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Mark Clark on Pop Culture Tonight!

Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, spoke with Patrick Phillips on Pop Culture Tonight. They talked about the book and the impact that the Star Wars movies has had on pop culture! Click on the link below to hear more and let us know what you think in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”
 
Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.
 
Featuring 38 chapters, such as Echo Base: Homage in Star Wars, New Hope: Assessing Episode IV, and Far, Far Away: Production of Star Wars, Star Wars FAQ introduces the reader to early screenplays drafts that were never filmed and to short biographies of many people who made key contributions to the movies’ success. Star Wars FAQ details every aspect of the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Along the way it unearths under-reported stories and illuminating minutiae often skimmed over or completely ignored in other histories of the legendary film series.

Star Wars is a story full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy. Illustrated with vintage promotional stills, photographs of memorabilia, and other classic artwork Star Wars FAQ explores how Star Wars changed the movies.

Mark Clark interviewed on Movie Addict Headquarters

Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, spoke with Betty Jo Tuck on Movie Addict Headquarters. They talked about the book and the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens! Click on the link below to hear more and let us know what you think in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”
 
Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.
 
Featuring 38 chapters, such as Echo Base: Homage in Star Wars, New Hope: Assessing Episode IV, and Far, Far Away: Production of Star Wars, Star Wars FAQ introduces the reader to early screenplays drafts that were never filmed and to short biographies of many people who made key contributions to the movies’ success. Star Wars FAQ details every aspect of the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Along the way it unearths under-reported stories and illuminating minutiae often skimmed over or completely ignored in other histories of the legendary film series.

Star Wars is a story full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy. Illustrated with vintage promotional stills, photographs of memorabilia, and other classic artwork Star Wars FAQ explores how Star Wars changed the movies.

Mark Clark reviews Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is here, and Mark Clark has seen it!  You can read his review below and learn more than you ever imagined about the Star Wars franchise in his book, Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to know About the Trilogy that Changed the Movies


At last.

The wait is over – not just for the start of a new cycle of Star Wars films, but for a Star Wars movie as satisfying as the 1977 original film (retroactively subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope) and its exemplary sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which officially opens today on screens across the U.S., is not only far superior to the misbegotten Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005). In many ways, it’s the picture that Return of the Jedi (1983) might have been.

00122914As I recount in Chapter 19 of my book Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, during contentious story conferences for Return of the Jedi, repeatedly pushed for a darker, more mature story – essentially, a continuation of brooding yet lyrical approach he and George Lucas had taken to Empire Strikes Back. Among other things, Kasdan wanted the story to feature the death of a major character, and to climax with a planetary assault (on the imperial homeworld – then known as Had Abbadon, later renamed Coruscant). He was rebuffed at every turn by Lucas, who was adamant that Jedi be a lighter, more kid-friendly, and provide a fairy tale happy ending to his space saga.

Kasdan, who co-wrote The Force Awakens with director J.J. Abrams, resurrects many of the ideas Lucas rejected for Jedi, and grafts them onto a thinly disguised remake of the original Star Wars. Not only does the plot of The Force Awakens – which I won’t recount in detail here – mirror that of A New Hope, but the story hits all the same emotional beats of the original film, in roughly the same order.

None of this should suggest that the new movie is a simple rehash of the original. In fact, the most impressive thing about The Force Awakens is that it focuses almost exclusively on a clutch of new characters – ex-stromtrooper Finn (John Boyega), mysterious scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and aspiring Sith Lord Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) – all of whom are well-sketched and convincingly brought to life. With the exceptions of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), the major cast members of the Original Trilogy (even, surprisingly, C-3PO and R2-D2) are restricted to cameo appearances. The story does not revisit any of the familiar environs of the previous Star Wars films. Yet, the rugged, frontier aesthetic of the Original Trilogy returns. In fact, the Star Wars galaxy seems to be an even more ramshackle and unruly place than ever before. Plus, Abrams goes out of his way to make this look and move like a Star Wars movie, rather than a J.J. Abrams film (sorry, lens flare aficionados).

