WARNING: I am starting this post with a spoiler for a movie from 1994. If that bothers you, turn back now.
Star Trek: Generations, released in late 1994, was billed as first time that Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard would meet on screen. It was also the last since Kirk dies helping Picard stop the plans of the film’s villain, Tolian Soran.
William Shatner, who had played Kirk since Star Trek’s premiere in 1996, was 63 at the time, and the films were ready to move on with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Shatner wasn’t quite as ready to give up his on-screen alter-ego.
Shatner counts author among his many credits. Granted most of his many books have been done with a co-author, but he has quite the bibliography including the TekWar series of novels which were adapted into a television series in the mid 1990s.
After Kirk’s death in Generations, Shatner decided to try his hand at writing Star Trek novels (This wasn’t his first attempt at writing for Trek. He developed the story for the 1989 film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which he also directed. He has also written a number of Star Trek-related non-fiction books over the years.). In 1995, Pocket Books published The Ashes of Eden by Shatner and long-time Trek authors Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. The book opens and closes with a framing device in which Spock visits Kirk’s grave on Veridian III, but it is primarily set between the events of Star Trek VI and the beginning of Star Trek: Generations. While the entire TOS crew is featured at various times, make no mistake, this is Kirk’s story. And at the end, someone beams Kirk’s corpse out of its grave.
The following year, the same trio of authors produced The Return, in which, as the title and the removal of his corpse at the end of the previous implies, Captain Kirk returns to life…thanks to a Romulan/Borg alliance.
And thus the Shatnerverse was born.
That is actually the term used for the series of novels written by Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens following the resurrection of James T. Kirk in the 24th Century. While they were published by Pocket Books, none of the other Pocket lines of Star Trek books acknowledged them as being part of the series’ continuity. They exist as their own alternate timeline.
To be completely honest, I only read The Ashes of Eden, which I enjoyed, and The Return, which I thought was a massive ego trip. I didn’t realize until researching this post just how many more books are in the series. Seven. Seven! For a total of nine. With the most recent, Captain’s Glory, published in 2006. And then in 2007, Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens produced Collision Course, which was about Kirk and Spock’s Academy days. A planned follow-up was cancelled.
Obviously I can’t authoritatively recommend or not recommend the Shatnerverse books, since I haven’t read nearly all of them. They do exist, though, and might be worth a look if you’re a fan of William Shatner and James T. Kirk.
- Alan Decker
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