Random Musings: Books review: These are the Voyages.


These are the Voyages

Marc Cushman’s three volume series These are the Voyages: TOS provides an in-depth look at the original Star Trek, with one book dedicated to each of the three seasons.

Cushman, who published the books between 2013 and 2015, received key documents directly from Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and associate producer Robert H. Justman in the 1980s. He used those as well as his own interviews and previously published books, magazines and newspaper articles to assemble his books, written with Susan Osborn. Every one of the 79 episodes (including the first pilot, “The Cage”) is explored in detail. Those details include the evolution of the episodes, when various drafts of scripts were written and by whom, production dates and costs, samples of contemporaneous reviews and Nielsen ratings for the broadcasts (and reruns, where applicable).

I recently purchased all three volumes in hardcover directly from the publisher, Jacobs Brown Press, and was surprised to find that my copy of volume one had additional material (both text and photos) that wasn’t in a softcover version I’d gotten from the library. Both were described as the “revised and updated edition” and both had the same information on the indicia, yet softcover versions of books are usually published after the hardcover ones and thus are more likely to have any updates.

In the introduction to volume three, David Gerrold, who wrote the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”, said Cushman is issuing corrections when mistakes have been discovered. I wouldn’t call the volume one I received a correction; it just had additional information.

I’m still in the process of reading these books, but what I have read shows that they’re well written and researched. They go into more detail than many of the plethora of previous books about Star Trek, in part because of the documents from Roddenberry and Justman.

One bit of information that may not have been in previous books about Star Trek is how much of a debt the series owes to one woman, the one who could arguably be said to have gotten the show on the air: Lucille Ball.

Lucille Ball?!?

Yes. According to Cushman (Vol. 1, pages 41-42, 109), she didn’t initially understand the focus of the show; but even after learning it wasn’t about USO performers, she gave the go ahead— against the advice of some of her board members— because she, as owner of Desilu studios (formed by herself and her former husband, Desi Arnaz), was willing to take a chance.

I do, however, have a few minor complaints. First, none of the books have an index. Volume two contains quotes (on separate pages) from Samuel A. Peeples, who wrote the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and actress Sherry Jackson (misspelled as “Sherri”), who appeared in the first season episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” If at some point down the road, I find myself trying to remember what either had to say in volume two, it’s going to be a bit of an effort to track down the quotes. An index would help with things like that. Plus, it makes it easier to find specific references.

Gary Lockwood, for example, is quoted in chapters related to “Where no Man Has Gone Before”, which would be relatively easy to find; but any quotes from him that are scattered throughout the three books would be harder to locate.

My other complaint concerns Cushman’s endnotes. Some appear to be missing. Using Lockwood as an example again, some of his quotes have the endnote 109-3, but there’s no such endnote in the back of the books, just 109, a 2011 interview with Cushman; 109-1, an interview in Starlog #124 in 1987 and 109-2, an interview in Trek Classics from 1991.

As another example, quotes from Roger C. Carmel, who played Harry Mudd, have the endnote 29, but does that refer to 29-1, 29-2 or 29-3?

Another complaint regarding the endnotes is that page numbers aren’t given for book and magazine sources. It’s not too bad with some magazines, since they usually have tables of contents (Some quotes from Bruce Hyde, who played Lt. Kevin Riley, comes from Starlog #112. The table of contents for that issue tells me Hyde’s interview is on page 60). On the other hand, neither The Making of Star Trek nor The World of Star Trek have indexes, making it hard to find quotes in them.

By contrast, Cushman’s I Spy: A History Of The Groundbreaking Television Series has both an index and endnotes with page numbers for his sources, where applicable.

These shortcomings to These are the Voyages shouldn’t be a deal breaker, however. If you’re a Star Trek fan and/or interested in television production, these books would be a welcome addition to your home library.

Copyright 2016, Patrick Keating.

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