Monday, October 26, 2009

To Go Where No Other Has Gone Before: Gender and Race in Star Trek

Here's one I'm afraid I won't be buying. Nearly a hundred bucks for a reprint of a doctoral dissertation? From a German print-on-demand firm that, according to Writer Beware, has its contracts set up in such a way that the author will likely never see any royalties despite (or perhaps because of) the high cover price, and that under another imprint publishes books that are just unedited wikipedia entries?

I understand that academic texts are often expensive because of small print runs, but that doesn't apply to print-on-demand. If you were to publish a 180-page trade paperback book through, your cost would be in the ballpark of ten dollars. You wouldn't necessarily have your book available through Amazon, as it is if VDM Verlag publishes it, but Amazon has its own POD company, Createspace, which appears to work much the same way as Lulu, and Createspace titles can be listed on Amazon.

It's a shame this book is so expensive, because it sounds like interesting reading, as academic dissertations go: "Casavant analyzes the construction of race and gender in the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, uses post-colonial theory to examine the ways in which power functions in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, offering that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the most subversive of all Star Trek shows, and examines how dominant constructions of femininity are both interrogated and reaffirmed in Star Trek: Voyager."

Fortunately, there is an alternative. The dissertation is available through UMI/ProQuest, a company that has specialized in making theses and dissertations available for decades. They don't print nicely bound books, but if you're not affiliated with a university (as staff, faculty, or student) you can buy a pdf for $41; if you are affiliated with a university, you can probably get a copy if the university has access to the database. (If you're worried about losing the author a bit of income by taking this route, go look at the Writer Beware link above; she'd have to sell a lot of copies to get any royalties on sales, and that's not likely to happen with that cover price.)

So... a look at the bibliography shows a number of academic theory sources, but also a lot of Star Trek-related citations. Looks promising.


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