At first glance, Star Trek: The Book of Lists sounds like the kind of Star Trek reference book you would be able to easily skim through, bouncing from one quickie list to another, like you would a “to-do list” or a “grocery list.”
In reality, The Book of Lists is an incredibly dense tome that is meticulously researched with references and deep cut choices throughout its 224 pages.
Written by Chip Carter, who previously authored the quintessential Star Trek trivia book Obsessed with Star Trek — as well as the questions for Star Trek Trivial Pursuit — the book contains exactly 100 lists that range from in-universe ideas (“The Recreation Room,” “Relics of the Future”) to real-world production notes (“In Stages,” “Fight on Vasquez Rocks”), from serious (“Family Matters,” “Famous Star Trek Fans”) to whimsical (“He’s Dead Jim,” “The 47s”).
The production design of the book is generally strong, especially in two detailed lists breaking down Trek’s historical uniform designs (“Dress Code”) and many different alien species (“Signs and Symbols”). The section on the Original Series costume design (“Retro Fashion Forward”) includes 10 vibrant photos of some of Trek’s most fashion choices.
When presented in their entirety, the lists are a strong snapshot of the 50-plus year history of the Star Trek franchise in a compact hardcover book, sleekly measuring just 7 by 9 inches.
Of course, the fun of a book like this comes from the inevitable debate and discussion found in the pages of its different categories and selections. For example, any list of “Cosmic Creatures” that doesn’t include Gomtuu knocks the other selections down a peg — seriously, forgetting the Tin Man? — and the debate will surely rage as Carter takes on a few subjective topics in its pages (including “best” and “worst” episodes).
Some of our favorite lists include:
- Who Am I this Week? A superb breakdown of some Star Trek’s most notable theater troupe casting MVPs (like Jeffrey Combs, JG Hertzler, and Vaughn Armstrong); the four-page section includes more than 20 photos.
- Great Minds Think Alike: An interesting list that quickly dissects some of the more notable Vulcan mind melds in Star Trek history.
- The Reset Button: An extremely tight list of the top-tier selection of temporal reset episodes (like “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” “Year of Hell,” and “Parallels”).
- iTrek Playlist: A unique look at some of the original and popular songs that have been featured in Trek through the years (including “Sabotage,” “Beyond Antares,” and “A British Tar”).
A few of the lists, however, don’t quite make the grade:
- Face-to-Face: A superficial four-page list that is ostensibly about major alien make-up designs, however the selections include the Trill with no acknowledgment of the species’ original design in “The Host.” (Plus: The Ferengi entry is highlighted by the odd inclusion of a picture of Quark — as the female ‘Lumba’ — from “Profit and Lace.”)
- Signs and Symbols: A generally strong production layout for this topic includes the Borg logo errantly displayed horizontally, instead of vertically.
- Cosmic Phenomenon: An odd mish-mash of entries which run the gamut from the Q Continuum and the Mirror Universe to the Delphic Expanse, the Badlands and the Briar Patch; we’re still not sure what this list was even meant to really cover.
There’s no doubting the research that went must have gone into compiling the gigaquads of Trek info found in these pages, and the book’s producer, Quarto Seattle, told us that including Carter, The Book of Lists had “three experts with over 50 years of combined experience working on Star Trek directly, and through ancillary projects, involved in creating [the book].”
In addition, Carter authored an excellently-detailed column for StarTrek.com on his development process on The Book of Lists, where he described his research from his days on the Trek sets, to checking episode scripts, to “re-watching a part of an episode, checking a licensed publication or phoning a friend.”
While the vast majority of the book certainly feels like a huge effort in research and wrangling of Trek minutiae as described, there were a few lists which do feel like they may have originated in fan research sectors like Memory Alpha and Ex Astris Scientia.
Of course, in a project like this, you would likely expect to find an overlap to that kind of fan-generated material, but we couldn’t help notice the similarities between a handful of the behind-the-scenes lists to some of the more well-developed write-ups that don’t really appear anywhere online except for the Ex Astris Scientia archives:
- New York, New World: EAS on the usage of Paramount’s New York City backlot
- Redressed: EAS on reused costumes, notably the ‘Flower Dress’ section
- Wardrobe Malfunction: EAS on Captain Kirk’s ripped uniform shirts
In the end, the fact an analog book like this exists in today’s digital reference world is a win for the Samuel T. Cogley’s of Sector 001.
While not necessarily an essential book for your reference collection, it might serve well as great debate starter for your next Star Trek party (for which you can find menu and drink ideas with lists detailing “An Intergalactic Menu” and “M-113tini with a Twist”) — or simply to prepare yourself for the inevitable “One Trek Mind” rankings at the next Star Trek Las Vegas convention.
Star Trek: The Book of Lists is available now.