Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Movie Review: 'In the Line of Fire'

In 1993’s suspenseful In The Line of Fire, director Wolgang Petersen pits Clint Eastwood's Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan and John Malkovich's potential Presidential assassin Mitch Leary.

Working from a screenplay by Jeff Maguire (Gridiron Gang, Timeline), Petersen gives audiences an intelligent thriller which examines the psyches of its two antagonists as they play a deadly cat-and-mouse game in which the life of the President of the United States hangs on the balance.

In the Line of Fire tells us that a now 50-something Agent Horrigan was a young and hard nosed Secret Service agent in charge of President Kennedy's security detail in Dallas on November 22,1963.  

Like his real-life counterpart Clint Hill, Horrigan is haunted by the fact that he lost the President of the United States under his watch.  

As a result of Frank's slide into depression and alcohol abuse, his marriage ended and his career with the Secret Service has stagnated.  Instead of overseeing the agency's Presidential Security Detail or even being the chief of the Treasury Department's law enforcement branch, Frank is assigned to the important but less prestigious Anti-Counterfeiting Division,
The film begins when we’re introduced to Frank and his new partner, Special Agent Al D'Andrea (Dylan McDermott), who is on his first undercover assignment.  Their mission: to arrest Mendoza (Tovin Bell) a notorious and dangerous counterfeiter.

However, as bad as Mendoza may have been, he's insignificant in comparison to Eastwood's new nemesis, Mitch Leary, who is a master of disguise, methodical, clever, lethally efficient and has an unerring ability to detect an adversary's psychological weaknesses. Here, Leary plays upon Frank's guilt over not being able to prevent JFK's assassination.

Leary starts the game subtly at first. To get the Secret Service agent’s attention, he makes sure that Frank finds an old newspaper clipping with a photo of himself when he was on JFK’s security detail.  
[Leary makes the first of a series of taunting phone calls]
Frank Horrigan: McCrawley?
Mitch Leary: Why not call me Booth?
Frank Horrigan: Why not Oswald?
Mitch Leary: Because Booth had flair, panache - a leap to the stage after he shot Lincoln.

Later, Mitch iincreases the pressure when, using his nom de guerre "Booth,"  he has long conversations with Frank. He tells his adversary what he plans to do and dares him to catch him, if he can.

Horrigan asks his boss (John Mahoney) to reassign him to the Presidential detail.  However, his uncompromising style and determination to make sure the President (Jim Curley) is out of "Booth's" line of fire cause heavy-duty friction between Frank and various VIPs, including detail chief Bill Watts (Gary Cole), White House Chief of Staff Harry Sargent (Fred Dalton Thompson) and even the President himself.

As it happens, In the Line of Fire takes place in the midst of the President's bid for a second term. Concerned with getting votes and wary of any restrictions on his activities,the Chief Executive and his handlers don't want Frank's preoccupation with Leary to get in the way of election year politicking.

Frank ticks off almost everyone he needs on his side, including Agent Lilly Raines (Rene Russo), a Presidential Detail member. At first, Lilly isn't really impressed by Horrigan's macho abrasiveness, but is eventually won over by his jazz piano-playing and old-style romanticism.

In the Line of Fire borrows heavily from Eastwood’s Dirty Harry series when Frank eventually irks his superiors one time too many and gets booted from the Presidential Detail.  As in the "Inspector Callahan" movies, Eastwood's character nevertheless carries on with the task of finding Leary before he manages to kill the President.

My Take: Though Maguire's script is sometimes predictable and even clich├ęd, its masterful blending of Eastwood As Law Enforcer and The Day of the Jackal (in which a professional killer attempts to kill French President Charles De Gaulle) works very well.

The secret of In the Line of Fire's success isn't so much that Eastwood at 65 could pull of the role of a 50-something Secret Service agent (though that element clearly does work) or that Russo manages to play Lilly as Frank's ally-turned-lover in a convincing manner, but rather that the villain's part is well-written and played by John Malkovich.

Any movie which has this Man-vs.-Man conflict depends heavily on how menacing, inventive, watchable and difficult to beat the villain is.

Malkovich's creepy Mitch Leary, with his quiet charm, his ability to hide in plain sight, his unerring penchant to get under Frank's skin and his cold ruthlessness (he kills at least four possible witnesses to his preparations without any hesitation) makes him the cinematic equal of Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber in 1988's Die Hard.

