William Shatner has some things to say.
In his new book, Boldy Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, the 91-year-old Star Trek legend goes beyond memoir for a series of essays on topics he’s passionate about—and more than that, he’s passionate about making sure the rest of us care about them too. And who can blame him? In this short, read-it-in-a-weekend book, you can almost feel his urgency to share his—there’s no better word for—learnings with the rest of us, not because he’s running out of time, but because he’s so darned enthusiastic about it. And you will be too.
Part memoir, part musing
There’s an element of memoir in here, of course; it’s William Shatner, and he knows his audience. (If you’ve ever seen him completely own the room at a convention, you know this.) In between his thoughtful musings on adventure, taking chances, the environment, animals, the nature of music, family, spirituality, and more are occasional dips into Star Trek episodes (with titles and details supplied by co-author Joshua Brandon, I assume) and memories of Star Trek costars. Shatner isn’t afraid to open old wounds: He talks about learning (from Nichelle Nichols) about the other actors’ dislike for him, the tragedy of his wife Nerine’s death (and his discovery of her body), and his distress over Leonard Nimoy’s refusal to speak to him in the last few years of his life. Yes, he has talked about these things before, but here he looks at them with fresh eyes, speculating about what went wrong and looking inward to find the source.
Shatner’s writing, like the man himself, is utterly engaging. His sense of wonder is infectious. His self-deprecating comments will make you laugh out loud, and his deeper moments of emotional exploration might even make you cry, as they did to this reviewer. The subjects he writes about are important ones, and will resonate with readers whether he’s talking about his happiest moments or dark, deep grief.
I am fortunate that in my life I have lived through some of the greatest triumphs one can imagine. And yet, along with these best moments, I have encountered some of the absolute worst.
He also, delightfully, devotes some of the book to his game show days (other ‘70s kids will remember him as a staple on Match Game, Tattletales The Hollywood Squares, and more), getting into the weeds on what exactly was going on during his “berserk” appearance on Pyramid when he cost his contestant partner $20,000. He also reminisces about his music performance on The Tonight Show that baffled Johnny Carson, filming a nude scene with Angie Dickinson, and more.
And a good dose of philosophy
He talks about what music means to him (with musings on its nature from Ben Folds), why you should be with your pets when they die, growing up lonely, growing up Jewish, learning better ways to raise kids, the nature of grief, the beauty of life, and yes, his convention staples like going up into space (which filled him with sadness) and swimming with sharks (which filled him with awe). He’s intrigued by the world around him and writes with equal fascination about the importance of familial bonds and the fixing of a broken toilet. He has moments that are quite profound as he tries to make sense of what connects us all as well as what divides us. No matter what he’s talking about, his zest for life pervades all, as does his sense of humor, which, despite the image he has in the press, can be wonderfully self-deprecating.
As I got above the surface and safely out of reach—my derriere the last piece of me to disappear out of the water—I could have sworn I heard one of the sharks say to another, “Get a load of that asshole.”
Shatner is, as always, intelligent, articulate, and awestruck, fascinated by what he’s already learned and what he knows is still out there waiting for him to explore. After I read the book, I found myself in a number of fascinating discussions inspired by it. If you’re a Shatner fan, you’ll eat this book up like it’s a five-star meal. If you’re just a student of life, stumbling your way through, trying to soak up the experience and learn what you can from someone who’s seen a great deal of it, this could just become your handbook.
Humans are such a delicious mystery to me: We are so multifaceted and contradictory, each one of us with our foibles and eccentricities. I often wonder why we are the way we are, why we are each programmed in such different ways, cursed or blessed with different gifts.
Same, Bill. Same.
On sale now
Also available as audiobook
You can also get the audiobook (read by William Shatner, of course) for $22.67. Listen to an excerpt below:
Find more news and reviews of Star Trek books at TrekMovie.com.
We may link to products to buy on Amazon in our articles; these are customized affiliate links that support TrekMovie by earning a small commission when you purchase through them.