Captain's Blog pt. 12: Memoirs and Miscellanea

Let's have a look at some of the memoirs and miscellanea of the Trekverse. 


I can't claim to have read all of the Pocket Books or comics, but when it comes to the memoirs, I've consumed them all. It was a slippery slope. I read Nimoy's and loved it, so I picked up Shatner's. (Just the two mentioned immediately below, not the five or six or however many he's written since then.) Then my parents got me Takei's as a present, and then, well, I had to keep going, didn't I? 


Shatner's are perhaps the best of them all as they contain numerous notes from other cast and production members. And while this makes the books better reading, I can see how it might lead to resentment from his castmates, as it takes some of the wind from the sails/sales of their own memoirs.

These are memories of his involvement only with the tv show and the movies. Not much given to his non-Trek life or career. (I did my best to fill the gap here for those interested.)

As for his co-author, here is a good overview of one aspect of his career. RIP, Chris.


In the 1970s, Leonard Nimoy wrote his first memoir, the title of which provides the impetus for the title of his second, from the 1990s.
As aforementioned, it was my unexpectedly intense enjoyment of the latter that led me down the rabbit hole of the other memoirs. Believe it or not, there once was a time I considered myself apart from those Trek fans who read the memoirs - I mean, I liked Trek, but I wasn't some obsessive

Unlike Shatner's, I Am Spock delves into Nimoy's non-Trek work in great detail. Of which he had a wide variety, from playing Paris on Mission: Impossible to his one-man show for Vincent to directing Three Men and a Baby. It offers plenty of Trek detail, though, don't worry.Along the way you get a lot of intelligent and sensitive commentary on the acting profession itself. I always enjoy listening to Nimoy talk about his relationship with art and the respect he exhibits for the art of performance. It's a pity his fascinating turns as William Bell on Fringe or as Old Spock in the 2009 Trek aren't covered here, but so it goes.


Nichelle Nichols released  in 1994. It's pretty thin on Trek trivia, (though plenty on the conventions/ Trekker world) or maybe it's just stuff I knew before, but she certainly hobknobbed with some heavyweights and fascinating folks. (Before she was even a glimmer in Trek's eye, she knew Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington.) Not a bad read.


In a way, this book is a cheat, as George Takei did not take the occasion of his own memoir to come out of the closet. But a good deal of the book is devoted to his experiences growing up in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War 2. That alone is worth the price of admission. And since you can get any of these books for pennies on Amazon, that cost is pretty meager to begin with.

Takei's ongoing reinvention as the Prince of Internet Whimsy is, of course, delightful.


Walter Koenig's droll recollections of his life and career make for an entertaining and well-presented read. Of particular interest to me was his once close friendship with Christopher Lloyd, who apparently came from a quite wealthy family. ("I'd never been in a private home with an elevator before," Koenig recalls upon going home with him one weekend when they were both young actors in NYC.) Apparently it soured later when Koenig attempted to reconnect with him during Lloyd's Taxi fame, and Lloyd wouldn't break character to catch up with his old friend. I was hoping for a big reconciliation on the set of Star Trek III, but outside of Koenig's asking him about it and Lloyd's not remembering, looks like that was enough to sever the friendship. (Shrugs) Showfolk. 


James Doohan teamed up with intermittent Trek scribe / comics bard of longstanding Peter David for his memoir. It's okay. I wanted more of his dislike for Shatner, to be honest. (I'm shameless.) All the reader gets is a succinct "I just never liked him." Fair enough. Lots of his pre-Trek career and lots on his service in World War II. (Understandably.)


Of the original cast, DeForest Kelley is the only one not to leave a memoir. Not counting, like, Commander Kyle, or Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Though she and her late husband's remains are traveling ever deeper into space as of this writing. That's a memoir of its own. 

Whether or not this will turn into a "V-Ger" situation remains to be seen, but here's hoping.


This is not a comprehensive list. But hey, while we're here.