These were, for me, the two things that The Force Awakens needed to accomplish to be successful: Give us engaging new characters, and return to the proper look and feel of the Star Wars pictures (the Prequels missed on both counts). I took for granted that Abrams and Kasdan would deliver top-quality visual effects and stirring action scenes – space battles, light saber duels, etc. – and they do. Those sequences are brilliantly designed and executed, and deliver the thrills audiences expect. Overall, this is the best-written and best-performed Star Wars film since Empire. Ridley, Boyega, and Isaac make an appealing triumvirate, and worthy successors to Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. Composer John Williams delivers another rousing score, one that leans heavily on his cues for the Original Trilogy but incorporates some major new themes which figure to recur through this Sequel Trilogy.

The Force Awakens has its limitations. There are lapses in story logic, but (as I cover in Chapter 24 of Star Wars FAQ), these have dogged every film in the series. At times the story hews perhaps too close to the original movie (Kasdan and Abrams seem to recognize this, and try to mitigate it by having Solo crack inside jokes). In general The Force Awakens spends a great deal of time establishing characters and plot lines that clearly won’t be resolved in this movie. It feels, a bit too overtly, like the opening chapter of a longer story and that’s a minor letdown, even if everyone on the planet knows Episodes VIII and IX are in the works. Also, be warned that this movie is rated PG-13, rather than PG, for a reason. Some content is unusually strong for a Star Wars film, and may be too intense for younger viewers. (I regret taking my son, who just turned 7, to see it.)

Bottom line: If Star Wars was never your thing, The Force Awakens isn’t going to convert you. But if like me (and millions of other people) you love Star Wars, The Force Awakens is the movie you’ve been hoping for, and a promising restart for the franchise.

Mark Clark speaks with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the Star Wars Phenomenon!

As you may have heard, today marks the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens! It’s been a busy month for Star Wars FAQ author, Mark Clark, and in this interview, he sits down with Barbara Vancheri of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette to talk about the first time he saw Star Wars and how it changed his life. Read below to learn more!


00122914As an 11-year-old, Mark Clark was a precocious reader with a taste for serious sci-fi by Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein.

His Uncle Marty had introduced him to those authors along with movies such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Forbidden Planet.” So when “Star Wars” came along, Mark passed on what he heard was a space fantasy, just not his thing.

At the end of summer 1977, Mark and his Louisville, Ky., family visited his uncle in Zanesville, Ohio. When he learned Mark had not seen “Star Wars” — in theaters for three months by then — “he looked at me like I just sprouted antlers or something.”

The next day, Uncle Marty remedied that lapse.

“So, I went and sat there for two hours with my mouth hanging open, just completely blown away by it, and my life has not really been quite the same since then in a lot of ways,” said Mr. Clark, author of “Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies” (Applause Books, $24.99). “It was a very overwhelming, almost, experience to see it at that age, at that time and that moment.”

When he returned to Louisville, he caught it four more times, collected the toys, joined the Official Star Wars Fan Club for $5 and sat cross-legged in front of his parents’ console TV for the 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special.” He saw the next two movies along with the special editions on their opening days and adds, “for better or worse, I saw the prequel movies, too.”

“Star Wars” led him to the Akira Kurosawa films creator George Lucas cited as inspiration. That fueled a fascination with foreign films and cinema and even rekindled a spiritual curiosity.

Today, Mr. Clark is 49 years old, married to an Episcopal priest named Vanessa, the father of two, and one of countless Earthlings planning to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“Star Wars,” which sent ripples or outright waves into the worlds of production, moviegoing, marketing, merchandising, pop culture, toys, games, theme parks and fashion (for starters), was the right movie for its time.


To continue reading at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website HERE

 

Your chance to win!

We over at Applause Books have partnered  with Erie Gay News to give away a copy two of our books. From November 17 to December 8 you have a chance to enter to win Mark Clark’s book, Star Wars FAQ. And starting today you can enter for a chance to win A Chorus Line FAQ by Tom Rowan! The contest for A Chorus Line FAQ ends on Friday, December 11, 2015 so make sure to enter before it’s too late!

