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Shane Johnson
June 5, 2016 Update: Some 15 years ago, I had the good fortune of interviewing Shane Johnson for this website. I lost contact sometime in the mid-2000s, and I wasn't the only person who had. A couple years ago, I posted on TrekBBS, asking whether anyone had heard from Shane Johnson in recent years. No one had.

Within the last week, I learned of Johnson's whereabouts. Johnson has been on a difficult life journey that began many years before Mr. Scott guided us through the decks of the Enterprise. That journey continues to this day, but it has reached a critical point. Johnson needs and deserves our compassion, our understanding, and our help.

Click this link to read of Johnson's journey. If the philosophy of IDIC means anything to you, then I would encourage you to act on it and help our friend in Star Trek by contributing to Johnson's GoFundMe page.

On behalf of Johnson, with whom I have been communicating, thank you.

(Interview conducted via email between mid-1999 and November 2001)

Star Trek fans best know Shane Johnson for his many contributions to Star Trek technical lore.

Johnson's most well-known Star Trek publication is Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. Published in 1986, this book provides its readers with a fascinating tour of Starfleet's most famous starship, as seen in the first three Star Trek feature films.

In Worlds of the Federation, Johnson shed light on planets whose inhabitants were either members, allies, or enemies of the United Federation of Planets. Each planet's pages are accompanied by images of that world's dominant species.

Johnson's Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Journal gives a technical primer to the amazing gadgets and starships of the 24th century. In many ways, the ST:TNGTJ is a Next Generation version of Mr Scott's Guide.

Shane Johnson's science-fiction technical know-how has not been limited to Star Trek. He has created blueprints to science-fiction media staples ranging from the Millennium Falcon to the Jupiter 2. Johnson's most well known recent technical work was the Star Wars Technical Journal, which was published both as a three-volume trade paperback, and in hardcover form.

Shane has more recently lent his talents to the world of novels. The Last Guardian was published in February 2001, and his next novel is scheduled for release in summer 2002.