Here's the deal - you need Has-Been. You don't need to just listen to it - you need it. Your life is immeasurably improved from knowing Has-Been. Don't tell me you're into Shatner if you don't own this album. Or The Transformed Man, to be honest. (Or have his version of "Rocket Man" bookmarked on every computer you use.) You don't really need either Ponder the Mystery or Seeking Major Tom, but they're fun to have.

Shatner rode the virtual reality wave of the 90s with his Tek series. It (and most of said wave) was just rehashed Neuromancer, or worse, rehashed Lawnmower Man. (The movie not the short story.) But for awhile Shatner was cranking these out, so it's worth a mention.

 I never got into them.


Nimoy's 1960s LP is less notorious than Shatner's, but it actually has some real gems, most especially this little number, "Music to Watch Space Girls By." That title makes little grammatical sense, I know. But it's a damn groovy tune. I don't think Nimoy even performs on this track, but I'm glad it exists.

This album also provided me with my first exposure to Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata," among the loveliest arrangements of words and sentiment ever penned. I was green enough to wonder if this was something Nimoy wrote himself and was really impressed when I discovered otherwise. (I saw it on a New Age-type poster hanging on a wall at a party and asked the host how she'd come across this great poem by Leonard Nimoy. Imagine my - not to mention the host's - embarrassment.)

He also lent his name/ co-originated the concept for this, but I never read it. Anyone out there?
2015 EDIT: Climb the steps of Mt. Seleya, Mr. Nimoy. R.I.P.


This is a fun album with a surprisingly touching romance cobbled together from the lyrics to Cole Porter and Irving Berlin songs. And it features Mark Hamill, to boot. If old standards your cup of tea, Brent Spiner and Maude Maggart sing them just about as well as anyone. Brent Spiner cooing "What'll I Do" and Maude's self-harmonizing on "To Know You Is To Love You" in particular. (Links reference only for audio, not the Brent Spiner is dreamy video collages.) 

#TrekConfessions: My wife and I had that "To Know You Is To Love You" song on the CD we played at our wedding, queued to when we walked away from the altar. Which was unexpectedly surreal, as the first thing you hear on that track is "It was just a dream - it wasn't real." (The second is "You're the only dream that's real" which made it a little more fitting for the occasion.) 


James Doogan also lent his name to (or collaborated on) this Flight Engineer series of novels with S.M. Stirling. I never read these, but Jeff over at IntotheDarkDimension has this to say:
"I love starship adventure and combat, and I was surprised by how much I dug those books. Stirling was almost certainly the real writer, with Doohan providing basic ideas, I suppose, but I've read a good bit of Stirling's work, and these had a certain vibe of their own. It's a trilogy, but the third novel, from 2000, wraps up the story so hastily that I suspect that Doohan's illnesses were getting to the point that it would be clear he really wasn't contributing much to the books, so they closed out the series as gracefully as possible. It was a fun series, and I wish there'd been a few more volumes."


Like I say, I'm leaving out plenty here - Nimoy's and Shatner's side projects alone are whole-other-careers to most people, Koenig has written comics and short stories and other television, and of course there's his or Takei's or Nichols's work on any of the fan-made Trek projects - but there's a few to get you on your way.



Harlan Ellison's long-standing feud with Roddenberry/ Trek over alterations to and misrepresentation of his original script for "City on the Edge of Forever" is the subject of his foray into Trek memoir, which is one of Harlan's better-organized and footnoted screeds. I'll cover this in more detail elsewhere, though.

Nicholas Meyer (director of Star Trek II and VI, in case you're a mental case) has perhaps the best all-around non-principal-cast memoir, and perhaps better than most of the actual cast's, as well. I found myself disagreeing with him a lot on the subject of Star Trek VI. I'll save my thoughts on that, however, until I do the movies.

Anyone my age or older probably has memories of watching The Day After, which he directed, on TV in the early 1980s.

Yep. That freaked me out about as much as the Ceti eels in Wrath of Khan. You got me twice, Meyer.

As a writer and director, he likes to mash together genres, and sometimes (as in Khan or The Day After) it all comes together quite well. Elsewhere (as in Undiscovered Country or Time After Time) it's not as successful.


