"Trekking Around the Christmas Tree"

by Michelle Erica Green

Each year at AnotherUniverse.com, I have written a column called "Trekking Around the Christmas Tree" about gifts to get your Trekker for the holidays. This is a compilation of those columns.

1997 1998 1999 2000


Go into any bookstore chain in America, and you can't help but notice that Star Trek books now have their own sections. There are between three and ten Trek books published every single month: usually a couple of Pocket paperbacks, a serious hardback or two, a reference text, an unauthorized behind-the-scenes guide, a book for kids. It can be tough even for serious fans to decide which books are must-haves and which can be passed over, so imagine the dilemma of non-Trekkers trying to choose among them.

This guide is an attempt to overview the holidays' offerings; I have deliberately discriminated against neither the official Pocket Books offerings which pander shamelessly to what the editors apparently perceive as an audience which will buy anything Trek no matter how redundant, nor the unofficial offerings which sometimes don't bother with niceties like grammar, art, or accuracy. Nonetheless, there are some definite must-haves: make sure to make your lists early.

The $35 Pocket hardcover Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission is a very attractive book, and seems geared more for people like my parents, who watched and enjoyed the series but never read a book or attended a convention. It's one of those keepsake collections with some new photos and sketches, hardly anything enlightening or thought-provoking; still, if you're nostalgic for TNG, it's a nice thing to own. Of course, you could also get the Pocket Books collection of TNG postcards for $8 and save yourself a lot of money.

Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens' $16 paperback Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, which came from Pocket earlier this year, is the opposite: a book that only a serious Trekker would want, but for those people, it's invaluable. The only information previously on this abortive attempt to revive Star Trek in the '70s was one of those dreadful Pioneer Press publications, where the fonts aren't even PageMaker standard. Phase II is a good choice for the original series devotee on your list, though you'll want to make sure he or she doesn't already have it.

Basic Books of Harper Collins, home of The X Files books, had two forays into Trek publishing this year: the paperback edition of Lawrence M. Krauss' terrific and well-received The Physics of Star Trek, and Richard Hanley's interesting but narrowly-focused The Metaphysics of Star Trek. The former isn't new, but it's a good book even for non-die hard fans who enjoy superficial discussions of Hawking and Einstein. The latter is a little too TNG-obsessed for my taste in Trek analysis, but it does some fascinating readings into what "artificial" means in artificial intelligence and artificial life, and what "personhood" means in a universe with androids, clones, Trills, and accidental transporter mergers of two people into one. The chapter on what it means to have a soul is inevitably too short and too superficial - many of the chapters in this book could have been books in and of themselves. But it's well worth a read, and, at $18, a lot of material for the money.

Then there's Doubleday's $20 hardback of Thomas Richards' The Meaning of Star Trek - not to be confused with Karin Blair's Meaning in Star Trek from two decades ago. This one's also very TNG-heavy, and its analysis of myth and character seem superficial compared to that namesake, which was too Jungian for my tastes but still terrific on illuminating the archetypes. This book's biggest flaw is also arguably its most redeeming quality - it's very fannish, it keeps talking about how revelatory and wondrous the series is. Richards goes on and on about the consistency of the universe without ever stopping to notice the gross inconsistencies which so frustrate nitpickers. This book is a good choice for devoted fans who don't want undue demands placed on their critical faculties.

The new, expanded edition of Pocket Books' Star Trek Encyclopedia is likely to be a big seller, but I wouldn't rush out to get it. Like all the compendiums, chronologies, and companions to the series, this is a work in progress: there's some token Voyager information added since the last version, plus more photos, but really there's little new material in here that a fan would need to look up. At $50 in hardback, it's WAY too expensive for a book you're just going to need to get a new edition of in a couple of years when Deep Space Nine and Voyager go off the air. I'd wait until then to buy - it'll probably be remaindered in a year.