>>Enter Here<<

00124221The ultimate treasure trove of information, A Chorus Line FAQ presents history and fun facts, including: the unique workshop process through which the show was developed and written, the stories of its creators, the record-breaking Broadway run and numerous touring productions, and the captivating movie version. The book also features all-new chapters on the Broadway revival, the two London productions, and notable regional productions around the country. In addition to a chapter on A Chorus Line cultural history – with a guide to all the pop cultural references in the show – the book includes extensive photos as well as biographical information on the casts of the major productions. There are also chapters on recordings, previous books on the topic, and the landmark show’s influence on subsequent Broadway musicals and films.


 

>>Enter Here<<

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”

Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.

Mark Clark talks Star Wars FAQ with Mr. Media!

Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, with Mr. Media recently to talk about “the trilogy that changed the movies.” Check out the video below to see more of what they had to say! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”

Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.

Featuring 38 chapters, such as Echo Base: Homage in Star Wars, New Hope: Assessing Episode IV, and Far, Far Away: Production of Star Wars, Star Wars FAQ introduces the reader to early screenplays drafts that were never filmed and to short biographies of many people who made key contributions to the movies’ success. Star Wars FAQ details every aspect of the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Along the way it unearths under-reported stories and illuminating minutiae often skimmed over or completely ignored in other histories of the legendary film series.


Visit Mr.Media’s webpage here to learn more about this interview.

Get ready for Star Wars Reads Day!

Tomorrow marks the fourth annual installment of Star Wars Reads Day! We over at Hal Leonard can’t wait to celebrate with one of our published books, Star Wars FAQ. It has gotten great reviews and the online blog, The Bearded Trio, has even said:

“One thing I’ve learned since 1977 — you can ever know too much about Star Wars, and there will always be something you don’t know. I’m constantly (and pleasantly) surprised when I run across a fact or image that is new to me, and Star Wars FAQ did not disappoint on this count. Highly recommended!”

Read the full review here.

To prepare you for a day that is sure to become more and more popular each year, below is an excerpt of Mark Clark’s, Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Enjoy!


00122914Even before George Lucas had completed his Star Wars screenplay he was faced with finding actors to portray his still-evolving characters. Auditions began in late August 1975, while Lucas was finishing the fourth draft of the script. While not quite as excruciating a process as writing the film (see Chapter 4), casting soon became another protracted ordeal—both for Lucas and for the actors under consideration for major roles.

Lucas wanted to hire young, unknown performers for the picture’s leading roles, as he had for American Graffiti. This was in part a cost-containment strategy, but he also believed that actors not already associated with other characters would be more effective in the fantasy context of Star Wars. It was one thing to ask viewers to accept Wookiees, lightsabers, and the Force, but something else again to ask viewers to accept someone like, say, Ron Howard as Luke Skywalker. To assist with the talent search, Lucas again relied on casting director Fred Roos, who had served marvelously on Graffiti. At the beginning of the process, Lucas, Roos, and several assistants worked twelve-hour days, seeing as many as 250 actors per day. After three grueling weeks of this, to save time and money Lucas joined forces with another young director, Brian De Palma, who was looking for a group of young unknowns to star in his film Carrie (1976). Lucas and De Palma took the unusual step of hosting joint auditions. Hundreds more actors were invited to come in and try out for both films. Lucas’ demeanor during this process was so low-key that some of the would-be cast members mistook him for De Palma’s assistant.

Nevertheless Lucas had definite ideas about what he wanted and placed a premium on chemistry between his leads. During callbacks (without De Palma), he screen-tested actors as ensembles to see how various would-be Leias, Lukes, and Hanses worked in concert with one another. Early on, Lucas wanted to hire legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to play Ben Kenobi, but Mifune declined. “If I’d gotten Mifune, I would’ve used a Japanese princess, and then I would have probably cast a black Han Solo,” said Lucas in J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars. One of the trios in contention for the leading roles featured newcomer Will Seltzer as Luke, former Penthouse centerfold Terri Nunn as Leia, and a young Christopher Walken
as Han.

