The Meaning of Star Trek

An Excursion into the Myth and Marvel of the Star Trek Universe

Publisher: Main Street Books
"Where does Star Trek come from? Why is it so popular? How does it go about creating a coherent world? Literary critics may take literature seriously, but they often look down on popular forms such as television shows.

"I feel differently. I think the meaning of the series can best be captured by looking at how it successfully creates a coherent universe. Like any great work of art or literature, the Star Trek universe has an integrity and a resonance all its own, a completeness unrivaled by any other kind of science fiction, whether movie, television show, or novel. The unique character of the series, taken not as a group of loosely connected stories but as a viable whole, is the subject of this book."

--From the Introduction to The Meaning of  Star Trek

Star Trek has no equal. Easily the most cerebral show on television, it brought a literary sophistication to the raw material of science fiction and confounded all the formulas of television. By taking classic stories and placing them in strange new contexts, Star Trek became a modern Odyssey in outer space, a set of stories so basic to our culture that they can be told over and over again.

The Meaning of Star Trek captures the essence of this timeless television masterpiece by linking the parallel universes of classical literature and popular culture. Thomas Richards examines its portrayals of contact and conflict with other species and other cultures; its deep explorations of character and identity, and its complex conception of the idea of the individual self; its remarkably rich and varied use of story and myth; and its profound appeal to our shared sense of wonder, a reverence and awe for that which science cannot explain.

Enlightening, provocative, and enormously entertaining, The Meaning of Star Trek is essential reading for even the most casual admirer of the Star Trek universe, as well as a brilliant introduction to the worlds of literature, myth, and science fiction.

This book was not prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by any entity involved in creating or producing the Star Trek television series or films.


A space station turning to a Richard Strauss waltz.  A small ship making its approach to the station like a partner in a dance.  For me the most visually remarkable moment in science fiction has always been the space ballet in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).  In this...
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"Richards' analysis is excellent and covers everything from theology to the emphasis on individualism that lies at the very heart of the Star Trek universe."
--Kirkus Reviews