For the very serious fan, the most interesting choice might be Constance Penley's NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America, published by Verso and hard to find outside of university bookstores. Penley, a noted academic and the author of several articles on Star Trek as social phenomenon, dissects congressional hearings on funding space exploration, Christa McAuliffe jokes, the Whitewater juror in Trek uniform, and fanzine publishing, all with a sense of humor and remarkable freedom from the jargon of literary theory. A word of warning: this book features a luscious but EXTREMELY explicit piece of artwork involving Kirk and Spock. Slash-phobics, beware.

At the opposite extreme, there are a wide selection of silly, overpriced gift books, like a Federation passport and a $25 Trek pop-up book for grownups. Pocket Books is guilty of Ferengi-like behavior with Legends of the Ferengi, a collection of bad humor, predictable fables, and the like, by Deep Space Nine staffers Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Like the earlier Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, which didn't even contain a complete copy of the rules - you could get just as accurate a list off a dozen DS9 fan web sites - this is a shameless marketing gimmick to lure people who love the Ferengi (and their capitalist ethic) so much that they'll buy any poorly-produced material with the Star Trek logo on it. Only people who own more than 500 Trek books already will need it.

The gimmicky but amusing Federation Travel Guide, on the other hand, makes a fine purchase for $6 - it's always risky to buy one of the regular series novels at that price since you never know whether your recipient has already gotten it. There's a little background information on places like Risa the pleasure planet and fun locales like that, though if you look at the full-color art, you start to realize how similar all the matte paintings on the series really are. Voyager is under-represented for obvious reasons, though there's an ad for Sandrine's.

My favorite gift book is The Unauthorized Starfleet Daily Meditation Manual from InnerFaith Resources - one of those little guides to better living through spiritual enlightenment. As I do with all such books, I immediately turned to my birthday to see what words of wisdom would be imparted, and was thrilled to find a quote from "Resolutions," my favorite Voyager episode: "Even the eagle knows when to sleep." The pithy explanation about how I need to just be myself has nothing to do with the context of the quote in the series, but it's still a nice sentiment. This book has a good balance of quotes from all four series - unlike many of the other offerings, it doesn't just include token Voyager material - and it takes all the captains seriously. I enjoyed it much more than The Meaning of Star Trek, though at $11.95, it's awfully expensive for a 3x5" paperback.

One gift you can't go wrong with is the Pocket Books Star Trek Stardate 1988 Desk Calendar. It has small black and white photos for every day of the year, so everyone's favorite characters show up at least once, and at $10, it's cheaper than the big glossy calendars which contain some really awful 8x10" photos. Plus, the desk calendar announces the birthdays of all the actors on all the series, so you won't have to stare sadly at your TNG wall calendar wishing it would tell you what sign Terry Farrell is (Scorpio, like Robert Beltran, who has the same birthday). I wish the animated series were better represented in the pan-Trekoramic compilations like this, but you can't have everything.


Boys and girls, it's time for our annual round-up of suggestions for what to get your favorite Trekker. I am speaking as an authentic Trekker, but an inauthentic expert on collectibles, since we all know by now that instead of leaving my action figures pristine in their boxes, I prefer to do things like put my 9" Insurrection Deanna Troi in 9" Mirror Universe Uhura's outfit (unfortunately a KB Toys exclusive, but a real must-have in that bikini top).

My colleagues at Mania are better-qualified to advise among the ever-growing list of choices for value down the road on the collectibles market - I have no idea, for instance, whether those really neat see-through mid-transport TNG figures will ever be worth a fortune, but I think everyone should buy the whole set because they're really cool-looking. But I digress.

Let's start with the paper goods, since nearly everyone can afford those. As usual, there are six Official Pocket Books calendars to consider. Four are glossy monthlies for $12 apiece featuring shots from the various series; my favorite this year is Classic Trek, which has gorgeous, loud neon colors on the costumes, the sets, even some of the alien skin tones. The Voyager calendar looks downright drab in comparison, especially considering the creators stuck in a boring photo of Kate Mulgrew on the bridge when they could have put in one of her in that dyke's dream white tux from "The Killing Game"...but I digress again.

