On Star Trek Magazine’s Movie Spectacular

Within the next week or so, the new issue of Star Trek Magazine, issue #26 in the United States, issue #153 in the United Kingdom, will start showing up on newsstands. Its cover proclaims it to be “The Ultimate Movie Guide,” and all eleven Star Trek movies, from 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture to 2009’s Star Trek, are profiled.

Dummy cover to Star Trek Magazine #26A number of writers, among them David R. George III (the Crucible trilogy), David A. McIntee (Doctor Who‘s Sanctuary), and William Leisner (Losing the Peace), penned two-page articles on a given film, offering insights into the film both as a piece of cinema and as a piece of Star Trek history.

My contribution, “The Decline and Fall,” covers 1994’s Star Trek Generations. The seventh film in the series, Generations was the “passing of the torch” film, and I explain where the film came from, how it developed, what it was for, and ultimately why it failed.

My approach for the article was inspired largely by Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood’s monumental Doctor Who reference work, the six-ish volume About Time series from Mad Norwegian Press. They put Doctor Who into the context of the time in which it was made, they found something interesting to say about even the most uninteresting of topics, and they weren’t afraid to have an opinion.

To give you an idea of the flavor and the perspective of “The Decline and Fall,” this is the article’s opening from my vastly-too-long first draft:

It’s difficult to imagine now, when a Star Trek film can garner nigh-universal critical praise and Spock’s saturnine visage can grace the front of a box of Frosted Flakes, but Star Trek was, for a few brief months in 1994 — dare we say it? — cool. Star Trek: The Next Generation has just finished its seventh and final season with the stunning “All Good Things…” and received an Emmy nomination for Best Drama for its trouble. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was about to enter its third season, Paramount was a few short months away from launching a brand-new television network to be anchored by Star Trek: Voyager. Patrick Stewart and William Shatner appeared together on the cover of Time. Star Trek was, beyond a doubt, more popular, more influential that it had ever been. The future beckoned. There were summits still to climb, and the film Star Trek: Generations, bringing together two generations for a single adventure, would lead the way. We forget this now because recent history — Voyager‘s limp journey home, Enterprise‘s inconsistent mission and ever-dwindling ratings, Nemesis‘ underwhelming box office performance, the polarization and indifference of fandom to all three — colors our view of the past, but sixteen years ago it truly seemed that Star Trek would conquer the world. Now, we see Generations as part of the tapestry. What we cannot see, because what the film does is so commonplace now, is how revolutionary it was for its time. Ironically, were it not for Generations itself, what the film does — a merging of generations — would not be so commonplace.

When you pick up Star Trek Magazine, you’ll find about a third of that; the article was pared considerably from my first draft. How “vastly-too-long” was that first draft? Well… it reaches 3k; the assignment was for 1.2k. I had a lot of ideas, I wanted to get them down on paper.

The authors and movies covered in the issue include:

  • Star Trek: The Motion PictureLarry Nemecek
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — David R. George III
  • Star Trek III: The Search for SpockJill Sherwin
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeAndy Mangels
  • Star Trek V: The Final FrontierDavid A. McIntee
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — Greg Cox
  • Star Trek Generations — Allyn Gibson
  • Star Trek First Contact — William Leisner
  • Star Trek Insurrection — Paula Block & Terry Erdmann
  • Star Trek NemesisScott Pearson
  • Star Trek (2009) — Chris Bennett

In addition to these movie profiles, there are also two articles on the movie-era Star Trek comics, one by the gestalt of Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, the other by Howard Weinstein, an article by McIntee about the movie-era Klingons, and an interview with David Warner about his Star Trek work in the films and on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It’s an interesting and opinionated issue. I received a copy at work today, and it should start turning up on newsstands and in bookstores in the next week or two.

I enjoyed writing it, and if you have any interest in the Star Trek movies, I think you’ll enjoy reading it, too.

Even if it’s just to tell me that I’m completely wrong and absolutely mental where Star Trek Generations is concerned. :spock:

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