In Shatnerquake a reality bombs goes off at the first ever ShatnerCon. All the characters William Shatner ever played on screen are brought to life and set about tracking down the real Shatner with murder in mind.
Having been to a couple of ComicCons in London, I found it easy to picture the scene which Jeff Burk sets. The complex where ShatnerCon is taking place is shiny, modern and new. It’s also impersonal as such convention centres need to be so they can accommodate and absorb the show they are running one weekend before sloughing it off and adopting a new one the next. You get the crowds, the (sometimes rabid) fans and the general feel of people connected by one over-arching interest with perhaps little else in common.
Shatner arrives at the convention centre a little late and is thrust into the action. Photos to sign, camera-ready smiles to flash, devoted acolytes to keep at arms length – that sort of thing. In the cinema complex at the centre, a number of screens are showing a variety of his work from Star Trek through to T J Hooker, taking in his Rescue 9-1-1 work and commercials. His devotees are lapping it up.
Until a reality bomb (which has been slightly tampered with) explodes and vapourises the audiences. The bomb also causes the characters on the screen to step into the real world. ShatnerCon soon descends into outright carnage as William Shatner finds himself at the mercy of his own celluloid selves and a fanatical trio of Bruce Campbell fans.
At 83 pages, this is more a novella than a novel. Character development is low but then again this is an action novel rather than a character study and more about the delight of playing out bizarre scenes than the metamorphosis of human nature. I read it in a couple of sittings in one day and found it entertaining. This is my second journey into bizarro fiction, a genre I didn't even know about until I undertook this reading challenge, and I am further encouraged to read more titles in this area.
Biggest gripe with the book? After all the people in the cinemas die, a woman is killed in a shower of falling weapons and is inaccurately described as the first fatality of ShatnerCon. The piles of ash in the theatre seats represents the hundreds of preceding fatalities. Such a petty thing to pick up on but it jarred and stayed with me to the end of the book.
Most entertaining bit? Anything involving James T Kirk really, especially when he gets hold of a working lightsabre. It's a cross-over spectacle which is a short-lived delight to some.
I'd recommend this for a lightweight hour or two of reading - something for the train perhaps.
6 out of 10 Star Fleet Captains