Monday, October 27, 2008

BFI TV Classics: Star Trek by Ina Rae Hark

This is a short (~150 pages) book taking a critical look at the five live action Star Trek TV series. Hark is a longtime fan; she's also written several academic papers and articles on Star Trek over the last few decades.

Short though it is, the book packs in a lot of critical thought about each series. Unlike some of the more academic works she occasionally cites, Hark's book is an easy read, but with enough ideas, criticisms, and arguments to keep the reader from sailing through too breezily. Along the way she discusses the myths built up around the original series and Gene Roddenberry and makes interesting observations on each of the series.

Hark became a fan through the original series, as I did, but she's not blind to its inconsistencies and faults. She's also a major fan of Deep Space Nine and does a good job of pointing out what that show did right, and what its successors, Voyager and Enterprise, did wrong. This is an opinionated work, and I can imagine a fair number of fans disagreeing with Hark on some issues, but she generally makes her case well, even with limited space.

This book could work as a kind of flipside to Pocket's Star Trek 101, introducing the Star Trek universe in a more critical and analytical way. I'd love to see reactions to this book from other fans, but I don't really expect many fans to read it. Star Trek fandom doesn't seem terribly interested in critical nonfiction about the show.


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