Tyler: Please tell me about yourself.
Johnson: I was born in Dallas, Texas in the late 1950s, and grew up with the wondrous NASA lunar program of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo days. What a time that was. I built plastic spacecraft models and looked to the astronauts as heroes, and shared the wonder of those first steps out into space. I feel for anyone who was not there to witness firsthand Neil Armstrong's first steps onto the lunar surface - you missed so much.
Tyler: When did you become a Star Trek fan?
Johnson: I watched regularly from about mid-season of NBC's first year of the show, but to be honest, I preferred Lost in Space at the time (hey, I was a kid -- although I still think the first black and white season of LIS is VERY cool). I really became a fan of ST around 1972 or 1973, which was also about the time the first conventions began to spring up. I tell you -- back then I lived and breathed that show. I was a SERIOUS fan.
Tyler: Most of your contributions to Star Trek have been in the form of blueprints and technical journals. How did you become interested in the technology of Star Trek?
Johnson: I suppose it attracted me because it had such a unique look and they used such great sound effects. The engines sounded so powerful, and the phasers so intense. Everything seemed so functional, and in some cases was both unconventional and very, very cool. I STILL think the classic Phaser II pistol is the best looking weapon ever used in any version of ST.
Tyler: How did you become interested in technical drawing? Have you made technical drawings in arenas outside of science fiction?
Johnson: I'm pretty much self-taught. My father was an architect, and I just kind of grew up around it. I never went to drafting school or anything like that, but I did work for a time as a lease space draftsman for the Tandy Corporation.
As for ST drawing in particular, I got into it because I had fallen in love with Franz Joseph's work. He gave the Trek universe an underlying technical reality it had never had before, and made it seem REAL. At the time, I envisaged that dozens of draftsmen, hunched over their tables, had created the blueprints and technical orders Ballantine published - it never occurred to me that one very talented man had done it all. Wow.
Tyler: Do you prefer manual drafting, or computer-assisted drafting (CAD)? Why?
Johnson: I'm something of an old school draftsman, so I think I'll always prefer the good old T-square, triangle and rapidograph method. For me, there's just something about having a clean sheet of vellum spread before you that makes the drafting table preferable. However, more recently I have grown fond of computer drafting as well, using such programs as Canvas and Illustrator. All of the books I have produced were done at the drawing table, and submitted camera-ready - generally, all the publisher had to do was drop in the photos I had chosen and go to press.
Tyler: In both the Star Fleet Uniform Recognition Manual and Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, you list Walter Koenig (Star Trek's Pavel Chekov) on the credits pages. How well do you know Mr. Koenig? How did he help you with your works?
Johnson: Walt and I became friends back in the very early 1980s. He's a terrific guy, and I have enjoyed my friendship with him greatly. While I have been to his house on the few occasions that I have been in Los Angeles, I don't travel a lot so I don't usually see him unless he happens to be in my area doing a convention or something. Our careers don't intersect very often, but we do keep in touch by mail and telephone, and exchange Christmas cards once a year.
Walt was kind enough to give me some early, pre-publication commentary on the earliest of my ST books, including the two you mentioned. During the production of Mr. Scott's Guide, he also put me in touch with Jimmy Doohan, who offered his support and encouragement. Jimmy is a great fellow, and he once told me that he has autographed many, many copies of the book at the various conventions he has attended.
Tyler: Some of your earlier contributions to SF include interior and exterior blueprints to Lost In Space's Jupiter 2, and Star Wars' Millennium Falcon. Those who study the filming miniatures and the interior sets of those two spacecraft come to realize that, were those spaceships to be built real-size, it would be difficult if not impossible to fit all of their rooms inside. How did you take this into account in your blueprints?
Johnson: Impossible, absolutely. Both those ships (as with most) were designed to look cool on camera, not to stand up to a pair of calipers, and neither will hold the interior it is portrayed to have. Generally, one can avoid most of the conflicts by showing plan views only, and not section elevations -- it seems that most of the problems in ships like those arise vertically, not horizontally. Therefore, the interiors of both the J2 in my LIS Volume 1 blueprint set and the Falcon in the SW Technical Journal are shown in plan view only.
Tyler: How did you go about making Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise?
Johnson: I proposed a blueprint set of the movie Enterprise to Pocket Books in 1985, since nothing like FJ's great Booklet of General Plans had been done for the new ship. It was obvious that the two ships were different enough that new drawings were warranted -- I imagined that the only remaining piece of the old 1701 still aboard was a matching nut and bolt, set against velvet in a shadow box on the wall of Scotty's quarters. So, I did a few sample drawings and sent them to Pocket, and they counter-proposed a book format project instead.
Originally, the book was to have been 160 pages in length and would have included full fold-out deck plans. However, a couple of months into the project, Pocket became unsure of the project (their only other ST trade paperbacks, which were released at the time of the first film, had sold very poorly), so they cut back the book length in order to drop the cover price. A couple of the authors of those earlier books told me by phone to be sure to get up front whatever money I wanted out of the deal, because, in their opinions, there sure wouldn't be sufficient sales to prompt further royalties.
