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I'm Working on That : A Trek From Science Fiction to Science Fact Hardcover – August 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0671047375 ISBN-10: 067104737X Edition: 1st Printing

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 1st Printing edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067104737X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671047375
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,835,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shatner bares his deep-seated trepidation vis-a-vis all things digital in this breezy peek at the reciprocal effects that Star Trek (and its offspring) and serious scientific research have exerted on one another over the past 35 years. While contemplating the Enterprise's fictional warp drive, Nobel Laureate and Trekkie Stephen Hawking provided the book's title; today's scientists and inventors are now boldly developing many far-out concepts that Trekkies earth-wide cherish: transporters, time travel, wearable interfaceless computers, artificial intelligence, androids, enhanced life spans and holodeck virtual reality. Shatner and Walter crisscrossed the U.S., visiting cutting-edge laboratories and noshing with scientists and inventors on the cusp of discoveries that promise to change life on earth. Despite his own humbling battles with his recalcitrant computerized home lighting system and GPS-equipped rental cars, Shatner valiantly faces the challenge of demystifying quantum mechanics and black holes, nanotechnology and the human genome. Peppered with "Did any of this make sense?" and even the occasional "Huh?," Shatner's early chapters tend to leave the uninitiated feeling buffeted by the bitstorm. By connecting other abstract concepts such as the exponential burgeoning of scientific breakthroughs to such archetypal Star Trek episodes as "The Trouble with Tribbles," though, Shatner humanizes his complex topics and even has some tongue-in-cheek fun with them. His summary, on the other hand, seriously warns about letting technological genies out of bottles without due consideration for consequences and, even more sobering, for the results of humanity's ultimate hubris, trying to play God.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"Captain Kirk" and a veteran science writer effectively team to provide an overview of the last third-of-a-century's progress toward making Star Trek technology real. And progress has been considerable, as anyone who remembers the ST "tricorder" and now owns a cell phone with Internet capability can attest. Virtual reality, advanced computers great and small, A(rtificial)I(ntelligence), the Web, and computerized implants (a la the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation) are all closer to sprouting in the average office or backyard. Faster-than-light travel, the transporter, close-up study of black holes (let alone traversing them), and some of Dr. McCoy's med tech are still at or beyond the fringe, but aren't guaranteed to stay there forever. And Shatner expresses the perspective of somebody with a layman's problems in coping with existing "Star Tech" well, and even wittily. A perfect world might not need a celebrity author to sell such a book; in our world we at least get an author who knows what he is talking about and meshes gracefully with his collaborator. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Shatner's breezy style makes for an entertaining read.
Amy Francisco
A wonderful look book about technology that is all around us, and coming up behind us fast.
Robert Stinnett
Whether you love Star Trek or just want a fun book to read, this will not disappoint.
kmk76574

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary W. Murrin on July 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For this neo-Trekkie with a fascination for the future, "I'm Working on That: A Trek from Science Fiction to Science Fact", is an entertaining look at how our imaginations have converged with reality and how technology is impacting our lives now and will, exponentially, change the way we live tomorrow. The book should resonate even more with those well versed in the toys and voyages of the Enterprise. Chip Walter and William Shatner explore where fiction meets reality in a smart style that is absorbing, tangible, and fun, and will engage the novice futurist as well as those conversant in the theories and foresights of Kurzweil, Moravec, Teller, von Neumann, and their contemporaries.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roy Want on January 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a unique book that examines the connection between the science fiction universe of Star Trek and our current understanding of science fact. Inspired by Shatner's curiosity about how things work and the uncanny embodiment of 1960's Star Trek gadgetry, such as the flip-open communicator, in what are now common consumer products - Bill and Chip toured the country, with many fun adventures along the way, to find out what other Star Trek inventions are likely to pop into reality in the near future. To look for answers, they visited some of the premier think-tanks and universities in the US, posing the question to a host of leading researchers, including luminaries such as Edward Tellar (father of the hydrogen bomb - Los Alamos Labs), Eric Drexler (leading nanotechnologist - Foresight Institute) and Marc Millis (propulsion visionary - NASA). Using Star Trek episodes as a light-hearted guide, particularly reminiscent for the real fans that can recognize an episode in a few sound bites, all areas of Star Trek science and technology are examined. Teleportation, warp drive, time travel, computer science, robotics, genetics and nanotechnology are some of the hottest topics on the agenda.
The book raises the question, does science fiction help us invent technology and explore science by providing compelling visions of what might be possible? What comes first, the invention, or the fantasy about the invention? These are questions I also find myself asking as a researcher, one who had the good fortune to meet the authors during their visit to Xerox PARC, described in Chapter 8, Get Smart. Star Trek certainly inspired me in my career and influenced many of my colleagues who are also Star Trek enthusiasts.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, I wasn't sure about this book at first. It seemed kind of like a silly notion, however, I stopped by my local bookshop and after taking a quick gander at the first few pages and decided to pick it up.
Well, I wasn't able to put it down. Some of what is in there has been discussed elsewhere, so it's not like it's showcasing future technologies for the first time. Though there was plenty that I had never heard of before.
All kinds of things that may be coming down the road are shown here. A lot of them bear resemblances to technologies from Star Trek, however, you do not need to be a fan of Star Trek to get enjoyment out of this book.
Shatner's writing style is easy to read, and he does not overburden you with techno mumbo jumbo.
Buy this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that I've been a Star Trek fan since Star Trek priemiered in he 60's, although I preferred Jean-Luc Picard to James Tiberius Kirk. I'm also a technically oriented person, with a background in physics and computer science, so I came to this book already reasonably well informed on most of the topics Shatner wrote about.
Despite that, I still enjoyed the book. Shatner and the scientists he spoke to do a good job of explaining in plain English some horrifically complicated and obtuse subject matter. No one should think that they'll walk away from this more with more than a very rudimentary understanding of the basics of, say, Artifical Intelligence, for example, but deep understanding isn't Shatner's goal. Rather, his goals, are to convey some of the wonder of science as well as to warn about the potentially fatal pitfalls that we'll have navigate in the years to come if we are to survive our creations.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Star Trek: I'm Working on That written by William Shatner with Chip Walter is simply... fascinating, as Spock would say. A book that is a true trek from science fiction to science fact as Shatner talks to different scientists as gets the scoop on whats coming down the pike in the future.
The book is written in an easy style narrative, as Shatner is talking to you and finding out whats in store for the future. From nanotechnology to suspended animation, raising consciousness in computers to scrambled atoms, Shatner takes the reader on a real TREK.
You'll find yourself reading this book and then reading it some more until you have it finished and time has simply melted away. Reading about people working on the future is an adventure from Caltech to MIT what was once considered impossible or improbable, just might be a real possibility.
If you're like me and you have just a little modicum of curiosity, you'll like reading this entertaining look into the future. Who knows, maybe there will be transporters, wrap drive, and replicators. Either way, though, I vote we move cautiously before kicking things into warp drive.
There could be advantages to that. Caution: reading this book will severely afflict you with "wonderment disease," as these technologies are appearing in the real world, someone must actually be out there making them happen.
You'll find a suggested reading list and web sites to surf making this book compellingly interactive.
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