Although she only appeared for something like ten or twenty minutes of screen time in nine episodes (8 TOS, 1 VOY) and a handful of scenes in the movies, Grace Lee Whitney released this in 1988. Her story is summed up pretty well in Shatner's TV Memories, for my money. The scumbag studio executive who sexually assaulted her is not named, nor was he ever to my knowledge prosecuted in any way for the crime. Maybe in 2015's media climate of outrage for even wholly fabricated sexual assault statistics and stories, this actual crime can finally be addressed, particularly with Trek's 50th birthday coming round. 


I'm ambivalent about Susan Sackett's Inside Star Trek, her memoir as Gene Roddenberry's personal assistant, lover, and production assistant on TNG. (She also co-wrote the episode "The Game.")

Like I said above, I'm shameless, but I didn't quite enjoy being a voyeur for Susan's and Gene's nearly twenty-year affair. I mean, poor Nurse Chapel/ Troi's Mom. Lest anyone think I'm being unduly judgmental, hey, whatever worked or didn't work for the three of them (or works or doesn't work for anyone) is none of my business. But by putting it out there in memoir-form, it becomes fair game to evaluate. This reads more like the therapy journal of "the other woman" than anything; I kept wanting to write in the margins of certain passages "Almost a breakthrough; go deeper here." and I felt at book's end that the author herself wasn't quite as aware of the implications of what she reveals as she maybe should have been. (She seems surprised, for example, that she is jettisoned from the Trek family bosom once Gene dies. I'm no expert on human behavior, but normally the wife of the man with whom you've been having an affair isn't too keen on making you part of the family after the husband passes on. I get that it must have been a crappy time for the author, of course.)

There are plenty of fun revelations. (Geordi LaForge was named after a handicapped convention attendee named George LaForge, whose spirit impressed Gene enough to make sure the future contained one visible handicapped person as a vital part of the crew. It was changed to blindness, something that would annoy LeVar Burton after several seasons of not being able to act with his eyes, but still, a commendable gesture.) And then there are ones that aren't so fun: "Deanna" is Sackett's middle name, and Gene gave Troi her surname as an homage. This seems deliberately cruel to Majel Barrett, particularly when you consider one of the episodes Sackett received a story credit for, "Menage a Troi," has a sizable role for Luxwana Troi (i.e. Majel's character on TNG.) So, the husband's mistress writes a story where the wife has to say aloud the name of the mistress, over and over again? And pretend to love her namesake as a daughter? That is a little twisted, man. No wonder Luxwana took to calling Troi "Little One" so much.

I was pretty impressed with the sheer amount of booze Gene was knocking back in-between snorting whole vials of cocaine and taking psychotropics by the handful. I had some idea he liked his booze and pot, but I had no idea about the rest of it. The toxicology report on Roddenberry was pretty Mötley Crüe.

As for other Trek's other caretakers, Rick Berman and Harve Bennett, both have mentioned several times that they plan on finishing their memoirs one of these days, but there hasn't been any news on either front in quite some time.

HB (with wife Carole) contributed fairly substantially to the notes for Shatner/Kreski's Movie Memoirs, so we'll be hearing more from them later in the series.
2015 EDIT: R.I.P. Harve. 

It's too bad we never got to see Gene L. Coon's, but he died before the Trek revival really began in earnest in the 1970s. R.I.P. Gene L. Coon, too.

Lastly but not leastly:


Adam Nimoy's My Incredibly Wonderful Miserable Life. It's less a memoir of Growing Up Nimoy and more an exploration of personal terrain: growing up as the son of a wealthy actor workaholic who was also not a physically demonstrative man, newly divorced, sober after decades of smoking weed and drinking, swimming through the ashes of his careers as an attorney and television director, etc. 

I didn't know what to make of this the first time I read it, but I recently re-read it (Edit: March 2016) after reading Shatner's tribute to Adam's father and seeing some passages in there that made me think "Where have I seen that before?" The third time was the charm. This is a wonderful book and a real anomaly in all of the Trek books - it's a "post-modern" memoir. Very much worth picking up, though I'd read the other memoirs first if you're looking for behind-the-scenes stuff or more traditional biography stuff. 

