This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Applause Books’ new series do not adhere to any particular format, and vary widely with regard to


depth, purpose, and quality—thus rendering the “FAQ” moniker essentially meaningless. Mark Clark’s two-volume STAR TREK FAQ, which focuses almost exclusively on the original series, THE NEXT GENERATION and the feature films, is by far the most successful and professional of the works reviewed here. In his introduction, Clark out- lines his intention to summarize the enormous quan- tity of STAR TREK lore that has accumulated over the decades from various sources—including tech- nical manuals, novelizations, and cast autobiogra- phies—in order to provide both novices and casual fans with a coherent overview of the beloved fran- chise. He succeeds remarkably well at this Herculean task, offering not only a compelling and richly de- tailed production history but also an informed analysis of the show’s underlying themes as well as a nuanced critique of the cast’s various acting techniques and choices.


Clark’s measured, even-handed approach ad- dresses the more tabloid-worthy aspects of the franchise’s history—including the in-fighting among the original cast—without ever sensationalizing them, and he proves scrupulously honest when as- sessing the show’s weaknesses as well as its strengths. For example, although he regularly praises creator Gene Roddenberry’s faith in the infi- nite perfectibility of the human race, he also makes clear how this foundational belief became some- thing of an albatross when Roddenberry initially prohibited writers for THE NEXT GENERATION from depicting any conflict among the presumably more enlightened crew of the 24th-century Enterprise—a restriction that severely limited the show’s dramatic potential during the first two seasons. Although recommended as an engaging intro- duction to the topic, the books are not flawless. Some minor errors occasionally mar the text, such as when the live-action Saturday morning program JASON OF STAR COMMAND is mistakenly labeled a cartoon, or when Clark erroneously describes the Mego toy company’s combined bridge and trans- porter room as two separate playsets. Puzzlingly, while Clark succinctly and accurately summarizes the original series’ problematic gender dynamics, he fails to address the fact that the franchise’s much- lauded “future without racism” is predicated on the crewmembers—regardless of race—adhering to the values and behavioral protocols characteristic of traditional white male European culture. As the se- ries progressed into THE NEXT GENERATION, the same was true with regard to the aliens that were prized as allies—with the Vulcans and Klingons


manifesting such traditionally male values as logic, aggression, and honor. Conversely, the cultural value of defining oneself primarily through group affiliation—traditionally coded as “female” and char- acteristic of Asian and Native American cultures— is represented by the villainous Borg and thereby codified as monstrous. John Kenneth Muir’s HORROR FILMS FAQ pur- ports to be an introduction to horror cinema that sets out to delineate and analyze 30 different subgenres, raging from “Aliens” to “Zombies,” but his rather eccentric choices for emphasis and ex- clusion create a rather distorted impression of genre canon and suggest that the book originated as a selection of online reviews and blog entries which were then padded with thinly-sketched supplemen- tary material to create the impression of a broader historical overview. Muir’s analysis is almost unwaveringly sociopolitical, resting on his some- what dubious assertion that horror films have a “duty and responsibility” to generate fear “on the basis of the Zeitgeist” and then offer social com- mentary that “more milquetoast, widely accepted genres cannot.” Even if one accepts this premise, Muir’s analysis too often comes across as overly pedantic, reducing films like Carpenter’s THE THING and Hooper’s POLTERGIEST to op-ed pieces writ


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