FUTURE PERFECT by Jeff Greenwald


How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth
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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 doesn—t 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 it’s 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.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87399-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998