a review by Tim Farley
In August 1980, a publication was released by Bantam Books entitled, Star Trek Maps. It contains two 30 x 40 full color wall maps (printed on both sides and a thirty-two page technical manual (fully typeset) on navigation. The authors are an impressive-sounding group, including Geoff Mandel, Lee Cole, Rick Sternback and the late Mike McMaster. However, like most technical manuals, it is poorly researched and written.
The readers of this website are familiar with my attention to detail and my research in the area of interstellar navigation. I can assure you that neither of these attributes was shared by the authors of the work. Little real research into astronomy and Star Trek is reflected in the work. In fact, the authors admit they only spent a year and a half working on it. The great majority of their material seems to come from The Star Trek Concordance. This causes many familiar typos and omissions to occur. For instance, "star system 611" was used instead of the correct "star system C-111" from "Return of the Archons." This lack of adequate comprehensive research makes this work and others like it dangerous to the integrity of the Star Trek Universe as created by Gene Roddenberry and causes misconceptions in the minds of less discriminating fans.
The whole field of "technical manuals" is filled with flaws. Spawned by the inane Star Trek Blueprints and Star Fleet Manual, this field has rapidly filled with fannish efforts. However, the very idea of creating an authoritative reference book to a universe presented only in bits and pieces in a series of TV episodes, without ever consulting the creators and producers of the show is idiotic. The author inevitably winds up filling in vague areas with arbitrarily created material which in no way reflects the wishes of the producers of the show. The Blueprints, the Technical Manual, and other such works are about 80% made up by their authors and are thus directly inconsistent in most areas with the spirit and/or the letter of the Star Trek Universe. Yet the fans eat this material up, putting such books on the best-seller lists.
Many flaws mar Star Trek Maps. The positions given for real stars are blatantly inaccurate. If fact, the authors made it a point to stress the fact that Deneb lies some distance off the plane of the galactic disk when, in reality, it lies right on that plane. The positions for fictional stars are arbitrarily assigned. Many of the star names sound suspiciously familiar as egotism on the part of the authors took control (notice "Mandels Star," "Coles Star," and others). Details of certain maps and charts are completely inconsistent with material from the aired episodes, most notably the map of the Romulan Star Empire and the chart of the Talos system. The authors use a 400 gradian navigational coordinate system which has never been used in aired or filmed Trek. This system and many of the positions given for certain objects were taken from the Technical Manual, a highly questionable source of material. Like many Star Trek fans, the creators of this work have fallen into the trap of believing every word of what they read in the official Star Trek publications, forgetting that such works are not written by the fans of the show but by professional artists and draftsmen and were not cleared through the creative people behind Star Trek, but through the people in Paramounts Licensing Division.
By far, the most major flaw of this work is that none of these things were double checked against the Star Trek episodes as they were aired; it would have been simple enough for the authors to watch the 79 episodes in syndication and personally glean the desired information to make the work perfect. Instead they turned toward their own opinions and allowed themselves to publish a shoddy piece of junk. This is an inexcusable breach of the trust that the readers of such works have in the authors of them. Since the work has such a convincing look of authority and officiality, most fans will again be deluded into believing that Star Trek merchandisers are concerned with accuracy in the products they sell.
All in all, although the artwork contained is very impressive, and the maps look very official, Star Trek Maps is a pitifully flawed piece of junk, and is not by any means worth any amount of anyones hard-earned money. The only fan I could recommend it to would be the one is studying the stupidity that technical manuals can achieve. Please do not waste your money on this stuff, you will only encourage the production of more of it.
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