Star Trek 758: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise

758. Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise

PUBLICATION: Pocket Books, July 1987

CREATORS: Written and illustrated by Shane Johnson, "Based upon the engineering logs of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott"

STARDATE: Just after The Voyage Home.

TOPIC: Straddling the line between fiction and non-fiction, this book takes its material to be true. In addition to discussing the USS Enterprise post-refit (movies I through III) deck by deck and system by system, it also discusses uniforms, insignia, support vessels (shuttles, workbees, lifeboats, etc.), equipment, and the history of the marvel of engineering that is the Enterprise. There are a lot of graphics on show, mostly floor plans and technical drawings, but some black and white pictures and design sketches as well. The just-revealed (at the time) Enterprise-A is discussed briefly in an appendix. Some of this information appeared either in the original 1975 Star Fleet Technical Manual (which I've never seen) or in FASA's role-playing sourcebooks, updated for the movie generation.

CONTINUITY: The book carries an introduction by Mr. Scott where it means to pass itself off as a manual for new engineers coming aboard. Enterprise's M-4 computer is replaced in the refit by an M-6, amusingly (well, if you're a complete nerd) skipping over the dangerous M-5 from The Ultimate Computer. The new self-destruct system charts what happens at the end of ST III. Transwarp drive is attributed to discoveries made during The Tholian Web, when the Defiant was sucked through an interphase (describing it as a hypserspace drive, really). The Enterprise-A was originally named the Ti-Ho, which explains why they jumped on the idea of renaming it.

DIVERGENCES: The dates are based on the FASA role-playing game's timeline and often contradict accepted canon. There are a heck of a lot of references to corporations for a world where money is supposed to be a thing of the past (maybe it isn't yet). The appendix indicates that the Enterprise-A was fitted with transwarp drive.

ILLUSTRATION OF THE WEEK - What's on the menu?

REVIEW: I remember being disappointed with this book when it came out (it was my first "non-fiction" Star Trek book), though it's really not too bad now. Part of the problem, I think, is that the deck plans all tend to run together, and while an actual-size technical drawing of a phaser might be cool (you can make like you're holding it to see the scale), it takes a lot of room for nothing. Worse still are the uniforms, which take 2 pages each (viewed from all sides). The book was also obsolete by the time it came out. It was after Star Trek IV, so the Enterprise as shown had already been destroyed, and the E-A so new that its accompanying text piece was all wrong once you saw it in action. It looks like the Enterprise's destruction kinda shafted Shane Johnson's labor of love. But for all that, it still has a lot to recommend. The text isn't as technical as later Tech Manuals' would be, it's even breezy in places. There are some lovely speculative touches like a micro-medical transporter to send samples to various labs instantaneously, multi-function worshiping altars in VIP quarters, and yes, bathrooms are clearly marked. Johnson seems to have had some fun making the world coherent, his essay on the refit especially interesting, with logical explanations for every cosmetic change. When discussing the new militaristic uniforms, he mentions how controversial the public found them (making the fans part of the world), and design sketches are presented as a contractor's work. So while it's not entirely efficient in its use of the 128 or so allowed, it still creates a nice enough impression that you've somehow come across a book from 200 years in the future.


Anonymous said...

I'd get too lost in technobabble to follow anything more techy than this manual. I mostly just liked seeing the various vehicles and gear, plus the room layouts.

And I know you went hunting for the bathrooms the same way I was. :)

Siskoid said...

When you've got to go, you've got to go.

De said...

I picked up this book two years after it had been published. At the time, I liked it better than Franz Joseph's somewhat dry Star Fleet Technical Manual.

Five years later, I packed the book in a backpack so it could be autographed by Jimmy Doohan. I'm sure it wasn't the first time he had signed a copy but I did notice a slight smirk on his face.

Siskoid said...

What did the smirk mean?

hiikeeba said...

I had, well, have, a nice collection of Star Trek Technical books: Franz Joseph's, Geoffrey Mandel's original Star Maps and his later revised Star Charts, The Star Fleet Medical Reference, and several fan produced items. (Man! I'm a geek!) This one was less impressive but still interesting. But nothing will ever replace the sheer joy in my 10 year old heart when the Star Fleet Technical Manual came out!

LiamKav said...

That does make me wonder when it officially became "Starfleet", rather than "Star Fleet". Knowing how Paramount felt about FASA, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was deliverate so that the Technical Manual's name looked wrong.


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