Inside Star Trek 11: saucer separations and a hypothetical Vulcan

Inside Star Trek was a semi-official newsletter, published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. This connection gave the writers access to the actors, production crew and sets.

I own the complete run:

Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman

Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett

Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable

Here are highlights from issue 11, published in the spring of 1969.

The cover of the Inside Star Trek newsletter, featuring a drawing of Uhura done by Andy Probert.

In my article on installment 10 of this newsletter, I suggested that “little work went into the issue because the writing was already on the bulkhead about the series’ cancellation.” That seems to be confirmed by issue 11 which carried the announcement of Trek’s demise on its back cover and offered almost no original content.

Editor Ruth Berman encouraged fans to write letters of appeal to NBC or, interestingly, ABC. Berman suggested targeting ABC because it “usually has more openings than the other networks.”

Her goal was to get one of the networks to revive Star Trek as a “mid-season replacement in January, 1970, or even a fresh start in September 1970” and while that was a noble gesture there is a defeated feel to the appeal here. 

A different Vulcan

I did learn something from the letters section. Fan Debbie Brown wrote in with:

Scientists once thought that there was a planet closer to the sun than Mercury and called it Vulcan. Is this the same planet Mr. Spock comes from?

The second bit is a silly question, but I looked it up and indeed “a small hypothetical planet…was proposed to exist in an orbit between Mercury and the Sun. The 19th-century French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier hypothesized that peculiarities in Mercury’s orbit were the result of another planet, which he named Vulcan.”

Take that, Encounter at Farpoint

Fans Jack Brown and Michael Okuda (yes, that Michael Okuda) wrote in to ask “Can the Primary Hull take off from the rest of the ship and operate with the impulse engines located in the primary hull?” 

Berman answered:

Yes. The separation of the main hull from the rest would be a “last ditch” maneuver — it’s not likely to come up in any of the shows — performed because the main hull alone is capable of landing on a planet (unlike the ship as a whole).

We never got to see this on screen, as the sequence would have been costly and perhaps even impossible with the available special effects, but Captain Kirk makes it clear in The Apple that his ship can do what Captain Picard’s did as soon as Gene Roddenberry had the necessary budget. “We’re doing everything within engineering reason,” Scotty tells the captain as the ship is being pulled toward the surface of Gamma Trianguli VI. Kirk replies:

Then use your imagination. Tie every ounce of power the ship has into the impulse engines. Discard the warp drive nacelles if you have to, and crack out of there with the main section, but get that ship out of there!

TOS stage tour, part two

The bulk of the newsletter is the second half of a reprinted article from ST-Philes entitled Where It’s At and written by K. Anderson. Part one is included in my article on that issue and scans from this entry are below. 

One interesting bit in this piece details how props were used to decorate offices:

Robert Justman has the mask of one of the primitive uglies of “Galileo Seven” and the lambent-eyed disembodied head of the melkot of “Spectre of the Gun” scowling from the bar in his office; the salt vampire of “The Man Trap,” chastely dressed in a red pinafore, stands near the door. Gene Roddenberry’s office harbors one of the euphoria-producing lilies of “This Side of Paradise” and a parasitic creature from “Operation: Annihilate.” A beastie which hasn’t appeared in any episode, as far as I know, but which looks as if it is a natural for extraterrestrial skies broods atop one of the filing cabinets in the office of Sylvia Smith, Mr. Justman’s secretary. It is a black-feathered, gleefully rapacious-looking bird labelled “Great Bird of the Galaxy.” It doesn’t look a bit like Gene Roddenberry, though.

A crossword created by Andy Probert, who would go on to be an illustrator and designer on The Motion Picture and The Next Generation, and an ad for IDIC necklaces make up the rest of this issue. 

That crossword is covered in its own post.

Inside Star Trek is an invaluable source of early Star Trek voices. I’ll cover each issue. Click here to read other articles in this series.

6 responses to “Inside Star Trek 11: saucer separations and a hypothetical Vulcan”

    • Hi James. It’s great that you’re reading some of my stuff. We have met, actually. I was at the To Boldly Go screening in North York in November 2019. I’ve known Rob for years.
      The separation was one of my favourite bits of the episode, because it’s a great payoff from that brief reference in The Apple.
      I welcome comments on any of the other content here.


  1. “Fascinating”, as SPVCK would say. I had not picked up that saucer separation was talked about in TOS. And I concur with Bibiomike2020 – it’s really cool when fans get to become part of the story.


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