Of course, a well-written (and acted) hero helps, and Eastwood does not disappoint here.  He gets the viewer to feel his sadness and frustration without sinking into self-pity, and we cheer him on in his twin quests to track Mitch down and win Lilly's affections as the film progresses.
Director Wolfgang Petersen, who clearly knows how to tell gripping stories of men in life-and-death situations (see Das Boot, his 1981 epic about a German U-boat in World War II, as well as Air Force One and The Perfect Storm) masterfully takes viewers on a well-paced and engrossing action-suspense thrill ride.

Sure, there are predictable moments and some of the usual Villain-Tries-to-Take-the-High Ground situations show up here. However,  In the Line of Fire at least has the decency to respect our intelligence and not rely on big explosions or rat-a-tat-tat machine gun shootouts.

Blu-ray Specifications

  • Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (24.95 Mbps)
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
  • Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

  • English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • French: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Portuguese: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Cantonese, Dutch, Indonesian, Korean

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc
  • Single disc (1 BD)
  • BD-Live

  • Region free 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Review: 'Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End' (Book Three of the Aftermath Trilogy)

(C) 2017 Del Rey Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.
On February 21, 2017, Random House's Del Rey Books imprint published Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End, the final volume in author Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy. Set in the turbulent days after the Battle of Endor, the destruction of the second Death Star, and the deaths of Emperor Sheev Palpatine and Darth Vader, Wendig's trio of canonical Star Wars novels reveals some of the events that occur in that "galaxy far, far away" between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. 

Wendig begins Empire's End with a short prologue set before the Battle of Endor. Emperor Palpatine, perhaps sensing his approaching demise, orders Imperial Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax aboard the still incomplete Death Star II to receive his final instructions:

"I need you to be ready."

"I am always ready." 

"It may soon be time for the Contingency." 

At that, Rax's throat tightens. My destiny...

Palpatine continues: "You will go far away from here. You will take the Ravager and hide in the Vulpinus Nebula until the events of this shatterpoint resolve."

"How will I know?

" You will know. I will send a sentinel."

Rax is a Palpatine loyalist and will obey the Emperor's commands, even it means that someday - perhaps soon - he will return to his home world of Jakku. There, in a facility known as the Observatory, lies the key to Palpatine's last gambit to reverse the Empire's doom - and restore his dark vision for the galaxy. 

Wendig then picks up the narrative shortly after the events of Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt. New Republic pilot Norra Wexley, her son Temmin, Zabrak bounty hunter Jas Emari, former Special Forces trooper Jom Barell, and ex-Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Ras Velis are on the planet Taris on a sting operation to catch Mercurial Swift, a bounty hunter with connections to Grand Admiral Rae Sloane.  The team captures Swift and gives him the third degree regarding Sloane's whereabouts. But the bounty hunter resists the interrogation - until Sinjir warns Swift that if he doesn't cooperate, Norra's team will send Temmin's modified B-1 battle droid, Mr. Bones, to pay Mercurial's mother a little visit.  

Defeated, frightened, and angry, Mercurial reveals to the team of Imperial hunters that he saw Sloane and an unidentified male on Jakku, a miserable desert world somewhere in the Western Reaches of the Empire. He also mentions that the fugitive Grand Admiral was seeking a ship called the Imperialis and a mysterious man called Rax. Norra and the team then leave Taris to continue their search for Sloane, and a vengeful Swift decides to collect an outstanding Black Sun bounty on Jas - knowing that she is heading for Jakku.

As the final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire draws near, all eyes turn to a once-isolated planet: Jakku.

The Battle of Endor shattered the Empire, scattering its remaining forces across the galaxy. But the months following the Rebellion's victory have not been easy. The fledgling New Republic has suffered a devastating attack from the Imperial remnant, forcing the new democracy to escalate their hunt for the hidden enemy.

For her role in the deadly ambush, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is the most wanted Imperial war criminal—and one-time rebel pilot Norra Wexley, back in service at Leia's urgent request, is leading the hunt. But more than just loyalty to the New Republic drives Norra forward: Her husband was turned into a murderous pawn in Sloane's assassination plot, and now she wants vengeance as much as justice.

