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Star Trek: The Motion Picture [novelization]

by Gene Roddenberry

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1,1061414,917 (3.14)7
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with this classic movie novelization written by legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry! The original five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise to explore strange new worlds and to seek out new life and new civilizations has ended. Now James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise have separated to follow their own career paths and different lives. But now, an overwhelming alien threat--one that is ignoring all attempts at communication and annihilating all opposition in its path--is on a collision course with Earth, the very heart of the United Federation of Planets. And the only vessel that Starfleet can send in time to intercept this menace is a refitted Enterprise, with her old crew heeding the call to once again boldly go where no one has gone before....… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
A decent distraction but nothing memorable. ( )
  jplumey | Feb 24, 2021 |
Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture adapts his film story to print. He begins with a preface from Admiral Kirk, setting the novel as Kirk’s own record of events that he wrote to prevent others from mythologizing them as they have the events of the Enterprise’s five-year mission. Roddenberry then includes his own preface in which he explains his goals for Star Trek: “I always looked upon the Enterprise and its crew as my own private view of Earth and humanity in microcosm… During its voyages, the starship Enterprise always carried much more than mere respect and tolerance for other life forms and ideas – it carried the more positive force of love for the almost limitless variety within our universe… I have always found some hope for myself in the fact that the Enterprise crew could be so humanly fallible and yet be some of those greater things, too” (pg. x). The novel follows the plot of the film fairly faithfully, with only minor changes here and there. Using the device of Kirk intending this novel to serve as the official record of the Enterprise crew’s encounter with the entity V’ger (here spelled Vejur), Roddenberry includes the occasional footnote as notations from the other characters. Fans of Star Trek will consider this essential reading, as it was the only Trek novel that Roddenberry wrote.

The novel introduces some technologies that did not appear in the final film, such as senceiver implants that Starfleet can use to contact command officers in an emergency. Kirk similarly uses a life-size holographic display for communication. A smaller version of this appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country while the full-size technology appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Discovery, and Picard. In working to link the first film with events from the show, Roddenberry writes that the Enterprise’s refitted medical bay included “Daystrom equipment which used some of the Fabrini medical symbols which McCoy had found and Spock had translated from the writings of a ten-thousand-year-dead civilization” (pg. 63). This references the third-season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.” The novel also explains that the Starfleet uniforms feature belt buckles with built-in medical scanners, called “perscan” devices, that collect medical data and securely transmit it to the respective crewmember’s medical records (pg. 64). As for warp, Roddenberry describes the environment in which the Enterprise travels at warp as hyperspace (pg. 68). He also includes some elements of Vulcan mysticism and psysical senses that only appear in this book (pg. 86). Of particular interest is a chapter from the perspective of Vejur (pgs. 148-151).

While cultural and technological descriptions offer more detail than the final film, Roddenberry’s focus on sexuality often seems jarring. Vice Admiral Lori Ciana, Kirk’s commanding officer and former lover, plays a larger role at the beginning of the story. The book also makes clear that she was the other character to die alongside Sonak in the transporter accident. Speaking of Kirk’s love interest, Roddenberry’s description of Kirk’s reaction to seeing her borders on the obscene (pg. 14). While Trek often discussed matters of sexuality, it rarely did so in such a visceral manner, while Kirk thinks of her role in Starfleet politics as branding her “a whore” (pg. 17). The scene with Ilia and her oath of celibacy remains, though Roddenberry spends more time explaining Deltan society and her affect on the male bridge crew (pgs. 52-54). In one footnote, ostensibly from Kirk, Roddenberry appears to address the fanfiction of the 1970s that shipped Kirk with Spock (pgs. 6-7). Perhaps to suggest the evolution of sexual mores, Roddenberry depicts Spock nearly walking in on two members of Enterprise crew in flagrante delicto (pg. 85) as well as Decker communing with the Ilia probe in a more physical manner, such that Doctors McCoy and Chapel must hurriedly depart (pgs. 140-142, 158), Similarly, Roddenberry describes the nudity of the probe in a manner that recalls later memes of male authors’ fumbling descriptions of female nudity (pg. 124). While the film portrayed Kirk and Decker’s rivalry as originating in Kirk’s decision to usurp Decker’s command of the refitted Enterprise, Roddenberry portrays it as a sexual rivalry (pgs. 42, 130).

