Fictional reference review: Star Trek Federation – The First 150 Years by David A. Goodman

Cover of "Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years" by David A Goodman.
Cover of “Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years” by David A Goodman. Note how shiny the lettering is!
Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years aims to be an in-universe history book of the United Federation of Planets in the Star Trek Universe. It succeeds in most areas, but with a few niggling little details it gets wrong. With tomorrow being the 49th pre-anniversary of when Zefram Cochrane launches his first warp drive in the Star Trek universe, I thought today would be a good day to review this book.

The book is mostly told in chronological order, with a few asides which jump around. I found it fascinating to read through the history of one of my favorite science fiction series and get a little more detail on several things which aren’t really covered in the television or film series.

One of my favorite sections was that covering the Romulan War. This is referenced especially in Enterprise and The Next Generation, but it is never shown on the screen. Learning the details of the formative time helped me to better understand some of the things I’d seen in the various series. Outside of a few minor details the author got wrong (such as where James T. Kirk was born; in the original timeline, he was born in Iowa, not on the USS Kelvin), the books is a wealth of collated and useful information for any fan of the Star Trek series.

The formatting of the book is very well done. The text fonts are very easy to read, and the colors used don’t interfere with anything. I was a little turned off by the gradients used in the “reproductions” of various documents since most documents don’t tend to have gradients on them, but the gradients were unobtrusive and didn’t interfere with readability. I could tell that a lot of thought went into giving the book a clean and crisp appearance.

While there are one or two photos used in the book, most of the illustrations are presented as copies of paintings depicting various people and events in the time frame the book covers. Some of the illustrations are very well done, and others look a little amateurish and slapped together. They also mostly share the same artistic style, which is unusual for paintings alleged to have been produced over the course of a couple hundred years. Artistic styles change a lot in that kind of time frame, so it would have been good to use a variety of different artists and styles to give that sense of history.

Additionally, since the book is an official release from Paramount and CBS Studios, Goodman should have been able to use more stills from the various series discussed in the book without too many licensing issues to deal with, and this would have greatly increased the quality of the book.

Now, I’ve heard rumors of a sequel to Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years, which chronicles another chunk of time in that universe. I would be very interested in such a sequel, and I hope Goodman and his team produce one. Despite the drawbacks I mention above, this book is a must-have for any fan. It looks nice on the shelf, too.

Release Date: October 8, 2013 (USA)
ISBN: 1781169152 (9781781169155)
Publisher: Titan Books

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 100%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 0
Language: 0
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 0 (though there are descriptions of war from a historical perspective)


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