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The First Book About Star Trek Music I Ever Got

In the 1980s, somehow or other I stumbled across some interesting small-press books about Star Trek and other sci-fi franchises. I don’t remember how or where. Maybe at a bookstore during a trip?

I think I got the above book before I was going to conventions or aware of the stuff you could get through the mail order solicitations in Starlog.

There was an author named James Van Hise who published a bunch of these unauthorized making-of books—and this looks like one of those, but it’s by John Peel (I just looked him up) and published in 1985 by Psi Fi Movie Press, Inc.

Checking again—and in the back of this book it says “Files Magazine” which rings a bell, but I’ll need somebody else to explain the history here.

This book is only 60 pages, and really two books in one. The “cover story” is a behind-the-scenes account of the un-produced Star Trek: Phase II series from the late 1970s (which became Star Trek: The Motion Picture when Paramount shifted plans from television to film). It has a breakdown of the scripts written for the aborted series, the first time I remember ever seeing this information. (The two-part “Kitumba” Klingon episode sounds really cool!)

The second half is about Star Trek music and has reviews of the vinyl albums that were newly released by GNP/Crescendo (the two pilots), Varèse Sarabande (re-recordings by Fred Steiner, mostly of his own work) and Label X (re-recordings of selected scores), plus the first three feature soundtracks. There are mini-bios of Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner.

I remember being fascinated that there was somebody who cared about this stuff, who liked it and had strong opinions about the better and worse scores. To this day I remember some of the author’s turns of phrase, like “If Star Trek: The Motion Picture gave us a fine score, what followed surprised virtually everyone—The Wrath of Khan gave us a better one.”

The author did not like Horner’s Search for Spock score, saying franchise composers always hit the wall at some point. “John Barry hit it with the Bond films around The Man With the Golden Gun, but that was his seventh attempt. Horner hits it in two attempts. He’s overstayed his welcome and enthusiasm by this score.”

I didn’t agree, but what was fascinating was the idea that somebody else cared, and that there might be different opinions you could argue about. Wow!

If you want to buy a copy of this, check Amazon.

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