But Sloane, too, is on a furious quest: pursuing the treacherous Gallius Rax to the barren planet Jakku. As the true mastermind behind the Empire's devastating attack, Rax has led the Empire to its defining moment. The cunning strategist has gathered the powerful remnants of the Empire's war machine, preparing to execute the late Emperor Palpatine's final plan. As the Imperial fleet orbits Jakku, an armada of Republic fighters closes in to finish what began at Endor. Norra and her crew soar into the heart of an apocalyptic clash that will leave land and sky alike scorched. And the future of the galaxy will finally be decided. - Dust jacket blurb - Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End

Meanwhile, on Chandrila, former General Han Solo and his wife, Princess Leia Organa, mull over the changes in their life since the Battle of Endor. The Galactic Civil War is over - or almost so. The Emperor and Darth Vader are gone, but systems such as Tatooine, Horuz, Kerev Doi, and Demesel are either under Imperial occupation or controlled by criminal syndicates. Leia wants the New Republic to free them, too, but the Senate is too timid - cowardly, in Leia's mind - to do so expeditiously.  Leia, who has been fighting the Empire for as long as she can recall, doesn't like this: to her way of thinking, Mon Mothma is too soft on military issues and is leaving the New Republic wide open for another attack by the shattered Galactic Empire.

And as if that wasn't enough, Leia is pregnant; she and Han are expecting a baby boy that they have already named Ben. Like any good prospective parent, she wants this war to end so she and Han can raise their son in a galaxy free from the traumas of war and the shadows of the Empire's tyranny

Leia knows that Grand Admiral Sloane is still at large, and that as long as the remnants of the Empire still have the ships and troops to resist the New Republic, the war will go on. Determined to finish the job the former Rebel Alliance started at the Battle of Endor, Leia assigns Norra Wexley and her team to find and capture Sloane - and thus hasten the Empire's end.

My Take:

Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy covers only a short period of the 30-year gap between Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This novel is set roughly a year after the Battle of Endor, so if you expect to find out everything about the origins of the First Order and the creation of Starkiller Base, or even how Kylo Ren comes to be, you're in for a disappointment.  Other novels written by other authors, including Claudia Gray (Bloodline)  will explore the genesis of the Resistance and the rise of Snoke and the First Order.

Not that Wendig doesn't sow some seeds for the Sequel Trilogy in Aftermath: Empire's End. As you can probably imagine, the novel does take the reader to Jakku, where the Empire's forces will make their desperate last stand.  Much of the book's last chapters delve into the Battle of Jakku - and Wendig even mentions the fall of that forlorn Imperial AT-AT seen lying on its side not far from the crashed hulk of a Star Destroyer in The Force Awakens. 

We also learn that Niima Outpost is named after a wily and deadly crime boss; that Brendol Hux's young son Armitage - already ruthless and an integral part of Rax's plan to train children to be killers for the Empire - will be the First Order's military leader; and we also see Ben Solo - the future Kylo Ren - as a cute infant who captures the hearts of his parents - Han and Leia. 

Wendig also takes the reader into side jaunts to other parts of the galaxy. In one, Lando Calrissian returns to Cloud City, now under Imperial occupation, and liberates it with the help of his friend and aide, Lobot. On Naboo, we see what happened to one of the saga's most divisive characters, and on Coruscant, we see what becomes of Grand Vizier Mas Amedda - Palpatine's Chagrian toady and Vice Chancellor during the last years of the Republic and the early days of the Empire. 

Although Wendig's writing style takes some getting used to, after reading two novels written in a spare, no-frills (and present tense/omniscient) narrative you know what to expect. Some readers might still find it too terse or comic book-like, but it works for me. Wendig is particularly good at creating characters that are interesting and entertaining, and even though sometimes I wish his prose was more like Timothy Zahn's, I still think he does a good job in Aftermath: Empire's End. 

All in all, Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End is an exciting conclusion to Wendig's first literary journey to the Star Wars galaxy. Despite what some of his detractors have said about his bona fides, Chuck Wendig is both a good writer and knowledgeable Star Wars fan. Based on his work on this trilogy, Disney-owned Marvel Comics also hired Wendig to write the script for its well-received four-issue comics adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 



Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: 'Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt'

(C) 2016 Del Rey Books and Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Although Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath - the first volume in the Aftermath series - received mixed reviews from Star Wars fans, it was the first “new canon” novel to answer the question What happened in that galaxy far, far away after the Battle of Endor and the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader? Despite a few idiosyncrasies in style and use (or lack thereof) of Star Wars-like slang in some bits, Wendig’s 2015 Star Wars: Aftermath was a New York Times-bestseller because it still tells an exciting story about how Rebel pilot Norra Wexley and her team disrupt the plans of the Imperial Future Council and run into the gunsights of Imperial Grand Admiral Rae Sloane.