Jodie Foster was given serious consideration as Princess Leia. She was screen-tested but not hired because she was only thirteen years old at the time, and casting a minor would introduce restrictions on the shooting schedule. (De Palma declined to cast her in Carrie for the same reason.) Other performers in the running for major roles included John Travolta, Amy Irving (both eventually hired for Carrie), Nick Nolte, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (later “Boom Boom” Washington on Welcome Back, Kotter)—a potential Han Solo. Ultimately, of course, Lucas settled on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher for the leads; a pair of distinguished British actors for key supporting parts; and four performers with specialized talents (and physiques) for the remainder of the primary cast.

None of their lives would ever be the same.

The Star Wars Battlefront Beta is coming to PS4 in early October!

As most of you may have heard, the Star Wars Battlefront (Beta) is set to come out in early October for PS4 users. Star Wars video games have certainly come a long way since the first licensed video game was released in 1982. In his new book, Star Wars FAQ, Mark Clark talks about the first ever video game that Star Wars licensed and how these video games slowly, but surely, gained popularity. Read about it below!


00122914Custom, homemade Star Wars computer games have been around as long as Star Wars fans have owned home computers. But the first licensed, Lucasfilm-authorized electric game was Parker Brothers’ Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982), created for the Atari 2600 system. A year later, a version was issued for Mattel’s Intellivision platform. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was a simplistic, scrolling shooter game with primitive graphics. The player flew a snowspeeder and attacked AT-AT walkers, as seen in the Hoth snow battle from the film. The player won the game by destroying five walkers; if the Walkers reached Echo Base and destroyed it, the player lost.

Although sales of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back were not spectacular, the game performed well enough to encourage the development of more product. Parker Brothers issued Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle and Return of the Jedi: Jedi Arena in 1983. In Death Star Battle, produced for the Atari 5200 and Atari XE platforms, players piloted the Millennium Falcon through a squadron of TIE fighters to destroy the second Death Star. In Jedi Arena, made for the Atari 2600 only, players battle one another with lightsabers. A third game, Return of the Jedi: Ewok Adventure, was prototyped but never released.

The first Star Wars arcade game, produced by Atari and simply named Star Wars, also appeared in 1983. This was a sophisticated (by early 1980s standards) first-person shooter/flight simulator featuring color 3-D vector graphics. The player relived the climax of Star Wars, taking part in the assault on the Death Star from within the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter. Successful players cleared three levels—overcoming an initial engagement with TIE fighters; then destroying turret guns on the surface of the space station; and finally zooming through a trench and firing a torpedo into the exhaust port to destroy the Death Star. Players continued to be harassed by TIE fighters throughout the second and third levels. The game featured sound effects and snippets of dialogue from the film—including the voices of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, and Sir Alec Guinness. Star Wars was sold as a stand-up console and in a deluxe, sit-down cockpit version. In either configuration, it was a massive hit and remained in production for five years. It became a fixture at many arcades in the United States and the United Kingdom, and fans set video game endurance records (authenticated by the Guinness Book of World Records) playing it.

Parker Brothers released a scaled-down home version in 1984 for Atari and Coleco game systems, and the Commodore 64 computer. In 1987 and ’88, it was reconfigured for nine more game systems and reissued. Readers of the website Killer List of Video Games, an online community of video game enthusiasts and preservationists, voted Star Wars the fourth-best coin-operated video game of all time (trailing only Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Galaga). Atari introduced a second Star Wars arcade game, Return of the Jedi, in 1984. It featured more lifelike raster graphics and included four levels, some replicating the speeder bike chase scene and others the climactic Death Star battle. A home version was also produced. The true follow-up to the Star Wars arcade game was Atari’s The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1985. It was another 3-D vector graphics first-person shooter/flyer based, like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, on the Hoth AT-AT/snowspeeder battle. Neither of Atari’s sequels proved as popular as the original Star Wars arcade game.

