The only disappointing aspect of J.J. Abrams’s new Star Trek movie is that William Shatner never shows up to fight the villain of the day. However, in Jeff Burk’s new comedic novella Shatnerquake, the Shat faces a far more capable and worthy adversary: himself.
The book seeks to answer unprecedented dramatic questions of who would win in a fight to the death: William Shatner or James T. Kirk? William Shatner or T.J. Hooker? William Shatner or Denny Crane? William Shatner or all of his characters at once?
Shatnerquake contains absurdist violence reminiscent of the recent satire Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and lampoons the Girdled One’s public image as well as stereotypical Trekkies.
The story begins with Burk’s fictional Shatner (whose… every… line… of… dialogue… is… written… like… this…) at the first annual ShatnerCon. He curses the “little sycophant shits” who have supported him for the past 40 years, and takes solace in the possibility that “I might get some tail out of this.”
However, things go haywire when militant fans of B-movie star Bruce Campbell, “suspected in the assassination of Adam West,” engineer a device that magically brings Shatner’s various dramatic alter-egos to life… with a thirst for murder, of course.
As the night from hell progresses, Shatner must outsmart—and out-massacre—his own body of work, including Kirk, Hooker, Crane, Singing Shatner, Priceline Shatner, Rescue 911 Shatner, Twilight Zone Shatner (“colored like a black and white TV show … in a constant state of nervous breakdown”) and even Animated Shatner, who begs his 3-D counterpart for a mercy killing: “I… am… a… shadow of a shadow… you’d… want… to die too.”
Shatnerquake contains absurdist violence reminiscent of the recent satire Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and lampoons the Girdled One’s public image as well as the easy target of stereotypical Trekkies. (When the various Shatners attack, fan boys refuse to help their fallen comrades for fear of losing their place in the autograph line. Kirk later tells one of the costumed geeks, “You’re in… terrible shape… for a… Starfleet officer.”)
Dedicated to Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei, Shatnerquake boasts an ingenious premise and a few hilarious lines (at one point Shatner considers having sex with one of his doppelgangers: “He had to admit, he was a fine-looking man”), but never fully capitalizes on its potential and is overpriced at $9.95 for 72 pages of story. The book peaks with an opening letter to Shatner, praising him as the “quintessential postmodern man” for making his “entire life … an elaborate work of performance art.” (Burk then begs the screen legend: “P.S. Please don’t sue me.”)
Perhaps the central problem is that Shatner lampoons his persona better than anyone else: the Comedy Central roast, the film Free Enterprise, the Futurama episode, the album Has Been, his entire run on Boston Legal, etc. Nevertheless Shatnerquake is a fun read and the perfect gift item for aspiring Starfleet officers in your family, and there is always hope that the titular actor will option the movie rights.
Marty Beckerman is the author of Generation S.L.U.T. (MTV Books) and Dumbocracy (Disinformation). He has written for Playboy, Discover, Radar and Huffington Post. His website is www.MartyBeckerman.com.