Nimoy the younger is definitely a good writer and has many interesting observations and turns of phrase throughout. And in spite of it not being the aim of the book it sheds some interesting light on Nimoy the older.



I'll only mention David Gerrold's The World of Star Trek in passing for now, as I'll be quoting extensive sections of it when I get to TOS. His understanding of Trek's uniqueness, TV-writing traps, storytelling, and characterization combine for probably the best of the insider/outsider books on this list.


Moreso than this one, for example. Which is by no means a bad read. Solow and Justman were co-producer and executive-in-charge of production, respectively, on TOS. And Justman would also work on TNG.


Speaking of TNG, I wanted to like Wil Wheaton's snarky re-watch of the first season, but it didn't click with me at all. It has the occasional fun tidbit, but it just didn't amuse me. Which is a big deal when every sentence seems so intent to amuse. Particularly grating as a podcast, where he reads the entries and interrupts himself constantly to remind the audience how hilarious he finds himself. Normally I find this quality endearing in a person, but ugh. Not so here. Great cover, though.

I probably should have included his memoir in the memoirs section: 

Wheaton got kicked around quite a bit for his portrayal of Wesley Crusher on TNG. As was recently pointed out over at Where No Blog Has Gone Before, there's a lot of inflated-myth about Wesley Crusher's character to begin with. People seem to be annoyed at things Wesley never actually did, or at least never to the degree people believe he did. That said, I'm afraid the Wil Wheaton Love Parade proceeds without me. More power to him and his fans, but the guy just bugs me.

I've been chuckling over Phil Farrand's Nitpickers guides since I discovered them in the late 1990s. They're geeky as hell: highly opinionated, filled with personal jokes, referential potpourri, obscure minutiae, and naivety re: many aspects of TV production. In other words, perfectly emblematic of the garden variety Trekker. I've been listening to the audio-cassettes for the TNG ones for years.
They're read by Dwight Schultz,
Denise Crosby,
and Robert O'Reilly
all of whom take turns reading the over-detailed entries and repeating things like "When the numbers on Data's screen are shown, the sequence is clearly one-zero-zero-one-two-two-two-charlie-one-zero (...) but when Data says them aloud, the sequence is one-zero-zero-one-two-two-two-one-zero-CHARLIE" or "...then he re-appears on Deck 36. Deck 36??! Since when does (such and such) appear on Deck 36?" or "There are five ice-cubes in the glass the background actor is holding in the shot where Riker enters Ten-Forward but only six when he takes his seat at the bar." 

Additionally, Farrand's barely-concealed lusting after Marina Sirtis is pretty funny, particularly the time he spends trying to rationalize it.
Tasha Yar/ Sela seems bored and uncomprehending. She doesn't seem to get into the spirit of things. Barclay and Gowron, though, are having a blast. I don't know if there was drinking in the sound booth or what, but it wouldn't surprise me. Dwight Schultz is the sort of actor who just loves to perform; he'd imbue the proverbial reading-of-the-phone-book with theatrical flourish. For him, the simple act of enunciating words is art in and of itself. And Robert O'Reilly reads his bits with a deadpan seriousness that conveys either his secret love of the material or his patient contempt of it. But either way, they move things along quite well. Before too long, they sneak in various accents and inflections that are in no way suggested by the source material.

Particularly on this one. Denise Crosby declined to come back for more of the fun, so Robert O'Reilly and Dwight Schultz handle all the honors. The trivia is impenetrable, and both actors spend the entire tape goofing around. Robert reads several questions like the Count from Sesame Street, as one of many examples.
If I sound like I'm laughing more at the material than with it, let me assure you I genuinely enjoy and admire these things. They're potent reminders to me of a pre-internet age where books like this weren't just novelties but sincere (and appreciated) attempts to fill part of a gap that the hundreds of Trek sites presently occupy. 

