Monday, September 25, 2023
Memory Bank: The Star Trek Compendium by Allan Asherman
It was Christmas, 1981, I believe, when I visited my aunt Patty and uncle Bob at their house in Summit, New Jersey.
I was 11-years old, and absolutely obsessed with Star Trek.
In part, that obsession had been super-charged by the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), which I found to be a challenging and beautiful cinematic experience.
Basically, I lived and breathed Star Trek, and was desperate to see all the episodes of the original series again, because our local station, WPIX, always seemed to air the same handful of episodes ("That Which Survives" seemed to be on the air every other week, for some reason.)
Anyway, Patty and Bob presented me with a Christmas present, and one which absolutely inspired me: Allan Asherman's Star Trek: Compendium (Wallaby/Pocket Books), which was described on its cover as "the most thoroughly researched and complete Star Trek reference work ever published."
First, I have to say, I loved the look of the book cover.
This was a crucial part of the experience.
It was very futuristic, colored in metallic blue and silver (much like a poster of the Enterprise that hangs in my home office to this day). The Star Trek logo was that of The Motion Picture vintage, in golden or yellow lettering.
Future editions of the book lost the metallic sheen and the futuristic feel, I felt, though added photos from the TV series in its place. The lettering also changed back to the sixties TV show logo style.
The Star Trek Compendium -- which has indeed been reprinted and updated four times since the early eighties -- featured fascinating information on (according to the back cover): "photography and production," "technical matters," "series concept and continuity," "symbolism and trivia," "episode titles, dates of production and discussion of plots," and "career and biographical information of actors and production personnel."
In short, it was a treasure trove of information about my then-favorite TV series (and favorite new movie, too). The Compendium lived up to its description on the back cover as a "gold mine" of information about Star Trek.
I read, re-read and then read again The Star Trek Compendium, and basically took it with me wherever I went. I read it in the car on shopping trips. I read it before bedtime. I read it with breakfast, the next day.
Sadly, the book came apart from the heavy usage, by about 1984. I continued to read it, even with pages falling out. I finally got a new copy at a used book store in Montclair sometime later, but it was one of the later editions, and didn't have the same feel/look of that first edition.
Today, decades later, I still remember unwrapping this book at the holiday season, and thrill of leafing through the pages of the Star Trek Compendium for the first time.
For me, it was a magical time, and a magical book too.
I am certain that this is among the handful of books that inspired me to become a writer.
I have just learned that author Allan Asherman passed away on 9/22, and I want to offer my deepest condolences to his family.
But I also want to offer the author my sincerest thanks for a book that was my constant compendium as I grew up.
You made a difference, Mr. Asherman, in this young Trekker's life.
award-winning creator of Enter The House Between and author of 32 books including Horror Films FAQ (2013), Horror Films of the 1990s (2011), Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), TV Year (2007), The Rock and Roll Film Encyclopedia (2007), Mercy in Her Eyes: The Films of Mira Nair (2006),, Best in Show: The Films of Christopher Guest and Company (2004), The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi (2004), An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith (2002), The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film & Television (2004), Exploring Space:1999 (1997), An Analytical Guide to TV's Battlestar Galactica (1998), Terror Television (2001), Space:1999 - The Forsaken (2003) and Horror Films of the 1970s (2002).
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