The page-a-day Trek calendar this year is a revelation. Instead of icky black and white photos, your desk can now be enlivened daily with full-color shots from the four series and the films, featuring the actors and producers on their birthdays. Shot for shot, there's too much Jeri Ryan for my taste, but this is a real treasure; buy one to rip up and another to save. This is worth the money ($12) far more than the weekly appointment book. If you need a gimmicky present to give someone with a calendar, The Tribble Handbook is a mere $5.00 and contains nothing of social merit whatsoever.

In the "Never Too Much of a Good Thing" department, there's All the Other Things I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dave Marinaccio's first bestseller, All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek, was published by Grove; this slicker, less-fun sequel is Pocket Books' and costs $20, but it's a safe present for anyone who likes Next Gen and isn't a die-hard collector. To my deep regret, Sam Ramer's Joy of Trek (the subject of an infamous lawsuit by Viacom for copyright violations) is off the market, and arrived too late for my article on Trek books from last year. But if you look hard, you can still find a few copies of the Citadel Press publication. I can't figure out why Viacom went after Citadel while leaving Innerfaith Publications' Starfleet Daily Meditation Manual and Marinaccio's first publisher alone, but maybe they wanted to recruit the others and had no use for Ramer.

The most serious gift book this season is Star Trek: Action!, Terry Erdman's expensive ($40.00) but gorgeous hardback on the filming of action sequences from Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Insurrection. In addition to revealing documentation of how the shows are made - not just the complex effects, but the sound looping and the banter on the set - this book contains a plethora of photos and lots of drawings not included in things like the technical manuals...and incidentally, Deep Space Nine now has its very own technical manual in paperback for $24.00 by Rick Sternbach. If schematic diagrams get you excited, this might be the book for you; depends on whether your main interest is in the fictional world of Star Trek or the mythological world of television production.

The Secrets of Star Trek Insurrection is a mere $18.00, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere yet. I'm sure that, like the previous "Making Of..." books about the films, it contains some enlightening details about how the effects sequences were shot and virtually no "secrets" about the cast or production. Fluffier but just as pretty and much cheaper ($8.00) is the postcard book A Place Among the Stars: The Women of Star Trek Voyager, with 22 pictures of Janeway, Torres, Kes, and (principally) Seven of Nine.

If you're looking to buy a novel for someone, my two favorites are Peter David's Imzadi II, a sequel to his very successful Riker-and-Troi hardback Imzadi. But since it's $23, you might prefer just to buy the novelization of Star Trek Insurrection, which is $22, features photos from the movie, and also includes a Riker/Troi subplot. To get more bang for your buck, however, consider the paperback series The Dominion War, which novelize the excellent Deep Space Nine opening arc from last season interspersed with stories about the TNG characters from the same timeline.

The neatest new books, which carry a 1999 publication date but are in bookstores now, are The Star Trek Scriptbooks. The first two volumes contain several scripts apiece, arranged thematically. so that the superb The Q Chronicles contains eleven scripts from all three current-generation series, while Becoming Human: The Seven of Nine Saga features six scripts from Voyager's third and fourth seasons. At $18, the first book costs two bucks more than the second, but it's a much better buy for several reasons. For starters, it has a lot more material, and it's sadly obvious how much better the writing was for TNG than for either of the subsequent series (though "The Q and the Gray" reads quite enjoyably, more so than I thought it played). The Q Chronicles also contains more color photos from the episodes. Best of all, the more weighty book has absolutely NO Seven of Nine, who has brought out the absolute worst in the franchise as far as I'm concerned. Since "The Gift," the only really good Seven script, is not included in Becoming Human, we are spared the stage directions for the first time she appears in her catsuit. This volume seems quite spare both in terms of number of scripts and quality of material. One can only hope Pocket publishes The Borg Chronicles at some point down the road, with "The Best of Both Worlds," "First Contact," and "Scorpion" once again.