The nit-picking itself is always sometimes tedious, but it's fun. (And familiar to anyone who's spent a little time arguing the finer points of Trek continuity.) And what could be more fun than Trekkers humorlessly nitpicking the Nitpicker's? Well: many, many things. I withdraw the question.

One last thing: they couldn't use the Trek music itself, presumably, so they come up with this approximation of it that is really quite good. Just typical synth stuff, reminding the listener of the TNG/ TMP music without infringing on it. And at times, it goes on for too long, and I picture a guy with a key-tar in the studio, refusing to heed the producer's calls to knock it off. 


Mark Altman is a funny dude, and I enjoy Free Enterprise probably more than anyone I know. (Which is saying something) But I was surprised at how often - and how strongly - I disagreed with just about every assessment in here. And I was annoyed at the incompleteness of it all: how you going to put out an "Every Trek episode reviewed" and include two shows not finished with their runs? (Voyager and Deep Space Nine?) What's the point? Just wait until they're done. Bah! (Hurls bowl of Plomeek Soup against the wall...)


I spent a lot of time with Vonda McIntyre's novelizations and original Trek stories in the 80s:

Mustached Sulu made quite an impression with me back in the day and still does.
 I haven't read them in years, but I was quite amused with this skewering of 

I actually enjoyed it quite a bit when I read it back in the day, but I was in 7th grade. One thing interested me from that review, though:

"What else do you need to make a Star Trek novel complete? Some interesting revelations about Spock? Meet his cousin, Stephen! Stephen is disreputable because of his fascination with emotions..."

Okay, so it's not Sybok, but sounds a little familiar, no?

The novelizations were special back then, though, as the idea of "deleted scenes" on the DVD was of course unknown at the time. So scenes that were cut from the films (like David's and Saavik's romance) were fleshed out in the books.  


I was going to cover Spock Messiah! a bit, but just before press-time an exceptional review of the very same came along over at Where No Blog... Check it out. (If you're reading this blog, it's safe to say you'll highly approve of the work being done over there, so add it to your daily blogging rounds!) It takes everything I was going to say, fleshes it out, and ties it up in a nice little bow.

Both it and Spock Must Die! (those exclamation points slay me; it doesn't seem to be reproduced on the cover, above, but it is very much in evidence on the copy I have. I chuckle everytime I see it on the shelf) would, properly trimmed, make more than acceptable TOS episodes.

We could do a whole series of blogs on the other books and tie-ins, but let's move onto (a tiny representative portion of) the comics.


IDW currently holds the license to official Trek products. They're doing commendable work with it, ideas-wise, but some of the execution is a little wanting. Not so here. If you ever wondered how DC Fontana would tie together some of the themes from TOS (and then some: even Section 31 from DS9 makes a brief appearance) wonder no more. Fontana has always had a finely-tuned sense of what makes Trek work (unsurprisingly) so to see her given a free hand at wrapping up TOS is a real treat.


In the 60s, the license was held by Gold Key, one of my favorite topics in comics publishing history. It wasn't a very sophisticated take on the material, to say the least, but I enjoy it for what it is. (Covered in more detail here.) McCoy is given to saying things like "Great Gallopping Galaxies!" and such. Still, there's an element of fun to it that is missing from several other Trek comics.




  1. It makes it much more entertaining reading the above that you gave me (and Vandi) the DS9 nitpicker's guide for my birthday - you want us to share your amusement at the craziness. Now I'll never be able to read ANY of that without thinking about how Robert O'Reilly (one of my faves) and Dwight Schultz would read it. GAH!


    I haven't gone back and re-read Vonda McIntyre's works but I recall them in much the same way you do. There was something about her style that really worked, from what I recall. I've read some of her other works and just haven't been impressed. Maybe she caught lightning in a bottle for some of those, maybe it's just nostalgia and I should avoid going back and reading them.


    1. I assure you I had no ulterior motive for sending along the Nitpickers DS9, but I certainly would be happy to hear you got a kick out of it. (I haven't read that one, actually, so hope that's not the loser of the bunch! But yeah, track down those cassettes if you can - too funny.)

