Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years by David A. Goodman (book review).

October 17, 2013 | By | Reply More

With the new pocket universe ‘Star Trek’ films now out there and likely to be garnering their own fans as well as the traditional fans who’ve followed most of the shows, you have to wonder how much more can be said about the old shows.

David A. Goodman’s book ‘Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years’ actually covers the official history and the occasional reference to things kept out of the history books of the Trekiverse version of our reality. Essentially, from Zefram Cochrane – no mention of any future intervention – to ‘Enterprise’ up to and including the original ‘Star Trek’. You’re not being given episode by episode encapsulation of events just the salient points to their history in context. Essentially, you’re getting a history and time-line, with documentation in their original language and translation. Although there are plenty of illustrations, there are no photos and, although that is a shame, I suspect the licence for use would have doubled the price of the book.

StarTrekFederation150Years

You can’t really have a history of the Federation without the history of the Earth. As such, you discover when a certain Khan Noonien Singh and his fellow genetic enhanced people left the planet in deep freeze. The loss of the Valliant but not where happened until much later when a certain Enterprise comes across its log. Even more interestingly and something I hadn’t realised before that Surak followed in his father’s footsteps in being Vulcan ambassador to Earth. No wonder he was upset that his son, Spock, didn’t follow this family career.

Goodman’s text is a very clean read and if you’re familiar with the TV stories, you’ll easily make the connections in your head as to what he’s referring to with both people and starships. It becomes obvious that the Vulcans were probably right or logical in getting Mankind to mature into a single people than multi-nation to deal with other planets. Mind you, without the genetic wars, there would probably be more nationals but that’s a side issue. If there had been a Prime Directive back then, the Vulcans would have avoided a first contact for several more generations, especially as Mankind wouldn’t have even got to the next inhabitable star system for a few generations.

There is a piece about Emory Erickson’s discovery of molecular transportation but nothing about what happened to it next over the years. I mean, if it was purely a human invention, then how come over species, including Klingons, have the same kind of device? If humans were the only inventors, it would be the biggest commercial selling point to sell or trade to all the other space-faring species from the start because it’s a vital piece of space kit meaning you didn’t have to shuttle down to planets any more.

Something that did arise from this book and where Romulan Gileus I’s face was used on their currency, I wondered how they could tell his face from any other Romulan? Considering the Vulcans and Romulans look so alike, how do they tell each other apart amongst themselves as both look like monogenous species. No wonder the Romulans infiltrated Vulcan seeking information.

The most crucial element that led to the forming of the Federation was not the battles with the Xindi but with the Romulans and how the humans took them on.

As I’m not a follower of the Star Trek novels, so I have no idea of how much of this was incorporated into this history. However, Captain Malcolm Reed and his crew visiting Organia and what happened when Curzon Dax brokered the peace with the Klingons tends to suggest the odd detail from these was included from time to time.

For those who thought ‘Class-M’ planets meant Man could live on them might be interested to discover it’s actually the Vulcan term ‘Minshara’ and relates to oxygen/nitrogen atmospheres.

Something else that was a new discovery for me was the Constellation Starfleet vessels were a combination of technologies from the main alien races of the Federation. I’m not going to detail them all here but the most surprising was the weaponry systems were Andorian. Even more interesting, there were only twelve of these starships for deep space exploration and all for five year missions.

Much of the reference to Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise centres on their encounters with Klingons, Romulans and Khan and their resolving of such issues. I did wonder at the end of the book as to why when Kirk was promoted to admiral that he didn’t have a more significant post at Starfleet Earth. You only have to compare what he did with Jonathan Archer who was promoted into a much more diplomatic role to think Kirk missed out on something here.

Likewise, I did wonder why Goodman stopped at 150 years. The events of the Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space 9 couldn’t surely extend for another book as large as this.

I found this book very informing and even if you are up on your Trek gen, you’ll still find this a handy reference volume. There are odd little niggles. As much as I like the touches of official documents, it would have been nice to have see the odd star chart reflecting the changes over the decades to emphasise the Federation’s growth and boundaries. As an official history from within the Federation, various behind the scenes activities are neatly avoided discussion. Even the Time-War as hinted at by Jonathan Archer is carefully avoided. No doubt someone will do a behind the scenes of what really happened one day. In the mean time, you have this book.

GF Willmetts

October 2013

(pub: Titan Books. 187 page paperback. Price: £19.99 (UK), $29.95 (US), $34.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78116-915-5)

check out website: www.titanbooks.com

 

Tags: ,

Category: Books, Star Trek

avatar

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Enjoy scifi? Please spread the word :)