REVIEW: “These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One”

thesevoyages_coverThese Are The Voyages: TOS Season One
Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Jacobs Brown Press

From the back cover:

Author Marc Cushman had the great honor of befriending both Gene Roddenberry and Robert H. Justman. As a result of that friendship, Marc was given access to all the Star Trek production documents from the three years the series ran, which are currently housed in the UCLA Archives under a bequest by Roddenberry and Justman.

These documents are private and viewing is restricted and supervised. This work is derived from eight months spent researching the details of the production. These books reveal, for the first time, the truth behind all the politics and behind-the-scene machinations of the productions. Rod Roddenberry, said: "This is going to be the bible to STAR TREK® and how it was made. This is a book that I'm going to keep near and dear and utilize throughout my life."

These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One contains hundreds of previously unpublished insights and recollections from actors, directors, producers, and production crew, capturing what went on from every perspective, including memos dictated by Roddenberry while reading drafts to the series scripts. The book offers a unique look behind-the-scenes in the form of original staff memos, contracts, schedules, budgets, network correspondence, and the censor reports from NBC.

These Are The Voyages creates the opportunity for readers to transport themselves back in space and time to witness the true history of Season One of Star Trek®: TOS. Go behind the closed doors of NBC, Desilu/Paramount, the producers' offices, the writers' room, the sound stages and shooting locations, and learn the actual facts behind all the blood, sweat, tears, politics, and spellbinding creativity that brought Star Trek® into being... and changed the Sci Fi world. This book looks behind the scenes in the form of original staff memos -- including Gene Roddenberry's own memos, contracts, schedules, budgets, network correspondence, censor reports and other newly-uncovered documentation.

My thoughts:

As a fairly knowledgeable Star Trek fan, I have read a great deal about the history and production of Star Trek. Like many other fans, over the years I've gleaned a lot of information and "inside stories" about the events that brought my favorite science-fiction franchise into being. Having said that, the sheer amount of information in These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One absolutely blew me away. The book itself, already not small, is packed from cover to cover with every bit of information you could possibly want about the production of the Original Series.

gene_ent_thumbGene Roddenberry with the three-foot Enterprise filming model

The first chapter talks all about the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry. Most Trek fans know a lot of the broad strokes about his life, but These Are The Voyages goes even deeper. In what would become a familiar theme during my reading of this book, I was endlessly fascinated and amazed by the amount of detailed information about Roddenberry's life. Page after page revealed a new tidbit of information that I had not previously known. From there, the book goes on to talk about the conception and realization of what would come to be known as Star Trek.

However, the author takes a broader view than merely chronicling the birth of the series. Rather, he goes into great depth describing the situation on television at the time, providing useful information such as the histories of the major television networks and studios, setting the stage for the emergence of Star Trek. The breadth of the information provided makes for a fascinating read and provides insights about Star Trek's beginnings that would otherwise remain unknown to a younger fan such as me, who was not yet alive during this period.

The majority of the book showcases the episodes that make up Star Trek's first season. It is in these chapters that the book really shines! The in-depth coverage for each episode begins with the original NBC press release followed by a brief critique of the episode. The real treasure comes with the recounting of the inception of the idea for the episode, followed by the back-and-forth process of writing, pre-production, and production. The insights into the industry as a whole and the early days of Star Trek in particular are very eye-opening.

ent_bluescreen_thumbProduction underway during Star Trek's early days

For most people, the information in these chapters will lead to a whole new appreciation of each episode. The analysis of each episode is appropriately critical and in-depth. The tendency in a lot of publications is to fawn over the wonder that was Star Trek and to gloss over the rough patches. Not so here. These Are The Voyages is an uncompromising look at the steps (and sometimes missteps) that went into creating the Original Series. A great example is the chapter on the creation of the episode "Court Martial." At each step, the production ran into difficulties, and while the finished episode isn't terrible, there are a number of flaws that survived from writing through to post-production.

Although I had to read quickly in order to do this review, I have plans to go back and slowly read through each episode chapter while simultaneously doing a TOS Season One rewatch. I have a feeling that the experience would be pretty rewarding!

Final thoughts:

Meticulously researched and lovingly presented, the amount of work put into this book is apparent on nearly every page. To a serious Star Trek fan, These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One will serve not only as an interesting reference, but as a time capsule of sorts. This is the sort of supplementary material that will not simply sit on one's shelf for years; rather, many people will find themselves consulting it often to learn more about their favorite (or not-so-favorite) episodes.