Japanese game maker Namco released an adventure game titled simply Star Wars in 1987, created for Nintendo’s early Famicom console. The designers of this game seemed completely unconcerned with fidelity to the source material. In it, Luke Skywalker pilots the Falcon to various planets to rescue Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the droids. Each planet is protected by a different Darth Vader, some of which transform into various creatures (a shark, a scorpion, a Wampa, and a dinosaur). Luke has black hair and Chewbacca speaks English. A year later, Mastertronic released a computer game, Droids: Escape from Aaron, based on the Star Wars: Droids cartoon. This was an adventure game in which Threepio and Artoo escape from the clutches of the Hutt-like Fromm criminal gang. The events depicted in the game did not derive from the TV show but were in keeping with the continuity of the program.

During the 1980s, Lucasfilm simply sold Star Wars licenses to various game manufacturers and wasn’t always able to exert quality control over the end product. Fed up with the scattershot quality of these games, George Lucas revamped his Lucasfilm Games division to form LucasArts, which designed and manufactured games in-house. Initially, LucasArts partnered with Atari to produce games based on Labyrinth (1986) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Later, on its own, LucasArts created original adventure games such as the long-running Monkey Island series (1990–2011) for various game systems and computer platforms. Perhaps waiting until Lucas was certain LucasArts had hit its stride, the company didn’t release a Star Wars game until 1993, but it was worth the wait. Star Wars: X-Wing—a combination flight simulator and adventure game, with players battling imperial forces in a trusty rebel fighter—was a smash, spawning multiple expansion packs, collector’s editions, and sequels.

More than twenty more Star Wars video games were issued prior to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, including Star Wars: TIE Fighter (the first game set from the perspective of the Empire) in 1994, Star Wars: DarkForces in 1995, Shadows of the Empire in 1996 (part of a multimedia event, see previous chapter), and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998), all of which proved very successful. Star Wars games have remained the primary focus of LucasArts since the mid-1990s.

In more recent years, the company has expanded into the realms of realtime strategy, role-playing (RPG), and, finally, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) with Star Wars Galaxies (2003), Star Wars: Clone War Adventures (2010), and Star Wars: The Old Republic (2012). LucasArts spent a then-record $200 million developing The Old Republic, a pay-to-play download that allows players to interact together online. The game collected one million subscribers within three days of its launch. All three Star Wars MMORPG releases were multimedia events, with novel, comic book, and toy tie-ins.

Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy

Mark Clark, author of two Star Trek books for the Applause FAQ series, pays tribute to both Leonard Nimoy and his most famous role.

00314873I knew it was coming. Leonard Nimoy was 83 years old and had been in declining health, suffering from chronic pulmonary disease. He had officially retired from the screen years ago, although he continued to make occasional cameo appearances, including in the two J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek movies. Nevertheless, when word of the actor’s death arrived this afternoon, I was stunned. It seemed unreal, impossible. How could immortal face of one of the greatest entertainment franchises in history, a source of comfort and inspiration for millions of fans, really be gone? Wasn’t there some way to ship his body to the Genesis Planet for regeneration?

That’s when I realized that I was confusing Nimoy with his most famous character.

I was hardly the first to do this. Even Nimoy struggled to keep his personality separate from that of his Vulcan alter-ego, as evidenced by his two memoirs, one titled I Am Not Spock and a second titled I Am Spock. The confusion is understandable. Nimoy was not Spock, but Spock is Nimoy. Although created by Gene Roddenberry, the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer was animated by Nimoy’s personality – intelligent, unflinching, analytical, yet approachable. The actor improvised many of Spock’s trademark expressions and gestures, including the FSNP (“Famous Spock Nerve Pinch”) and the split-fingered Vulcan salute (derived from a rabbinic gesture of blessing); the character’s indomitable spirit was Nimoy’s too. And Spock, more than any other character, came to embody the essence of Star Trek.

Although Nimoy is gone, Spock remains. He stands as an eternal testament to Nimoy’s ability to craft a complex, nuanced, believable character.

