Monday, September 05, 2016

Star Trek 50th Anniversary Week: A Star Trek Catalog (Ace; 1979)

When I was in the fourth grade, I bought at the school book fair a book titled A Star Trek Catalog, edited by Gerry Turnball, and it changed my young life.  


In the pages of this book were the titles and synopses of all Star Trek episodes, as well as episodes of the Animated Series, and there was also a listing of fan-clubs, and even merchandise, meaning toys.   The book featured an interview with Gene Roddenberry, post-Star Wars (1977), and closed with the promise that Star Trek would someday return to our screens.

And of course it did.

But I loved this book (and then a year later, Allan Asherman's The Star Trek Compendium) because, well-before the Internet, A Star Trek Catalog assembled the important data on Star Trek in one place.  I remember memorizing the episode titles and descriptions and using them for reference during series reruns on WPIX in New York.  I began keeping a tally of which episodes I had seen, and which I hadn't.

I don’t know for certain, but I have the feeling that, at age 9, A Star Trek Catalog was my first experience with a TV-reference book.  I later read The Making of Star Trek, David Gerrold’s brilliant The World of Star Trek, and the equally great Gary Gerani book, Fantastic Television.  

But at first, it was A Star Trek Catalog that whet my appetite to learn more about a science fiction TV series.

I kept my original copy of A Star Trek Catalog for decades, though it was supplanted by the titles above, and others.  I finally threw away the book when the binding broke, and I was reading it in three separate sections.  But a few years ago, I found a copy at a yard sale in great condition, and I’m glad to have it back on my shelf.        

It’s probably not a book that is mentioned often as a great Trek reference book, and I understand that.  But A Star Trek Catalog was there at exactly the right time for me, and it is like a dear old friend…


  1. Sheri8:55 AM

    This was my first Star Trek reference book, too! I found Bjo Trimble's "Star Trek Concordance" before the "Compendium", though. I made my brother read "Mission to Horatius" to me when he came home with it from the junior high school library when I was six, and the same with "Spock Must Die" a couple years later. Ah, the days when we would scour the the ISBN catalog the nice lady at the library would let us use, or the nice lady at the book store, scanning for books & periodicals about the subjects that interested us! Finding stuff about Star Trek in some ad in the back of some magazine, sending a money order into the void in hopes the thing was real . . . stumbling across the occasional fanzine, "Star Trek Lives!", "The New Voyages" Vol. I & II. A kid really had to WORK to unearth information about any area of interest! Remember finding order forms in magazines and journals in the library and meticulously writing out info, then sending letters to "Dear Sirs" and wondering if the outfit you were writing to still existed? "If your publication is still available, please advise me how I may subscribe . . . " Oh, how much easier it is to indulge our obsessions with the internet!

  2. I'll gladly confirm what Sheri has written above. My copy of the Star Trek Concordance was indispensable. I wore that book out until it was practically falling apart. Imagine how delighted I was to recently find another copy at a used bookstore, in perfect condition, for only $5!!!
    Let us also not forget Starlog #1, which I discovered while on a family camping trip in Minnesota. Seeing those color pictures and the amount of Star Trek coverage was like unearthing the Holy Grail. I'm grateful to my Mom to this day for buying that one magazine for me, more than any other.
    Eventually I graduated to creating my own Star Trek comic books and then turning them into audio adventures with two tape recorders, and multiple tapes of Star Trek episodes to provide music and sound effects! Unfortunately, none of those tapes survive. I'd love to hear what my younger self's rendition of Captain Kirk would sound like!