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Treks Not Taken: A Parody
Steven R. Boyett
HarperPerennial Books, 192 pages

Treks Not Taken: A Parody
Steven R. Boyett
Steven R. Boyett's novels include Ariel and The Architect of Sleep, both from Ace, and The Gnole (with illustrator Alan Aldridge), from William Heinemann.

Steven R. Boyett Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mark Shainblum

Years ago -- for nothing other than my own amusement -- I wrote an Archie comics story in the gritty, revisionist style of British writer Alan Moore, creator of Miracleman and the Watchmen. To my chagrin, I've since lost the manuscript, but it went something like this:

The sky over Riverdale was pink and the clouds were impossibly fluffy and white. The comforting weight of my textbooks tugged at my arms. I had a 7:00 PM date with Ronnie and a joy buzzer in my pocket to pay Reggie back for yesterday's bucket over the door at Pop's. Everything was as it should be, all the elements of my life were in place. 

But something was wrong, something nagged, something gnawed at my soul as I trudged along the riverbank... 

Suddenly, I knew. Suddenly, with bone-shaking clarity my eyes opened and every red hair on the back of my neck vied with its neighbour for the privilege of standing on end first... 

I had been in high school for fifty-seven years.

If you got that, you'll immediately twig to the conceit behind Steven Boyett's Treks Not Taken, and a lovely little conceit it is. What if Stephen King, Anne Rice, Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger and other famous writers had written episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Boyett is a really good literary counterfeiter. His parodies in the style of Joyce, Kesey and Crichton are worth the price of the book by themselves, while Wesley Crusher as J.D. Salinger's cynical anti-hero, Holden Caulfield, in "The Crusher in the Rye," literally had me laughing so hard that I dropped the book.

"...The Enterprise had to be one of the crummiest places in the galaxy. You've never seen such a bunch of phonies in your life, really. Everyone on board is supposed to be so experienced and tops in their field -- the best of the best and all that. But I must have pulled their nuts out of the fire a dozen times. Me, a kid. Did anyone ever say, 'Thank you Wesden?' Not on your life. Ingrates. The ship was full of them."

You should also be warned about Captain Picard's first-person droogspeak narration in "A Clockwork Data." It's basically seizure-inducing. 

"...Counselor Troy, this Betazed mozg-leech with bolshy groodies and an empathic rassoodock, gavoreeted in this husky type goloss that I had done a radostyful deed and a great and wonderful vesch. This made me so razdraz that I lifted a rooker to shlaga her nuking litso..."

I really enjoy Boyett's barely-concealed malice. Treks Not Taken is an unauthorized parody edition and, free of Paramount's cloying embrace, he lets loose with both phaser barrels at some of the more egregious annoyances of the Star Trek phenomenon. He's also not always kind to the authors whose styles he appropriates. "Q Clearance" skewers Trek and Tom Clancy with equal abandon, technobabble and sexism at the forefront. Tom Robbins, Jackie Collins, and Anne Rice also get their harsh-but-fair literary desserts at Boyett's hand.

The only story which doesn't really work in Treks Not Taken is the pseudo-Dr. Seussian "Oh, the Treks You'll Take!". Boyett doesn't quite capture the good Doctor's demented rhythm, and Ken Mitchroney's cartoons are just not sufficiently Seuss-like.

A minor complaint about a superb little work of literary assassination. Gavoreet your rassoodocks and vesch a copy before it's too late!

Copyright © 1998 by Mark Shainblum

Mark Shainblum is the co-editor of Arrowdreams: An Anthology Of Alternate Canadas (Nuage Editions, 1997) the first anthology of Canadian alternate history. A veteran of the comic book field, Mark co-created the 1980's Canadian superhero Northguard and currently writes the Canadian political parody series Angloman both in the form of a paperback book series and as a weekly comic strip in the Montreal Gazette. He lives in Montreal with his computer, his slippers and a motley collection of books.

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