Well, here it is almost thirteen years after the book's publication, and I've only recently received my first royalty statement without a check in it. The first printing of the book went from 30,000 copies to 60,000 before it was ever released (due to advance sales), and continued to do well for a long time. I am very grateful for that.
Tyler: What references did you use in making Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise?
Johnson: Slides, photos and set drawings provided by Paramount's art department, primarily. In addition to these, I used photos I took on the sets (more on that below), magazines and videotape of the films.
Tyler: Have you ever visited any of the Star Trek sets? If so, do they hold up as well in person as they do on screen? What is your favorite set, and why? Your least favorite set, and why?
Johnson: The short deadline I had for Mr. Scott's Guide demanded that I gather material faster than Paramount could provide it, which meant I had to go out to California and collect some data myself. Ralph Winter, the producer of ST IV, was kind enough to allow me the opportunity, and so it was with great anticipation that I first walked onto Stage Nine (the Enterprise sets) in August of 1986. At that time, filming on ST IV had just been completed and the sets were sitting in limbo, between films. I had the whole soundstage to myself for three full hours on a Monday morning - I was the only one in there, wandering the sets and taking measurements to supplement the set drawings I'd been given. Basically, they locked me in, telling me to pick up the soundstage phone and tell Security when I needed out.
It was a bit eerie - I felt rather like Kirk must have in "The Mark of Gideon." There I was, walking the halls of the mighty starship Enterprise, and it was so quiet.
Only the transporter room set was fully intact, and appeared as it had been seen on film. I was able to stand both in the operator's booth and on the platform, where (thanks to a tripod and a twenty-foot cable release) I was able to get a photo of myself standing there, ready to beam down. I suppose it was my favorite of the standing sets, because being in there was most like being aboard an actual "starship." I took the photo on page 68 of Mr. Scott's Guide myself. As far as I know, I'm the only person to have documented those sets with a stereo camera.
The bridge had been modified into the white-and-chrome 1701-A form it knew for about five seconds at the end of ST IV, but only partially -- the entire front half of the set, which was not shown in that scene, had remained gray and was marred with sprayed-on burn marks as was seen in ST II and III. The crew chairs were missing, for someone had vandalized them with a knife a few weeks earlier and they were away being re-upholstered. Also, it tickled me that the outer side of one of the turbo-elevator doors (the side of the door that would have been visible from inside the turbolift) featured a big "Valvoline" sticker, apparently placed there by a member of the production crew.
Sickbay had been redressed into the bar/lounge seen in ST III (where McCoy tries to hire a ship to take him to Genesis), and was still in that form when I saw it. The beds had been replaced with booth seating and tables, and the nurse's station had become a bar.
One neat little detail that escaped detection by the cameras during the making of ST:TMP involved a section of the Sickbay set. A silver and blue medical storage unit, seen briefly in the background during the scene in which Kirk, Spock and Decker discuss the Ilia probe situation, featured labels warning that it held culture samples of "Andromeda Strain." That, of course, was another of Robert Wise's films, and the set piece was a subtle homage to him.
Kirk's quarters was a mess. Stripped of its furniture and half remodeled and repainted, they had been in the process of redressing it into an earthly apartment for the Catherine Hicks character in ST IV. However, the scene was cut before being shot, so the redress halted. I did get to see the corner booth/table unit that always had been in Kirk's quarters but was never seen on film (it appears on the floorplan in MSG), and it had a clear plexiglas tabletop and snazzy upholstery. That same corner of the room is seen in ST II, where the set had been redressed into Spock's quarters, but for that film the booth/table had been replaced with Spock's kneeling/meditation alcove.
The corridors were floored with large sheets of the same resin grid material used for the transporter pads, only painted black. The plywood under the corridor flooring creaked when you walked down them, which sometimes made it hard to imagine one was aboard a vessel in space.
There was a door along the corridor which had no set behind it, though one had originally been planned. It was to have led to a briefing room set, but because the first film ran so badly overbudget the room was never built. The briefing room scene was re-written for an "officer's lounge," and a set was created somewhat hastily using existing "rec deck" components.
The elevator and corridor doors (which operated on a window curtain pulley system) were made of aluminum-faced foamcore, and were very lightweight. Had an actor leaned on one, I imagine he'd have destroyed it. The main elevator interior set was a wheeled unit that sat separate from the other sets, and seemed to have the name of just about every grip who had ever worked on the films spray-painted on its outer plywood surfaces.
Engineering was a huge set, and a very tricky one. It was a forced perspective set in two directions, which could only be properly viewed from two camera positions. Viewed from the upper balcony level, a huge backdrop painting that was stretched beneath the vertical intermix shaft created the illusion that the shaft and its surrounding balconies continued downward for many levels. Then, looking back along the horizontal shaft, an illusion of distance was created by having the shaft itself ever-decrease in diameter, with an upward-sloping floor and narrowing walls and ceiling. Another very large painting was rolled against the rear end of the set. Smaller and smaller extras were posted along the length of the shaft, ending with children near the back. And at the rear end, the intermix was only about a foot in diameter. Cool, huh? Unfortunately, the engineering room set largely had been filled with furniture removed from the redressed sickbay, to get it out of the way -- all the beds, examining tables, wall units and whatever were piled all over in there.
