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Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry

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This fascinating portrait presents the many sides of Gene Roddenberry, creator of the phenomenally popular Star Trek and all its spin-offs--and in so doing, gives readers new focus and fresh feeling for the show that has soared beyond time to reach the realm of legend and myth. Includes a complete filmography and 16 pages of photos.


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This fascinating portrait presents the many sides of Gene Roddenberry, creator of the phenomenally popular Star Trek and all its spin-offs--and in so doing, gives readers new focus and fresh feeling for the show that has soared beyond time to reach the realm of legend and myth. Includes a complete filmography and 16 pages of photos.

30 review for Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Buddy Wheeler

    I grew up watching Star Trek on a 9" black and white tv in my bedroom. Every Sunday morning on channel 41 (I always had to adjust the clothes hanger to get a decent picture) i would watch Kirk, Spock, and McCoy take care of the galaxy. At the time I loved the adventure of it. With the later series (and some growing up of my own) I came to appreciate the vision of Gene more and more. A future Earth with no wars or poverty? Sign me up. Gene Roddenberry worked on several tv shows before creating St I grew up watching Star Trek on a 9" black and white tv in my bedroom. Every Sunday morning on channel 41 (I always had to adjust the clothes hanger to get a decent picture) i would watch Kirk, Spock, and McCoy take care of the galaxy. At the time I loved the adventure of it. With the later series (and some growing up of my own) I came to appreciate the vision of Gene more and more. A future Earth with no wars or poverty? Sign me up. Gene Roddenberry worked on several tv shows before creating Star Trek, and several more after it. This book is not only a look at his life and work, it is also a part of the story of television in its early days. A must read for Star Trek fans and a good read for anyone who wants to know more about the history of broadcasting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Interesting read for Star Trek fans I was brought to this book due to a comic in 'The Oatmeal' where the artist told a story that can be found here. Roddenberry was a co-pilot on a plan that crash-landed in Syria. Roddenberry managed to help get some of the passengers out and took charge after the plane exploded. Luckily the survivors were not far from a village and help was radioed. This crash and others would lead Roddenberry to get out of the airline/flying business for good.   After reading th Interesting read for Star Trek fans I was brought to this book due to a comic in 'The Oatmeal' where the artist told a story that can be found here. Roddenberry was a co-pilot on a plan that crash-landed in Syria. Roddenberry managed to help get some of the passengers out and took charge after the plane exploded. Luckily the survivors were not far from a village and help was radioed. This crash and others would lead Roddenberry to get out of the airline/flying business for good.   After reading that comic, I had to know more. I knew he had been a police officers and vaguely aware that he had been a pilot, but had no idea he had any experiences like this. Plus, he's the creator of 'Star Trek' and this was at the library. Perfect!!!   Well, not quite. It's an interesting look at the life and times of Roddenberry (who seemed like a really interesting guy). He served in the military, was a police officer and of course would go on to create a show millions love and know today.   I'll be blunt. I only cared about the 'Star Trek' stuff, although his pre-TV/film career was pretty interesting too. However, by the time the book gets to 'Star Trek' it really drags. In some ways the book felt unfinished. Sometimes I wanted to know more about 'ST', sometimes I was wondering about his personal life at the time (his wife, Majel, would appear on the shows as various characters). Sometimes there's way too much information (letter upon letter upon letter about the various shenanigans about actor pay) and sometimes not enough ('Star Trek: The Next Generation's casting of Picard get the only detailed breakdown, although we hear the backstory of Geordi La Forge. I would have LOVED to have seen some other info, like how Tasha Yar came about).   It's clear, though, that at the end (which was TNG's beginning, really), he wasn't as involved because he was near death. Which was probably for the better in some ways (TNG really comes out of the original's shadow around season 3, the last movie with the original cast was pretty good, etc.), and still interesting.   Apparently the author is a journalist, and that might explain why I didn't like it too much (journalists writing books is a pet peeve of mine because they often don't translate well). The author also talks about how the book was meant to show the bad with the good (which it does to some extent, Roddenberry occasionally seems controlling and downright creepy towards women and could be a real jerk to colleagues in the industry), but overall it seemed too fawning and positive.   Still, overall it's a good read for 'Star Trek' fans, but depending on your level of knowledge I wouldn't be surprised if some found it not informative (I found I could recall lots of info that is in here from other media over the years). I'd definitely borrow it unless you're a hardcore fan.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This was good look at a fascinating man. I feel as though I know Roddenberry and his struggles with his personal life, the studios, and the stars a bit better now. I got to see some of the early experiences that formed his viewpoints on the world. I really enjoyed the chapters chronicling his life as he served during World War II and transitioned to commercial aviation after the war. That was a side of him that I didn't know much about, and while I try to be aware that every soldier has a story, This was good look at a fascinating man. I feel as though I know Roddenberry and his struggles with his personal life, the studios, and the stars a bit better now. I got to see some of the early experiences that formed his viewpoints on the world. I really enjoyed the chapters chronicling his life as he served during World War II and transitioned to commercial aviation after the war. That was a side of him that I didn't know much about, and while I try to be aware that every soldier has a story, and Gene's intersected with many others, I don't often find the time to read about these real life heroes and what life was like for them, far from home, during the war. Still, I feel as though the focus was a little bit off. I read a lot of memos and letters from his personal files, letters to and from close friends and business partners. I learned about the games that Hollywood plays. I learned how long it took for him to start "making a profit" from Star Trek, because the quite good (to me, for 1960s dollars) money he was earning per week while making the show apparently wasn't enough to help him live his chosen lifestyle. I feel as though his life after Star Trek: The Motion Picture was shorted a little bit in the book. I was delighted to learn that (view spoiler)[Gene asked Shatner and the studio repeatedly to change the plot of Star Trek V, and became angry when they didn't take his advice to heart. (hide spoiler)] While the story stayed on Gene, and there was definitely a feeling of "clearing the air" in many of the memos and discussions recorded in these pages, I wish the curtain had been pulled back a little more from his private life. We saw very little about his relationship with Majel after they were married - I feel that there must be a story there of how she supported him through all those years, and the joy they brought each other - and his son, Rod, only gets a couple of nods. The occasional typo bothered me, particularly at the end during a transcript of a speech given at his memorial service, where they misspelled Levar Burton's name.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adeline

