their own complex and fascinating histories, too.
The Star Trek universe is a sci-fi imagining of a future world that is rooted in our own human history. Gene Roddenberry created a television show with a new world and new rules in order to comment on social and political issues of the 1960s, from the Vietnam War and race relations to the war on terror and women's rights. Later Star Trek series and films also grapple with the issues of their own decades: HIV, ecological threats, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and terrorism.
How did Uhura spur real-life gender and racial change in the 1960s? Is Kirk inextricably linked with the mythical Old West? What history do the Klingons share with the Soviet Union? Can Nazi Germany shed light on the history and culture of the Cardassians? Star Trek and History explains how the holodeck is as much a source for entertainment as it is a historical teaching tool, how much of the technology we enjoy today had its conceptual roots in Star Trek, and how by looking at Norse mythology we can find our very own Q.
Filled with fascinating historical comparisons, Star Trek and History is an essential companion for every Star Trek fan.
©2013 John Wiley & Sons (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I found 'Star Trek and History' a worthwhile read, despite Mrs. McKean's best efforts to throw me off track.
First, the book. The book itself is a collection of essays from various authors delving into Star Trek storylines pulled from the full spectrum of the series and movies and how those episodes and topics relate to history, current technology and social issues. Overall, the chapters are very interesting and delve deeply enough into their respective areas to make for some lively post reading discussion. In fact, this book would be a great addition to a middle or high school science or social studies curriculum. The topics are board enough and cover enough familiar territory that students would have a wonderful time watching an episode mentioned in a particular chapter and then discussing it in the terms set forth in the book.
Some chapters are stronger than others. For example, you can hardly go wrong with discussions on how Star Trek's visionary technology has shaped our current lives (flip phones and iPads anyone?) and the impact it has had on our space program. I even found the chapter on cartography quite interesting, especially in the context of stellar cartography and the future of mapping our known galaxy. Other chapters however fall quite flat. Yes, "Facebook as the Borg" makes for a fun Internet meme, but the analogy really does fall apart if you put any real thought behind it.
My overall impression is that the book is a fun, insightful look at some of the serious (and not so serious) topics tackled by the Star Trek writers.
Now, the narrations. The only reason Kim McKean did not get 1 star from me on performance is that she spoke English and I was at least able to understand the words that came out of her mouth. Other than that, I felt her reading was stiff and stilted. You can almost hear the end of a line as she scans down to the beginning of the next line ... to ... read ... to ...you ... the ... very ... next ... word ... she ... sees ... on ... the ... page.
Aside from that, you can sort of get lost in the cadence and get wrapped up in the concepts of the book ... until she mispronounces a word. Repeatedly. Now, this isn't Star Trek's famous techno-babble she is getting hung up on. While she does mispronounce character names (it took me a while to figure out who "Tee Pole" was), she also mispronounces historical figures and some common words. I eventually started to make a list. Words like "Maquis", "Uhura", and "Locutus of Borg" were constantly, jarringly mispronounced. But even non Trek words and names like "Leonidas", "Yamamoto", and "omnipotent" were butchered.
That being said, as bristled by the narration as I was, I still found the subject matter engaging enough to keep at it and be entertained as well as challenged. It is a worthwhile listen, or better yet, this might be one to get in dead tree form. Then at least you have your own voice in your head to contend with.
Seriously? The narrator had trouble pronouncing "Star Trek(Track) correctly? She also has trouble with main character's names. Uhura sometimes is Uhara, sounding like she's Irish! oddly she gets harder to pronounce and less important characters names correct. If I was the author I would be mortified and demand they re do the reading, with a narrator who has basic phonics skills.
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