Thursday, January 9, 2014

We've all experienced the clash of expectations. You look forward to something and it disappoints, or you get surprised by an unanticipated joy. It happens with shows, books, parties, or when you are just hanging out with some redhead.

Any number of factors can influence an experience. Traffic, parking, or the asshole in front of you can destroy an otherwise great concert. Sometimes my favorite beers taste awful, and I can only explain it by assuming variables outside of my control are throwing things off. I certainly can't stay mad at the beer.

Well, expectations may have played a role in my reaction to two Trekker pastiches. I assumed the Hugo Award winning book "Redshirts" would be entertaining, and the ridiculous sounding "Night of the Living Trekkies" would be an awkward lark. It turns out I hated "Redshirts." I thought it was a bad idea poorly executed. Having reached with relief the end of the story, I was horrified to discover that a self-indulgent "Coda" was appended. Actually three of them. Short pieces related to the story from completely different points of view. The first coda was so annoying that I had to put the book down and debate whether to finish it. I did, but do not recommend anyone else do so.

On the other hand, "Night of the Living Trekkies" far exceeded my expectations. I didn't want to put it down. I thought it was a brilliantly executed piece of genre fiction. The story held together far better than the pathetic conceit of "Redshirts," and frankly I thought the writing was superior. It maintained a perfect balance between satire and a celebration of science fiction. It was genuinely funny and the story flowed in a natural and compelling way. I thought John Scalzi might deliver another "Galaxy Quest," but it took Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall to pull it off. The author Scalzi may have more genre credibility than the authors of the zombie book, and his metafictional Trek rip off may have hidden depths, but when an onion is rotten why bother peeling it?

My only question is when will "Night of the Living Trekkies" hit a theater near me?

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