Other backdrop paintings had been used to make the corridors look longer than they actually were. It's interesting to note that there were walls behind the walls of the corridors - these had been built for Star Trek Phase II and were finished, and looked very much like those we had seen in the original series. The new, angled walls had been built inside them.
Also stored on the soundstage were other elements used in the making of some of the films. The full-sized travel pod was there, as was the drydock model used in ST:TMP. Sections of Kirk's apartment from ST II, including the San Francisco backdrop, were stacked against one wall. Another interesting item, resting in a corner, was a large, airbrushed model of the planet Jupiter - this had been used for a couple of the first film's Enterprise flyby shots.
Actually, that was not the first time I had been on a Star Trek set. Back in June of 1979, my wife and I were invited by Susan Sackett, Gene Roddenberry's assistant, to visit the ST sets during shooting. I had met Susan through an art contest she had held via the Lincoln Enterprises-produced Star Trek newsletter. They were filming the Klingon bridge sequence the day we were there, and those scenes were the last part of ST:TMP to be shot. The set was impressive, despite the fact that my wife kept catching her heels in the grid flooring. We met Mark Lenard and his Klingon crew, and even joined them for lunch in the commissary. It was hilarious - here these imposing, usually menacing Klingons were, eating their meat loaf and green beans and applesauce, their glued-on facial hair constantly getting in the way. A few, frustrated at having hair in each bite, began to pull off their beards in clumps, while makeup people hovered over them saying, "No, no! Stop! Don't do that!"
Tyler: Fans of Star Trek technology often debate over whether or not Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise should be considered "canon," since material from series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation contradict parts of the book. If you ignore Star Trek television episodes and feature films produced after 1986, when your book was published, Scott's Guide seems accurate on every point. How would you judge the technical accuracy of Scott's Guide, and what is your take on the issue of Star Trek "canon?"
Johnson: Paramount's standards concerning "canonicity" have changed a few times since then. When I began to write the book, I was told by the studio that "if it's on-screen or licensed, it's official. If it's fan-produced or unlicensed, it is unofficial and not to be used as a reference." I don't think they actually used the word "canon," but their meaning was clear. They asked me to maintain continuity with the Spaceflight Chronology (published in 1980) and with the FASA materials, both licensed, and I did so to the best of my ability. The original series and the films done to that time (ST I-IV) took precedence as references, so the only cases in which I did not follow the lead of the prior licensed materials were those where there was conflict with what had been on-screen. There were very few such cases, I recall.
I encountered a few things in the films themselves that just could not work as depicted, and had to be changed for the sake of logical continuity. The outer configuration of the turbo-elevator cars is one example - on the cargo deck in ST:TMP, the elevator car visible through the translucent carrier tube is clearly some 12-15 feet in height, with very rounded top and bottom surfaces, like a Contac capsule. That simply won't work, for such a car could never move sideways through the nine-foot decks of the ship's primary hull.
The studio's current definition of canon is "anything that has appeared on-screen." This, despite the discrepancies between series, and between films. I'd say it's pretty much become a pick-and-choose situation. Personally, I think of myself as something of a Star Trek purist, assuming there can be such a thing. I consider only the original series, the animated series, and the brilliant ST:TMP Director's Edition to be pure canon, along with a very few publications such as the wonderful Star Trek Maps. For me, it is these properties that most purely constitute Star Trek. Mike Okuda has stated in his Star Trek Chronology that it is really up to each fan to decide what is "canon" and what isn't, based upon personal enjoyment, and I think he's right about that.
Tyler: Perhaps the most controversial part of Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise is the section on the second starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, which made its debut at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In that section, you describe the Enterprise-A as having transwarp drive. Pages 122 and 123 also show what appear to be actual bridge graphics, drawn by Michael Okuda, that suggest that the Enterprise-A does indeed possess transwarp drive. Page 115 of the book features a close-up photograph of that bridge's auxiliary systems monitoring station, located immediately behind the captain's chair. The graphics of that station to appear to jibe with those shown elsewhere in your book. The upper left of the four rectangular graphics seems to match the "TRANSWARP SUBSYS" graphic on page 122. Sometime between 1989 and 1992, I clipped from an issue of Starlog magazine a letter written by Richard Arnold, who at the time was a Star Trek Research Consultant working at Paramount Pictures. In that letter, Arnold writes:
Shane Johnson changed Michael Okuda's graphics to suit himself in Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. There were never any graphics in Star Trek IV or V that stated "transwarp" anything.
