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New Star Trek book goes where no manual has gone before

"STAR TREK: U.S.S. ENTERPRISE: HAYNES OWNERS' WORKSHOP MANUAL," by Ben Robinson, Marcus Riley, Simon & Schuster, 159 pages, $27

For decades, Haynes Owners' manuals have lined the shelves of auto parts stores across the country as the definitive third-party source for vehicle maintenance, whether you wanted to fix a taillight on a '69 Mustang or swap out the passenger seat on a '82 Citation.

Now a new book is taking transportation maintenance from the highways to the heavens.

Authors Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley (the team behind "The Official Star Trek Fact Files") have joined forces with longtime Trek designer and technical consultant Michael Okuda to produce "Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise: Haynes Owners' Workshop Manual," a comprehensive technical guide to every incarnation of the famed starship.

Unfortunately, anyone looking to change the oil on a refit 2265 USS Enterprise, shouldn't rely on the manual becasue it doesn't offer any actual maintenance procedures.

What it does offer is an illustrated cross-section of every major system of each ship, from the sick bay to the photon torpedoes, complete with cutaways and photographs.

While the detail and depth of these profiles are impressive, the manual is most notable for its attempt to blend the theory of the "Star Trek" universe with Newtonian physics and the work of Albert Einstein. Any reader who lacks a doctorate in engineering or astrophysics might come away hard-pressed to explain why NASA isn't already putting warp drives on the space shuttle.

The book presents each Enterprise in chronological order, beginning with the NX-01 model captained by actor Scott Bakula in the Trek prequel series "Enterprise," and finishing with the NCC-1701-E model Jean Luc Picard and the "Next Generation" crew flew in their last three motion pictures.

(While the book doesn't include a special chapter for the redesigned Enterprise used in J.J. Abrahms' recent "Star Trek" reboot, it does reference events from that film).

Scattered through the ship-specific analyses are a series of articles that explain the theory behind basic Trek technology, such as warp drives, transporter beams, and defense shields.

If you ever wanted to know how Mr. Scott was able to suspend himself in a transporter beam for 75 years until he could be freed for a guest appearance on a 1990's "Next Generation" episode, this book will tell you.

Of course, anyone who takes the time to read the manual will probably already know that piece of trivia. This book is clearly meant to be a conversation piece for die-hard Trekkies and pop-culture fans who will appreciate a clever intersection of two American icons.

According to the publisher, the Enterprise is the first iconic sci-fi spaceship to get the Haynes treatment. With a little luck, maybe we can finally get the specs on Han Solo's '77 Millennium Falcon in time for George Lucas's 3-D "Star Wars" updates.

Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photojournalist who also teaches English composition for Salt Lake Community College. You can read more of his work at woundedmosquito.blogspot.com.