    Overall, I learned a good deal about the life of Gene Roddenberry, but like many others before me have written, this book seemed mostly about Star Trek. It also seemed to paint Gene as the good guy versus the bad guys, everyone else who may have disagreed with him. I know the book is called "Star Trek Creator", but I thought I would learn more about his personal life and other things, outside of his time with Star Trek (there were pieces of this within the book, but they seemed random and very s Overall, I learned a good deal about the life of Gene Roddenberry, but like many others before me have written, this book seemed mostly about Star Trek. It also seemed to paint Gene as the good guy versus the bad guys, everyone else who may have disagreed with him. I know the book is called "Star Trek Creator", but I thought I would learn more about his personal life and other things, outside of his time with Star Trek (there were pieces of this within the book, but they seemed random and very short - left me more confused as to the meaning of even mentioning these tidbits without going into details). With this said, I feel I came away from the book with a great understanding of how movies/TV series were created in Gene Roddenberry's time, and the politics behind these businesses. Very interesting...not much glitz and glamour as one may believe! Much of the book that did deal with Gene was mostly memos and letters he wrote to various people, some seemed to be repetitive - many memos to different people on the exact same subject/crisis. Although, David Alexander went into great detail of Gene's time in the military, probably to set up his love of space/flying/etc. for Gene creating Star Trek. Although the book seemed more about the Star Trek Gene, it was a good read for those Star Trek fans. I will be looking for another biography on Gene, in hopes that I may learn more about him personally. Update: I am currently reading Joel Engel's 'Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek' and comparing both books, it seems David Alexander (DA) was very bias. I read this letter ( http://startrekdom.blogspot.ca/2007/0...) from David Gerrold to DA calling DA out for wrong information and breaking confidentiality agreements. So read with caution, as this book may not contain reputable information.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily Dahl

    this author needs an editor. and for someone to explain to him what an unbiased biography looks like. he told roddenberry's story from the perspective of a privileged, holier-than-thou, all-seeing nincompoop. and it was about 300 pages longer than it could've been. but it did provide some limited insight into the man behind star trek, and gave me more respect for the original series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pierre A Renaud

    A preliminary must-read: David Gerrold's letter about Roddenberry, Engel and Alexander http://startrekdom.blogspot.ca/2007/0... A preliminary must-read: David Gerrold's letter about Roddenberry, Engel and Alexander http://startrekdom.blogspot.ca/2007/0...

