Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How the World was Warped

Without a question Warped is the definitive guide to the lost eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I say that with 100% conviction.

Never in my life have I read such made up,  crackers stories as I read in this book -  and that's kind of the point.

Warped is the brainchild of Mike McMahon,  creator of the @TNG_s8 Twitter account which has taken the ball and quite literally sped off into the distance with it never to be seen again.  Warped follows the hurriedly made and never released final final season of Picard and crew. Made on a fraction of a shoestring budget we get to explore every area of the series in some of the most bizarre episodes never made.

McMahon has created the ultimate spoof companion detailing not just 26 stories as if they were real episodes but also covers bloopers and background material to flesh out the "reality"  of the situation.

I did approach the book with some skepticism as to how this would manage to translate from the Twitter limit of 140 characters into a full blown 250+ page book but the end product exceeded my expectations and then some.

McMahon has truly dug into the foundations of The Next Generation and observed the nuances which made the characters -  or at least kept cropping up in the show -  and has used them just as the writers of The Next Generation did, creating stories around them. This however is a bit different and nowhere near as serious. Picard's terrible luck with turbolifts comes back to haunt him, the buddying of Geordi and Data is in full swing and Beverly just can't find enough desks to bang her fist on. Thing is once you've read them here in their enhanced and more noticeable form you'll see the seven seasons of the show in a slightly different way. Each character has their unique characteristics which are played on with each story but there's even more.

The plots themselves are cleverly thought out, swaying into car-crash B movie territory with over the top sci-fi premises with a severe helping of humour thrown in it really is no holds barred as the series veers into facepalm central -  but hey, it was like this to ensure there would be no ninth season(!!!). McMahon hasn't just successfully written an "episode guide" but has taken advantage of a tested book formula to play out other aspects of the season's supposed production.

While stories of combining crew members, Barclay deaths and Q interruptions are great it's actually made all the better for the additional material outside of the A and B plots provided. Dropping in notes regarding "real"  Borg with their own herder required for one episode or an overabundance of juvenile crew in another thanks to Bring Your Child to Work Day made this a book I couldn't put down for days. Every episode had something different that made me laugh and made the wife wonder how I could find anything to do with Star Trek funny. Honestly there are some really hilarious sections in here, my favourites being from the highlight episode,  Barclay's Day. I won't ruin it but all. I can say is Space Snakes.

Cleverly there are even errors and in-jokes dotted through the book which fans will love. There are a couple at the expense of Voyager which are very on point as well as referencing back to previous episodes from the show, even  being able to make fun of some of the real sillier moments such as the Exocomps from The Quality of Life or Geordi's poor luck with the ladies. Deciding to write this from a production perspective detailing the shoddy - purposefully shoddy - work on season eight, the author has created an hilariously believable experience which is fortunately maintained over all 26 synopses. 

Some of the lists dropped into the episodes are laugh out loud funny; alternate Tasha's (they turn up all the time y'know), oddball space pirates and many more. I think it's one of those books I couold go back to just to highlight those more eccentric points of the series. McMahon has managed to get every situation just ridiculous enough that it suits the characters we know from The Next Generation perfectly yet doesn't destroy the "real"  Star Trek universe if you get where I'm going.

It's a book that absolutely shows the author's love and understanding of the series to a great extent indeed to a point where he has more than competently poked fun at the show and succeeded in producing something extremely readable, entertaining and more than worthy of sitting alongside the other official series companions.

Every story has something different, a new character nuance that's exploited and while it's not a factual book about the series it's absolutely worth getting hold of because it will, I guarantee, entertain you at every page turn. Now just go and buy it.

Warped is available right now from Simon and Schuster priced £9.99 ISBN 9781476779058. Go on, get it.

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