Book Reviews

The Star Trek Encyclopedia -Everything Trekkies Wanted to Know About Star Trek but Were Afraid to Admit They Didn’t

A quick quiz:

(1) Who is Anastasia Komananov?

(2) What is a Sylleran Rift?

(3) Where would you find Armus if you were looking for him?

(4) When was Khan’s ship launched and what was its name?

(5) What is the significance of the planet Taurus II?

(6) Who portrayed Amelia Earhart in the episode Thirty-Sevens?

(7) What saying is on the dedication plaque of the U.S.S. Sutherland?

(8)Who commanded the U.S.S. Gettysburg?

Just sit down and try to explore any Star Trek related newsgroup or message board, and sooner or later you’re bound to come across a topic that will confound even the biggest Trek fans – and I’m not talking about the debate as to why Klingons look so different between the airing of the original series and the movies.

It was these discussions that prompted me to purchase my first Star Trek Encyclopedia, and though I’ve purchased several other, updated versions since then, my first hardcover edition is still my favorite.

Set up much like a regular dictionary would be, it starts at ’audet IX and ends at Zytchin III. In between is an entry for every character ever to appear in any Star Trek series or film, just about up until the date of publication. There’s information about each species, each starship, and each planet, with references back to what episodes of which series they appeared in or were mentioned.

For instance, under the entry for Romulan Commander Tomalak, the shows The Enemy, The Defector, Future Imperfect, and All Good Things are referenced right after information gleaned from each of these episodes about Tomalak is cited. The entry also lists the actor who portrayed the character (in this case, Andreas Katsulas) and many of them list other information about the actor as well at the end of the entry. In this case, it makes note of Katsulas’ portrayal of G’Kar on Babylon 5 as well as his appearance in the series Alien Nation.

Many entries come with still shots from the many television series or films. The picture quality is generally quite good, with only a few shots from the original series appearing very grainy or washed out. I really liked many of the illustrations as they show what the technical crew was imagining when they were working on the series, even if their imaginations never came to fruition on the screen. In some cases, sets were designed so that we only see a part of what is actually imagined, and the illustrations here help to fill out what wasn’t shown, such as an Operations Center or Ship’s Bridge. There are also detailed illustrations of such things as the Picard Maneuver, which demonstrates how accelerating to warp speed during a battle confuses the enemy.

There are also some terrific charts and tables to use as a reference guide. The Planets, Stars, and Other Celestial Objects not only give the significance of each item listed but also shows the episode(s) in the entry is seen or mentioned in. Known Life-Forms and Starships are also detailed in this same manner. Signage, insignias, weaponry, and written languages are all given significant attention as well, with some illustrations and explanations that show how much thought goes into things that we only get a glimpse of when we watch on television.

There are Appendices for information that just doesn’t fit anywhere else. Here you’ll find two timelines, one of the “historical events” in the fictional universe, and another of events surrounding the production of the four series’ and nine films (as of this writing). There are also extensive cast and crew credits for all of the series and films.

I have purchased a number of these encyclopedias over the years. I treasure my hardcover version from the 1990s, not just because of the high quality and hard work that went into making this book, but also because over the years I used it to collect autographs, and I now have an extensive collection, some of whom are no longer with us. DeForest Kelley signed by his picture of Dr. Leonard McCoy, and John Colicos signed by his picture and entry for the Klingon Kor.

I have found a few errors, but most of them are what I would term “interpretive differences”. Two people can often look at the same situation and come away with different conclusions, and that was my take on the few quibbles I’ve heard from other Star Trek fans about the book.

The most recent edition was released for the 50th anniversary of the show in 2016, so there is some more recent information that will be missing. It’s also got a pretty steep price tag if you can still find one. I went looking for this review and the only place that still had it in stock was Books-a-Million. The Star Trek Encyclopedia provides a wealth of information about the series. Now go buy it and convince everyone on the internet you’re the biggest Trekkie ever, even if you’ve never watched a show!

7 replies »

  1. I have this. It’s probably the most expensive Star Trek reference book I’ve bought, and it’s also the heaviest!

    I’d heard rumors back in 1999, which was when the third edition came out, that Pocket Books was not going to publish any more editions because the Internet would probably make printed editions obsolete, plus the cost-to-profit margin of producing these books just wasn’t in the company’s favor.

    I wish I’d gotten the two Pocket Book editions that I have in hardcovers, but when they were published the only ones I found in bookstores were the paperbacks.

      • I think I paid $120 for mine on Amazon. I pre-ordered it as soon as I heard about it.

        You probably have the hardcovers of the 1994 (first) and 1998 editions, then! (Unless the second hardcover is the expanded one from 1999).

        My paperback of the ’94 edition is still in relatively good shape. The 1999 one I have was a hand-me-down gift and was already well-read. That one is not in good shape.