  7. 4 out of 5

    LiteraryMania

    While I thought that overall, this book was informative, I do think that it was a lot longer than it needed to be. The author of Gene's biography was hand picked by Gene, because he had enjoyed an interview he'd had with David. While David Alexander was no doubt a good journalist, I think that perhaps biographies are a little out of his element. He focused almost entirely on business letters for the first half of the book. While those can sometimes be interesting, many of these were trivial and While I thought that overall, this book was informative, I do think that it was a lot longer than it needed to be. The author of Gene's biography was hand picked by Gene, because he had enjoyed an interview he'd had with David. While David Alexander was no doubt a good journalist, I think that perhaps biographies are a little out of his element. He focused almost entirely on business letters for the first half of the book. While those can sometimes be interesting, many of these were trivial and showed the reader little of Roddenberry's life and attitudes. Some of the letters did have information within them that mattered, or gave us a look into Roddenberry's thoughts, but not enough to justify all of the letters. I think that this book could have been half the length and still given the reader as much information. I also think that the author could have made an effort to get more personal stories during Roddenberry's early career to break up business letter after business letter. That said, the book did become very interesting a few hundred pages in. The author did get more personal stories about Roddenberry as he was getting into Gene's success in Star Trek, though in some ways I feel he glossed over Star Trek: The Next Generation a little bit, more interested at this time in Gene's eminent death. Nonetheless, the last half of the book was hard to put down and at the end of the book I did feel that I had really gotten to know Gene. I'd say this biography is worth a read once.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex Lee

    The book starts off being a biography of Gene Roddenberry but eventually becomes merely a telling of Star Trek itself as Roddenberry takes a backstage to the mechanizations and interests that influenced Star Trek as it becomes a mature asset of Paramount pictures. In that sense, there could have been more biography, but Alexander seems to lose focus as he enters the 70s so that we are not sure who we are reading about anymore. One suspects this happens because the interest is split between Rodde The book starts off being a biography of Gene Roddenberry but eventually becomes merely a telling of Star Trek itself as Roddenberry takes a backstage to the mechanizations and interests that influenced Star Trek as it becomes a mature asset of Paramount pictures. In that sense, there could have been more biography, but Alexander seems to lose focus as he enters the 70s so that we are not sure who we are reading about anymore. One suspects this happens because the interest is split between Roddenberry and Star Trek. It's interesting to note the influences on Roddenberry between sci-fi and himself, but even these influences fall away to merely talk about Star Trek and the various influences that helped shaped what it was. What was originally just a TV show eventually becomes a statement about utopia -- but how did this message form? Was this intention formed through a combination of factors outside of Roddenberry's thinking? The book then ends when Roddenberry dies, making it really about Roddenberry and not Star Trek -- but the work could have been more cohesive in its examination instead of merely fading off as the project is now completed because the guy's dead. It did start with far more focus than it ended with. Still, anecdotally informative.

  9. 5 out of 5

    A.

    Overall, good. Two main criticisms: 1. At points it was hard for me to tell if this book was a biography of Roddenberry, or Star Trek. Yes, I understand, that author and creation are hard to separate at points; I still often found it hard to see Roddenberry behind the machinations of studio politics around Star Trek. 2. & this is a fine point but undercut the book for me: at one point, a dude non-central to the story is dismissed as being a "womanizer." It would be *entirely fair* to apply the sam Overall, good. Two main criticisms: 1. At points it was hard for me to tell if this book was a biography of Roddenberry, or Star Trek. Yes, I understand, that author and creation are hard to separate at points; I still often found it hard to see Roddenberry behind the machinations of studio politics around Star Trek. 2. & this is a fine point but undercut the book for me: at one point, a dude non-central to the story is dismissed as being a "womanizer." It would be *entirely fair* to apply the same label to Roddenberry based on the events reported in this book. That one man was dismissed as such, and that the label was glossed over for the subject of the bio, led me to treat the bio less seriously than I could have. Again, as I said, a fine point, but nonetheless. Also: Gene Roddenberry is a goddamn rockstar. Just in case you thought that I didn't realize a truth so obvious by the 3 star review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Brown

