Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Grok William Shatner

Remember the first time you saw or heard William Shatner’s rendition of Rocket Man? If your initial thought was, “The man is brilliant!” then, most likely, you were drunk or high. But if you weren’t, then, like me, you are an unquestioning, devoted fan of the man who brought to life the greatest Starfleet Captain of all time – James Tiberius Kirk. Great White North born William Alan Shatner is my favorite celebrity (living or dead), and is simply the finest contribution Canada has made to the pop culture continuum.

Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision, a fork in the road, I often ask myself, “What would Shatner do?” I let my ego take over, my smugness rises to the surface, and the answer always comes to me. My wife usually slaps me if I try to act on the Shatneresq-decision, prompting me to do the right thing, but that’s not the point. My heart and moral compass are always pointed at due Shatner, and if yours is too then I have a few books you might enjoy. Got a little bit of everything here: an autobiography, non-fiction, and some bizarre fiction - something for the Shatner in all of us.

Get A Life (Atria 1999) this is an autobiographical account of Shatner’s quest to better understand the menagerie of Trekkie conventions that he is so much apart of. Published back in 1999, the title “Get a Life,” is taken from the now infamous 1986 SNL sketch which shows Shatner berating Trekkies at a Star Trek convention, somewhat harshly, but extremely funny. He talks about the popular sketch in the book, and its reaction in the fan community, but the bulk of the book is dedicated to everything you wanted to know about Star Trek conventions. Shatner spent a great deal of time researching, even mixed with fans incognito (wearing a rubber alien mask) to gather unrestrained info from conventioneers, dealers and to really get to know the fans, that he admits he’s always maintained some distance. My favorite parts were the chapters on the history of the Star Trek conventions, and the real life Mission Impossible-styled attempts to keep the show alive after the initial cancellation. Shatner interviews the daring and brave souls who came together to put on the first all trek event, boldly going where no convention had gone before.

The Encyclopedia Shatnerica: An A to Z Guide to the Man and His Universe (Quirk Books 2008) Even though he is my favorite celebrity it just isn’t possible to know ever detail of a man whose career can only be described as epic. He’s an Actor, singer, director, novelist, horseman, game-show host, spoken-word performer – interstellar babes want him, Klingons fear him. Is there anything William Shatner can't do? Absolutely not. Don’t even entertain such thoughts. New York based author, Robert Schnakenberg chronicles Shatner’s numerous adventures, exploits and contributions to man-kind in shatnerific detail, scholarly reverence, and in alphabetical order. This is a reference book like no other, and mandatory reading for true followers of Shatnerology.

Shatnerquake (Eraserhead Press 2009) When zealot Bruce Campbell fans (Campbellians) set off a fiction bomb at the first ever ShatnerCON, all the charectors portrayed by Shatner come to life, with one mission. Kill William Shatner! Bizarro author Jeff Burk, creates a surreal world where TJ Hooker, Captain Kirk, and Priceline-Shatner all come together in a gory zombie-esq riot of cataclysmic proportion. Overflowing with pop culture references, that don’t pander to the uninitiated, Shatnerquake was the most fun and entertaining reading experience I’ve had in ten years. I am hoping for a sequel.

There are a few more Shatner / Trek Universe books out there I haven’t gotten too yet, and if you have already read some of these let me know which ones are worth the gold pressed latinum, and any recommendations you have.

Up Till Now: The Autobiography - Shatner
Star Trek Memories – Shatner
I Am Spock - Nimoy
Captain Kirk's Guide to Women – Rodriguez

Live long and prosper.

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