Nerdgasm

I was in a bookstore yesterday called Half Price Books. It’s a chain that’s got locations in 16 states in the US, including a store really conveniently located near where I live in Ohio. Anyway, they buy and sell used books, magazines, movies, video games, some toys and puzzles, etc. They also sometimes have new stuff, but still at reduced prices. Example; several months ago they had a bunch of copies of Frank Herbert’s Dune, but they were the British version. That’s not an issue for me because it’s still in English. πŸ˜‰ So, I picked one up for a few bucks because I didn’t have that book. I figure they must have gotten a bunch of copies from a store in England that was clearing them out online, or something. (or somebody else bought them and sold them to Half Price Books) Anyway, yesterday I was there because they are having a store wide post-Christmas 20% off sale. I was perusing the books and whatnot, just looking for things that caught my eye when I found this lovely gem:

TNGBook01

They had a whole bunch of them, all brand new. Like that copy of Dune that I have, it’s a British copy, because it has the British official Star Trek web site on the back and the price is listed as Β£14.99. Again, not an issue for me. What I loved is that it had a price tag on it of $5.99. Take 20% off of that and I paid $4.79 plus sales tax for it. πŸ˜€ That’s not bad, considering that it’s brand new and the list price in the US is $18.99. (for what it is, that’s pricey, but for under $5, it was a steal)

It’s a very basic “starter” book about the 1701-D. It’s got general information about the history of the Enterprise, the crew, equipment, etc. Nothing new to a longtime Trek fan like me, but it’s well laid out and has some gorgeous CGI renderings of the ship and insides. However, what really sold me on getting the book is the included CD.

I don’t know how many people remember the TNG Interactive Technical Manual produced by Simon & Schuster in the ’90s, but it’s similar to that, only better. I actually still have a copy of that, but it won’t run on modern computers, so I keep it around more for sentimental value. Anyway, it was all done with set pictures and was in 256 color mode and used Apple Quicktime. (I so loathe Quicktime) You could go to different locations inside the ship and stare at stuff. It wasn’t bad, but it was limited. For example, you could go to the bridge and click on different “hot spots” and stand there and look around. Though, if memory serves, you ability to look around was limited. In fact, I don’t even think you could turn. You could click on things and “zoom in,” but that feature was limited.

So, on to the new book. The virtual tour is actually similar, except it’s done with CGI renderings, not set photos. You still have the hot spots, but you can rotate around and zoom your view in or out. Basically, you can look all around from the predetermined locations. Plus, the tour itself is an HTML page, the tour uses flash, so it will run on any computer with a web browser and flash plugin. All you have to do is copy the folder from the CD to your HD and you have the thing on your computer. πŸ™‚ The CGI renderings are beautiful. In fact, being the CGI nut that I am, the inside covers were huge selling points for me. In the front inside cover, aside from having the CD that comes with the book, they have a wireframe view of the bridge:

TNGBook02
(the back inside cover has a wireframe of Engineering)

Anyway, this is how the tour works. You start off with a side view of the ship, where you pick the location you want to visit:

Tour01

The locations you can visit are the Main Bridge and Turbolift and Ready Room, Transporter Room, Sickbay and Crusher’s Office, a generic corridor section, Main Engineering, a cargo bay. I’m not going to show a lot of the interiors as it is copyrighted, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Tour02

Tour03
(the little com badge icons are the “hot spots”)

The book and CD set has generally mixed reviews. The tour is criticized by some because it doesn’t include the Observation Lounge or Ten Forward. I’ll admit, I’d like to see those and crew quarters. (though, I don’t think this was a high budget project) Some people whined about how the CGI looks, others think it’s gorgeous. I’m in the crowd that think it looks gorgeous. But, I also have an understanding of the kind of work that goes into something like this and can appreciate the amount of work done on it, unlike most people. Since it’s a flash thing done with renders and not actual models, you don’t have free roam to move around. I’d like it if it did, but I think it’s good for what it is. At least you have full rendered interiors and the freedom to look around, unlike the old Interactive Tech Manual. Plus, I love that it will run on any computer with a web browser and Flash. I’ll bet it would even run on a tablet. That’s great. Now, both the book and the CD have some mistakes. I usually just laugh stuff like this off, especially for stuff that I pay so little for. I’ll give you an example of a mistake:

Tour04
(See if you can spot the mistake. I didn’t even see this until I saw somebody’s review on Amazon whining about it, it’s actually funny to me)

So, anyway, this is my newest nerd item. I think it’s great, especially for under $5. If I’d paid $18.99 for it, I may be salty about a few things, like some of the people on Amazon. But, I didn’t, so I’m happy. πŸ˜€

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