Just as Star Trek: The Motion Picture awkwardly bridges the televised storytelling conventions of Star Trek: The Original Series with the subsequent films and television series, including elements that feel more in place with a hard science-fiction story examining big issues and unconcerned with pacing, Roddenberry’s novelization is tonally unique. Roddenberry appears to seek to tell a story that distills all the elements of his vision of Star Trek into a single book, adding these details in amid the actual plot of the story. It is particularly difficult to qualify his focus on sexuality in particular, as it might represent his hopes for continuing to break down cultural repression, but it also reinforces the male gaze as he only discusses male desires. Throughout its history, Star Trek has used science-fiction to discuss gender and sexuality in society, but this novel does it in a way that seems to represent fantasies rather than to encourage debate or advance the plot. That said, for all its awkwardness, this was Roddenberry’s only Star Trek novel and it is worth Trekkers taking the time to read it. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Jan 31, 2021 |
I remember going to see this movie when it first came out in 1979. My mom was a huge Star Trek fan, and she was so excited that there was a movie after years of watching re-runs of the television show. I liked the show too....but I wasn't sure what to expect from a movie version. I remember being impressed with the special effects. Not quite as flashy as Star Wars.....but really good. And it was nice to see all the familiar cast members again. Especially McCoy...he was always my favorite, probably because he was a bit snarky and not "a damned miracle worker.''

Yeah, yeah, yeah....I know this isn't a movie review.....but a book review. I will get to it! Honest!

My husband is a gamer nerd. And after 15 years of marriage, my nerdiness has increased exponentially under his tutelage. I love to read, and I enjoy Star Trek. As a surprise, he bought me 40 used Star Trek paperbacks at a gaming convention. He was away for the weekend and missed me, so he brought he home books. It was a perfect gift for a bibliophile such as myself. Sadly, though I love books, I have lots of adulting to do, so I have way more books than time to read them. I hadn't' really thought about my large collection of Star Trek books until I discovered several more at a local thriftshop this week for 25 cents each. I stood in front of the shelves checking to see which ones I already had (thanks to my taking the time to list all of my books on Goodreads) and filling my cart with more nerdery. As I added books to my cart, I realized that the Star Trek series would be a great start to my quest to pare down my TBR in 2018! I decided to jump right into book #1.....the novelization of the first Star Trek movie....Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I always thought the name of the movie was a bit silly. But I guess they wanted to make it obvious that the former television series was moving to the big screen. But stating the obvious as a movie title is a bit lackluster. They could have called it Star Trek: Return to the Enterprise. Almost anything but just The Motion Picture. Bleck.

The basics: James T. Kirk returns to captain the Enterprise because a massive energy cloud is heading straight for Earth. It has destroyed several Klingon ships and a Space Station with an energy weapon of some unknown type. The Enterprise has had an 18-month long refit,and is totally updated, but her repairs aren't all completed. Because it is the only Starfleet ship within interception distance of the strange cloud bearing down on Earth, the crew has to take the ship out anyway. The ship intercepts the cloud and encounters an alien presence, Veger. When the truth about the origins and purpose of Veger are revealed, the crew will be challenged as never before to save themselves, and Earth.

The novelization is exactly what you would think --- a novelization of the movie script. I actually watched the movie as I read the book (realizing that the version I was watching (On Demand from television) had been clipped here and there for time. They removed scenes with dialogue rather than taking out some of the longer special effects scenes of the interior of the cloud, the Enterprise, etc.....what's up with that?? Why not remove scenes that are just eye candy (outdated eye candy too) and leave the dialogue between characters?) I enjoyed reading the extra description about the emotions of the characters, their inner thoughts and extra information on things going on around them. It is a good novelization, but I did notice one thing that was a bit weird. Gene Roddenberry's

introduction to the book, and in several places in the story, they refer to "new humans.'' This confused me a bit....something about "new humans" being more adaptable to space travel and other differences with non-improved humans. This must have been some early plot point that got dropped from Roddenberry's vision at some point....I don't recall this concept coming up in any other incarnation of the series. There are also a few cringe worthy comments about Kirk's sexuality and relationships in the book as well, especially a footnote about how his friendship with Spock was misunderstood by some as a homosexual relationship. My husband said it was a comment about some early fan fiction that depicted the two men as homosexual lovers. Ummm.....LOL. I very much doubt the horny Captain Kirk who loved women (even green alien ones) would choose his emotionless, overly logical half vulcan science officer to get intimate with. And it would only have been once every 7 years anyway.....as Spock isn't interested except when in Pon Farr. Fan fiction must have been gruesome even back in the 1970s. OK.....back on subject now! I got pulled out of the story several times by weird commentary added to the novelization that seemed out of place, or just bizarre. Why was it necessary to speculate on whether Kirk and Spock ever had sex with each other even if there was fan fiction? And just all the unnecessary footnotes in general. Were those written by Alan Dean Foster, or were those things added by Roddenberry? I found the footnotes to be a distraction, rather than interesting asides.

