Review: “Swords, Starships and Superheroes”

Swords Starships and Superheroes – From Star Trek to Xena to Hercules A TV Writers Life Scripting the Stories of Heroes Review: Swords, Starships and Superheroes

Besides writing for hit series such as Crazy Like a Fox and Jake and the Fatman, Paul Coyle was a writer for Xena: The Warrior Princess; a writer/producer for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; and a writer for three Star Trek shows – The Animated Series; Voyager; and Deep Space Nine. Paul also wrote for other genre series, such as Superboy, The Dead Zone, and Space Precinct. Now, in his engrossing book revealing the ups and downs of a life writing and producing for TV, Paul takes the reader behind the scenes of these popular series. Paul shares inside information and candid recollections, bringing the reader deep into the worlds of Xena, Hercules, Trek, and others, to discover the secrets behind creating the characters and stories of iconic series dealing with Swords, Starships and Superheroes.

The second book that   sent me to check out,  “Swords, Starships and Superheroes” is the autobiography of Paul Robert Coyle, a writer of many popular shows that you’ll likely be familiar with, and a good number that you’re not (Simon & Simon?).  It’s the stuff that I’ve never heard of before that’s the most interesting to me, so as someone that never got into the Hercules / Xena franchise, this was a fantastic look into the writer’s rooms for both of those series, as he was there for both of them at various times during their production.  The Trek content is somewhat limited to the few episodes that were written, re-written, re-authored, and surprisingly used without credit in one case.  As with most books that are looking back on a rich career, there are strong lessons that he’s learned about being in the right place at the right time but having to do that multiple times to get noticed by the right people.

At 302 pages, it’s not a tiny book, but I’ll be honest, I read it all in one sitting.  It’s obvious why in retrospection, Coyle is a professional author that knows his material and most importantly knows how to write it in a captivating and entertaining way.  I’m sure my wife didn’t appreciate me having the light on until 3am, but every time I got to the end of a chapter, I could tell that something even more interesting was going to be happening in that next chapter, so I’d read a couple paragraphs and sure enough I’d be at the end of the chapter again, thinking the same thing.

Swords, Starships and Superheroes” (sans Oxford Comma) is an entertaining short read for Trek fans, and is one of the best in-depth looks into the Hercules / Xena writers rooms that I’ve come across, a franchise that at times rivaled even the Trek fandom, though the respective series were apparently wrapped up in a way that Game of Thrones fans will recognize, and has suffered the same fate.

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