18 October 2009

Memories of the Future: Volume One

Wil Wheaton
Grade: B+/C-

I have a real problem with Wil Wheaton. I like his work in principle, but the execution always leaves me wanting (see my Sunken Treasures review for example). Memories of the Future was no different. I really really wanted to love this book. Like, really. I wanted to love it like cake and buy copies for all my geek friends for Christmas.

The proper place to begin, is of course the beginning so let’s back up a bit. Memories of the Future is, for lack of a better term, an episode guide for Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I do love like cake – chocolatey, yummy cake). Each episode is broken down into: Summary, Quotable Dialogue, Obligatory Technobabble, Behind the Scenes Memory, The Bottom Line, and a Final Grade. The summaries are not meant to be scene by scene episode details, but rather if you were sitting with a few buddies doing a running commentary of the show.

I will give Wheaton this, the summaries of the episodes are, by and large, hilarious. Wheaton really shines when he is taking the piss out of himself, and while this could have easily devolved into Wheaton pointing fingers and saying “What an idot!”, he instead treats his fellow actors and crew-members with a great deal of respect. Unfortunately, in order to honor them, he sometimes loses opportunities for humor – a trade-off I can both understand and support. It’s better to not be funny than to be funny at your friends and colleagues expense. With that said, a mention of a particular first officer walking into a turbolift door when it did not open as he thought it would, awesome.

What I wanted from this was a book about Star Trek written by someone who lived the on-set experiences. I wanted a Star Trek book that only that person could have written. Instead, Memories of the Future reads for the most part as though any person with a background in on-set politics could have written it. The Behind the Scenes sections are quite short, and as they were one of the reasons I bought the book to begin with, I was a quite disappointed. It felt like the Behind the Scenes sections were an afterthought, added in when someone editing the book pointed out it needed a little something to make it more Wheaton’s.

What it boils down to is I continuously feel that I am not getting what I paid for with Wheaton’s books. I understand that Wheaton is a self-published author and that’s how he does his thing, but if I had bought Memories of the Future as a paperback and not as a PDF I would have been pissed off beyond all measure. Twenty bucks for a paperback that’s less than 150 pages? That’s just plain silly. I also think that he should have released the first volume as the whole of season one. Assuming he finishes the entire series, we’re talking fourteen books in total. I can say that if all of season one had been in Memories of the Future Volume One I would not have anywhere near as many complaints as I do. I suppose it deserves two grades, what the book contained and what my expectations of it were (the book grade has been revised for this).

Again, back to my first paragraph, I really want to like Wheaton as an author but if he continues to disappoint me like this I’m going to have to... oh who am I kidding? A Star Trek book written by a Star Trek castmember? I’m going to buy it no matter what.

Do as I say kids, not as I do.

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