Book review: Night of the Living Trekkies

Night of the Living Trekkies
By Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
Published by Quirk Books
ISBN: 1594744637
Review copy provided by Quirk Books

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Horror and sci-fi have been combined in an unholy and hilarious alliance by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall, both admitted “lifelong science fiction geeks and proud of it”. Inspired by George Romero and Gene Roddenberry, these fanboys have created the ultimate no-win scenario, one that makes the Kobayashi Maru look like deciding between Coke and Pepsi.

Demonstrating a droll insiders’ sense of humor, as well as a tribute to the well-known and well-loved characters of Classic Trek, the novel’s protagonist is named Jim Pike (a combination of Jim Kirk and Christopher Pike, both captains of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE in Classic Trek). He’s a veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan, courtesy of the U.S. Army; now an assistant manager at the Botany Bay Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Houston, Texas. Actually he’s little more than a glorified bellhop, whose six-foot, two-inch, 220 pound body allows him to motivate employees to do their jobs properly, like the creepy pool guy who keeps leering at female guests, until Jim ‘motivates’ him never to do it again. Once a major Star Trek fan, after losing a couple of his men in an ambush in Asadabad, Jim lost faith in himself and in humanity. He now regards Star Trek as cynically as any mundane with a so-called life.

That all changes on a hot, sultry August weekend when the Fifth Annual Star Trek GulfCon is held at the hotel. Hundreds of costumed Star Trek fans show up, while dozens of hotel employees start calling in sick, or leaving work early on account of injuries that won’t stop bleeding. Not only that, but people start going missing; Trekkies and hotel employees alike keep going out for a smoke or on an errand and not coming back. By a strange coincidence, the nearby Johnson Space Flight Center has been locked down after a gas leak, which was really a terrible accident involving experimental test subjects from space that have broken loose. Turns out that exposure to these E.T.’s causes people to become zombies.

Then our hero’s only sister, Rayna, arrives with her boyfriend Matthew Stockard aboard a RV tricked out to look like a rolling version of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (named the U.S.S. STOCKARD after its obnoxious owner), a cute Vulcan science officer named T’Poc, and a fat, lumpy nerd named Gary who’s got “red shirt” written all over him. Before the weekend is over, three out of four of these people will be dead, the Botany Bay Hotel will be filled with zombies, and Jim Pike, as the only one with real military experience, will be forced into the hero’s role as he tries to lead a motley crew of fanboys and fangirls out of the zombie-infested hotel to the dubious safety of the highway leading to the next town, before the Men In Black at the former space center nuke the whole Houston area to cover up their mistake.

In addition to our hero and the hapless crew of the U.S.S. STOCKARD, there are also extras to fill the obligatory roles in your standard sci-fi/zombie movie. A beautiful six-foot model dressed as Princess Leia Organa in a gold metal bikini plays the love interest; Jim finds her chained to a bed in a hotel room while doing a reconnaissance on a zombie-infested floor, after her photographer friend went outside to see what was making all the commotion in the hallway and didn’t come back. There’s also a Klingon named Martock played by a professional weapons dealer who’s forced to use one of his own bat’liths to defend himself after his assistant goes zombie on him. The part of the brilliant scientist is played by Dr. Sandoval, an exobiologist from Harvard University who was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the con, and who also happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to VOYAGER’s holographic doctor. And of course we have the obligatory red shirt played by Ensign Willy Makit, who also happens to be the only surviving member of the West Texas Red Tunic Club, which he describes as “A once-proud organization formerly boasting a membership of eight.” Six of them croak without ever meeting a zombie, thanks to a series of ill-timed accidents. One of them actually went down to the lobby to see what was going on—alone, of course—and presumably met the crowd of living dead Trekkies who managed to persuade the hotel’s manager into letting them in through the barricaded Plexiglas fire doors. Oh yes, it seems that the zombies, or at least the extraterrestrial inhabitants of their bodies, are able to use mind control to trick people into helping them.

Horror and humor and Star Trek trivia abound in this literary tribute to two of the most popular genres in fandom. It’s a quick read, but a satisfying one, if you don’t get grossed out easily by blood and brains. The zombies our hero and his party encounter all meet with satisfyingly violent ends, thanks to a combination of guns, Tasers, and homemade bat’liths and lirpas. There’s also a way to kill them that doesn’t require damaging the host body, any more than it’s already been damaged by the zombie who was noshing on it before it transformed, anyway. But rest assured, you’ll enjoy “Night of the Living Trekkies” as much as a blooper reel at your favorite Star Trek convention. It’s that good. Or that bad, depending on how big a purist you are. If you’re a Trekkie who’s easily offended by irreverence toward your favorite fandom, don’t buy this book. But if you’re a more laidback Trekker who can take a joke, take this book with you on the long ride to your next con. Or just have it on hand for the next three-day weekend in case your local TV station doesn’t have a Star Trek marathon scheduled. In either event, may you laugh long and prosper.