This appears to be the definitive account of the first season of Star Trek, and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on volumes two and three.

- Reviewed by TrekCore's Literature Editor, Dan Gunther, August, 2013

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What did you think of These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One? Let us know below!

  • burtyb73

    sounds great, think ill get me a copy, thanks for the review

    • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

      Glad you liked it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  • http://www.scream-movie.net/ Charles Petrosky

    Sold out! :-S

    • trekcore

      No! Still available – click the “1 New for $39.95″ link – the order comes straight from the publishers :)

  • Scottamer

    Reviews of this book make it sound great. I am looking forward to finding a way to get it in Canada. My understanding is that all the photographs in this book are black and white even though many are shown in colour in the reviews and excerpts. Can anyone confirm how much of the book, if anything, is in colour?

    • Chuck Eders

      Yeah, the photographs are in black and white and apparently just screen grabs from websites, so nothing new really.

    • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

      The review copy I got has only black and white photos, and I’m given to understand the published edition also only contains black and white photographs.

      • Scottamer

        Why does your review contain a colour image if it is not in the actual book?

        • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

          The images I had to work with were in colour, but the actual printing of the book doesn’t allow for colour photos – only grayscale.

          • Chuck Eders

            So, false advertising.

          • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

            I apologize if you think so… I didn’t have access to photo editing software to turn the pics into black and white. It certainly wasn’t my intention to mislead!

          • Chuck Eders

            Well, no offense, I assumed you got your photos from These are the Voyages. But now that you mention it, your color photo of the Enterprise looks like it’s a screen cap from birdofthegalaxy’s flickr stream. Credit?

          • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

            It’s from my collection of behind the scenes photos, but I don’t know who initially took the photo. I felt that it was representative of the subject matter of the book when I chose it. A quick Google search shows a pretty big proliferation for this particular photograph.

          • Chuck Eders

            It was first restored by birdofthegalaxy and presented on his flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdofthegalaxy/3661974556/in/set-72157619514479789

            I’ve not seen it elsewhere, sorry.

          • http://www.treklit.com/ Dan Gunther

            Cool, thanks for the info! It’s a pretty gorgeous photo.

          • Chuck Eders

            You’re welcome, and it is a nice photo.

  • Gilbetron

    This book basically sounds like nirvana. I would instantly buy this if there was a Kindle version, seeing as I’m no longer in the business of buying hard copies. Why on earth isn’t it available as an ebook!?

  • Kevin Koster

    This is a nice book, but people should understand it for what it is.
    It’s a fan book, compiled from someone who had good access to the archives, and someone who once submitted a story idea to TNG. But a fan book nonetheless.
    The book was effectively self-published, and they even ran a kickstarter campaign to get it across the finish line. Since there have already been numerous books published about the production of the original series, this one was not picked up by any established publisher. And the copy shows this – there are multiple typos and errors throughout the manuscript.
    There are also complete errors. One example is that the book attests that “City on the Edge of Forever” was scored with tracked music and the “Goodnight Sweetheart” song – which we know is untrue from the La-La-Land release last December. In fact, “City” received about 10 minutes of new music from Fred Steiner – and this music was never used again that I know about during the series, given that it was scored very late in the first season of the show.
    That said, it was a pleasure to read through this volume, given that the author had access to all the callsheets, production reports, budgets, contracts, script drafts, memos and all the other materials that went into the creation of every episode. I expect that the next volume, on Season Two, will be just as rewarding. It’s the third season that puzzles me here. Given that Roddenberry distanced himself from the moment he knew that NBC was dumping the show, given that Herb Solow left the company quickly after the merger, and given that Bob Justman quit the show halfway through the third year, one wonders what other memos may survive. It’s possible there are memos from Fred Frieberger or someone else at that time, but my instincts say that the volume on the third year will be more of a portrait of a series on its way down.

  • Nelson

    I’m reading the book now and im glad to see a site like this actually publish a review. I figured the book was shut out from the mainstream publishers forblurting out the whole story of Star Trek. I spoke to the customer service person at Jacobs Brown. The publisher of this book. She’s very nice and was willing to answer all kinds of questions. She confirmed, CBS didn’t want this book out because it would bust myths about Star Trek, her words.

