Boarding the Enterprise
Edited by David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer
Benbella Books, Smartpop Books
Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I am a trekkie (my wife used her Vulcan mind trick to convince me; I’m sure of it). No, I’ve never been to a Star Trek convention… yet. And we have a cat named Lursa after the Klingon temptress on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. So when I received the book Boarding the Enterprise, I was thrilled. A bunch of essays by science fiction writers and those who actually wrote episodes as well, along with others’ takes on how 40 years of Star Trek influenced life in general. This should be fascinating and educational. What I got was sort of entertaining, but mostly pompous and exceptionally arrogant.
If I’m going to read a book about a show (or series) that I really like written by those who love it (like science fiction author Norman Spinrad), were involved with it (like the brilliant D.C. Fontana, who wrote several episodes and one killer essay “I Remember Star Trek…”) and have some credibility (like Hugo-award winning Allen Steele), then I don’t want to be condescended to. Spinrad quotes himself for crying out loud. He does apologize right away, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he does it.
Then there are those who have no literary credibility. Case in point: Melissa Dickinson, a graphic designer and “aspiring writer” whose essay”Alexander for the Modern Age: How Star Trek’s Female Fans Reinvented Romance and Heroic Myth” exudes more ego than Captain Kirk at the Playboy mansion. The one line that made me want to burn the essay is when she pompously writes, “If you’ve never experienced fanfic [fan fiction], you’ve probably never spent more than five minutes on the Internet.” Guess what? I’ve never experienced fanfic and I’m on the Internet all the time, usually checking out this site or fantasy football sites… but I digress.
The best essay, “To Boldly Teach What No One Has Taught Before,” deftly explains how author David DeGraff turned his love of astronomy and Star Trek into a teaching career that incorporates both. The Alfred University professor explains his quest for knowledge and how science fiction and Star Trek in particular fuels his desire to know more about space and what is out there.
While the writing is wonderful and very informative and the authors are some of the best in science and science fiction, it just reads like there is an air of smugness over the whole thing. It’s almost as if they think that whomever reads this will be included in an exclusive club that, if you’re lucky, will make you the most popular person in Star Trek circles. I guess that’s like being the least beat-up nerd on the playground.
This unauthorized collection is perfect for obsessed Trekkies who feel the exact same way as the majority of these writers and spend weekends watching the original series in their parents’ basement while their parents scream at them to get a job because the fanatical Trekkie is 42 and they want grandkids.