On July 12, 2016, Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House, published Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, which unites Norra, her teenage son Temmin and his refurbished battle droid Mr. Bones, former Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus, New Republic commando Jom Barell, and bounty hunter Jas Emari with Princess Leia Organa and her husband, Han Solo in a tale full of excitement, suspense, and danger.

It is a dark time for the Empire. . . .

The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.
Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush—resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.
Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon’s last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them—or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs. - from the jacket blurb, Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt

The novel begins with a prologue set 35 years earlier, when Galli, a 12-year-old orphan boy on the desert planet Jakku, stows away on the Imperialis, the Emperor’s luxury pleasure craft. Cunning and calculating even at an early age, Galli will grow up to become Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, an Imperial officer selected by Palpatine himself to carry out “the Contingency,” a top secret plan to restore the Galactic Empire in the unlikely event that the Rebels defeat the Imperial forces and kill the Emperor.

Flash forward to the post-Battle of Endor era, when the Rebel Alliance has become the New Republic and the shattered Empire is apparently waning. Norra Wexley and her team of “Imperial hunters” is pursuing the Empire’s remaining leadership, including Grand Admiral Sloane, Grand Vizier Mas Ammeda, and Imperial Advisor Yupe Tashu.  Ammeda is a virtual prisoner on the Empire’s former capital world Coruscant, but the others are on the run and plotting to restore the Empire to its former glory.

Meanwhile, Princess Leia Organa, one of the Rebellion’s most prominent leaders, is on Chandrila, worried about her husband, Han Solo. In a long-distance holo-message, Han tells Leia that he is searching for his friend and co-pilot. Chewbacca. Han and Chewie were on a mission to the Wookiee’s home planet, Kashyyyk to liberate it from Imperial domination. In the process, however, the two friends became separated. Now, Han has resigned his commission and gone off on his own to find Chewbacca - to pay back the life-debt that started their long friendship.

Meanwhile, Fleet Admiral Rax, the Galactic Empire’s de facto ruler,  sets in motion a complex plan to self-destruct the Empire and lay the foundation for a new entity that will defeat the New Republic - and set in motion Palpatine’s posthumous scheme to rule the galaxy.

My Take

As with Star Wars: Aftermath, my reaction to Wendig’s Star  Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt  is a grab bag of mixed emotions. It is a fast-moving and often pleasurable Star Wars novel to read, and it does begin the process of filling in the gaps in the story between the events of 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Once again, the novel is written in third-person, present tense, which is a style that few Star Wars authors use. As in Aftermath, Wendig uses a spare, almost minimalistic style that gets to the point fast; some readers may like this technique - Wendig has a witty, often irreverent style that is in turns interesting and amusing. Other readers may not praise the author’s stylistic decision to tell this story in this way. The tone is light and easy to take, but sometimes the writing has sudden stops and starts that some people will find annoying, even enervating.

The plot itself is riveting; who would have imagined that Sheev Palpatine would have conceived a Twilight of the Gods scenario reminiscent of Hitler’s scorched earth policies for Germany at the end of World War II?  It is consistent with what we know of the Emperor/Dark Lord of the Sith from watching the Prequel Trilogy and the final chapter of the Original Trilogy, and it was cool seeing the devious Gallius Rax pulling off several double-crosses against both the New Republic and those Imperials who think they can save the old Empire.

It was also fun to see Wendig’s original characters interacting with the beloved cast of the Original Trilogy. Contrary to some of the snarkier reviews on Amazon, Wendig is a Star Wars fan who likes and knows the characters well. In Life Debt, where Han, Leia, and Chewbacca play a significant role in the story, Wendig captures some of the essence of the Original Trilogy’s “Heroes of the Rebellion” and injects it into the prose. He doesn’t quite pull it off as well as Timothy Zahn did in The Thrawn Trilogy, but Wendig puts a lot of effort into it - and it shows.  

I really like Norra Wexley. Temmin, Mr. Bones, Jas,  and Sinjir Rath Vallus and how they are now a cohesive team.  They remind of the close-knit groups of freedom fighters seen in A New Hope, Star Wars Rebels, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Wendig also drops little references to people or places mentioned or seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No, not Supreme Leader Snoke or Rey’s parents, but we do meet a five-year-old Armitage Hux, who will grow up to be the First Order’s General Hux, commander of Starkiller Base. We also see Jakku itself, and Wendig hints that we’ll see what happens at the Battle of Jakku and why all that Imperial wreckage lies there 30 years later.

