As a kid, on any given Wednesday night you could find me huddled in the basement across from my Zenith floor television. Frantically adjusting the dial, I’d smack the wooden sides to get a better signal. It was time for Star Trek: The Next Generation and I couldn’t miss it. Next Gen was my Wednesday. And when it went into syndication it was my Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons too. Nothing could come between me and an episode of Star Trek.
As soon as I saw that one of WPL’s Early Winter Featured Reads was written by a Next Gen actor, it immediately had me feeling nostalgic for those days in my basement. Fan Fiction wasn’t quite the book I expected. It’s not a memoir. It’s not even really about Star Trek. Like the title suggests, it is a completely made-up story from the wild mind of Brent Spiner, who plays the role of the android Data. It is part-thriller, part-comedy. And when I say comedy – it’s a particular kind of dark humour that only someone like Brent Spiner can produce. The story takes place in 1991 on set during the height of the show’s popularity. Spiner receives a threatening fan letter from his character’s deceased android daughter ‘Lal.’ As the story goes on, the letters become more frequent and even more disturbing. He’s forced to hire private security until the mystery of ‘Lal’ is solved.
I will warn readers right now – you will either love this book or you will hate it. The story is full of self-deprecating humour with Spiner trying to awkwardly navigate life as a celebrity. A lot of weird stuff happens to him including being mailed a bloody pig penis and taking Quaaludes. If you have ever been lucky enough to attend a function where Brent Spiner is speaking, his on-stage storytelling matches the tone of the book.
Many other Next Gen cast members pop up in the story, which is something my nostalgic heart enjoyed. Whether or not their book personas are true to their real-life personalities…I don’t know. But they are highly entertaining. I laughed out loud a few times at Patrick Stewart (who plays Captain Picard) and his well-meaning advice.
For those who never watched the show, it’s probably not going to be your cup of tea. But if you love Next Gen as much as I do, you will adore every bizarre word Brent Spiner wrote.