Mark A. Altman has set course for an unprecedented journey through Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi universe in his upcoming book, "The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.”
Co-written with Edward Gross, the book from Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin's Press is scheduled for a 2016 release in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary. It’s told exclusively by the people who were there in the trenches, and who decades later are offering their take on the real story behind the making of the influential franchise.
Altman is a writer, producer and journalist whose credits include "Free Enterprise" and ABC's "Castle," while Gross is an executive editor with Movie Magic and Life Story magazines. Both authors have covered the franchise for more than three decades.
“I could not be more excited; it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that working on this book totally made me fall in love with Star Trek all over again because we were just talking with such a diverse array of people who have phenomenal stories to tell,” Altman recently told 1701News. “And we have unearthed and discovered things that have never been revealed about the franchise, and about stories that are charming, and daring, and horrifying and wonderful. It's going to be a great book.”
"The 50 Year Mission" presents nearly 500 interviews with television and film executives, programmers, creators and stars -- including every Star Trek captain -- who were all a part of the franchise's ongoing 50-year voyage, from the original classic series to J.J. Abrams' reimagined film series. Set for a hardcover edition release, the book will be edited by Brendan Deneen, editor of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" novels and the head of Macmillan's film and television division.
Altman acknowledges the extensive collection of books already available that chronicle the franchise, but he’s adamant that they’re seeking to explore new ground and construct a complete portrait of Star Trek through the years.
“There are several amazing works that have been done about Star Trek,” he explained. “Obviously, Stephen E. Whitfield’s ‘The Making of Star Trek’ looms large over everything. I think Marc Cushman’s (book ‘These are the Voyages: TOS’) … is a brilliant, never to be topped look at the original series. But I think what our book will do is chronicle the entire franchise in the words of the people who made it and in a way that has never been done before.
“The advantage that this book has, which is not to be overlooked, is the hindsight that people have had. It's always been the case with original series looking back, but now that people have had a perspective on ’The Next Generation,’ ‘Voyager,’ ‘Enterprise’ … it gives them a little distance by which to critique their own work and reflect on their experiences. And I think that is what is going make this so much more interesting than any of the books that were written at the time these things were actually being produced.”
In fact, the book has already presented some surprising insights for Altman, who began his love for Star Trek decades ago with the original series, but found through interviews that another franchise series proved particularly captivating.
“Actually, the most exciting part of this book to me right now, based on the interviews Ed and I have done, is the ‘Enterprise’ chapters,” Altman said. “‘Enterprise’ has an incredible untold story, which I think people are going to find fascinating.”
And Altman hopes such revelations resonate with more than just fans of the series.
“It's what I tried to do with ‘Free Enterprise’ as well, which is to make a film that appealed to fans, but also if you were not, you can enjoy it,” he said. “I think this is a book that if you are a Star Trek fan, you are going to love (it). But if you're not, and you're just interested in the machinations of television and pop culture, you'll find it equally enthralling. … I don't know how we are going to fit it all into one book, but we are going to do our best.
“I can't wait to finish writing it because every day I worked on it it's just been so gratifying. It's the book I would want to read about Star Trek; so the fact that I'm writing it is a real joy for me. … I think people are going to be blown away.”
“Star Trek” marks its 50th anniversary with the premiere of the show’s first episode, “The Man Trap,” which aired Sept. 8, 1966, on NBC.