reviewed by Gail Byrd
Full disclosure, I have long been a fan of Brent Spiner’s work. My children were young when Star Trek, The Next Generation (TNG) aired and our family broke our tradition of dinner at the table one night a week to watch television and have an indoor picnic with pizza in the den.
So it was with curiosity I first opened Fan Fiction to see what kind of writer this very talented actor is. Knowing nothing about the fan fiction genre, I had no expectations, although I don’t think that makes any difference in terms of who will or won’t enjoy the book.
The book presents the wild story of someone who believes themselves to be Lal, a daughter created by Data, Mr. Spiner’s character on TNG.Throughout the story he weaves fiction with fact, fictional characters with actual people, and the reader is in a constant state of trying to decide if any of these things ever happened. There is just enough truth in what he writes to have the readers constantly reminding themselves they’ve been told that what they are reading is untrue.
For example, he includes several interactions with friends from the television industry like Jonathan Frakes, Genie Francis, Patrick Stewart, and Gene Roddenberry to name a few. He talks of Frake’s handsomeness and Francis’ beauty, facts the reader knows are true if they are aware of these two famous actors. He recounts activities involving Roddenberry or others from TNG and these stories have a ring of truth. At least they are incidents which the reader finds consistent with their expectations of these individuals.
At the same time, there are two, drop dead gorgeous women, twins, one of whom is an FBI agent and the other a contract bodyguard. They are almost unbelievably gorgeous, and he develops feelings for both. In the case of the bodyguard/sister, he reports a physical relationship for a while; then he switches and forms the opinion that he would prefer her sister. These portions of the book seem more like they have come from a very creative brain and It is impossible to tell if any part of them is true.
Spiner’s family, particularly his former step-father, is also featured in the book. His step-father is not a sympathetic character and the reader may wonder if the stories of his growing up, some of which border on child abuse, are true tales of a difficult childhood. In the book, the memory of his stepfather haunts Spiner to the point of losing sleep. Then there’s the part that deals with a kidney stone, percocet, and quaaludes where, at places, the reader may simply shake their head and say “that can’t possibly have happened.”
So, is this a book that is a must read? In terms of a masterpiece of literature, probably not. In terms of a sometimes laugh out loud funny book that will delight fans and others who are looking for a light-hearted book that borders on being a caricature of a mystery novel, most definitely. It’s short and easy to read, so most readers can finish it in a day or two if they want, while others can easily pick it up or put it down for other activities without losing a sense of what’s happening or the overall arc of the story.
If you are hoping for a book that will give insight into Star Trek, it’s characters and filming, this is not that. If you are hoping for a book that will entertain you and that you can take to the next Star Trek “con” where Brent Spiner is featured so you can get him to sign it, then look no further. What about those readers who are not Star Trek fans? (What? Do any actually exist?). I would say it depends on what type of book they are seeking. This is not a serious mystery with clues and red herrings and a measured path to it’s solution. It is a book that is well written, funny, sometimes outrageous, and entertaining. It is also a book that would be excellent for an airplane or beach read. It is easily interrupted and the plot is straightforward enough the reader should have no difficulty reading in spurts if that is what their activity level requires.
My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy to review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.