Simon & Schuster Interactive's Deep Space Nine places Windows users in the role of Tirrion, a Federation diplomatic envoy trying to track down a murderer and stop nasty aliens. At $29.95, it's not as exciting as Starship Creator, where you can design, build and launch your own starships, even picking out your crew and going on missions, but the mystery crowd might prefer it.

And now for the wearable, display-able, and edible (that's right) items to consider for Trekkers. I know the ubiquitous Seven of Nine t-shirts are everywhere and you can even get the DS9 cast discount from the official Viacom store because no one wants them, but in my book, the "Kirk with gun" shirt is THE item to be seen in. Not even my beloved Janeway wields a phaser rifle like that. Unfortunately, you can't buy a phaser rifle itself, but Klingon knives and Classic phasers are still widely available. I'm pretty fond of the cheap plastic models of the spaceships because they make cool laser noises and shoot blue lights and stuff - and cost a mere $24.95 in most cases - but the $150 metal Enterprise sculpture is a pretty cool thing to own if you've got a good display of Hamilton Collection plates and rare 12-inch Kirk and Picard figures to flank it.

The best Trek present I have seen this year, however, is coffee. That's right, coffee, Kathryn Janeway's favorite beverage...though I think someone missed the boat in not marketing Picard's Earl Grey and Worf's Blood Wine mix as well. For a mere $15.95, you can own standard Starbase coffee, or you can get it in gift packs with mugs or even phone cards (now THAT is the set Janeway could most make use of).

Need a sweet stirrer? The Star Trek Holographic Pop for $3.95 makes the ideal topper for any Trek-related gift.


Each of the three years that I worked at AnotherUniverse.com, I have written an annual report on gifts to get your Trekker for the holidays. Being an obsessive collector, though not exactly a completist since I can't afford some of the excesses offered for sale at the Star Trek Experience and the now-defunct Viacom Store in Chicago, I figure I'm as good a person as any to remind people to drink their Altair Water and to suggest that rare "Flashback" Janeway action figure (order exclusively from http://www.newforcecomics.com, or get your resident scratchbuilder to make you one by sticking Janeway's head on Saavik's body).

This year, however, I must agree with the various experts singing the death knell of the Trek franchise, because the pickings are slim. Gone are the Playmates 5" action figures, the readily available and affordable toys for the casual collector...and they didn't even make Legate Damar or Ensign Wildman before they ditched the line. Deep Space Nine has left broadcast, but the vast majority of its episodes aren't yet on video.

In fact, the two gifts I want most - the revised Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael and Denise Okuda (Pocket Books, $27.95) and its interactive equivalent from Simon & Schuster Interactive - are just newer versions of items that are already out of date and will need to be revised once again when Voyager goes off the air. I already have three of the six Pocket Books calendars - The Trek-a-Day calendar, which is a fabulous item since the photos are now in color, as well as the outrageously overpriced Women of Star Trek calendar and the top-heavy Seven of Nine-worshipping Voyager calendar. So what's left?

Well, there's 12" Captain Benjamin Sisko. Believe me, my 12" Janeway's eyes lit up when she saw him. The new, larger Playmates line is outrageously overpriced considering that they come with basically the same accessories as the 9" figures, but in some cases the likenesses are such an improvement that it's worth the extra money. In the case of both Sisko and Star Trek Insurrection Riker, the difference is dramatic. 9" Riker looks like Wesley Crusher; 12" Riker looks like Jonathan Frakes in all his bearded glory. And Sisko looks...well, like Hawk, Avery Brooks' character from Spenser: For Hire.

Don't want to play with dolls? There's always the option of getting life-size standees. The Official Star Trek Fan Club magazine, The Communicator, nearly doubles its weight advertising Trek merchandise, and they always carry a large supply of cardboard crewmembers. At a convention once, I got in bed with a cardboard Chakotay; he was a little wooden, but not that much worse than the character on television of late. And you know what they say about a hard man being good to find, or however the saying goes.

