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Get a Life! Hardcover – May 1, 1999
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For years, William Shatner's attitude toward Star Trek conventions was strictly professional: he'd typically fly in the day of his appearance, go straight from the airport to the stage, and then leave as quickly as possible. But when he went on an extensive tour to promote Generations, he became "Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning." Soon he was talking to fellow cast members, convention organizers, and the fans themselves, discovering how love of a science fiction show had helped create a tight-knit community.
In the course of this book, Shatner gives us a short history of Trek fandom, reveals the thinking behind Paramount's decision to kill off James T. Kirk, briefly explains the origins of the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch that gives the book its title, holds a seminar with the three other starship captains, and even takes lessons on the proper way to imitate Kirk from the master, Kevin Pollak, an actor/comedian. (Among the insights gained: those dramatic pauses in Kirk's speeches were the result of Shatner trying to remember his next line.) And there are plenty of jokes at the expense of Leonard Nimoy, as well as a few skewering Shatner. (The "elephant story" is a classic in itself. Once, when Shatner was on a photo safari in Africa, an elephant did number two on his head. He tells the story at cons, and the fans seem to love it, for some reason.) But the most touching segments of Get a Life! are Shatner's interviews with the fans, particularly those to whom the show and the fan community have given a social and emotional lifeline. Once you've read the conversations with the shy veterinary student who made friends by dressing his cats in Star Trek uniforms, or with a young woman whose severe emotional and sexual trauma had led to the development of multiple personalities that included three healing presences in the form of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, you will never be able to make a Trekkie joke quite so readily again. --Ron Hogan
About the Author
William Shatner is the author of nine Star Trek ® novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Ashes of Eden and The Return. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Get a Life! and I’m Working on That. In addition to his role as Captain James T. Kirk, he stars as Denny Crane in the hit television series from David E. Kelley, Boston Legal—a role for which he has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Find more information at WilliamShatner.com.
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After years of not understanding the obsessions of Star Trek Fandom, Bill had a change of heart when he went undercover to the conventions. He discovered that, while there are a few fans who are probably unhinged, many others are successful professionals whose careers in science were spurred by their love of Star Trek .In talking with the fans, he learned that Star Trek fandom has provided for many fans a sense of belonging, community and even family .People are drawn into the show because of the values portrayed. The USS Enterprise is an enlightened futuristic world, where a combination of logic and decency always saves the day in less than an hour.
In spite of that, Bill admits there is an underbelly at the conventions, where rabid fans have been taken advantage of, and sold worthless, fake relics of the show, ie "a piece of so and so's uniform." Still, he came to believe that the fandom is largely a positive force, embracing it, as described in this book.
Interesting read for the fans.
First of all, I should state that while I'm a fan of (a few of) the Star Trek series, I'm not terribly big into fandom. So while I'm certainly not ignorant of the vocabulary, I was a bit fuzzy on the details. But once the stories and the backstage secrets are revealed, well, it turns out there aren't that many big surprises. Shatner may have been astonished to learn that fans were as interested in hanging out with each as with the "stars", but it shouldn't come as a shock to most other people.
The book is more a journey of exploration than a straightforward journalistic look at fandom. The journey belongs to William Shatner. Apparently at one time he was famous among fan-circles for arriving shortly before his appearances, saying a few quick words and then counting his money on the next flight out of town. But after his character was killed off in one of the Star Trek movies, he decided to take a closer look at what went on at the convention scene.
GET A LIFE! begins with a potted history of organized Star Trek fandom. Given that Shatner freely admits to have had nothing at all to do with that, I can only assume that this portion of the book was researched by either Shatner or Kreski. Although the progression isn't exactly unexpected, I enjoyed reading about how it came about.
The book then moves into Shatner's relationship with fandom. Moving from his aforementioned "take the money and run" approach to gradual curiosity to understanding, reading his journey is quite interesting to see how someone from outside looks in.
Now, human nature being what it is, we can gather that not everything is warm hugs and embraces within fandom. I'm no fool; a quick look around the Internet can bring up thousands of flame-wars, feuds, angry grudges, various "he said / she said" battles and, in some extreme cases, lawsuits and restraining orders between various members of fandom. The book never gets into this topic, which I found a bit of a disappointment.
The portrayal of fandom is almost overwhelmingly positive. Lip service is paid to the looniest aspects - the folks who dress in Star Trek uniforms to inappropriate venues - but for the most part, anything negative is glossed over. The reasons for this rest on the author. I imagine it must be virtually impossible for William Shatner to go to a convention and not be greeted by a venerable wall of yes-men who happily tell him that everything is running fine, everyone connected with the organization is well liked and that there's nothing bad going on at all.
Still, despite possible inaccuracies and/or omissions, I did enjoy reading this one. It's funny, amusing and quick to read. There are numerous unrelated anecdotes, but I didn't find them at all distracting. Overall, I liked reading this. It's not the deepest sociological study you'll ever read, but the look it takes at certain individual fans is especially interesting. The thought of William Shatner donning a latex match and wandering through the dealers room to do research is certainly an amusing idea.
His 'Star Trek Memories' & 'Star Trek Movie Memories' are both well researched, documentary style 'making of' mixed with first -person pivotal remembrances.
His autobiography, "Up Till Now", covers a million interesting and annoying Shatner stories (including Star Trek stuff).
"Get A Life" is primarily stories of Star Trek fandom: the weird, the stupid, the slightly profound.
If you've ever gone to a Star Trek convention you know how bad it can get. Bill has endured it all for nearly 50 years.
"Get A Life" is yet another of Shatner's zen-mixed-with-Greed-Is-Good projects designed to cash in on the phenomenon by embracing it, and the fans, rather than fighting it, and insulting the folks who've paid all his bills over the decades.
"Get A Life" is part of a complete Shatner audiobook collection, and so you must have it.
It is the only one not available digitally at audible.com, and therefore a rare gem to be enjoyed in the old Walkman.