Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary is an excellent guide filled with basic information about numerous elements that make up the Star Trek universe.
When you begin to explore the strange new worlds found within this volume, you are first greeted with a very brief yet touching forward by John de Lance. Until your child reaches a certain age, it will not mean all that much to them. However, for the parent reading this and exploring Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary with your child, de Lance manages, with very few words, to eloquently touch on what this franchise has done for the world. He ends the forward with the words, “Live Long and Dream.” Those are words you are sure to want your child to take with them as they make their own life journeys.
Next, you and your child will find two pages dedicated to “The Final Frontier.” On these two pages, there is a brief overview of our galaxy, the four different quadrants, and where the most recognizable alien species inhabit our galaxy in relation to the Sol System. Plus, there are brief explanations about the origins of humanoid life, warp travel, time-travel, Starfleet and the Federation.
Then, your child will become familiar with the four species that signed the first Coalition of Planets: Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites, with another section dedicated to Human-Vulcan relations. Each two-page section is filled with basic information about each species’ philosophy and culture, some history, technology, clothing and more. Accompanying each bit of information are so many labeled pictures it can be difficult to know here to start first.
Once again, each section features two pages filled with tons of info and a host of labeled images. Plus, each section dedicated to the starships has information on the ship’s size, number of decks, crew compliment and launch date.
Finally, it is time to really start to explore some of the new life and new civilizations found in the Alpha and Beta quadrants with one-page sections dedicated to each of the following: Betazoids, Denobulans, Trill, El-Aurians, allied species, non-humanoids, the Xindi, Suliban, Talosians, Orions, Tholians, Gorn, the Breen, and the Q.
Artificial intelligence, the Ferengi Alliance, and alien threats each have two pages dedicated to them. Finally, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire each have four pages filled with so much information.
Once your child is done exploring the Alpha and Beta quadrants, it is time for them to warp into Bajoran space to begin exploring Deep Space 9 and the Gamma quadrant. After your child becomes familiar with Deep Space 9, Benjamin Sisko and Sisko’s crew, they will learn about Bajorans, the Cardassian Union, the Dominion and the Jem’Hadar. Each section, again, is two pages, with the exception of the Cardassians who have four pages dedicated to them.
Finally, it is time for your child to enter the Delta quadrant with the starship Voyager, Captain Janeway, and her crew. The Delta quadrant is home of the Borg Collective, with four pages dedicated to the Federation’s most dangerous enemy. There is also one page dedicated to each of the following: Ocampa, Talaxians, the Kazon, Vidiians, Hirogen and Species 8472.
Once your child has finished boldly going through Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary, he or she will be armed with enough information to answer many trivia questions, talk knowledgeably about each character and create Star Trek costumes.
Since I have been fawning over the book, I should note a few qualms.
The first criticism is that Wesley Crusher is only a footnote in Beverly Crusher’s brief biography. Some may argue it is because he wasn’t on for the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation. To that, I’ll state that Kes wasn’t on the entirety of Star Trek: Voyager, yet, she has two different sections dedicated to her. Love Wesley or hate Wesley, he was an important part of the show and deserves more than a simple, “Her son, Wesley, is considered an engineering savant, and is briefly posted on the Enterprise-D as acting ensign.” I would be swearing, were this not a family friendly website.
Then this, found on page 23: “The Denobulan doctor’s treatment methods rely on a combination of modern technology and homeopathic cures that often include the healing properties of alien species […]” Insert more swearing here. And, perhaps, a bit of raised voice, too. Paul Ruditis, you receive a failing grade for the use of the word “homeopathic” in this sentence. Seriously, folks. I’m not going to tell you how to raise your children. I just hope that if you are a fan of Star Trek, you have enough scientific knowledge to understand the huge problem with the use of that word in this situation.
My final criticism is that there are a few major spoilers in this book. Specifically in regard to Jadzia Dax. Until your child has watched all of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they should not read the section on the Trill, nor the section covering Deep Space 9 and accompanying sections.
Visually appealing and filled with so much information, this 96-page volume is another must-have book for your Trek-centric library. It is an excellent way to explore strange new worlds with your child and share some special moments. Then, when your child is older, he or she can look back on that time fully appreciate de Lancie’s forward.
You can purchase Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary here.