Welcome, one and all, to another MDM Projects book review. Today, I’m delving into something a little different to my normal reads: Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Mike McMahan. This is a book that I spotted in a charity shop and, given my love of ST:TNG, decided to pick up.
Background: Mike McMahan created a Twitter parody account called @TNG_S8, and set about tweeting out humorous parody plotlines for an eight season of ST:TNG. The concept was that he had stumbled across some dusty old VHS tapes in the Star Trek Archives, containing a never before aired eighth season of Picard and co.’s adventures. The account was popular enough that, in 2015, it was released in book version with illustrations by Joel Watson and Jason Ho.
The Good: Over the years, I’ve met a few fans of various branches of the Star Trek franchise. Sometimes, they take it all very seriously. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Star Trek has broached some serious topics, influenced multiple generations, and is an enduring and iconic franchise for a reason. Sometimes though, I hear people say that Star Trek fans have no sense of humour about their beloved franchise. If you’re not content with me stating that I myself do, then this book may well be the best way to illustrate that such a statement is false. In fact, the author openly states that he enjoyed TNG’s serious stories, but that it was the odd, B-stories that he loved. Like that classic moment that Data decided to grow a beard. This is a book that is designed to show plotlines that are undeniably ST:TNG in nature, but (intentionally) way more stupid.
So, it shows that Star Trek fans can have a sense of humour. But, is it actually funny? There are plenty of comedies and stand-ups out there that are much lauded, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will enjoy them. Well, to me, this book is hilarious. Where else would you see an episode featuring Picard trapped in a turbolift with a horse during a Borg encounter? Or a VelocRiker – a dinosaur/human hybrid that exudes sexuality and uses fearsome pack-like hunting manoeuvres? This is TNG at its silliest times ten.
When you consider that this whole concept started out as a Twitter account, you really begin to see how much work has gone into crafting the book. These are not one-hundred and forty character summaries, they’re full episode rundowns, complete with memorable quotes, trivia, mistakes and goofs. Not bad for something fictional, eh? On top of that, the internal artwork by Jason Ho (whose comic credits include The Simpsons, Futurama and Adventure Time) are delightful, and really add to the experience.
Finally, this is a testament to how fans and professionals interacting is good for everyone. You see, the original tweets were shared multiple times by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher in ST:TNG) and Ed Brubaker (award winning comic writer and cartoonist). It was this that helped the account rise to prominence and eventually spawn this book.
The Bad: If I’m being honest, if you aren’t already acquainted with Star Trek: The Next Generation, Warped will not hold much charm for you. Part of the fun of the books is seeing the characters presented in such an over the top manner and knowing that these are scenarios that almost border on things that you could see happening in the series. In the same way, if you do know the series and either didn’t like the silly side stories or feel that the focus should be on the serious side of the show, then this may also leave you cold.
Final View: Warped is a wonderfully fun addition to the Star Trek franchise. In a way, it’s the closes you’ll get to the Data and Geordi movie that you never knew that you wanted. Simply put, if you want some fun with your Trek, this is as good a buy as any.
Final Score: 4 / 5