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An Illuminating Biography
on September 3, 2012
I found this to be a very enjoyable and illuminating read. The author does an excellent and thorough job exploring Gene's early years, his upbringing, his service in WW II, his heroism as a commercial pilot for Pan Am and his remarkable journey creating this enduring franchise.
The author perhaps relies too much on letters and notes at times, and it makes for tedious reading. But there are other moments, when Gene is corresponding with fellow Sci Fi thinkers and writers where the contours of his vision and philosophy become apparent, and the reader can appreciate the franchise, indeed perceive the franchise, with a different and fresh perspective. This is in and of itself worth the trouble of working through the copious detail of this work.
The book is also honest in pointing out Gene's less than admirable traits, but does not dwell on them.
The book is light on exploring The Next Generation, likely because insufficient time passed at the time of the writing obtain the required detail for a retrospective. Perhaps also because Gene passed in the middle if the run, and was growing more ill after the early seasons and became less involved in the show.
The work does capture the struggle, deep and enduring, that was required to stay true to Gene's vision of what Star Trek represented. It tells the story of his efforts to preserve that vision from being co-opted (from his perspective) by folks at the network and even members of the original cast. Sometimes he was successful, and sometimes he was not.
But, by the conclusion of this story, Gene's contribution is made plain, and is rooted not in blind fandom but rather in the understanding in the man, his principles, and his life. This is the goal of any biographer, and it was amply achieved.