- The Good: Star Trek TNG nostalgia
- The Bad: Silly, campy, predictable
- The Literary: Chapters named after famous movies; meta-analysis of fandom
It’s 1991 in the great city of Los Angeles, and the young and impressionable actor Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and some terrifying fan mail. He immediately tells his Star Trek: The Next Generation colleague Levar Burton, Paramount Security and LAPD, and eventually the FBI. The story may be a fictionalized autobiography but the phenomenon of fandom is real.
The story itself is a cute little mystery thriller, full of crude comedy and hijinks, as the scared, inexperienced Spiner tries to work while a fan threatens his life. Off-screen he’s a self-effacing shmuck with a lot of anxiety (stemming from his abusive stepfather) who pays a visit to each of his fellow Star Trek actors and enjoys a little drugs, sex, and TV in his spare time. He wishes he could be more like his hyperrational character Data.
There is absolutely no way to separate the man from the android. Brent Spiner is Data, and so it’s no surprise I wanted to read this book because it’s one more way to revisit the magical time of TNG. Funny that Spiner wrote a book about an obsessive fan for all the fans of his out there who would want to read his novel. But he fans-out himself a few times in the book too, in an especially unfortunate scene involving and earthquake and Gregory Peck.
It’s the texture that really brings this silly book to life. The plot is campy but tight. The celebrity encounters are purposefully cliché. The chapter titles are Hollywood movie titles. He’s tormented by a fan; he’s saved by a fan; and he even says a few words at an obsessed fans’ funeral; but he’s also a fan himself, and at the end of the day, grateful for the community of fans that the Star Trek fan base generates.
‘The book is billed as being based on true events, and one of the most interesting puzzles for the reader is trying to imagine whether Levar Burton is really into crystals and incense or if Ronald Reagan really visited the show’s set.
Highly recommended for fans of Star Trek, dark comedy, and old Hollywood!