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This is the story of hero-worship turned doomed love affair.
I'm thinking perhaps this is a book with more appeal to women than to guys. I dunno. I've long admired Gene Roddenberry's philosophy and accomplishments, but this book left me feeling sorry for him and his family.
The two main characters come off here as rather sad people. First, there's Roddenberry. From this account, it seems that, regardless of his marital status, he pushes himself upon any reasonably attractive, reasonably intelligent woman within his sphere. The beginning of his affair with Sackett totally skeeved me out -- married (to Majel Barrett Roddenberry, his second wife), with a newborn baby in the house, he first manipulates Sackett, his newly hired assistant, into swimming naked in his pool. Then, despite many rebuffs, he continually solicits oral sex from her, until she finally gives in. Yuck. And throughout their affair he shows little interest in her pleasure; indeed, in his booze-and-pills-addled state there's not much he could do. Nor is he even capable of being "faithful" to Sackett.
Then there's Ms. Sackett herself. She is clearly warm and extremely intelligent, but incapable or unwilling to engage in much self-assessment here. OK, she falls in love, I get it. But to a man she can never have (Roddenberry being both married and often impotent). And then she finds emotional consolation in two other men also unavailable (they are gay). Anyone else see a pattern here?
Along with the stories of the author's and Roddenberry's motel-room trysts, afternoon sneak-aways and occasional trips, I anxiously wanted to find some sense of emotional growth, some movement, beyond her self-described codependency. It never comes -- and this is what was missing in this story, for me.Read more ›
This is not a biography nor is it an autobiography. It is a unique kind of document. It is Susan Sackett's story and it is the story of Gene Roddenberry's final days, showing the roots of those final events within the years of Star Trek The Motion Picture, and Star Trek: The Next Generation and the deepening and developing intimacy between Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenbery. Susan Sackett has taken an odd point of view to tell this story of her position in the world of Star Trek. As a writer, I have to admire the tight, disciplined writing. The story she tells is searingly gut-wrenching, harrowing and filled with anguish dotted with moments of joy and happiness. It haunted (still haunts) me day and night for a number of reasons. As primary author of the Bantam paperback Star Trek Lives! and a professional sf/f writer active through those years in Star Trek fandom, I was aware of these events but from an entirely different perspective. This book has filled in the blanks and answered many questions for me. During the intervening years, I have likewise been aware of the private lives behind the scenes of several very famous and popular writers who ended their days enmeshed in very similar kinds of situations. Reading this book awakened the feelings of watching such events from the sidelines, helpless to affect the course of things. It also brought home how very ordinary such an extraordinary situation is among the famous and powerful figures of this world. Sackett's writing style is factual, the language prosaic, completely devoid of purple prose, hyperbole, or passion. And that showcases the realities of this happy/sad situation that surrounded Gene Roddenberry as he fought to give the millions of dedicated fans the show they so richly deserved.Read more ›
Susan Sackett's unique perspective brings new insight into Gene Roddenberry, the amazing creator of "Star Trek" who changed the face of filmed sci-fi forever. Their love story is touching and heartrending, and Susan's personal influence on Roddenberry's inventiveness has never before been revealed. Susan is a remarkable woman who has lived a one-of-a-kind life that's both fascinating and inspiring. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's ever seen "Star Trek" - or ever been in love.
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To my way of thinking, "Inside Trek" is one of the two most important Star Trek memoirs, presenting series creator Gene Roddenberry in breath-takingly sharp focus from about 1974 till his death in the eary 1990's (five years after the original series' cancellation, and up through the movie, "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country").
As unflinching in detail as the book by Herbert Solow and Robert Justman, Ms. Sackett manages to create a far more lively portrait of her boss, from the point of view of long-time office wife, and long-time secret lover. The portrait often not flattering, but invariably rings true.
Almost as heart-breaking as "My Tour of the Galaxy" (Grace Lee Whitney), with as strong a narrative as "Beam Me Up, Scotty" (James Doohan), "Inside Trek" also serves as a cold hard slap in the face for anyone with more than one or two illusions about Hollywood.
Perhaps the only unresolved question by the end of the book revolves around the role of Majel Barrett (Roddenberry's second wife) in his life. Based on Ms. Sackett's very convincing and detailed information, and my own reading between the lines, Ms. Barrett (Nurse Chapel, and other roles) comes off looking as utterly self-absorbed as William Shatner (and, to a lesser extent, Leonard Nimoy), to the great detriment of Mr. Roddenberry. As this "testimony" is not exactly corroborated elsewhere (notwithstanding NBC execs' complaints in the Solow/Justman book) we should probably not jump to any conclusions about Ms. Barrett (though she certainly seems awful in several of Ms. Sackett's colorful anecdotes).
New stories abound in this well-written (unauthorized) biography, which should make it extremely interesting to the Trek afficianado, and invaluable to any student of the Film & TV industry.
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