Product Details

  • Series: Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (July 12, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101966939
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101966938

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: 'The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future - Fourth Edition' (2016)

Over the past quarter century, the publishing world has released four editions of Michael and Denise Okuda's The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future. The first three editions were published by Simon & Schuster imprint Pocket Books, the same license holder that has produced hundreds of paperback and hardcover books based on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Original Series since 1979.  

The first edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia was published in May of 1994, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation's seven-season run in syndication wound down. Due to the vagaries of the book's production schedule, this edition - co-written by the Okudas with Debbie Mirek - covers Star Trek: The Original Series in its entirety, the first six theatrical films, most of Star Trek: The Next Generation (but not much of Season Seven), and part of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's premiere season. This edition was published as a hardcover (which was tough to find in those days before online shopping) and a mass trade paperback edition.

(C) 1994 Pocket Books and Paramount Pictures

Though it was lavishly illustrated with production stills and artwork by Doug Drexler and other illustrators, the 1994 edition was published with no color illustrations - only black-and-white photos, charts, and renditions of various starships from the Federation and other galactic entities. 

Pocket Books published the second edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future in December of 1997. By then, co-author Mirek had left the team, but since she had contributed a considerable amount of material to the first edition, she still earned a place (albeit a less prominent one) in the credits listing on the front page. 

The cover now depicts four variants of the Enterprise, the Defiant, and Voyager. Note also that Debbie Mirek's credit has been moved off to the right-hand corner of the cover. (C) 1997 Pocket Books and Paramount Pictures
The 1997 edition now covered Star Trek: The Original Series and its six spin-off movies; Star Trek: The Next Generation in its entirety and its first two film sequels; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine up to part of its fifth season; and Star Trek: Voyager up to part of Season Three. As with the first edition, The Star Trek Encyclopedia had hardcover and paperback versions. Unlike the 1994 volume, the illustrations were rendered in color, and some errors that had made their way into the original edition were corrected. 

Two years later, after the release of  Star Trek: Insurrection (the third Next Generation movie) and the end of Deep Space Nine drawing near, Pocket Books published a third "updated and revised" edition (illustrated above) in hardcover and paperback formats. Again, the first two TV series were covered comprehensively, as were the nine existing feature films, plus coverage of six complete seasons and part of Season Seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (with some revelations about the series' major characters' fates at the end of Season Seven). Voyager was also covered up to part of its fifth season; the series still had two more years to go before its finale episode (Endgame) aired on May 23, 2001.

Then, after that, silence. Pocket Books stopped publishing updated and revised editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia in "hard copy" versions. (There was a 1995 CD-ROM Omnipedia set based on The Star Trek Encyclopedia and The Star Trek Chronology by Simon & Schuster, but as far as I know, there weren't any follow-up versions to that, either.)

Pocket Books apparently came to the conclusion that creating a continuing reference books about franchises that are constantly evolving is, in the end, a never-ending and expensive proposition. If Gene Roddenberry and his creative heirs (Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor, Brannon Braga, and J.J. Abrams)  had not created any spin-offs to the Original Series beyond the first six films, or even if Paramount had stopped the franchise expansion at the end of Voyager, then perhaps Pocket Books would have done a fourth edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia in 2002 or even 2003 to cover Star Trek: Nemesis and the final season of Star Trek: Voyager. 

That changed last year when HarperCollins, in collaboration with CBS Consumer Products and becker&meyer! published The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future's fourth edition in a deluxe two-volume set.

(C) 2016 HarperCollins and CBS Studios

The Star Trek Encyclopedia, Version 4.0

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the classic show, a fully authorized revision of the popular reference companion: a two-volume encyclopedia featuring a completely new design, stunning new full-color photographs and illustrations, and 300 pages of new entries, packaged in a specially designed and shrink-wrapped deluxe slipcase.

When it debuted in 1966, the Star Trek series quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring six spin-off series and thirteen films—including Star Trek Beyond, opening July 22, 2016—as well as books, comics, games, toys, and more. One of the largest franchises of all time, Star Trek’s overall box office revenue totals more than $1.93 billion to date.