    She also confirms for me as I asked, there will be a Kindle and iBooks version very soon. But even though I bought the hard bound copy, I have to buy the ebook version too. I hope someday the publishers will figure out some people would both a hard copy and soft copy.

    This is a fan’s book, every fan will want to read this!

    • Kevin Koster

      I don’t know that CBS actively didn’t want this book to be published. There have been several BTS books written about Star Trek that didn’t get published through mainstream publishers. It’s not that there’s a big story they don’t want out. It’s more that there are already plenty of BTS books out on the series, ranging from the original “The Making of Star Trek” to David Gerrold’s books of the 1970s to the “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story” volume to the autobiographies of the whole cast. A new book on the original series being published in 2013 isn’t something that appeals to a large-scale publisher – not because they don’t want the series to be discussed but because they have already released so many books on the subject that they don’t think they’ll reach that large of an audience. So Cushman went with this company, which effectively allowed him to self-publish, in the same way that various internet companies make it possible for people to issue limited runs of their books if they can’t release them through a mainstream outlet.

      I’m glad that Cushman was able to get the books out through this publisher, and I’m glad that they’re discussing an eBook. I’m hoping that the e-version will have a bunch of the original memos attached as a bonus. And I’m looking forward to the materials he’ll include in the volumes for the other two seasons. I understand that the books are completed, but they’re waiting to publish Season 2′s volume til the end of the year and they won’t put Season 3 out til next year.

      • Nelson

        Kevin, is that the same Kevin EK at the HTF I’ve had pleasant conversations with? The Internet and Star Trek fandom is a small place! :)

        I certainly also thought that a mainstream publisher might not see these books from Cushman as mainstream enough for an average reader, or Star Trek fan, and I sort of suspected that too. But when a site like Startrek.com and Trekmovie.com didn’t make any mention of it’s release, I sort of got suspicious. So I asked them and the woman at Jacobs Brown said that CBS didn’t want to touch it for the reasons I mentioned above. I’m sure it’s highly possible it’s a mix of both a book being seen as not one that would sell big numbers for a publisher and may contain information CBS doesn’t want to help publicize.

        As I find time to read more, I’ll be discussing it on the trivia thread at the HTF.

        • Kevin Koster

          One and the same, Nelson. We have had many very good conversations at HTF.

          I don’t doubt that people at Jacobs Brown may think that CBS didn’t want the book out, or that there is compromising information in it. But reading the book, there really isn’t anything truly objectionable in it. Joel Engel’s book on Roddenberry was a much nastier affair, and the Solow/Justman book had plenty of frank material. Cushman’s book is more of a compilation of quotes from the earlier articles and books, buttressed with information from the production documents in the archives – with particular regard to the memos. He has some good information on the shows’ post-production and production details that even get into exactly how far overbudget each episode was running and why. But that’s nothing that would be a problem for CBS over 45 years after the episodes were produced and aired.

          I’m not surprised that the official startrek.com website didn’t publicize a fan book, but trekmovie did mention it on August 20th, including a link to the Jacobs Brown website for the publication. The thing is, it’s not a problem for anyone that Cushman wrote this book – it’s just that there have been so many volumes already published that he’s sadly way behind the times. Had he published these books back in the late 80s or the early 90s, he would have been ahead of most of the books and I’m sure he would have had no trouble being picked up by a regular publisher. It’s just hard to convince a major house to run the book when they can see that practically everyone and their mother has already put pen to paper on the subject. It may sound like a better story for Jacobs Brown to say that their book is somehow being suppressed or has some secret dark information, but that’s more than a stretch.

          • Nelson

            Hey Kevin, cool, thought that was you!

            I’m having a hard time finding enough time to read the book, but what I have read so far makes me think this book is more like the Mark Lewisohn books on The Beatles. Each song and recording session is documented and the dates and what personal was there. I have not read that book yet, but I know of it.

            I think it’s great to have acces to the memos and recollections to see how each story evolved from initial idea to finished episodes and the trials each episodes brought up during production.

            I hope the book sells well enough for them to be able to print the other two seasons.

            I must have missed that Trekmovie entry what they mention the book. I stand corrected.

  • Eric

    I agree, it was a great book! I have been a fan since the early 70′s and have read every behind the scenes book I could find, but I still learned a great deal. This book is what The Making of Star Trek should have been. It is a little pricey, but in my opinion well worth it. I’m really looking forward to the next two volumes!