  2. I agree about the Geek Nobility that seems to have been put in place over everything nerdy; I don't dislike the people themselves, but the fandom that anointed them is tiresome beyond belief. I've gradually come to be a fan of Felicia Day for her geek cred (and good Lord do I find her beautiful), and I've been a fan of Wheaton for a while, but I've taught myself to ignore the clamoring throngs that seem determined to make them into genre demigods. I think it's the implication that I HAVE to like certain things (Dr Who, for a big flippin' example) to be a real nerd that galls me the most.

    So many of the ancillary novels strike me as deathly boring. The main problem is that too many of them seem like fanfic given the legitimacy of being published as "official" Trek material, regardless of the fact that none of it is considered canon. It's like the powers-that-be for Trek shoveled out any half-assed thing they could scrape up to satisfy the demand. That "First Adventure" synopsis is a prime example. It's like the editors for these books are just there to clamp down on any Kirk/Spock romantic subplots. Legitimately good writers like Peter David are few and far between. I think quality control has improved in recent years, though. While I know you don't have any use for them, the Vanguard series is fantastic space opera. Plus, there are a slew of TOS novels being published now that seem genuinely interesting, dealing with concepts and themes derived from modern scientific knowledge and societal trends, rather than Trek wankery about Klingon dining customs.

    That Fontana Year Four comic series is some of the best Trek fiction produced. I have no problem thinking of it as truly a continuation of Trek after its cancellation. It's too bad it'll never gain the legitimacy of the Buffy or Smallville comics as canon for its property. It absolutely deserves it.

    1. Agreed 1000% on Year Four. That's such a treat to read.

      I wish Vanguard had grabbed me more. I just wasn't into the writing of the one I looked at. Actually, that goes for most of the ancillaries. I just wish they had stronger editors who were willing to whip the texts into better shape.

    2. I agree, and it's too bad we didn't find a bonding point on Vanguard. The Vanguard books surprised me greatly with how deft and pitch-perfect I thought they were, though obviously they didn't impress you.

      To me, they seemed tightly-written, with solid characterization, including an outstanding depiction of the TOS crew in the first volume of the series. I found myself laughing out loud at how spot-on David Mack was in writing Kirk. In addition, they wove early first-season TOS events into the background of the Vanguard series in a really interesting way.

      But, happily, we agree on Season 4. It's too bad so many of the comics have missed the mark, from the early Gold Key books on down to quite a few of the IDW books. I think John Byrne did a decent enough job on some of his forays into Trek, though I have a hard time recalling much about them.

    3. Hey, happy you enjoy the Vanguards. You're not the only friend of mine who does. But they just didn't click with me.

      I debated whether or not to cover the Byrne Treks here. I probably should have, or maybe even give them their own post down the line. The Country Doctor one was fun. He did Gary Seven, too, right? I'll have to look it up. I remember thinking one of his Trek forays was a little too into its own continuity and the reader'd be lost without having read all his other Treks, but it's been awhile.

    4. Yeah, he did Gary Seven. I liked the mini he did of the Pike/April era called Crew. It didn't set the world on fire, but it was a nice, solid little story that filled in a corner of Trek not often dealt with.

      In general, what I like about Byrne's excursion into Trek is how he obviously loves the subject. Personally, I'd hoped he'd infuse Trek with some of the epic action we know he's capable of delivering. Instead, he ratcheted back on the action and made stories that might well have fit within the budget of TOS. It's interesting to impose such a limitation, even if subconsciously, but it would have been nice to see the Trek equivalent of Terrax the Tamer cutting Manhattan off the surface of the Earth and sending it into space.

    5. I should mention, I tried re-reading the Vanguards, but the only book I have is from the middle of the series, so I was a bit lost. I'm happy to report I found the writing to be much, much tighter and well-described and paced well than I remembered, though.

      So, on the off chance I offended any David Mack fans (or the man himself, should his wandering eye ever chance upon the Dog Star Omnibus) I was wrong and offer my humble apologies.

  3. I've read entirely too few of the memoirs. I think I may make the acquisition of them -- if not the actual reading -- a top 2017 priority.