Where No Book Launch Has Gone Before

(23 comments)

After a maddening series of missed deadlines and technical setbacks, I am very pleased (and somewhat relieved) to announce that Vaka Rangi Volume 1 is finally available as a physical book you can actually purchase and own: My acknowledgment of Star Trek's 50th Anniversary this month.

This volume collects the Vaka Rangi essays from 2013, which covered the first decade of Star Trek's history from just before “The Cage” in 1964 to the end of Star Trek: The Animated Series in 1974. So inside you'll find critical essays on every episode of both of those shows and a re-evaluation of Star Trek's emergent fandom in the 1960s and 1970s alongside “Sensor Scans” on pop culture artefacts of the time apart from Star Trek. Speaking of, one of those Sensor Scans back in the day was of the German cult classic TV series Raumpatrouille Orion that debuted at the same time as Star Trek and had a very similar premise, but was nowhere near as well-remembered. The book version of Vaka Rangi Volume 1 includes a brand-new section on Raumpatrouille Orion, with new essays for each of that series' episodes as well.

Apart from the new Raumpatrouille chapters, every other essay in the book has been completely revised and edited, and, in some cases, wholly rewritten from the ground up to accomodate new information I've gotten or my own changing perspectives. In fact, I've changed my tune entirely on some episodes, and cast aside some of my earlier theses and arguments. That tends to happen with three years of hindsight. With that in mind, here's some of what you can look forward to in this volume:

  • See how Star Trek began as a pop culture phenomenon for teenage girls of the 1960s counterculture. More often than not, sadly, in spite of itself, not because of it.
  • See how William Shatner's approach to acting and conception of performance art actively contributed to Star Trek's early success.
  • Ask the question: Is “Space Seed” the worst fucking thing in existence? Or are “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and “The Apple” actually worse?
  • Marvel at the spectacle of one of the worst writers known to mankind.
  • Learn how Raumpatrouille Orion became a better Star Trek than Star Trek, but still couldn't manage to escape the shackles of its heritage.
  • Discover the arcane and occult secrets of Star Trek's oft-overlooked, though obviously present (and almost certainly unintended) mysticism.
  • Tribbles.
  • See how Gene Roddenberry accidentally wrote a sympathetic portrayal of gender fluidity in contrast with internalized misogyny in Star Trek's series finale.
  • Wonder what Alice has to do with a critical history of Star Trek and voyaging starships in fiction.
  • Learn how D.C. Fontana and Gene Coon, took a ropy, unsustainable, self-contradictory oxymoron of a TV show and who, alongside their fans, helped transform it into something that has lasted the ages.
  • Discover the real story behind the Mary Sue, and learn the origins of slash fiction.
  • Flying Space Abraham Lincoln.
  • Uncover a secret war that has raged since the beginning of the universe fought on a battlefield that is the entire span of history and whose combatants seek to control the flow of time itself. And pick a side.
Vaka Rangi Volume 1: Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series and Raumpatrouille - Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion is available now from Amazon as either a paperback or a Kindle ebook. For some reason, as of this writing Amazon lists the paperback and ebook versions as two different products. I'm not sure why and I hope that can be fixed at some point, but for right now there are two different listings.
 
EDIT: Fixed now, at least on Amazon US.
 
It's also available through the Createspace eStore. I may get versions of the book distributed through Smashwords and Lulu at some point too, but I ran into some serious, borderline irreconcilable conflicts with their formatting and publishing systems, so don't hold your breath. The Kindle ebook is DRM free, for those who care about that.
 
 
Lastly, I want to thank everyone who's been so supportive of me on this personal journey and who has been looking forward to seeing Vaka Rangi in print since Day 1. I hope the finished product is everything you hoped it would be. And while I'm talking about myself, I thought I might also take a brief moment to plug Outside In Boldly Goes, a charity compilation of experimental fiction and media studies on every episode and movie featuring the original Star Trek crew. I contributed a piece on the Animated Series episode “Once Upon a Planet”, and our Eruditorum Press friend and colleague Jack Graham is in it too, writing about the Original Series story “Requiem for Methuselah”. That'll be out next month, but it's up for pre-order now, so check it out if you're interested.
 
Also, if you haven't yet, I strongly recommend also checking out Lance Parkin's new book The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek. That biography gets more at the heart of who Gene Roddenberry really was, and how he shaped and was in turn shaped by Star Trek. I reviewed it here and my endorsement still stands: It would make a great companion piece to my book.

