Monday, February 28, 2005

The Joy of Star Trek vanity press books

I have no idea how many Star Trek-related vanity press books have been published over the years, though I've bought a number of them. The Internet makes it easier to track their existence, especially since some of the bigger companies have started selling through Amazon.

So, last Friday, I received from Amazon the first two contributions to Star Trek nonfiction and fiction from Ruby Moon-Houldson, A Tribute to Spock: A Reference Guide and A Tribute to James Doohan "Scotty": A Reference, the first from 1stBooks, the second from the same company under its new name, AuthorHouse. They're the company publishing Alva Underwood's Trek novel reference books, which are a lot better than one would expect from a vanity press, as well as a book on DeForest Kelley. Those books may make some readers happy. I'm not sure who would find Moon-Houldson's books enjoyable or useful, though.

Here's more or less what I wrote for the Complete Starfleet Library. First, A Tribute to Spock:

Whatever else this is, it isn't a reference guide. Instead, it's a random mishmash. Reprinted online posts about Star Trek movies, a few pages of quotes from episodes, one of those clueless Trekkie or Trekker comparisons, more than 40 pages of Star Trek poetry and monologues, a nun's comparison of Spock's experience with Jesus's that originally appeared in Best of Trek 11 back in 1986, not that that's mentioned here... this is just deeply weird. On one page, there's a poem in two columns. On the left, it's called "Spock ce mortuus," on the right "Spock is dead." It's the same poem, but the one on the right is in English, the one on the left in a strange combination of Latin and French.

This is not a reference book in any useful way; it's not useful as a guide for new Star Trek fans because it almost completely ignores everything that came after Star Trek: The Next Generation; and it reproduces material first published elsewhere without properly attributing it. Not recommended.

And the Scotty book:

Like its predecessor, A Tribute to Spock: A Reference Guide, this vanity press publication is an odd mishmash of stuff, including a reappearance of some of the poetry/monologues from the first book, several pages of trivia regarding the episodes in which you can see that James Doohan is missing a finger on one hand, material reprinted from other sources without proper attribution (for instance, the Federation Articles and General Orders from the Star Fleet Technical Manual, some recipes from Pocket's Star Trek Cookbook), and a lot of other material likely to confuse anyone who might expect an actual tribute to Doohan or an actual reference book. Like the first book, this makes very little reference to anything post-Next Generation, and there's not much Next Generation content there, either. It reads like a series of infodumps from random Trek websites shoved between the covers of a book. Not recommended.

And she's working on her third book.

And because I'm a completist, and do my darn website, I'll buy the thing, and curse and grumble again.

(Now playing: Brian Eno, "Fields of Ice," Curiosities Volume II.)


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