Friday, July 11, 2014

The View from the Bridge by Nicholas Meyer--Book Review

Photo: Cover art of the book, from

A very interesting book, more about writing and directing in Hollywood than about just Star Trek.  Having said that, it would help mightily to be a fan of the series.  It's not that you have to be a fan to enjoy it; it's that Star Trek, in some way, takes up probably 50% to 75% of the book.

Still, there are other interesting things here:

--It takes about two seconds for directors to become nobodies in Hollywood.  I thought it was fast for actors...

--If you're not going to act, you'd better be able to write.  And fast.

--Meyer culled five or six screenplay drafts of Star Trek II and wrote Wrath of Khan by combining the best elements of those unfilmed drafts, plus his own ideas.

--And he wrote the screenplay for free. 

--In twelve days. 

--And didn't take a screenplay credit for it.

--I watched Wrath of Khan again last week, after finishing this book.  It holds up surprisingly well.

--He insists those are Montalban's real pecs.  Says so repeatedly.  I still don't believe it.

--And there's no way a genius like Khan doesn't get the twice-repeated "If we go by the book" coded message from Spock to Kirk near the end.

--The latest Star Trek movie is, of course, a parallel-universe version of this.  Abrams clearly liked Wrath of Khan and honors it constantly in his film.

--Which is in some ways better.  But mostly I don't think one is better than the other.  Just...different.  Each couldn't have been made in their respective eras.

--(Back to the book.  Sorry for the digression.)

--Nicholas Meyer somehow survived very successfully in Hollywood despite very powerful depressive and neurotic tendencies.  By his own frequent admission.

--He says the Trek movies he wrote and wrote / directed (II, IV and VI) were the best ones.  He is, of course, correct.  One had its moments; III was okay but too predictable and violent; and V was just plain awful.

--His first novel, one that made Sherlock Holmes meet Freud, was very good.  I haven't read his others, but plan to.  His books overall have done pretty well, especially his Holmes.

It's an easy read.  If you're a fan of movies, writing, Hollywood, and / or Star Trek, give it a shot.

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