Friday, January 6, 2017

Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years by Titan Books, Foreword by Nicholas Meyer

Reviewed by Kristin

If you are anything from a mildly interested Star Trek fan to a hard core Trekkie, you probably do not need to be convinced to pick up this book.  The cover art on this oversized volume depicts the Enterprise silently gliding overhead against a background of stars and nebulae. That’s just the beginning.  Open the book to see 50 creations of 2D and 3D art inspired by Star Trek. Each piece is accompanied by an interview with the artist describing their relationship with Star Trek and their inspiration for the artwork.  I can’t decide which ones are my favorites, but let me pique your interest with just a few pieces that I enjoyed.

Amir Abou-RoumiĆ© is a Viennese illustrator who has created an image of San Francisco, complete with a Xindi weapon starting to cut a swatch of destruction out in the bay.  Despite the imminent destruction and loss of life, the drawing is whimsical and lighthearted, with puffy white clouds in the sky and a smiling Romulan chatting with a blushing Starfleet cadet on a park bench.  Whales spout off in the water while Kirk, Spock and Bones sing around a campfire on a cliff.  Reminiscent of something you might see on Cartoon Network (think Dexter’s Laboratory), this bright and cheery scene has many unobtrusive details that prove entertaining as you delve into the layers.

Mayim Bialik (of The Big Bang Theory and Blossom) is the model in Christopher Ryan Ross’ photoshoot.  With an iconic sideways look and a flip communicator, Bialik is transformed into Captain Kirk.  Stern and unsmiling with Vulcan hand outstretched, she is Spock.  Cheerfully, with a modified beehive hairdo plastered into place with a can of Galaxy Spray—Vulcan Death Grip Hold formula—she is Yeoman Janice Rand.  In golden contact lenses and a severe, short, dark wig, she appears to be Lieutenant Commander Data.  With a hint of mischief in her eyes, Bialik looks like she must have greatly enjoyed this modeling job.

Neal Smith is a toy designer for Mattel.  If you ever wondered whether you could build a Borg cube out of Hot Wheels Cars, well, wonder no longer.  This one must be seen to be believed.

Even Leonard Nimoy got in on the game.  A lifelong photographer, Nimoy exhibited his work and also published books of his photos.  Included in this volume is a 9 panel work showing the same Vulcan hand gesture in yellow, red, blue and white on a black background.  The colors are reminiscent of the original Star Trek uniforms and calls to mind the salutation “Live Long and Prosper.”

Artists Jason Kernevich and Dustin Summers designed Star Trek stamps for the United States Postal Service.  Issued on September 2, 2016, the vibrant designs echo the colors of the original Enterprise crew’s uniforms.  In one design, the Enterprise appears to be hurtling through the outline of the Starfleet insignia.  In another, the ship is in orbit around a red planet while inside the shape of the well-known Vulcan hand greeting.  On another stamp, the Enterprise is seen from above.  On another, a gauzy figure is rematerializing after transport.  I do not have these stamps, but must head over to the post office right away to buy some.  After all, they are “Forever” stamps and theoretically could be used until the 23rd century and beyond.

All this book needs is accompanying sound effects: the whoosh of the bridge doors opening, the ding of a communicator, a snippet of a theme song (from any series except Enterprise, please), maybe even someone cursing in Klingon.  Check it out for yourself, for a book discussion group, or for a nerdy Saturday night party.  I won’t judge.  I might even be there.

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