The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years (2016) – Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman

As I have moved on to viewing Star Trek: The Next Generation for the blog, I thought it was high time to dive into the second volume of The Fifty Year Mission by Trek fans Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross.

The first volume, as previously reviewed chronicled the the Original Series, the features, and everything in between involving Kirk, Spock and McCoy, up to and including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The second volume takes us back to 1986 as The Next Gen moved into pre-production and casting.  Almost the first half of this 800+ page tome is about the series and their features, and while there are selected interviews with the cast, ranging from Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Wil Wheaton, the bulk of the oral history of the series comes from the creative time behind the scenes. Familiar names like Ronald Moore, Brannon Braga, Rick Berman, Ira Steven Behr and, of course, Gene Roddenberry, amongst countless others, share their contributions and commentary on the series as well as the influences, and those influenced.

From there, the book moves onto Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, and while Next Generation is the series that most pick when it comes to the spin off series, I feel the three subsequent series got a bit of the short shrift.

Both DS9 and Voyager ran for seven years, but we only get close to one hundred pages on each series, and slightly less for Enterprise, which ran for four. Now, while Next Generation is the most popular, I would have loved to learn more about the follow-up series. More than what was given in this history, anyway.

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Don’t get me wrong, the book is solid, insightful, filled with things about all of the series that I didn’t know, and hearing the tales of those involved, how they made things work, how they worked around restrictions, ratings, budget cuts.

These two volumes give a wonderful, and incredible history to one of the most iconic television series, that has ever graced television sets.

It also let me re-evaluate my worries about Star Trek: Discovery, coming along on the 24th of September. People were so angry when Next Generation was announced, there was letter-writing, haranguing and phone calls, all saying that there could never be Trek with out Kirk and company, and while seasons one and two were shaky, by the time the third season started, it was an entire generation’s Trek.

And now, since it’s been a long time since we’ve had some Star Trek on the air, maybe we’re ready for it again. Maybe we give it a chance, and we see where the human adventure takes us as we continue to boldy go.

This two volume set is not only a must for Trek fans, but also for anyone who is interested in how television series are put together, made, and produced.

Check it out!

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