Synopses & Reviews
"Where does Star Trek come from? Why is it so popular? How does it go about creating a coherent world? Literary critics may take literature seriously, but they often look down on popular forms such as television shows.
"I feel differently. I think the meaning of the series can best be captured by looking at how it successfully creates a coherent universe. Like any great work of art or literature, the Star Trek universe has an integrity and a resonance all its own, a completeness unrivaled by any other kind of science fiction, whether movie, television show, or novel. The unique character of the series, taken not as a group of loosely connected stories but as a viable whole, is the subject of this book."
--From the Introduction to The Meaning of Star Trek
Star Trek has no equal. Easily the most cerebral show on television, it brought a literary sophistication to the raw material of science fiction and confounded all the formulas of television. By taking classic stories and placing them in strange new contexts, Star Trek became a modern Odyssey in outer space, a set of stories so basic to our culture that they can be told over and over again.
The Meaning of Star Trek captures the essence of this timeless television masterpiece by linking the parallel universes of classical literature and popular culture. Thomas Richards examines its portrayals of contact and conflict with other species and other cultures; its deep explorations of character and identity, and its complex conception of the idea of the individual self; its remarkably rich and varied use of story and myth; and its profound appeal to our shared sense of wonder, a reverence and awe for that which science cannot explain.
Enlightening, provocative, and enormously entertaining, The Meaning of Star Trek is essential reading for even the most casual admirer of the Star Trek universe, as well as a brilliant introduction to the worlds of literature, myth, and science fiction.
This book was not prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by any entity involved in creating or producing the Star Trek television series or films.
Before "The X-Files" there was "Star Trek." Unrivaled in the fanaticism and devotion of its fans, it was easily the most cerebral show of its age. "Star Trek" brought a literary sophistication to the raw material of science fiction and confounded all the formulas of television.
The Meaning of Star Trek captures the essence of this timeless television masterpiece by examining it in the context of literary and social history, anthropology, myth, and religion: how it grew from the tradition of great science fiction writing; how the history of the show's Federation reconfigures our own; how its stories relate to classic myths; and how its tales of magic, marvel, and miracles appeal to our sense and suspicion of Western religion. By creating a universe with its own coherent nature and consistent set of rules, Richards argues that the series has the same integrity as a work of great literature or art, and should be judged as such. No other of the score of "Star Trek" books has dared explore what the series really means -- where it comes from, and why it is so popular.
Truly the book to read while sipping coffee at the cafe at the end of the universe, The Meaning of Star Trek is the first to give the television series the analysis that proves it to be a vital bridge between the disparate worlds of classical literature and popular culture.
About the Author
Thomas Richards is a former associate professor of English and American Literature at Harvard University. He is the author of two works of nonfiction as well as a novel, Zero Tolerance. A Guggenheim fellow, he lives in California.