Book review: These Are the Voyages 1
By Marc Cushman
There is enough books on Star Trek to fill the hold of the Starship Enterprise.
Some, like The Making of Star Trek, harken back to when the ground breaking science fiction show was first on the air between 1966 and 1969 and are occasionally referred to in this new volume by screenwriter and producer Marc Cushman.
Cushman got into Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's good books when he pitched the well-loved script Sarek to Star Trek: The Next Generation which resulted in actor Mark Lenard reprising his role as Spock's father. It led to a lot of other actors from the original show reprising their beloved characters in the 1980s spin off. Eventually Roddenberry and producer Robert H Justman gave Cushman access to the show's then 20 year old backlog of scripts, letter and memos.
It's no secret that Roddenberry, a pilot turned cop turned scriptwriter and producer, had a hate-hate relationship with the studio which just didn't get what he was trying to do. Just as well. He created the franchise to sneak ideas, too radical to make it on mainstream shows, past the censors. Topics like racism and war could be discussed in shows hidden behind a veil of science fiction.
These Are the Voyages 1 is the first volume to spring from Cushman's labours. It comes 22 years after Roddenberry's death and just five years after Justman's. It delivers a never before seen perspective on the first, 1966, season of Star Trek, warts and all.
A lot of behind the scene Trek books are written by fans who adored the ground Roddenberry walked on, and while Cushman is most definitely a fan he is also aware that the show's creator had feet of clay. Especially when it came to the fairer sex. Roddenberry left his wife for his lover, Majel Barrett, who eventually became his second wife as well as having several roles in the original series. Nichelle Nichols, who had also been a lover of Roddenberry's, was cast as Lieutenant Uhura because of their affair. Roddenberry could be moody, as most creative people are, and throw tantrums if he didn't get things his own way. Some of his memos are priceless.
In 580 pages Cushman tells the story of Season One, episode by episode, and it's a compelling read for the Star Trek aficionado as well as anyone interested in television history.
For each episode Cushman includes the story credits, original TV Guide listing and sound bites. Spock tells Kirk in The Enemy Within: "You can't afford to be anything less than perfect. If you do they lose faith and you lose command."
Cushman's assessment of the show, warts and all, is followed by the story behind the story, pre-production details and a production diary which begins with snippets of news from the time and what music was at number one. All of this coloured production decisions.
Cushman also covers post production details on each episode, details of how the episode fared on release and reaction from critics and from the studio's mailbag. No one is spared in this process, gems are called gems and spades are called spades.
There's a lot of previously unpublished material in among that lot, making this book a definitive behind the scenes guide.
The second season volume has just been released and the third and final season is also due for release.