The page 115 photo, and all other photo references available to me, lack the resolution to verify whether or not the original bridge graphic mentions transwarp drive. Did the Star Trek IV bridge graphics actually mention transwarp drive, or were they changed for the book, as Richard Arnold claims? (Of course, the controversy became moot in Star Trek V, which featured a new bridge set, and references only to regular warp drive. I just want to know if the people behind Star Trek IV intended for the Enterprise-A to have transwarp drive.)
Johnson: The graphics were altered for the book, but NOT as Richard Arnold claims.
Mike Okuda served as a technical consultant for the book in its later stages, at a time just after the filming of ST IV had been concluded. It had been he who had created the bridge displays and panel graphics for the ship seen at the end of the film, and those elements had been his first on-screen foray into Star Trek graphic design. Mike then went on to do the excellent work for which he became best known, that seen in ST:TNG and the projects that followed.
In ST III, "transwarp drive" clearly had been stated as being the wave of the future, and I wanted to take whatever precautions I could against Mr. Scott's Guide being made obsolete by the content of later films. ST IV had not yet been released, but the publisher had asked that I address the new 1701-A at the end of the book in order to create a marketing tie-in.
So, as I was finalizing the appendix of the book (the section that dealt with the new Enterprise), I contacted Mike by phone and asked whether or not the new ship was transwarp. He told me they hadn't really thought about it, since the ship had appeared only briefly on screen and the issue had not been touched upon in the script. Mr. Scott's Guide needed to address the matter, so I then asked if he thought I should go ahead and designate the ship as such, given the dialogue in ST III. Doing so seemed logical to both of us, so the decision to depict 1701-A as a transwarp ship was made at that time, by mutual consent. I believe we made the right call, given the information available to us. Ultimately, we both knew, Paramount would have the final say -- and should the studio request a change to the contrary, I could make the alteration before the book went to press.
I therefore took Mike's bridge display graphics and dropped in the "transwarp" line where appropriate, and he wrote the textual descriptions that were to be printed beneath each piece of artwork. Due to the book's imminent deadline, those descriptions were submitted directly to Pocket Books and not to me, so the way Mike wrote and delivered them is the way they were printed. I modified the art, and he wrote the text. And since Paramount's legal department fully approved the book before publication, the transwarp designation for the 1701-A was "official" at the time.
Tyler: Why do you think that Star Trek producers decided not to equip spaceships of the 24th century with transwarp drive, when that propulsion system, developed in the 23rd century, is supposed to be more advanced than "regular" warp drive? (It seems that much of Star Trek's technological history has been rewritten multiple times over the years. Examples include the introduction of a "warp core" and the impulse deflection crystal for the Star Trek movies, and the subsequent disappearance of the impulse deflection crystal for TNG-era starships.)
Johnson: I think it pretty much boils down to the fact that the Excelsior design was not well received by the fans. Terms such as "pregnant guppy" were fairly prevalent after the release of ST III, and Paramount - who had hoped to use the Excelsior class as the new Enterprise for ST IV - backed away from the idea. The word "transwarp" invoked images of the discarded vessel, and so the baby was thrown out with the bath water -- the whole concept was orphaned.
Tyler: One of your more recent Star Trek technical publications is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Journal, which was published by Starlog. How did you go about making this volume?
Johnson: Norm Jacobs at Starlog was looking to publish such a project, and Mike Kott of the Intergalactic Trading Company suggested to him during a Trek convention that I might be the one to do it. I had worked with Mike in the past, and he was well familiar with my work. So, I got a call from Jacobs, asking if I would be interested, and I said yes. At that time, the ST:TNG Technical Manual by Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach was in the making, so I warned Jacobs that we needed to make sure that we did not in any way step on the toes of that other project.
I wrote my Technical Journal to compliment the more extensive work by Okuda and Sternbach, and instead of focusing on the Enterprise itself I chose to cover a wider range of tech, including Klingons, Romulans, etc. I was largely pleased with the way it turned out, though I would have liked to have had better reference materials than were available to me.
Tyler: What references did you use in making the ST:TNG Technical Journal?
Johnson: Whatever I could find. Most of my references were provided by Starlog, which had obtained them from the studio. Due to new policies and their accompanying red tape, I was not allowed to contact Paramount directly, which slowed the process considerably and kept me from getting everything I would have liked.
Tyler: The ST:TNG Technical Journal is reminiscent in both content and appearance to Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. Did you at one point plan to make a Next Generation version of Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, perhaps a "Mr. La Forge's Guide?"
Johnson: I proposed just such a book, back around 1989. Pocket Books was not interested at the time, but they did eventually publish the Okuda/Sternbach book.
Tyler: Perhaps your most popular recent work is the three-volume Star Wars Technical Journal, which was also published as a hardcover. How did you go about making these?
Johnson: Those too were contracted by Starlog, and I wrote them as a work-for-hire. I pretty much did them as I had done all of my previous projects - researching what I could and filling the gaps where necessary. Actually, when they first called and asked if I would do them, I asked, "are you sure you mean Star WARS? Not Trek?" At the time, SW was almost a dead property, with no current merchandising or other real exposure to speak of, so it turns out that Starlog was ahead of the curve on that one.