If standees won't cut it for your discerning Trekker, you might try some form of role-playing. I suppose the simplest way to do this would be to order one of the costumes and dress up, but if that's too weird, there's always the Star Trek: The Next Generation Monopoly set, which allows players to choose among the main crew members and go around making treaties with popular aliens. Of there's Decipher's ever popular Star Trek Collectible Card Game, which now features customizable additions so you can integrate The Dominion and the Mirror Universe into your play. (If anyone has an expansion series Gul Dukat card and wants to trade, write me immediately.)

Books are always good presents, and this area of Trek merchandise is thriving. The Double Helix series which came out this year incorporated characters and storylines from all four television series, plus Peter David's New Frontier books and the films, so the set of six is worth the money for serious fans. New Frontier itself is worth a look if you're burned out on the current casts and want a fresh perspective on the Trek universe. The first four novels are now available as an inexpensive hardback, while new volumes in the series come out several times a year.

Action!, Terry Erdman's beautiful hardback on the filming of action sequences from Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Insurrection, is still available and occasionally at discount prices, so if you failed to get it for anyone last year, now may be the time. Fans of graphic novels and comics might prefer The Best of Star Trek trade paperback, while we wait for the new comics line to debut in the next couple of weeks.

I'm sure Christie Golden's Seven of Nine novel sold very well, and the publishing event of the year in Trek was Vulcan's Heart, the hardcover in which Spock married Saavik. But my all-time favorite Spock romance was with the Romulan Commander. [Note to Playmates: When are we getting HER as a 12" figure?] And the finest Trek novel I have ever read, written of course by a fan rather than one of the Pocket Books stable, is now available online. If you want to give an original series fan a real gift, point them towards Unspoken Truth: The Romulan Commander's Story at http://home.ican.net/~editrix.

Trek comes slowly to DVD - heck, Trek comes slowly to video. I'd love to be able to send my friends copies of the excellent Deep Space Nine finale "What You Leave Behind," but will probably have to settle for the Trials and Tribbleations gift set, complete with tribbles. You could always get that along with the ever-popular Tribble Handbook (a mere $5.00) and give it to a classic Trekker who needs some initiation into the newer series. For Klingon fans, the terrific TNG "Birthright" episodes would make an excellent choice. So would a bat'leth, but keep in mind that it's illegal to carry one on the New York subway, same as a chakram.

Did you buy the $150 metal Enterprise sculpture last year? Then you will need the similarly priced Captain Picard/Locutus of Borg Limited Edition Statue to go with it. Model-makers might prefer the $20-ish U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-C, however. Build-it-yourself collectibles, after all, are often the most satisfying. My real holiday fantasy is to hook up with a scratchbuilder who can help me turn an In Style Barbie into a passable 12" Kai Winn - I can make the clothes, but the hat's a real pain, and I have no idea how to put wrinkles on her nose. If anyone has suggestions or better yet a representative model, please let me know.


Come one, come all to our annual roundup of essential gifts to put on your Trekker wish lists and to buy for your friends this holiday season. I am your host, the Ghost of Christmas Present, sitting amidst my collection of discontinued Playmates 5" action figures and Bantam James Blish episode adaptations. Because I am not the Ghost of Christmas Future, I can't promise you that any of the latest collectibles will triple in value by next December. But I can guarantee that they'll be enjoyed in this, the final season of Star Trek Voyager, as we face the possibility of an entire year with no new Trek on TV or on the big screen.

Calendars always make useful and popular presents, so Pocket Books has been printing them in increasing numbers every year. This season you can choose among six. My favorite by far is the Stardate 2001 Desk Calendar, which has different color photos for each day of the year. The 365 pages cover all four shows and the movies, with some rare images from original series episodes and lots of never-before-published DS9 stills. You can see through Janeway's blouse on March 23 and enjoy Dax's tissue-paper dress on Rosh Hashanah. At $12, this collection of postcard-quality images can't be beat.

