Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth

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9780140277982: Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth

Future Perfect is a Trek book like no others an insightful, irreverent, and sometimes hilarious look into the myth-making machinery behind the world's most enduring TV show. Bestselling travel and science author Jeff Greenwald has traveled the globe in search of Star Trek lore and signs of its influence, including attending a Klingon wedding in the Black Forest of Germany; interviewing Leonard Nimoy about his tempestuous relationship with his alter-ego, Mr. Spock; visiting NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where a new generation of aerospace engineers are living out their Star Trek-inspired fantasies; and speaking candidly with the Dalai Lama -- a longtime Trek fan.Future Perfect also provides a rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of Trek's creators. With broad access to the sets and stages of both Voyager and Star Trek: First Contact, Greenwald conducts probing interviews with series stars Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, and Kate Mulgrew -- as well as with the writers and producers charged with bringing Gene Roddenberry's vision to life. For anyone interested in how American pop culture has taken over the world, Future Perfect is fascinating reading. For Star Trek fans, it's indispensable.

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Review:

Kurt Vonnegut, who is interviewed in this volume, has said many times and in many ways that humans are always seeking extended families. Author Jeff Greenwald looks into one of the largest artificial families ever created, the legion of Star Trek fans who know each other by secret signs, symbols, and addictions, and who turn out to be one of the most interesting subjects for sociological study ever invented by a major movie studio. Greenwald travels the globe, interviewing Klingon clans from Germany, Trek-heads in an English pub, and dozens of Americans who find fulfillment in the wearing of funny ears. Of extreme interest is the section on the Klingon Language Institute, an actual organization of linguists and scholars who are translating the Bible into Klingon. There's already a splinter group who've decided to do their own Bible translation that will be truer to Klingon culture. There's also a delightfully eclectic assortment of celebrity interviews, some of which are eye-popping. The final chapter, I swear to Kahless, is a talk with an unlikely Trek fan: the Dalai Lama. An engaging read for Trekkers, sociologists, and Buddhists alike. --James DiGiovanna

From Kirkus Reviews:

Nominally a history of Star Trek, this book expands its mission to examining the deepest roots of the cultural phenomenon the TV show has become over the years. Greenwald, whose credits include articles for Wired and Details, describes Star Trek as ``the nearest we have to a new global mythology.'' Its appeal cuts across racial, ethnic, and religious lines, with stories from a time when all people are united as citizens of Earth. Another dimension of its appeal is that it promises a far-future technology that doesnt dehumanize us, but places greater stress than ever on the traditional heroic qualities of honor, courage, and idealism. To explore these themes, the author spent considerable time on the soundstage of First Contact, the latest Trek movie, conducted numerous interviews (with Kurt Vonnegut and the Dalai Lama as well as actors and costumed Trekkies), and investigated the manifestations of the show in several foreign countries where one might think its particularly American flavor would lose something in translation. The text is broken up with boxes reproducing everything from ``filk song'' lyrics (which substitute Trek themes for the words of well-known songs), news clips (the juror kicked off the Whitewater trial for appearing in Trek uniform), the name of the show in various foreign languages, and a black woman astronaut's story of how she was inspired by Lt. Uhura. The appeal of the show extends from NASA scientists to the German fans married in a Klingon ceremony. Anyone who thinks this book's subtitle is hyperbole need only look around themselves. The reader may not ultimately buy Greenwald's characterization of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as a genius, but its hard to read this book without gaining a healthy respect for his creation. Rises above the usual fannish trivia to provide a surprisingly clear-eyed examination of what Trek means--and what that says about us. (For more on Star Trek, see Robert Jenkins and Susan Jenkins, Life Signs, p. 715.) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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