However, Spock is far from the only testament. I wrote extensively about Nimoy’s life and career in my books Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise and Star Trek FAQ 2.0: Everything Left to Know About the Next Generation, the Movies, and Beyond. As I noted there, although none of them earned him fame, Nimoy authored several remarkable performances in television roles prior to Star Trek (on shows like M Squad, Combat!, and The Lieutenant) and he did the same in later, non-Trek movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). He also had a successful career as a writer, producer, and director, helming Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, along with the comedy smash Three Men and a Baby, among other pictures. Nimoy declined the opportunity to create what became Star Trek: The Next Generation due to the demands of his feature film career. And movies were only one of Nimoy’s pursuits. He was a restless, polymorphously creative individual who also enjoyed careers as a recording artist, poet, and fine art photographer.

The pressures that arrived with fame led him to alcoholism during the making of the original Star Trek series. But he eventually found sobriety, and in later years always seemed to have a smile and a handshake ready for fans and castmates alike – even his onetime rival, William Shatner, with whom he belatedly developed a deep and abiding friendship. I confess that it brings a smile to my face to picture Nimoy being reunited, somewhere, with DeForest Kelley.

Surely Spock must be embarrassed by the outpouring of emotions displayed by fans and colleagues today, following Nimoy’s  passing. But Nimoy, I’m certain, welcomes and appreciates all the affection.

 

The Wrath of Khan

The following is an excerpt of Star Trek FAQ 2.0 by Mark Clark, as posted by Bookgasm.com. Please visit Bookgasm to read the entire excerpt.

The Wrath of Khan offers everything its predecessor promised but failed to deliver. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced sci-fi adventure rich in both sustained suspense and character exploration. The story wades into meaningful thematic currents on the way to a powerful emotional payoff. Not only is Khan a worthy successor to the television series, but in some respects it represents an improvement on the classic program. Not only is the movie far superior in all technical aspects (sets, costumes, special effects), as almost any feature film would be, but it’s also better scripted, directed, and performed than the vast majority of the seventy-nine original episodes.

Although piecing it together was a painful process, the film’s dramatic structure is masterful, with early scenes (especially those involving Khan) providing the initial thrust and events steadily gaining momentum as the story progresses. The dialogue is crisp and often witty, supplying both amusing bons mot (such as McCoy asking Kirk, as young Saavik steers the Enterprise out of space dock, “Would you like a tranquilizer?”), a Spock-McCoy verbal joust, and some eminently quotable ethical observations (including Spock’s assertion that “The needs of many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”). Best of all, where the classic series often settled for heavy-handed moralizing (and The Motion Picture came off as ponderous and self important), The Wrath of Khan almost effortlessly addresses weighty, timeless concerns, such as aging and death. It also provides the franchise’s definitive statement about the self-destructive folly of seeking revenge, a theme also present in a handful of classic episodes.

Meyer’s direction is a model of narrative precision and clarity. While not renowned for his visual style, he includes several deep-focus compositions that greatly enhance the unfolding drama, particularly during Spock’s funeral, as the black torpedo-coffin slowly glides toward the camera, flanked on either side by mourning crewmates.

Keep reading this excerpt on Bookgasm.com!

 

In the 1980s and ’90s, Star Trek rose from the ash heap of network cancellation and soared to the peak of its popularity with a series of blockbuster feature films and the smash sequel series Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek FAQ 2.0 picks up where the original Star Trek FAQ left off, chronicling the historic comeback of the “failed” series and its emergence as a pop culture touchstone. The book provides accounts of the production of every Star Trek movie (including creator Gene Roddenberry’s struggle to retain control of the franchise) and every episode of The Next Generation (and the conflicts that roiled its writing staff). It also offers profiles of the actors, directors, writers, producers, and technicians whose excellence fueled the franchise’s success, and explores often overlooked aspects of the Star Trek phenomenon, including unofficial, fan-made productions. Star Trek FAQ 2.0represents the final frontier of Trek scholarship. This book is not endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures, or the “Star Trek” franchise.

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