My first book review for the Star Trek Book Club, though certainly not the first book that I’ve ever reviewed, I was luckily enough to be contacted by the publisher of several recent Trek related books and asked if I wanted some review copies, to which I replied, “Why yes, of course!”. A week later and a box with 5 books arrive, and Walter Koenig’s refresh of his 1998 autobiography was the first on that I started, if only because I had read the original several times back in the days before the internet, and because it was literally the first book in the pile. Easy choice!
It’s a 378 page book that I’ll admit was somewhat intimidating to get into, it’s long for any type of book, much less an autobiography, but luckily it’s written smoothly with enough breaking points that I was able to read it in just a few nights at a leisurely pace. As mentioned above, I had the shorter version of it when it was named “Warped Factors“. From what I can tell, the original portions of the book remain largely untouched, they still stand as a good explanation of exactly how Koenig ended up where he did, when he did. There’s a forward from J. Michael Straczynski, showrunner of Babylon 5, a series that Koenig was a recurring guest star on, and really gave him room to work outside of the Star Trek role that he’s primarily known for. Sidenote to this, B5 was just released in HD and I’m interested in watching it again, but I bought it in SD just mere months before the HD announcement and now I’m discouraged about the whole thing. I’ll get to it eventually though!
The original autobiography follows his life from early school, to being a hospital orderly, to bus driver, to his first roles on Mr Novak, which is a piece Americana if I’ve ever seen one. There’s much to be said about his time during Trek here, but honestly, I’ve read a ton about the behind the scenes stuff and while Mr Koenig is spilling plenty of tea in the book, he isn’t writing the book to grind an axe or make anyone look bad. At least, anyone that didn’t already have reputations for being slightly too big for their britches.
Of particular interest though is the new material that starts in the last hundred pages that catches us up on what’s been new in his life, from some personal tragedies to his involvement in Burmese diplomacy, which has recently bubbled up into the zeitgeist due to the military taking over the country yet again, throwing away the democratic progress that they’ve made recently. I’ll admit that the reason that the new content is more interesting to me is that it’s obvious that the author has leveled up his writing in the twenty years since the previous book and even the quick “One-Line Memories” section towards the end feels polished and smooth.
If you’re a fan of Trek, there’s enough content here to be of interest. If you want to see what made Walter Koenig the man he is, this is the best place to do it.