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.
"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 GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved