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Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events

Review

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events

The name Brent Spiner might not be immediately recognizable, but odds are you have seen him at some point. Perhaps you know him from his great work as a character actor in films like Independence Day or his eight seasons on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as Lieutenant Commander Data. What you probably never realized is the personal ordeal that Spiner fictionalizes about his time on the hit series.

“Star Trek” has produced oodles of fans and “Trekkies” since the original show debuted in the ’60s. However, what Spiner went through definitely blurred the line between fan and fanatic and in his mind has created a new literary genre in the process: the Mem-Noir. In FAN FICTION, he walks you through the sometimes laughable but more often chilling situation with a fan who took things dangerously too far.

"FAN FICTION does not leave you hanging as it reveals who wrote the Lal letters. However, this is one of those works where seeing a solution is not necessarily as important as just enjoying the ride."

Viewers of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” may recall the episode entitled “The Offspring,” where we meet Lal, Data’s daughter. Prior to this big moment, there had not been any synthetic/android people who had actual offspring. Imagine the concern and fear felt by Spiner when he started receiving correspondence from someone claiming to be Lal. He says, “Everything I have written thus far is absolutely true. But the story I’m about to tell is not. In fact, having written the book and read it a few times, I’m not sure if any of it really happened. Maybe in a parallel universe?”

That juicy tidbit alone is enough to appeal to the sci-fi and alternate reality fans out there. That this is a work of fiction in no way demeans the story or makes it any less gripping or believable. Spiner muses that the second worst part of his job is wearing makeup, and the worst is taking it off. It is while he is undergoing his transformation from Data back to himself that he is delivered the first of a series of packages/letters from an overzealous fan. It comes in a box that has the word DEAD written on the underside of the lid; inside is a note from Lal that accuses him of forsaking her. The language in each successive letter gets creepier, and there is an increase in the amount of blood smeared on each one.

Spiner decides to contact the authorities and is forwarded to Detective Ortiz, who heads a team called the Obsessives. He also follows the advice of law enforcement and engages a personal bodyguard --- in this case two of them, twin sisters Cindy Lou and Candy Lou Jones. He shares with them some additional letters he has begun receiving from a woman named Loretta Gibson in which she sounds overly familiar with him and admits she is a married, Catholic homemaker. These notes begin to get more intense, especially when she finishes one with this thought: “I just wish my husband was dead.”

Spiner is getting a crash course in what it means to be a fixture on a popular sci-fi show and just how fanatical some of his fandom can get. As he prepares to attend San Diego Comic Con, he gets a message from Lal that indicates she would gladly kill Marina in his place if she cannot get to him. This is a reference to his co-star, Marina Sirtis, who also is scheduled to appear at Comic Con. He still goes but has his bodyguard right by his side the entire time.

Throughout the novel, Spiner sprinkles in various stories and anecdotes that devoted fans will just eat up. One in particular involves the late Dr. Oliver Sacks making his way to the set of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” specifically to meet with Spiner. Sacks is spending time at another soundstage where they are making a film version of his book AWAKENINGS, which deals with the subject of catatonia. Spiner is overwhelmed to learn that many of Sacks’ patients who suffer from Asperger’s and other forms of autism see Data as their champion. Quite an honor indeed.

FAN FICTION does not leave you hanging as it reveals who wrote the Lal letters. However, this is one of those works where seeing a solution is not necessarily as important as just enjoying the ride. There is a very thin line between fans, fandom and the objects of their affection. As Brent Spiner so succinctly puts it: Where would we be without the fans?

Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 15, 2021

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events
by Brent Spiner

  • Publication Date: October 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Humor, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250274362
  • ISBN-13: 9781250274366