A lot of Star Trek fans today agree that the first movie was not very good. At the time, the special effects were amazing, the refit of Enterprise was sweet, and the return of the familiar crew was exciting. But re-watching it today, the story line is pretty ridiculous and the special effects dated. It just plods along.....there are long sequences where very little happens. For me, the novelization is pretty much the same......lackluster plot with some strange commentary added. But, it's still worth a read....and it starts the series of books. I had fun reading the book and watching the film at the same time, while trying not to chuckle at the idea of Kirk and Spock having secret rendezvous in the briefing room. :)

Enjoyable start to my goal of reading books off my own shelf! One Star Trek book down......only hundreds to go. ha ha

( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
Gene Roddenberry is not a good writer of prose. Consequently the story of the movie, which might have been better stripped of the absurdly long effects sequences, gets marred again by Gene's clunky prose. Also, as a piece of advice to all novel writers, unless your novel is tongue in cheek and self-aware, don't use footnotes. ( )
  Count_Zero | Jul 7, 2020 |
Have you seen the first Star Trek film? It's great, isn't it? Except for the bit with Spock and Uhura in the turbolift. That was just weird. I especially liked the bit with Sulu and the swords and—

Hmm? What's that? That was actually the eleventh Star Trek film? Now you mention it, I do recall some earlier ones. There was that one with the Borg, right? That one was fantastic. And before that they kind of alternated between being not-so-good and being not-so-bad. All the way back to Wrath of Khan, yeah that was a good one. And before that? It's weird, I know there was a film before that but it's like I've repressed it. Maybe if I concentrate…

Agh! Oh God! My eyes! They're bleeding! Well alright, maybe the first Star Trek film wasn't so bad that my retinas spontaneously exploded, but it was close. I think I first saw it when I was only eight or nine, and kind of liked it. I've always had a soft spot for ridiculously big objects in science fiction, and I was into astronomy at the time. These two things combine in the film's antagonist, the enigmatic V'ger. So imagine my disappointment (in the film and my younger self) when I sat down a few years later and discovered that Star Trek: The Motion Picture is in fact two hours of laborious drivel.

The book, on the other hand, is pretty good. It's a second version of the novelisation of the film. It's main conceit is the suggestion that the first novelisation, and by extension the movie itself, is the “official” version of events, and this novel is what really happened, courtesy of James T. Kirk. Mayhap that's Gene Roddenberry's way of saying he didn't like the final version of the film but was powerless against the studio that funded it, so offered this as his cut of the film. Or mayhap not. Some of the flaws of the film are still there, and not all of the new subplots are worthwhile additions to the story. But enough of them add something positive to the mixture to make a minor success of a book out a major travesty of a film. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roddenberry, GeneAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foster, Alan DeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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My name is James Tiberius Kirk. (Preface)
He felt a strange tingling coming from somewhere inside his head.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the novelization of the film STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, not the film itself.
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Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with this classic movie novelization written by legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry! The original five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise to explore strange new worlds and to seek out new life and new civilizations has ended. Now James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise have separated to follow their own career paths and different lives. But now, an overwhelming alien threat--one that is ignoring all attempts at communication and annihilating all opposition in its path--is on a collision course with Earth, the very heart of the United Federation of Planets. And the only vessel that Starfleet can send in time to intercept this menace is a refitted Enterprise, with her old crew heeding the call to once again boldly go where no one has gone before....

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The writer-producer who created Mr.Spock and all the other Star Trek characters--who invented the Starship Enterprise, who gave the show its look, its ideals--puts it all together again here in his first Star Trek novel!

Their historic 5-year mission is over. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, all the crew have scattered to other jobs or other lives. Now, they are back together again on a fabulously refitted U.S.S. Enterprise as an incredibly destructive POWER threatens earth and the human race.
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