When you think of Star Trek, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A character? A ship? A particular series or episode? Whatever your answer is, we’re willing to guess it wasn’t friendship, but maybe it should be. Think about it. Ultimately, all iterations of Star Trek are about the bonds of friendship, and now two massive Star Trek fans are breaking that down with their own brand of wit, and Gizmodo has an exclusive look.
We’re talking about The Star Trek Book of Friendship, a first-of-its-kind, comedic dissection of famous Star Trek friendships such as Kirk and Spock, Picard and Data, Janeway and Seven of Nine, Bashir and Gara, and others. Written by best-selling author Robb Pearlman and the former host of the official Star Trek podcast, Jordan Hoffman, the book features the two fans geeking out about these relationships, accompanied by original artwork by J.K. Woodward. The Star Trek Book of Friendship is out May 10 and below we have an exclusive excerpt about the friendship between Spock and Bones. Plus, our very own introduction from the authors themselves. Talk it away!
Jordan Hoffman: Robb, can you believe we’re on Gizmodo?
Robb Pearlman: No! It’s weird to be on one of the few sites I have bookmarked. Seriously, it’s like, Gizmodo, the patient portal for my allergist’s office, and Paramount+.
Hoffman: Same here, my Star Trek friend. You and I are of a certain age where our fandom for Star Trek predated the internet, social media, rec.startrek.com, or anything else. To find a Star Trek friend in meatspace, as they say, was sometimes a rarity. Did you find that you were alone in your Star Trek friendship when you were a young lad?
Pearlman: I was the only person I knew who watched it with any sort of regularity. No one got my Spock jokes.
Hoffman: Kids today don’t realise how easy they’ve got it!
Pearlman: That being said, we were watching it when it was in reruns, not when it was originally on.
Hoffman: Right, right, we’re old, but not that old. This is your 10th Star Trek book, yes?
Pearlman: Yes, my first one was Fun with Kirk and Spock, and I’ve been having fun writing Star Trek books ever since.
Hoffman: And no matter the topic, they’ve always dealt with humour. When you realised you were going to do one about Star Trek, when did you have the idea to rook someone into doing 50 per cent of the work?
Pearlman: I immediately knew a book about friendship needed to be written by friends. But the 50% guy wasn’t available, so I called you to do 75% soon after that.
Hoffman: We met on the Star Trek convention circuit, you promoting your books, me, moderating panels. And during the pandemic, we would just talk on the phone or on Zoom, like we would have done if we were meeting up over coffee or at a con. Just two friends connecting and jabbering on and on about all that we love about Star Trek.
Pearlman: This book really does transfer from the stage to the page much of what I love about what we do at conventions, digging into the characters in a rich way, that can be poignant, revelatory, and entertaining.
Hoffman: For me, Star Trek is certainly about adventure, exploration, and technology, but also about having a good time. A ridiculous good time with a giant Hefty bag that kills Tasha Yar.
Hoffman: We should let people read a small chunk of the book, to let them know what we’re on about.
Pearlman: I’m checking out Gizmodo right now.
Pearlman: With space frenemies like these, who needs friends?
Hoffman: The lack of oxygen really exaggerates everything, I think. Let’s start at the top. With everyone’s favourite frenemies, Spock and Bones. You say those two names and what image comes to mind for you?
Pearlman: I think of drinking orange juice right after brushing my teeth. Both great on their own, but when put together…
Hoffman: For me it’s Spock in sick bay at the end of TOS season two’s “Journey to Babel” and Bones going, “Shh!” Sometimes you just have to say, “Shh!” And then that smile. Bones and Spock love each other, that’s for sure. It’s more in Bones’s nature to admit this, even if it’s in its own irascible way. I am thinking of, “Shut up, Spock, we’re rescuing you!” from season two’s “The Immunity Syndrome.” Classic stuff.
Pearlman: Bones and Spock are the textbook description of frenemies. What bonded them despite their differences was their mutual friendship for Jim Kirk. Even when they disagreed, it was always with Kirk’s best interest at heart, just seeing it from a different perspective. That’s the base of it, plus the fact that they see in one another something that they either want or they want to repress.
Hoffman: Forget three-dimensional chess, this just got into ten-dimensional psychology!
Pearlman: Was Bones really upset when Spock used him as a katra vessel before charging into the warp core chamber at the end of The Wrath of Khan? No. Was he annoyed? Yes, surely. He’s a doctor, not a vessel!
Hoffman: He was thrilled! He was thrilled to help his pointy-eared, greenblooded buddy. But he was especially thrilled because he could hold this over Spock’s head for years to come. Which he tried to do at the beginning of The Voyage Home. But Bones would have volunteered to help Spock. He knows — everyone knows — that they are more than Starfleet. They’re friends. But to bring it back down to a personal level, you’re right, there’s always the lens of their other friend, James Tiberius Kirk. Bones is never going to hit the full photon torpedo spread on Spock no matter how aggravated he is because he knows “that’s Jim’s boy.” And even though Spock pretends to be cold-blooded, I think it goes both ways.
Pearlman: They know how far to push it. And they know how far to push their annoyance at the other in conversation with Kirk. When you are really close to someone, you can make delicate jokes to someone about their spouse. But only when the friendship — all the friendships — are on very solid ground.
Featuring a foreword from Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips, The Star Trek Book of Friendship is out May 10. Pre-order a copy here.