Since its initial publication almost twenty-five years ago, The Star Trek Encyclopedia has been the go-to source for everything related to the franchise’s canon. Packed with highly detailed information, including brief episode and film synopses, no other book has come close to offering the same wealth of insight into the Star Trek universe. Now, The Star Trek Encyclopedia has been thoroughly revised and redesigned for a new generation of fans. This updated and expanded edition includes 300 more pages, information, photographs and illustrations, and offers exhaustively researched and detailed entries on the characters, ships, and events from the last fifteen years of Star Trek television shows and films, including Star Trek: Voyager seasons 4-7, Star Trek: Enterprise seasons 1-4, and Star Trek Nemesis. It also features material detailing the recent big-screen films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Packaged in a stunning deluxe slipcase, this two-volume set is a must-have for every Star Trek fan’s library. - Promotional insert, The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future 

As in the three previous Pocket Books editions, HarperCollins' The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future's writers "assumed editorially that both authors and readers are residents of the 25th Century some decades after Star Trek: Nemesis. This is our attempt to place everything in a historical perspective." 


The two volumes (A-L) and (M-Z) contains information about characters, planets, star systems, starships, historical events, foods, cultures, weapons, and species seen in the official Star Trek canon, which is defined as "material from finished and aired versions of episodes and released versions of films." Thus, the entries refer to:
  • Star Trek, aka Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS)
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (VGR)
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
In addition, entries that refer to the alternate "Kelvin timeline" created in J.J. Abrams' ongoing series of reboots are identified with an asterisk (*).  Also, the first film in this series is referred to simply as Star Trek (2009) to avoid confusion with The Original Series. 

As in previous editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia, no information is derived from any novels, video games, or role-playing game resource books. In fact, because the Okudas are official members of Paramount/CBS Studios' Star Trek production team, the authors' two reference works (The Star Trek Encyclopedia and The Star Trek Chronology) are the only such books that are considered canonical in their own right. Other in-universe "reference books, including Franz Joseph's 1975 The Star Fleet Technical Manual and Shane Johnson's Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise have lost whatever canonical status they had before 1994.

Star Trek: The Animated Series, too, is not covered in The Star Trek Encyclopedia as a result of an odd decision by Gene Roddenberry to consider the series apocryphal and not part of the canon. Star Trek: The Animated Series should be canon; after all, even though it was made by the animation company Filmation, Roddenberry was The Animated Series' creator and co-executive producer (with D.C. Fontana), and most of The Original Series' live action cast (except Walter Koenig) provided voices for the animated versions of their Star Trek alter egos. The scripts, too, were written by veterans of the original 1966-1969 show and were almost up to par with some of the live-action Star Trek episodes even though they were shorter and suffered from Filmation's limited animation techniques. Paramount/CBS Studios has incorporated a lot of material from The Animated Series, but until there is an edict in writing that annuls Roddenberry's wishes, the Okudas won't include entries based strictly on the show.

The two-volume set (A-L and M-Z) comes in an attractive and sturdy slipcover. (C) 2016 HarperCollins

 The Encyclopedia is an A-Z reference book with entries about everything seen in the Star Trek universe, from 'audet IX, a planet seen in The Child (TNG) to Zyznian church mouse, a small rodent mentioned in Q2 (VGR). Entries tend to be around a paragraph or two in length, although major characters, such as James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard McCoy, Jean-Luc Picard, and Benjamin Sisko are allotted one or two pages' worth of coverage.

As in the second and third revised editions, all of the illustrations, including starship comparison charts, uniform and insignia collections, and character photographs, are full-color. The starships in this edition are depicted in beautifully-rendered CGI illustrations, and the various alien species (Romulans, Klingons, Kazon, etc.) are depicted as they appear throughout the 50 years of Star Trek lore in hand-drawn illustrations.

One of the biggest surprises (for me, anyway) in this reference work is that the Enterprise in Star Trek (2009) is the second-largest of the nine Starships Enterprise seen in the entire franchise. Though it's a ship of the Constitution class in both timelines, the Kelvin Enterprise is 725 meters long, compared to The Original Series' famous Enterprise, which is only 289 meters long. (The biggest Enterprise is the Universe-class Enterprise-J, which was seen in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode The Council. According to the Starships Enterprise chart on page 244 of the A-L volume, the NCC-1701-J is 3,219 meters in overall length.)

Whether you are a die-hard fan who first saw Star Trek: The Original Series in "living color" from the first day it aired (September 8, 1966) on NBC or are just becoming acquainted with the franchise with the J.J. Abrams reboots and look forward to the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery television series, The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future is a must-have addition to your library. It's informative, to be sure, but it's also fun to read.

  • Hardcover: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design; Revised, Expanded Edition (October 18, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062371320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062371324
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 3.1 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.6 pounds