    This has to be the definitive biography of Gene Roddenberry. Written by someone who knew him well, it is nonetheless fully researched and detailed. Extracts from letters and articles are included throughout. This does not make it dry reading though. His flaws are not glossed over but are examined as every other aspect of his incredible life. This book does not seek to focus on simply 'the creator of Star Trek' because, while that was a huge part of his life, it was not all by any means. I felt th This has to be the definitive biography of Gene Roddenberry. Written by someone who knew him well, it is nonetheless fully researched and detailed. Extracts from letters and articles are included throughout. This does not make it dry reading though. His flaws are not glossed over but are examined as every other aspect of his incredible life. This book does not seek to focus on simply 'the creator of Star Trek' because, while that was a huge part of his life, it was not all by any means. I felt the author covered it with the same diligence as the rest of his life, neither going over ground covered in other works on the subject nor skipping through without care. The epilogue was a beautiful statement to the man and his dream, leaving the reader with a sense of hope for humanity.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roger Buck

    A warm, sympathetic portrait of Roddenberry by a friend who obviously loved him deeply. Some will feel it ignores the shadow side of Roddenberry too much, but it remains essential for anyone who loves Gene Roddenberry. This was an extremely important book in my youth and I still value it. But after years immersed in Gene's universe, my life took a direction which would have horrified Gene, departing for a strange new world he could barely imagine … a world which is undoubtedly as alien to most pe A warm, sympathetic portrait of Roddenberry by a friend who obviously loved him deeply. Some will feel it ignores the shadow side of Roddenberry too much, but it remains essential for anyone who loves Gene Roddenberry. This was an extremely important book in my youth and I still value it. But after years immersed in Gene's universe, my life took a direction which would have horrified Gene, departing for a strange new world he could barely imagine … a world which is undoubtedly as alien to most people reading this book as it was to him. My strange new world, however, is here if anyone dares to look: http://corjesusacratissimum.org

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    An interesting look at Roddenberry's life. I found his earlier career highlights fascinating and the discussion of his work on Star Trek interesting. I was amazed to discover that a confirmed feminist could be such a pig in his interactions with women. And I learned that Captain Kirk's libido was autobiographical, if a bit underplayed, for Roddenberry and Majel Barrett's brashness makes Lwaxana Troi look like a very shy nun. The book was long and I think could have done with fewer exceprts from An interesting look at Roddenberry's life. I found his earlier career highlights fascinating and the discussion of his work on Star Trek interesting. I was amazed to discover that a confirmed feminist could be such a pig in his interactions with women. And I learned that Captain Kirk's libido was autobiographical, if a bit underplayed, for Roddenberry and Majel Barrett's brashness makes Lwaxana Troi look like a very shy nun. The book was long and I think could have done with fewer exceprts from Roddenberry's correspondence, but it held my interest well enough to let me get through 600+ pages, even if it took a while.

  13. 5 out of 5

    JOSEPH OLIVER

    This is the approved biography but it does a good job of drawing a fairly rounded portrait of a complicated man ' warts and all' as they say. If you like Star Trek you will like this. It uses quite a lot of his personal correspondence, maybe too much at times. You get a good idea of what he was up against in trying to get his vision across to 'the boys upstairs' who had no love of science fiction and who only looked at viewing figures and the bottom line. That Star Trek got made at all is all dow This is the approved biography but it does a good job of drawing a fairly rounded portrait of a complicated man ' warts and all' as they say. If you like Star Trek you will like this. It uses quite a lot of his personal correspondence, maybe too much at times. You get a good idea of what he was up against in trying to get his vision across to 'the boys upstairs' who had no love of science fiction and who only looked at viewing figures and the bottom line. That Star Trek got made at all is all down to Gene Roddenberry's persistnce and dogged tenacity. Great read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved the first portion of this book that explored Gene's upbringing and early life as a police officer, pilot, and soldier. When we learn about his transition to a life in Hollywood, I was equally fascinated by the behind-the-scenes look at the relationship between writers, producers, directors, and the studios. As a fan of the Star Trek franchise, I enjoyed learning about the push and shove behind the scenes to create the show I love.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenine Young

    Overall a very interesting book. I've only watched a half dozen episodes of Star Trek, but enjoyed it as a biography in its own right. It was looking winded at times, I felt as though some of the memos or correspondence could be eliminated, I'd have been happy with about 100 pages less. It was very honest and human even when it did not show him in the best light.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Phillips

    As I have already mentioned in my comments to other readers, although I did find some interesting insights to the subject, the book was badly in need of further editing, and the excessive inclusion of huge amounts of correspondence disrupted the narrative flow, a shame.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jess Brown

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lynda

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Crawford

  22. 4 out of 5

    Len Lindsay

  23. 5 out of 5

    lindsey shepard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  25. 5 out of 5

    James

  26. 4 out of 5

    Renee L Shove

  27. 5 out of 5

    William Roberts

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kirk

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Cotterill

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