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Throwback Thursday: The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry.

By October 1, 2015 Feature Stories

Chris Carver is a guest writer on the Axanar blog.

I’m sure that, like me, a number of Axanar fans are excited to learn about any tidbits regarding the intricacies of filming a Star Trek feature.  Personally, I enjoy learning about what goes into making a Star Trek production almost as much as the film itself! What follows is my recollections of one of the books that illustrated the exciting and often challenging world of producing the original Star Trek series.

I have been a fan of Star Trek since I was very young. I began watching the first Star Trek movies when there was a movie night on the networks (back when cable was less common).  I also caught some of the reruns from the original series and was always eager for more.  My father had been a Star Trek fan when it first came out and had a number of Star Trek books which he gave to me – I read over those books constantly.

My favorite was the Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, published in 1970. This book is probably the first quintessential guide to the making of the original Star Trek series.  My father’s favorite story from the book was also my own.  The prop department was trying to find a salt shaker to trigger the salt vampire in the episode “The Man Trap”.  The challenge was finding a 23rd century salt shaker! A member of the prop department collected a number of out-of-this-world looking salt shakers for the episode.  The only problem was that the shakers were so unusual looking, no one could recognize them as salt shakers when the episode was filmed.  Eventually the prop department used a salt shaker from the NBC cafeteria.  The spaced-out shakers did make in onto the show anyway, as some of Dr. McCoy’s medical equipment.  Think of it, Bones treated his patients with condiment dispensers!


Note the salt-shaker on Janice Rand’s tray.

“His condition is worsening… pass the pepper Nurse Chapel!”

There are plenty of other interesting stories, from the designing the Enterprise to various production issues.  For about a year, my copy accompanied me wherever I went, kind of like Linus’ blanket.  Eventually my constant thumbing through the pages resulted in the binding coming apart.  This was quite a disappointment, but not totally unreasonable due to my usage and the book’s age (which was older than I was).  I recently procured another copy from Amazon, however this copy is about the same age as my original one.  Since the book has been out of print for decades, any copy of it is likely to be in a similar condition.  I believe that there is an audience for this book that is just as big, if not bigger, today than when it was originally published.  Therefore, I have petitioned Amazon to re-release the book electronically as a kindle addition.  That way the book can be viewed by more individuals without the worries of wearing out the binding.

Will you join me in this effort by contacting Amazon and asking for a re-release of the book on kindle?  If there is enough interest, I believe we can persuade them to return this amazing book to print… er, electrons.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Ultrawoman says:

    I loved this book as a kid!!!! I spent hours pouring over it again and again. I took it to school with me. I would spend hours pouring over STAR TREK books as a kid!
    I recall this book was still in print in the Eighties. It went through numerous reprints over the years.

  • Lee Benjamin says:

    David, What an awesome idea!

  • James Schultz says:

    Robert Justman had a book out years ago. I thought that one was just fascinating.

  • Paul Hegarty says:

    Still got the book. Just dug it out funny enough in the last couple of days. Like to read again, but these days would be easier on my KOBO, due to working hours …..

  • Fred Trafton says:

    I still have my original book, with the cover hacked up because I made a scrapbook of Star Trek stuff and the cover had the Enterprise on it! I bought it at a “book fair” at my high school, where I also bought James Blish’s “Spock Must Die!”, which must surely be one of the first Star Trek novels ever written (aside from the episode novelizations, also by Blish). Probably about 1970.

  • Steven Fenton says:

    I read that book back around 1972-1975 over and over. Still have it.

  • Kim Bailey says:

    Yeah, I still have my copy. Actually, the first time i read it was in high school and I borrowed it from someone in my class. I suspect that he had to pry it out of my fingers to get it back. Years later I found another copy–pretty much pristine–in a garage sale of all places, yeah some people sell all the wrong things! Anyway, it now occupies a special place in my fiction library, not quite enshrined, meaning, that I only watch people warily when they’ve taken it off the shelf and don’t actually glare or make overtly threatening noises, but not quite loan-able. Yeah, no one takes it any further from the shelf than my living room.
    On another note: I was glad to see the nod to one of Roddenberry’s initial (and discarded!) designs for the Enterprise in ‘Captain’ Crusher’s medical star ship, the Pasteur, in ‘All Good Things’.

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