Many people like the larger photos on wall calendars, so Pocket Books also publishes one for each series, plus, this year, a special Ships of the Line edition honoring the vessels of Starfleet. The Voyager wall calendar takes the unprecedented step of including a publicity shot of Kate Mulgrew, Roxann Dawson and Jeri Ryan, out of makeup and wearing black dresses, which may delight fans of the actresses, yet annoy fans of Janeway, Torres and Seven. There's a lovely shot of the Borg Queen, but no Kes. If you want your women of Voyager without any of the male cast-members interspersed, Pocket publishes a postcard book, The Women of Star Trek: Voyager, which features several lovely photos of Kes as well as Janeway in her tuxedo from "The Killing Game," and Seven of Nine in several different catsuits.

Trek books are usually affordable and make excellent presents for fans of all ages. The latest version of the official Star Trek Encyclopedia is a must-have for all serious followers, even though it's certain to be outdated by the time Voyager wraps. Michael and Denise Okuda's detailed, illustrated volume contains a staggering amount of information on the characters, the aliens, the technology, the planets, the timeline...everything you might want to know about the universe of Star Trek, plus all the parallel universes. People who already have previous versions of the Encyclopedia will want the latest nonetheless.

This year's other major Trek reference book, The Deep Space Nine Companion, contains complete summaries and production information on every episode of DS9. It also includes lots of photos and extensive interviews with the cast and crew. The book is outrageously expensive for a paperback, but unlike the encyclopedia, it won't ever get outdated, and it's a treasure trove of detail that's never been printed anywhere else. The Deep Space Nine Companion CD-ROM, which costs only $20, contains the entire shooting script of every single episode in the series plus photos and production information for the entire series. For fans of the third Trek series, these are invaluable, and for those just beginning to discover the middle show in syndication, they will enhance the experience.

Many serious Trekkers already own these major publications, so you might want to look for something a little more eclectic for those on your list. Star Trek: Aliens and Artifacts, written by Emmy-winning Trek makeup designer Michael Westmore and a team of technical advisors, gives a concise history of the creation of Trek's non-human cultures. In addition to glimpses into the production of all four shows and the movies (with funny anecdotes about Neelix's melting headpiece and Nimoy's uncomfortable ear tips), the book has a chapter explaining how fans can design their own makeup and construct their own props.

If you'd rather just look at alien worlds rather than trying to reconstruct them, Michael Jan Friedman's Star Trek: New Worlds and New Civilizations offers an in-depth history of many of the cultures we have glimpsed on Trek over the years. Illustrated with paintings rather than photos, the book gives unique insight into the aliens sharing Trek's galaxy. This is a weighty and fairly expensive tome, so it should be reserved for dedicated Trekkers. The same goes for Star Trek: Action, which can occasionally be found as a rremainder, offering a look at the filming of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Star Trek: Insurrection.

A number of excellent Trek novels and series have come out in the past months, including the DS9 trilogy Millennium, the original series six-parter New Earth, and the first-person collection The Captain's Table (the latter is now available as a single omnibus volume, with six novels covering nearly the entire time span of Trek). Susan Wright's Badlands miniseries crosses over all four television shows, thus making it a pretty safe bet for any fan on your list.

Fans of comics are sure to appreciate the Best of Star Trek trade paperback comic collection, as well as its sequel The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Those who enjoy fantasy will love Avalon Rising, a Delta Quadrant fable in which the Doctor spins fairy tales about Voyager while on a difficult away mission. The lush illustrations and clever writing in this glossy comic book may attract fans of Arthurian legend as well as Star Trek: Voyager.

The Star Trek: New Frontier original novels have enjoyed great popularity since their inception, bringing a new crew into the current Trek timeframe. Readers who have followed the book series will enjoy getting the first New Frontier hardback, Restoration, but those who have yet to discover the series might wish to start with the first New Frontier comic book, Double Time. This superbly illustrated comic introduces Captain Calhoun and his crew, while telling of a harrowing time-travel incident that threw them out of sync with the rest of the galaxy. For under $10, you can buy both the New Frontier comic and a Playmates exclusive Captain Calhoun action figure, on sale now for only $3.27!

