Sunday, October 23, 2011

Star Trek Vault: initial reactions

Probably not fair to comment on this without actually reading the text yet, but from a cursory look, I can't help but think what might have been. Problem is, I'm not comparing it to other Vault books from Abrams, I'm thinking of something very different that few people reading this will have seen: Coronation Street Treasures.

Coronation Street Treasures (the edition we have, anyway; there's been more than one) is a hardcover book in a sturdy slipcase, a bit smaller than the Vault book. Inside the front cover is a pocket with an audio CD. A couple of pages in there's what looks like a handwritten recipe on stained paper tucked in another pocket; the next page there's a pocket in the form of a photo developer envelope full of holiday snaps. A few pages later, you can take out and examine a real estate agent's description of the Rover's Return pub and a restaurant review of the pub cut out of the local paper. Adoption certificate, wedding invitation, personal letters, hand-drawn lost dog flyer, greeting card, business cards, divorce papers, wedding certificate, employee time card, strip of pictures from a photo booth, anonymous threatening letter, confession, suicide note, all in all a few dozen removable artifacts set among the well-illustrated pages of a book that provides an introduction for new fans and a celebration for longtime fans.

One key difference: what's in the Treasures book isn't necessarily a recreation of something that actually existed. It's not about what happened behind the scenes or about merchandise for fans and collectors (though it's an example of the latter, obviously), it's about providing realistic artifacts from a fictional world.

The Vault has a few removable items, some of them quite welcome, but it takes a real world approach. Well, it is easier to provide documents from a current day soap than items from a futuristic world (though you could always try doing an iPad app, which reminds me of something else that needs some commentary). So it's a mix of examples of behind the scenes material, like blueprints and storyboards, and reproduced merchandise, like the small pamphlet that's an incomplete, miniature reproduction of an old colouring book, or the sample cards and stickers. It's sort of a mixed approach and, as cool as many of them are, there just aren't enough of the things (fourteen, according to the back cover). The book is well illustrated in colour but the text (and may Scott Tipton forgive me if I'm wrong, and I will get around to reading it) looks like yet another speedy runthrough of Star Trek's history.

And yet, as I look through it again, it is a very handsomely produced book. There are a few pictures you may not have seen dozens of times already. The animated series is not forgotten, which always earns a book a few points in my estimation. It may not be as loaded with photos of Trekstuff as, say, the auction catalogues I've seen, or some of the old Pocket coffee table books, but the removable stuff does add some fun to it.

Tentative summary, bearing in mind I've only browsed through it a couple times: if you've actually read all this, you should realize by now that you're probably the kind of person who will buy it, though you may want to look for a bargain price somewhere. And if you know someone who's just starting to get interested and doesn't know the show's history already, no doubt this would be a welcome gift.


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