The Star Fleet Technical Manual
was a semi-canonical
companion piece to Star Trek
created by Franz Joseph
(aka Franz Joseph Schnaubelt
) in 1975.
Franz Joseph was a retired aerospace designer. He worked for Convair
during Word War II. Part of his job was working from photos of enemy aircraft and creating reverse engineering design drafts. In the '60s he and his daughter started to watch Star Trek
. Franz Joseph, being a bit of a techie, was first put off by the first season's liberties with science and engineering. He started watching Bewitched
which was running at the same time as Star Trek
but on ABC
. However, Bewitched
seemed even more ludicrous and after a few episodes he decided to watch Star Trek
for the hell of it. At least it was about space. He was an initial fan of Lost in Space
until it began to get wiggy and at least Star Trek
wasn't so far gone.
In 1973, Franz Joseph and his daughter joined a San Diego Trek appreciation society called S.T.A.R. Many members of the group were into making their own Trek props and costumes. Franz Joseph brought his aerospace design talents to bear and started creating technical drawings of phasers and tricorders. He quickly amassed a large collection and sent copies to Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry was blown away. He had never seen anything so good. His wife Majel Barrett
at that time was running a company called Lincoln Enterprises which produced Trek memorabilia. Roddenberry encouraged Franz Joseph to contact his wife about creating a product out of this. Franz Joseph told him of his desire to create such a manual. Roddenberry, who assumed the franchise was dead, gave him the green light
and provided him with privileged access to original props and carpenter blueprints.
The book, published by Ballentine
, quickly hit the number #1 spot on the New York Times
trade paperback list. For its time, it broke a record for being the most profitable book ever. The upshot is it signaled to both Roddenberry and Paramount that there was vast, untapped potential in the Star Trek franchise. Within a year of publication Paramount and Roddenberry signed a contract to begin work on a Star Trek movie.
The premise of the book was that an electronic work was sent to the 20th Century by mistake via some accidental time warp
. It was discovered in some data storage computer and the UN
quickly took over and put a clamp down on the manual.
The book is mostly a collection of technical illustrations. It's not a particularly text heavy book, although the first section lists a number of treaties and articles of the Federation. There is very little color save for a neat page where there are color illustrations of the various flags and devices employed by the Federation. Considering the book was produced without the aid of a computer, illustrated purely by one person's hand, and was created thinking only a few thousand convention going Trek freaks at best would buy the thing, it became the standard by which all future Trek technical books would be judged.
For the convention going crowd, the photocopyable clothing patterns was a popular feature, allowing people to create their Star Trek uniforms, from your basic red shirt
fodder to your own sick bay nurse uniform.
The illustrations also gave people their first close up look at some of the toys, like phaser
s, communicators, and tricorder
s, allowing fans to create accurate wood replicas.
The book also contains plans for 3 dimensional chess and lays out some basic rules for the game.
The book's only weak point is the author worked too hard to adapt '70s technology into the guts of devices like the tricorder. For all of Franz Joseph's vision, he could not see that four centuries in the future people wouldn't be using transistor
Of particular controversy is the book's section on starships. Later Star Trek shows seemed to establish warp nacelle
s could only work in pairs, however the tantalizing dreadnought
class had three nacelles (capable of warp 10
which was later established as being impossible). As well, the destroyer and scout class had single nacelles. Roddenberry ostensibly later revoked the book's canon status, although there are so many urban legends about what Roddenberry said was official that, well, who knows, who cares. The dreadnought was darn sweet, having that "next year's model
" look about it and a kind of "oh, if only the Bush family had not cancelled Star Trek, what wonders we would have seen in subsequent seasons!" And that's that.
What's clear is The Star Fleet Technical Manual
did introduce the concept that the Enterprise
was part of a ship class called the Constitution class
Despite The Star Fleet Technical Manual
being relegated to the grey paged apocryphal between The Original Series Old Testament
and the Next Generation New Testament
as developed by Rick "Saul" Berman
, all the ships classes made their way in small ways into the early Trek Films. The single nacelled destroyer
/scout are seen in the background in the Kobayashi Maru simulator bridge scenes in The Wrath of Khan
and bridge backgrounds in The Search for Spock
. In the first movie, there's a spoken reference to the dreadnought Entente. Franz Joseph's manual lists the Entente
) as the name of one of the dreadnoughts slated to be developed.
stood for has always been a bit of a mystery in the Star Trek world and The Star Fleet Technical Manual
suggested what many consider the most reasonable answer: Naval Construction Contract.
The nods to The Star Fleet Technical Manual
in the first movie is likely the genesis of Roddenberry 's revoking of the book's canon status and a falling out. Paramount used many of Franz Joseph's ideas and even illustrations without crediting him or paying him. In the first movie, V'ger
displays several deck plans on Spock's monitor. These deck plans are lifted directly from The Star Fleet Technical Manual
The United Federation of Planets
seal used in the first movie was based on Franz Joseph's design. However, the Paramount version uses laurels
to frame the star field, where as Franz Joseph's version used silhouette
s of a male and female face. Franz Joseph's take on the UFP was that humans were only one small part of a large alliance of alien races. Laurels would, no doubt, be unique to Earth and only recognized by Earthers as a symbol of peace. Vulcan
s wouldn't have a clue. And here in lies on of the major and early departures between Star Trek according to Franz Joseph and Star Trek according to Roddenberry/Paramount. Franz Joseph's UFP wasn't as earth-centric. For example, in the Roddenberry/Paramount Star Trek universe Star Fleet Academy and the UFP HQ were located on Earth (San Francisco). In Franz Joseph's universe, they were located on a large space station in somewhat neutral space. (Of course The Star Fleet Technical Manual
provided a detailed illustration of this space station.)
The book's most over looked contribution to the look of the Star Trek universe was the book's font itself. The book's first use of the microgramma
font became the semi-official Star Trek font, used in a wide range of Trek publications and in the movies and TV shows.