Original series fans know there's nothing like a Gorn -- the lizard-like villain from the legendary episode "Arena." This year's recent hardback comic The Gorn Crisis, in which the aggressive, armored aliens return, is sure to be appreciated by Classic Trekkers. Add a Gorn shotglass and a bottle of Crème de Menthe for a real Trekker treat.

Would you rather listen to your Trek? The 30th Anniversary CD from Crescendo has music from the original series through Voyager's main title, including that dramatic "Bababababum" music from "Amok Time" and other necessary mood pieces. The Next Generation CD Collectors' Set includes three volumes of music from some of the sequel series' most popular episodes. Or you can listen to Leonard Nimoy debate John De Lancie on Spock vs. Q, a witty audio cassette about humanity's flaws in the face of its own destruction.

This has been a boom year for Trek games. For computers and consoles, there's Deep Space Nine: The Fallen, Voyager: Elite Force, and Star Trek: New Worlds. Role-players may be more interested in the possibilities of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Narrator's Toolkit and Player's Guide. Card games continue to be popular as well. For those who prefer to collect cards rather than compete with them, a 23-karat gold Four Captains card might be a perfect gift.

If you're looking for a more practical present, however, consider a Trek clock or a mug. There are several types of wall clock available, including the Next Generation cast, the DS9 cast, and Mr. Spock, all in the $35 range. Take a look at the cheaper and handy Enterprise glow-in-the-dark clock. Romantics might enjoy a Riker-and-Troi mug for their hot beverages.

Love Seven of Nine? Wear her! A beautiful Borg T-shirt displays her assets right on your chest, where they're sure to get noticed. If Seven alone isn't enough for you, you can have all the women of Trek on your shirt. Or, if Kirk and Spock are more your type, check them out with their big guns, together forever on your top. Younger fans might prefer a Starfleet Academy tee, and everyone adores the Four Captains.

The toy pickings are slim this year, now that Playmates has scaled back its once-formidable Trek action figure line. One must-have is a 12" Captain Christopher Pike. If you prefer fighting machines, consider the 9" Alien Combat figure set, which includes beefed-up Klingon and Borg. Or, if your fierce warrior is a discount shopper, get a Klingon comm badge for a mere $10. The ever-popular phaser keychains sell for under $10 as well, and would make a great gift either alone or along with another Trek collectible. (Kids love noisy toys like these as zipper pulls on backpacks -- they go well next to Harry Potter's flashlight and light-up Pokémon.)

Hallmark's annual Trek Christmas ornaments have been available since this summer. The light-up Borg cube comes with a sound chip, allowing those pesky Borg to say, "Enjoy your holidays. Resistance is futile." In keeping with the Borg theme, Hallmark also offers a sculpted Seven of Nine in her blue catsuit -- don't blame me if her disproportionate figure topples your tree. Last year, Worf was available as a traditional ornament armed with a bat'leth; this year he comes as a blown-glass head, a material that looks too delicate for his Klingon ridges.

If you'd prefer to have an entire fleet of starships ringing your tree or hanging above your menorah, the Star Trek: Paper Universe book contains step-by-step instructions for creating origami starships and space stations. And the paper Borg cubes can be used as water bombs when the holidays are over. A Deep Space Nine mouse pad makes a good choice for someone who reads fan fiction, scours startrek.com for the latest on the upcoming fifth series, or reads this column regularly.

The galaxy has changed dramatically in the past several years, making it possible for the Ghost of Christmas Past to put in an appearance. You can now find on auction sites rare items once available only at convention dealers' tables. Original Mego action figures, peel-off sticker books, autographed photos of Grace Lee Whitney and other eclectic collectibles turn up with surprising frequency. At used bookstore sites, highly coveted Photonovels -- which contain frame-by-frame photos of several original series episodes and a couple of the films -- sometimes sell for as little as $3.

No matter what, for neophytes or long-time Trekkers, you can't go wrong with a Star Trek video. Get one for your parents and wax nostalgic, or get one for your kids and introduce the next generation to the new worlds and new civilizations of the greatest franchise of them all.

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