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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dr. Wesley Britton Reviews for Star Trek Fans and Hercules Devotees

Swords, Starships and Superheroes--From Star Trek to Xena to Hercules: 

Subitle: A TV Writer’s Life Scripting the Stories of Heroes 

Author: Paul Robert Coyle

Foreword by Steven L. Sears

ASIN : B08M953MG2

Publisher : Jacobs/Brown Press (October 28, 2020)

Available on Amazon

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton originally for 


I've read enough entertainment insider memoirs  to know most fit into one of two categories.  The first includes reminiscences by performers, writers, directors or other well-known participants from movies, television, or other performing arts whose names are all it takes to stir up reader interest. The second are autobiographies by participants who aren't especially famous in their own right. But they've had to good fortune to work on projects with large fan bases. Their memoirs appeal to the sorts of fans hungry for behind-the-scenes tidbits from insiders from stuntmen to scriptwriters to visual graphics -designers.


Paul Robert Coyle's Swords, Starships and Superheroes clearly falls into the second category. True, he's had his brushes with fame by appearing at fan conventions for devotees of, in particular, the cult hits, Zena: Warrior Princess  and Hercules, The Legendary Journeys.   


Coyle's look back over his career includes quick discussions of his freelance scriptwriting for shows from The Streets of San Francisco to Superboy to various series in the Star Trek franchise. (Anyone remember Gerry Anderson's one season obscurity Space Precinct? I didn't).  So there are chapters for Star Trek devotees to dive into, especially lovers of Deep Space Nine. But it's mainly aficionados of Xena and Hercules who are going to want to scoop up this major peek behind the curtains of these shows' productions.


For such fans, Coyle doesn't just share his own memories. True, we get a full accounting for his career as a script-writer as he spent many years as a free-lancer pitching stories before graduating to being a staff writer/ producer and going to fan conventions where he had to bite his tongue to not give away production secrets for Zena and Hercules. Beyond describing his duties and relationships with the writers and producers of these shows, Coyle gives us passages from scripts, sometimes two variants of script drafts,   along with other production documents.  He shares stories of things that might have been and of how problems were solved, notably how the writers and producers had to deal with the absence of Kevin Sorbo in the 4th and 5th seasons of Hercules due to the star's serious health concerns.


Of course, Coyle's book is akin to many like it, that is, sharing glimpses into the profession of TV script-writing with suggestions about the things other writers should do to succeed and, just as importantly, the things not to do. In short, this is the sort of book for a niche market--those into the productions Coyle was part of and those wanting to learn about the industry he has worked in for decades. It's all very readable and well told, as you'd expect from an inventive  writer who's been drawing from his own creative well for many years now.



 More About the Reviewer


Dr. Wesley Britton is the author, of The Beta Earth Chronicles and a frequent reviewer for and this review blog, The New Book Review. Learn more about him at 


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Dr. Wesley Britton Reviews for Star Trek Fans and Hercules Devotees



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