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iReview | STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS Crew Handbook

A Book Feature

The Final Frontier gets animated and fans now get an insider’s look at the inner workings of the Federation’s not-so-greatest adventurers in the STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS Crew Handbook available in paperback.

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STAR TREK may have been largely written off in 1969, and canceled by NBC in its third season, but the science-fiction series and brainchild of television writer Gene Roddenberry introduced the idea of a future where humankind ventured beyond its conflicts and prejudices and made haste the journey to the final frontier. That pioneering spirit and hopefulness resonated with hundreds of the show’s fans and saved it from falling into obscurity and giving it a second life in syndication.

The Original Series would transcend expectations and prove its “wagon train to the stars” narrative had a loyal audience that followed it into the syndicated realm and would nearly 60 years later yield more than 650 hours of TV and film becoming more than just entertainment. In the words of showrunner Alex Kurtzman, “Star Trek is an institution.” In recent years, Paramount+ has capitalized on the franchise and launched an entire new generation of Star Trek series. Star Trek: Discovery would premiere 12 years after the cancelation of the last series Star Trek: Enterprise on UPN.

Star Trek has never been more popular with its latest spin-offs Strange New Worlds and The Next Generation sequel series Picard starring Patrick Stewart appearing in Nielsen’s ranking of the 10 most-watched streaming original series. In April, the series that initiated the Final Frontier Renaissance,  Discovery will be entering its fifth and final season, closing a chapter and opening another for Strange New Worlds to take the reigns of the franchise, while plans are underway for not one but two new original ventures coming to the small screen, and another trek to the big screen is in negotiations.

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For the moment, let’s focus our phasers on one of the more current iterations of Trek and spotlight STAR TREK: Lower Decks the animated series which premiered in 2020 and four seasons later follows the unorthodox methods and hijinks of not-exactly Starfleet’s finest, but certainly often disregarded. Lower Decks is different from the rest of the shows, and it’s not that it is an animated series. Star Trek enjoyed its turn into 2D when The Original Series followed its cancellation with two seasons in 1973, properly concluding its intended “five-year mission”.

Lower Decks may pay homage to those 22 episodes, but it takes things a lot further and pushes the boundaries of enjoying itself and taking the piss out of Trek whenever it can. The crew of the California-class USS Cerritos isn’t necessarily bogged down by all of the Federation’s hoity-toity bureaucracies. It can veer into areas of absurdity not-necessarily becoming of the other series. Star Trek: Lower Decks is giving fans both old and new a fantastic perspective of a tried and true institution and sticking to the tenets of what has made Star Trek an enduring pop cultural phenomenon.

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Your Handbook To…

To keep it all together, Star Trek has provided its loyal followers with a plethora of merchandise including tech manuals and starship blueprints that have given the fandom untethered access to the 24th Century and beyond. The latest release of the U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook by Chris Farnell and published by Titan Books gives new crew members starting aboard the exploratory ship all the information they’ll need to get started and succeed in their new assignment. Illustrated and captured in the style of the series, it’s as humorous and exciting as you’d expect.

The book also features detailed blueprints and mission statements on the development of the California-class starships, which (you’ll be surprised to learn) have been around since the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, and likely avoided participation in the galactic war with The Dominion. You’ll also get unique insight from the lower deck crew of the USS Cerritos itself, and introductions to some of the latest alien races discovered, and those that the crew have initiated “second contact” with. This is very much a handy and delightful look at the series that many may consider an underdog, but we all know that it is not.

STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS USS CERRITOS Crew Handbook | by Chris Farnell and published by Titans Books| is available for purchase here on Amazon.

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