Not A Full Data Set

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner (2021)

Brent Spiner (Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) wrote a book that is part memoir, part noir mystery, part novel, and part behind-the-scenes look at the beloved, long-running science fiction franchise. The problem is that it’s not enough of any of them to pull the whole thing off.

I’ve been a science fiction fan for about as long as I’ve been a “Star Trek” fan. I discovered the television series about the same time as I began reading things like the “Tom Swift” stories. While I have a special spot in my heart for TOS (Trekkie-speak for “The Original Series”), I’ve enjoyed them all. ST-TNG had the unenviable task of replacing the original, which it did with a deep respect for canon while expanding the possibilities. Spiner’s android character Data allowed the series to explore a wide range of new ideas, from the place of an “artificial person” to the question of how Data learned to deal with the illogical nature of humor. Both actor and character have become beloved in the fandom. With that background, I was very excited when I found this book under the Christmas tree.

In “Fan Fiction”, Spiner explores the sometimes less than rational way that fans sometimes deal with their favorite characters and the real-life people who create them. Fictional Brent gets strange messages and packages with unsettling contents. The story takes off from there, eventually involving everyone from The Great Bird of the Universe (franchise creator Gene Roddenberry) to the FBI. Spiner has great fun weaving a black comedy story out of some wide-ranging pieces. “Star Trek” fans will enjoy the sly characterizations of favorites like Patrick Stewart and William Frakes (who comes off as a bit of a Douglas Fairbanks-style man of action!)

Is the book a fun read? Yes. Although it lacks logic at times. It feels patched together like the author had many ideas and was determined to include them all. I came away feeling like the editor needed to put a foot down and demand some trimming along the way.

In the end, I didn’t get the thrill I was hoping for at the beginning, but I got enough to make it worth the time invested. Let’s hope Brent takes another shot at writing in the future that’s a little more tightly constrained.

Worth A Look -***


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