Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thanks, Marco

Robert Greenberger reported earlier today that Marco Palmieri was one of 35 Simon and Schuster employees laid off today. That sucks. In many ways. I've been living with the dubious joys of being laid off for most of the year myself, and, no, it doesn't feel better to know that other people are in the same situation. So I hope Marco lands on his feet and gets something good soon.

Obviously I've really enjoyed the books that Marco's been involved with, and I think he'll be missed, but I'd like to thank him for a couple of other things.

I want to thank Marco (and John Ordover) for inviting me to drop by the Pocket Star Trek books offices when I was in New York for a conference a few years ago, for showing Laura and me around, for giving me some neat freebies, and for taking us to lunch along with Keith DeCandido. I was having so much fun it never even occurred to me to get autographs or take pictures, much less try to pitch book or story ideas.

And thanks again to Marco for giving me the occasional advance peek at forthcoming Star Trek novels, in exchange for nothing more than my thoughts on them. A few of the reviews on this blog are revised versions of the comments I sent him, with the Destiny trilogy being the most recent examples.

So... thanks and good luck.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Star Trek Collectibles

I could have sworn I posted here about Steve Kelley's Star Trek: The Collectibles book, and this was going to be a follow-up... but it seems I didn't post about that. So: two posts in one.

Star Trek: The Collectibles by Steve Kelley

This is a good book, well illustrated in full colour, but it's not the ultimate collectibles book. But then, you couldn't do that in a single volume. So this book focuses strictly on original series-related collectibles. It's well-documented evidence that Steve Kelley has one hell of a collection, but it's hard to be certain how comprehensive it is beyond that. The selection of books, for example, seems kind of arbitrary. Obviously not all Trek books are collectibles, and you could fill a whole book just dealing with Star Trek books, but I'm not sure how Steve decided which books to include and which not to.

Steve's also included some unlicenced/unauthorized material, but there's an endless amount of that kind of stuff out there, so again I'm not sure what criteria were used for determining what should be in and what should be out.

Still, there's a lot of neat stuff in here, it's fun to browse through, and it's the first book of its kind in several years. Definitely worth a look.

The Unofficial Guide to Star Trek Collectibles (magazine)

According to Steve Kelley, this is something of a one-off, though if it sells sufficiently well, there'll be more issues. I wouldn't mind seeing more, but then, I wouldn't mind writing something book-related for it, either.

The good stuff:
  • The magazine has a nice, clean, easy to follow layout, with actual black text on white pages. Designers of other magazines should keep in mind that this is common not because of lack of originality, but because it's easy to read. (Star Trek Magazine, I'm looking at you.)
  • It's good to see some more detailed information on a variety of collectibles than the book had room for.
  • I also like the inclusion of Star Trek books, complete with a David Mack interview.
Not so good:
  • The interviews often feel like the same list of questions, with just slight changes, was emailed to several recipients.
  • The interviews look like unedited back-and-forth email exchanges. Obviously you don't want to rephrase the answers you get, but you can do something other than having the same question/answer/question/answer format each time. And if the interviewee doesn't have anything to say, it's okay to leave that Q&A out. (Three or four interviews end with, "Is your company doing anything tied into the new movie?" followed by an extended PRspeak remix of "No."
  • Though it's good to see some non-TOS material, the "TOS is best!" bias that made the book just a sampling of Trek memorabilia (leaving out the other series for possible future volumes) is not just present but downright intrusive here, as several licensees are asked leading questions about TOS vs other series.
If there are going to be future books and magazines, they may have to move beyond the focus on stuff that Steve Kelley personally finds interesting, from the type of collectibles covered to a greater appreciation for post-TOS Star Trek. A more inclusive approach is necessary. (IMHO, of course.)