You wouldn’t think it upon first picking up A Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek, but it is an emotional roller coaster. It is (kind of) exactly what the title says, a field guide to every alien in Star Trek: TNG, originally written as zines, ostensibly by a kid, Joshua Chapman, as he grows from about age 11 to 17. It also serves as a kind of diary for Chapman, as he goes through a tough adolescence. So, one minute, he’s hilariously thrashing on Counselor Troi and touting Data’s obvious perfections, the next you’re watching a 13 year old contemplate suicide. That duality is riveting. It’s a fascinating way to explore his psychology, as he often conflates his real world with the world of Star Trek.
About the Bre’elians from the episode “Deja Q”:
“A moon is about to crash into their planet, and the Enterprise shows up to stop it from happening. And it seems like all they do is complain, like the Enterprise isn’t trying hard enough, or to talk about how many people will die if the Enterprise screws it up, even though they aren’t doing anything at all. I think it is complete BS when people act like this, and I am sick of it. It’s not my fault that my mom is a fucking loser and never does anything, so she should stop getting mad at me like it is.”
It’s not always so bleak. On the nanites of the episode “Evolution”:
“This episode is pretty good for making you realize how lame humans are. Because the nanites go from nothing to being able to talk in like three days, but it took humans millions of years to be able to do that. …Star Trek takes place like 400 years in the future, and after all that time humans still pretty much seem exactly the same. They never show toilets on the Enterprise, so maybe humans don’t go to the bathroom anymore, but that is still not very impressive compared to the nanites.”
He really shines, though, when he vents about all things Betazoid:
“While [Troi] is hallucinating she imagines that she and Worf have sex, which is like the least plausible thing that has ever happened on this show. Worf is attracted to strong women and Troi is basically a sniveling little child in an adult’s body. She is fucking worthless and miserable and it is utterly ridiculous that he would want to have sex with her.”
Chapman is not only brutally honest about himself, but he sees right through the hypocrisies of his beloved show, while yearning to be a part of it, despite its flaws. Though eventually figuring out the real origins of this book changed my experience of it, I’ve never read anything like A Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek. If you love Star Trek or if you are deeply scarred from a punishing adolescence that you just can’t get over, you must read this book.