Get a Life! (book)

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Title: Get a Life!
Commentator: William Shatner
Date(s): May 1999
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek
External Links:
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Get a Life! is a book written by William Shatner (and Chris Kreski) about Shatner's experiences with fans and with conventions. The title comes from Get a Life! the 1986 SNL skit by the same name.


"Get A Life!, with the possible exception of "Beam me up, Scotty", is clearly the most repeated catchphrase in the history of Star Trek. Poking fun at Star Trek's gung-ho fans and conventions in a now-infamous Saturday Night Live sketch, William Shatner's comic rallying cry has been indelibly emblazoned into the collective psyche of trekkers everywhere. Through the years, the phrase has spurred laughter, anger, controversy, and far more than its fair share of debate. It's now also given birth to an honest, sentimental, insightful book. Uncomfortable with speaking on stage, William Shatner had spent the better part of the previous quarter century steadfastly avoiding convention appearances. However, to publicize the release of Star Trek Generations, Shatner agreed to a rare series of speaking engagements at Star Trek conventions around the globe. He was jolted by an unavoidable dose of reality. Shatner was met with wild enthusiasm, love, and good humor at convention after convention. Touched and fascinated, he was overwhelmed with the realization that in almost three decades of starship hopping, he'd never really taken the time to enjoy or understand Star Trek's fans or their conventions. That's when the light bulb clicked on; that's when "Captain Kirk" dove headfirst into action. For the past several years, William Shatner has been treating each Star Trek convention like an enormous research project. Interviewing fans, dealers, fellow castmembers, convention organizers, and promoters – even going undercover beneath alien makeup – Shatner's been scouring convention floors. Having grilled trekkers and trekkies in all corners of the planet, Shatner's had his eyes opened and his mind boggled. He's amassed a small mountain of research material, and cultivated his findings in 'Get A Life!'" [1]

Reactions and Reviews

Something's activated my "uh-oh" button again. This time William Shatner interview in the Star Trek Communicator, number 117. The/re asking about his books, namely a non-fiction one about Star Trek fans and conventions. He replies its title is "Get A Life!" and it will be out in about 6 months. "It isn't just humorous incidents that have happened at conventions but the history of them: how they started, when they started, who was there, who goes to them, what happens at them and what things happen thai nobody speaks about, etc." The interviewer asks what sparked W.S.'s interest in writing a book like this. "I think it was an oblique remark from somebody at a convention regarding the underground that goes on at conventions. I suddenly realized that, given the complexity of human nature, you can't have 4,000 or 5,000 people meeting with some regularity without all kinds of drama going on and I thought it would be interesting to examine that closer.' Italics mine. Anyone else out there read something into this that is close to our heart? Of course. I'm put off by the title. As hard as IVe tried to find the Saturday Night Live skit funny, it's never worked for me. Obviously we all do have a life, it's just that most of our lives consist of jobs that aren't always as rewarding as they could be and personal relationships that don't quite live up to our expectations. Therefore we take solace in a hobby that has made Mr, Shatner an icon and Paramount richer than a Ferengi. Perhaps I'm a little more touchy than most because when I hear "get a life" I see in my mind's eye the sneer that my significant other dons when he says the words Star Trek. David Gerrold probably gave K/S a little boost with his offhand remark years ago, but I hope this doesn't turn out to be a damaging expose. The K/S Press has been the vehicle for so much progress lately, I'd hate to see something draw Paramount's attention to us in such a fashion that they could no longer pretend we don't exist. [2]

For years, William Shatner was clueless about Star Trek conventions and Star Trek fans. Even though they were the bread and butter (and still are) that enabled him to buy his Kentucky horse farm, or take safaris to Africa, he didn't seem to have much regard for them. Something apparently changed Bill's attitude, and he decided to write this book. And it's a good thing he did, because "Get A Life" is lots of fun. Once you get past Shatner's monumental ego, you'll have no trouble diving into his adventures behind the scenes.

Shatner's "research" for this book consisted of crashing conventions in a rubber mask and parading around incongito in dealer rooms and other areas. He must have had a partner in crime who shot the photos, because many of the pictures show him with the mask on. Until recently, I never particularly cared for Shatner or Captain Kirk. As much as I loved the show in syndication, and as good as some of the subsequent movies were, Kirk was never my favorite character. Spock and Bones did it for me, and even Scotty with his broken down engines was more real than the guy with the ripped shirt who always got the girl.

Shatner begins by chronicling the very first Star Trek Convention and all the work that went into organizing it. The accounts are interesting, and when you consider that nobody had the Internet in those days to spread the word, the fact that so many people turned out for the con is nothing short of amazing. He moves on to interviews with Leonard Nimoy, Jeri Ryan, Terry Farrell, comedian Kevin Pollak, and numerous fans of the original series. Kate fans will be pleased by the inclusion of footage on the four captains at Grand Slam along with several photos of the event. Shatner obviously hasn't done *all* his homework and must not be much of a B5 fan, because at one con, he mistakenly identifies Claudia Christian as Tracy Scoggins. The picture in the center of the book is definitely Claudia, and I can't blame her for telling him to get lost.

Bill also does a rundown of the most frequently asked con questions and shares his most well known con stories. Most of them have nothing to do with Trek, but they're still funny. It becomes clear that Shatner owes much of his livelihood to his association with the Trek franchise. He freely admits this and is grateful for all it has given him. In short, this is a

very enjoyable book that is *the* perfect summer read. [3]

Note: the title is ironic. William Shatner puts together an amazing book after going undercover at conventions (literally) for a year, talking to fans, figuring out why they love the show and are so passionate about it, and writing a book about fandom. This is one of the most respectful and interesting books on fandom I’ve ever read. [4]

External Sources


  1. ^ Alpha Memory, which is, in turn, excerpted from what appears to be an official blurb at Amazon
  2. ^ from The K/S Press #24
  3. ^ from Now Voyager #25, here
  4. ^ Fandom History Resources, Archived version (August 2015)