Well, we’re back from the hiatus and that means it’s time for another novel review. As always…
Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
And we’re starting August with a brand new…old…book. We’re still in the science fiction realm but this time instead of a book based on an existing alternate media series, which I find is most of my collection, this book actually started one. See if you can guess what it is with these clues.
- It’s the first book in a series created and written by an actor known for a sci-fi show and a cop drama, thus merging the two.
- The book spawned a few more sequels.
- Each of those sequels and this book were adapted into a set of TV movies as part of a short-lived syndicated late-nite programming block…
- …that was followed up with a short-lived series on USA Network featuring the same cast (including the author in a supporting role).
- Said show and adaptations also was made into a really terrible first-person shooter released on DOS that literally nobody talks about. Wait, I’m exaggerating. I just checked YouTube and apparently there are videos about it or featuring gameplay. However, the fact that I had to look for it, even with the few video game sites and channels I follow, says something.
- Unrelated to that show were two different comic runs, one of which I’ve reviewed here at the Spotlight and the other I haven’t read.
Figured it out yet? Our next Chapter By Chapter book is……..
by William Shatner
You’d be surprised how many books are actually in Shatner’s bibliography, a few of them even Star Trek novels. (In a move that should surprise nobody one of them features the Borg resurrecting Kirk after the events of Generations only for him to escape and go on his own adventures. I wonder if he got to meet up with Scotty?) He’s written non-fiction about his time with Trek and his love of horses, I think some legal drama after appearing in later seasons of Boston Legal, and even tried to make his own comic book. And then there’s the Tekwar series.
Tekwar and the other book in the series is a combination of his time on Star Trek, namely the science fiction setting, and TJ Hooker, as a crime drama involving an ex-cop. At least he has the mindset of combining what he knows to create something new. Wikipedia claims the series was ghost-written by Ron Goulart but that Shatner did create the series. It’s Wikipedia, which is not as reliable as it used to be as a source of information so that could be true or just an exaggeration but either way I’ll be referring to Shatner as the author until I know for sure who did what. Either way I don’t know what he created and what Goulart added. However, we know he did a lot of work on the story as he’s credited for such in the acknowledgements, Shatner admitting he needed help on the book, so I’ll still list him in the tags.
Goulart is from my home state of Connecticut and actually worked on ThunderCats (I don’t know which version) in addition to his novelist career before his passing in January of this year. He used a series of pen names: Kenneth Robeson, Frank S Shawn, Joseph Silva, and Con Steffanson according to Fantastic Fiction. He has worked in multiple genres like sci-fi and mystery, including a Battlestar Galactica novel, co-wrote a series of Flash Gordon novels, a series of books about actor Groucho Marx having fictional adventures, some original stories like After Things Fell Apart and Star Hawks, and even written about comics, plus the comic series TekWorld by Marvel’s old Epic Imprint. This is the comic I haven’t read. You can find reviews of the one I have, Bluewater Productions not-quite-adaptation The Tekwar Chronicles, though Goulart didn’t work on that one (Shatner is mentioned but possibly only as creator, though he did a different comic for Bluewater, William Shatner Presents). I even managed to draw in one of the creators if you check the comments, and posted a fixed page of one of the issues where someone forgot to add the dialog.
So, what is the book about? Let’s check the back cover:
Known to millions as Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk, actor-director William Shatner now turns his talents to a stunning novel of future shock. TekWar is the story of ex-cop Jake Cardigan, who’s framed for dealing an addictive brain stimulant called Tek and sentenced to fifteen years of suspended animation. Now, mysteriously released after four years in the “Freezer”, Cardigan is on the loose…and out for justice.
Well, not necessarily “loose” as he ends up on a mission for the guy who had him released, but we’ll get into that when we do the review. I’m not sure why Shatner named his hero after a sweater but whatcha gonna do? As far as suspended animation for a sentence…there are ethical questions I’m not sure really show up here but I expect if SFDebris ever looks at the adaptations or even the novels themselves (as he does look at novels and comics occasionally) he might bring them up. Someone with money suggest the novels or TV series, please?
Yes, there was a TV series. The first four books were adapted into made-for-TV movies, the fourth of which was an original story. They were released in syndication as part of the “Action Pack”, a late night programming block that included the never-mentioned (then again I was wrong about the TekWar PC game) entry in the Knight Rider franchise. Like, I know you’ve heard of the two NBC shows and I’m pretty sure some of you know about TV movie future spin-off pilot Knight Rider 2000 or the semi-related sequel Team Knight Rider, but raise your hand if you heard of the post-apocalyptic, barely relating to the concept Knight Rider 2010 before reading this sentence. Other movies in the run was a spin-off of the Midnight Run films, a spin-off of the Smokey & The Bandit franchise, and something called Vanishing Son that I have no memory off even after seeing it in the list.
The Action Pack also debuted shows Cleopatra 2525 and the big success, the Hercules/Xena franchise, before the block’s demise. (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys started as a series of movies before, like TekWar, getting it’s own series and spawning the Xena: Warrior Princess series.) TekWar became a series on USA Network, keeping the same cast, including Greg Evigan as Jake and William Shatner as his boss, whom we’ll meet in the novel, and reprising the boss role in the video game as he sends you (as Jake if I recall correctly) on your missions to hunt down Teklords. Hercules/Xena is really the only property to really become successful after the end of the Action Pack, with TekWar a distant second. It was a good series, worth checking out if you can.
Next week we begin with the first of 35 chapters. Many of them seem to be normal chapter length, so if you’re reading along…this is going to take a few months. See you for chapter one next installment.