Review of 'Star Trek Memories'

Star Trek Memories by William Shatner, and Chris Kreski

star_trek_memories.jpg “Star Trek Memories” is more of a history of how the original Star Trek series was made rather than specifically William Shatner's memories of the show though he does include a lot of personal comments that are often quite tongue-in-cheek (his continual barbs towards his co-star Leonard Nimoy must have particularly rankled that actor).

The story begins with the “Great Bird” himself, Gene Roddenberry, having left the army after World War 2 and a career as a pilot to become a writer. As the story continues we follow the twists and turns as Roddenberry struggles to get his writing turned into a television show and particularly, of more relevance to this story, “Star Trek”. The book traces in elaborate detail the difficulties involved leading up to the eventual series being filmed as well as the on-going problems with a studio more interested in cutting costs than, it seems, in the ratings of their shows.

Another key theme of the book is Nimoy's on-going professional struggle to maintain the integrity of his character in the face of commercial interests and ignorance. Indeed, the relationship between Roddenberry and Nimoy becomes so strained that the two barely talk to each other. This, however, largely seems to be on the side of Roddenberry as he seeks to “cash in” on the Star Trek world having struggled so long to become a success - He appears to be an ideas man rather than sustaining any long term interest in the venture other than perhaps seeking to eek out every last penny…

This being the story of the original television series the book ends on a somewhat incomplete note at the end of the third series, Star Trek having being relegated to a late night Friday slot and Roddenberry having abandoned the production is finally cancelled by the studio. It is the follow-up book: “Star Trek Movie Memories” where the story continues.

For anyone that is a fan of the series or, perhaps, simply interested in how the television industries works…or, certainly, worked back in the day this is a treasure trove. I am not sure many of the anecdotes are new to many Star Trek fans but are interesting nonetheless told in context of the bigger story. I have to say the book does take a bit of the magic away from the series to hear of all of the petty squabbles and financial aspects that drove the series onto the air but there are glimpses that there really was “something more”. The passion of the people involved in the production is repeatedly in evidence here as Shatner takes great pains to point out. For example, in the last series despite the budget being drastically slashed they managed to deliver some wonderful episodes to the small screen with a professional crew that worked very well together as, pretty much, a family.

A lot of the book is about elements of Star Trek that Shatner was not involved with and as such feels like a history rather than biography with Shatner freely admitting that to tell the tale he has had to interview many people to put the treads together into a coherent whole. This is not Shatner's “Star Trek Memories” but rather a collection of memories about the series in general. The book can be a bit boring in parts but the pace is quick and it is only a short wait to get to something more interesting. Indeed I think this attests to the accuracy of the narrative - Life is not always exciting and often in the mundane is where we spend most of our time. Here, I feel, it adds further to the veracity of the story.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2016-01-09

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 1993

ISBN: 0060177349

Other reviewed books by William Shatner, and Chris Kreski: