The Autobiography of James T. Kirk | David A. Goodman | 2015 | Titan Books | 272p | Review copy | Buy the book
Born in 2233 on a farm in Iowa, James Tiberius Kirk quickly became fascinated with everything to do with planets and was thrilled at the chance to move to Tarsus IV when he was a boy of 12. Joining Starfleet Academy as soon as he could, Kirk’s career was meteoric, fast becoming ‘Starfleet’s Greatest Captain’ and even more than that – a legend. Shortly before his tragic death in 2293, Kirk completed his astonishing life story, the manuscript given to editor David A. Goodman. Although published posthumously, this autobiography is our first opportunity to look deeper into the mind of this most famous of explorers, all told in his own words, in his own inimitable style.
Introduced by Leonard H. McCoy M.D. and with an afterword by Spock of Vulcan, The Autobiography of James T. Kirk is long overdue. I’ve been fascinated by Kirk for almost my entire life and have been a proud Trekkie for just as long – visiting exhibitions in Las Vegas, attending the odd convention, marvelling at Captain Janeway, swooning over Chakotay. But, obviously, it all began with Kirk and his crew and this book gives us the chance to spend more time with Kirk, in this future world where good always wins and Starfleet rules benevolently further the prosperity and peace of all species, except for those who are evil, and not including those rules that are made to be broken. Because Kirk is a famous rule breaker, too.
It’s fair to say that it’s nigh on impossible reading this book without having in your head the voice of William Shatner bringing its words to life. The good thing is that you really can imagine Shatner saying the words, it’s true enough to the spirit of Kirk for that. The book, though, covers Kirk’s entire life and it’s arguably during the account of the years before Kirk became Captain when the story comes most to life. The anecdotes are a lot of fun, not just recounted, but lived through again with dialogue and action. The later chapters follow closely the episodes from the series and so there is much more familiar ground. But it’s always good to revisit these adventures and spend time with the crew – laughter and sadness combine here just as much as they do in the series. But throughout there are moments of reflection from Kirk as he looks back over episodes that sometimes caused his friends – and family – harm. It’s left to Spock at the end to assess Kirk’s legacy.
A number of good quality colour photographs in the centre contribute to the authentic feel of the autobiography. The book itself is very good looking and well written and is an enjoyable reminder of all that I love about Star Trek and the crew of the Enterprise. As a fan of the series, this is a very hard book to resist. Resistance, though, is probably futile.