Comments

Jack Graham 1 year, 2 months ago

Congratulations and well done.

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Froborr 1 year, 2 months ago

YES.

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Sean Dillon 1 year, 2 months ago

Awesome, I look forward to reading it.

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Andrew Ward 1 year, 2 months ago

Hi Josh, you might want to look at the content of kindle ebook, as what ever processes the ebook has been through has gliched the text, I'm seeing shorter words being cut off. I've only gotten as far as the introduction and "first" is being shown as "rst" and a couple of "and"s shown as "nd".

It wouldn't be the worst example of text butchery that I've read from an ebook from Amazon. I'm using the Kindle app on an iPhone 6 to read the book.

Despite the hick-ups the book does seem promising.

All the best, Andrew

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year, 1 month ago

Ugh, thank you. I was afraid that was going to happen. Formatting the ebook was a nightmare and I was almost positive the text was going to get screwed up in some form or another. Unfortunately, Amazon requires a format that I can't natively edit, so it's a bit of a chore. I'll see what I can do though.

The paperback version should be pristine, as it's based on the document I built, copyeditied and formatted myself.

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James Pearson 1 year, 1 month ago

Congratulations. I'm very excited about your blog getting the book treatment.

I know nothing about formatting ebooks so have no idea what information might be useful to you in terms of identifying what went wrong, but a noticeable problem is that in the early sections of the book the letter combination "fi" seems to go missing. For example "first" become "rst" and "fiction" becoming "ction".

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah, that has to do with how the PDF, which is what the manuscript was originally built and formatted in, was translated to the Microsoft Word/Open Document format Kindle needs. It's annoying.

I just re-exported the whole thing into HTML, which Kindle seems to like better anyway, and I think I’ve fixed the formatting hack job pulled on the ebook release. I’ve just uploaded a new interior file and, at least in the Kindle preview I’m reading, it looks a *lot* better. I’m afraid it may never be perfect, but it’s better than it was at least.

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John G. Wood 1 year, 1 month ago

Congrats! Right now I need to focus on clearing debt before buying anything purely for entertainment (even for $6.99), but this is definitely going on my want list. I found the original Raumpatrouille essay fascinating, so am looking forward to the expanded coverage. Are they more like your Myriad Universes posts, where you summarise the plot for the benefit of those who haven't experienced the episode in question, or are they more like your TV posts where you just dive in?

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year, 1 month ago

A little bit of both. My general rule of thumb is that I do in-depth plot summaries for things I'm reasonably confidant the majority of the audience hasn't read or seen, and Raumpatrouille definitely fits that bill. But the summary to analysis ratio on those essays does trend more towards the analysis side of the spectrum, as I typically found myself with a lot to say about a given episode.

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Jacob 1 year, 1 month ago

Congrats, Josh! You definitely have a customer here. I've been following Vaka Rangi religiously since the beginning, and I can't wait to see the updates/expansions and to have a slice of the blog in book form.

I have to admit to missing the old Vanka Rangi blog space, but I'm still enjoying your stuff here. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next.

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KvetchingTurtle 1 year, 1 month ago

How great!
Will this include the original crew films as well, or will that be in the inevitable volume 2?

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year, 1 month ago

Book 1 only goes up to 1974. Vaka Rangi travels in chronological order, so the movies will only show up in the narrative during the years when they were first produced.

If my current calculations pan out, book 2 will have movies I-V. VI will be in book 3, with Generations in book 5 if you count that one.

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year, 1 month ago

Er, wait, no. Generations would be in book *4* in that case.

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KvetchingTurtle 1 year, 1 month ago

Brilliant, thanks!

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Anton B 1 year, 1 month ago

Congratulations Josh. I've been a huge fan of your writing since the first Vaka Rangi post, despite having little interest in much of Star Trek. Good luck with the book. I shall be reading it on Kindle despite the glitches.

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David Lamb 1 year, 1 month ago

New to your writing since you came over to Eruditorum Josh, but have enjoyed your posts so far and will most certainly be picking this up.

This and Jerusalem should keep me going on the plane ride to Washington next week!

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5tephe 1 year, 1 month ago

Congratulations Josh!

I've been busy, and on holidays, so missed this when it happened. So glad you have achieved this ambition. As a long time reader, I look forward to seeing a paperback version in my mailbox, sometime. Perhaps I'll give it to myself as a Christmas present.

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Josh Marsfelder 1 year ago

Thanks so much! Hope you enjoy the book!

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