I want to acknowledge the great job Dave Hutchison of Starlog did in editing the Technical Journals. He was a very talented man, who did a marvelous job bringing them all together. Sadly, he passed away recently, and I miss working with him a great deal.
Tyler: What references did you use in making the SW Technical Journal?
Johnson: Widescreen tapes of the three films, primarily, in addition to which Lucasfilm provided a wealth of photo references and production blueprints. I also looked to prior publications such as A Guide to the Star Wars Universe and even storybooks, finding references wherever I could. I try to keep my "gap-filling" to a minimum, but sometimes it can't be helped.
Tyler: Have you ever encountered, shall we say, overzealous fans or critics of your works?
Johnson: Oh, sure. There are always those who have their own ideas about how everything should be, and these folks get frustrated when you disagree with them. A few have given me a particularly hard time over one thing I've written or another, but you just have to learn to appreciate their enthusiasm and move on.
Tyler: How often, in your technical works, do you have to fill in gaps left by the shows and movies that feature the objects that your books describe? For example, the Star Wars movies did not show every room of the Millennium Falcon, so you had to invent the unseen areas of the Falcon when you made a drawing of that ship's interior. What considerations do you make, when filling in the gaps, to keep your innovations faithful to the source material?
Johnson: You just have to do your best to stay within the implied guidelines of a given "universe," and go from there. The job is a combination of knitting established material together with one's own conjecture. It can be quite a challenge to take a handful of sets and production sketches and add to them in order to flesh out a plausible starship interior. Sometimes it's fairly easy and sometimes it's more difficult, especially if one is forced to fill those gaps alone without the input of anyone connected with the production, as was the case with my Star Wars books. Unlike a lot of similar publications out there, none of mine were produced by committee, so I'm pretty much responsible for their content. I'm grateful to have had the speculative input of such folks as Mike Okuda and Andy Probert, and the books are better for their having been involved. Ultimately, however, the content decisions are mine -- I'm the one who signed the contracts, and I'm the one who has to see to it that the finished books are true to the visions of Star Trek or Star Wars or whatever. I edit and refine as deadlines allow, but still there remain things in all of my publications that I'd now change if I could. In writing these kinds of books you just have to remember that you did the best job you could at the time, given the resources and time restraints you had to work with.
Tyler: I understand you're working on an original novel. Can you tell us anything about it?
Johnson: It's called The Last Guardian, and it was published in February, 2001 by Random House/WaterBrook Press. It's a Christian adventure novel, something of a "Stephen King-meets-Indiana Jones-meets-Twilight Zone-meets-Book of Revelation" kind of thing. Hard to describe. The book has done very well and has received great reviews, and has a unique and dramatic history which is described in the novel's opening Author's Note.
I've also now completed a novel entitled ICE, which will be in stores next summer. It's the story of a fictitious Apollo 19 mission to the lunar south pole, which dramatically takes a rather hard left about halfway through. Not your usual space story. Apollo 12 moonwalker and accomplished artist Alan Bean is doing the cover for it, which thrills me to no end.
The next book will be a novel called Chayatocha, a thriller/horror story set in the 1850s, on the Oregon Trail.
Tyler: How does writing a novel about a fictional world differ from creating technical drawings about a fictional world?
Johnson: Well, for one thing you aren't limited to someone else's vision of how things should be. You can't really compare writing fiction to doing something like Mr. Scott's Guide, since it really is an apples-and-oranges kind of thing, but there are a few distinctions. One nice thing is that I hold the copyright, not a movie studio.
Writing and drawing are two completely different things, like trying to compare the works of Mark Twain and Picasso. Fiction is a whole new ball game, and can't be created with a t-square. It is very fluid. I have to become each character as I go along, responding to each new plot element as they would, letting them tell me what their reactions and dialogue should be. It's fascinating work, and I enjoy it greatly.
Tyler: Did you do any sketches to help you visualize the characters, settings, or events in your novel?
Johnson: Sometimes. A few such sketches have been posted at the website for my novels,
Tyler: If there were one question you'd like to ask Gene Roddenberry, what would it be? If there were one question you'd like to ask the folks at Paramount, what would it be?
Johnson: Well, as for Gene, that would be personal and I'll reserve that for myself. Concerning Paramount, I suppose it would be, "Why the effort to forget or supplant the original series, the show that prompted the entire Star Trek phenomenon?" I'm a great fan of the original, and I have not been happy with the way the current "powers that be" have taken such a revisionist stance with the universe the classic series created.
Tyler: Is there anything you'd like to say to Star Trek fans, about the Star Trek series or films, your works, fandom, or just general comments?
Johnson: Don't forget the original series, or dismiss it as obsolete. You owe it everything.
Thank you all for your kind words concerning my work. I hope my love of Star Trek shows on every page.
And on a vastly larger scale, know that there IS a God, and that He knows your name and has stood at your side every moment, and that He has a unique plan for your life.
Interview copyright 2001 by Greg Tyler and Shane Johnson.

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