Star Trek VIP Nicholas Meyer also writes Sherlock Holmes novels.
Star Trek fans know Nicholas Meyer best as director and uncredited final scriptwriter of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, co-writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and director and co-writer of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. But, tomorrow, January 6—a date Sherlockians worldwide celebrate as the birthday of Sherlock Holmes—is the perfect day to take note of Meyer’s contribution to the lore of literature’s first and most famous consulting detective.
Before he ever beamed into the Star Trek movie universe, Nicholas Meyer captured national attention with his debut novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974). Presented as a “lost manuscript” written by Holmes’ steadfast chronicler Dr. John Watson, the novel saw Sherlock team up with Sigmund Freud to solve mysteries. The New York Times Book Review called it “a gimmick book” (June 6, 1976)—but only while reviewing Meyer’s next Sherlock Holmes novel, The West End Horror, and in the same year The Seven-Per-Cent Solution became a major motion picture.
Meyer has written more Sherlock Holmes novels (or “pastiches,” as Sherlockians dub such works). The Canary Trainer (1993) reveals Holmes’ exploits in Paris during the years the world thought him dead. And in The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols (2019), Holmes debunks an infamous, anti-Semitic hoax.
And not unlike the adventures of the starship Enterprise, the adventures Nicholas Meyer “edits” for Sherlock Holmes are still going strong.
Nicholas Meyer on the “strange process” of writing Trek and Sherlock
Last November, Minotaur Books published Nicholas Meyer’s newest Sherlock Holmes novel, The Return of the Pharaoh. In it, Holmes and Watson must contend with a missing persons case, murders, and espionage in turn-of-the-century Egypt, as European archaeologists unearth ancient treasures.
On a recent episode of the podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, Meyer discussed writing The Return of the Pharaoh. Host Scott Monty noted the book’s themes of disputed antiquities and contagious diseases are strikingly contemporary. He asked Meyer if he planned out his Sherlockian novels’ themes.
In response, Meyer compared his process to his experience writing Star Trek II:
"When I was writing what became the screenplay for Star Trek II… I was basically cobbling together scenes and ideas from five previous attempts to get a second Star Trek movie… [A]s I was writing, the themes began to emerge—this is a movie about friendship, old age, and death. And then you start writing into the themes as they kind of pop from the back burner of your consciousness into the front. It’s a strange process (21:51-22:40)."
Whether for the heroes of 221-B Baker Street or the NCC-1701 (and 1701-A), then, Nicholas Meyer knows how to trust the subconscious’s role in shaping stories with rich, resonant, relevant themes.