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NOT a Technical Manual
on November 24, 2011
I feel I must write a review to balance the other somewhat disingenuous ones about this book.
To give a little background, I am a 40+ year Star Trek fan - virtually since birth. I enjoy all the flavours of the show, the films, and I play Star Trek Online. I've collected Star Trek related books and memorabilia for over 20 years, and have attended Star Trek conventions. Some might disagree, but I would consider myself a Star Trek connoisseur.
As such, I've also interacted with just about every flavour of Star Trek fan on Earth, including the type who have written negative reviews about this book. Obviously, they had specific expectations and when they weren't met, rather than write an honest review of what was in their hands, they wrote about how it wasn't what THEY would have done. I constantly experience the same sort of thing on the Star Trek Online message boards - people complaining not about the quality of the product but that wasn't made to fit their precise wants or needs. Well, I'm sorry, guys - as Spock would say - "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
Is this book perfect? No. There are several places where they have unnecessarily printed photos across the gutter when they could have been better arranged (or rotated). It doesn't contain as much technical information as I expected, but let's face it - this is technical information based on a fictional universe that isn't known for adhering strictly to our current understanding of physics or even its own canon, and as such, numerous contradictions have occurred in Star Trek science over the last 45 years. For someone to compare it to the ST:TNG Technical Manual from 20 years ago is ludicrous - when that manual was written, there were only 2 versions of the show and the first 5 movies, and it was virtually completely focused on The Next Generation's Enterprise-D. This isn't that, and if it is what you were looking for, you're going to be disappointed.
What you DO get is 160 pages of text, full-colour photos and diagrams giving you a historical and technical overview of all the iterations of the ship called Enterprise and Trek shipboard technology portrayed in the original timeline. Unlike standard Haynes manuals (of which I am a fan and avid user), it's a real hardcover book printed on good quality shiny paper (not the heavy, borderline-newsprint stuff). There is a significant amount of in-universe technical and historical information, woven into a format made not for the hardcore ST fanboy but for the more general audience of what I'd consider "regular" Star Trek fans.
It is a beautiful book suited much more to display on a coffee table than a bookshelf. The gutter issues make me feel that much of it would have been suited to a larger format, but then it would not fit the footprint of the original Haynes manuals, which it matches in size. And, there's a very nice Foreword written by none other than Michael Okuda, one of the authors of the aforementioned ST:TNG Technical Manual.
This is a worthwhile buy (or gift) for any Star Trek fan (with the notable exception of hardcore fanbois).