”I’d had this idea for a number of years,” says William Shatner, poking at a dish of stir-fried vegetables in the New York Palace hotel. ”A scenario to do with Kirk and age and a young lady.” It was an idea that Shatner — who played the original Star Trek‘s spacely stud, Capt. James Tiberius Kirk — intended as a screenplay. But when asked to write a Star Trek novel — the first cast member to do so — he went for it.
The outcome, The Ashes of Eden, is the first of a trilogy, reuniting the original Enterprise crew six months before Kirk’s death in an adventure that bears all the trademarks of the 1966-69 TV series. As ever, Kirk is stubborn, determined, and ultimately right; Spock and McCoy pick up their verbal sparring without missing a beat; and the rest of the crew remain loyal to their captain no matter what. Kirk’s advancing age figures heavily in the plot. And according to Shatner, his Eden love — the seductive Klingon-Romulan damsel-in-distress Teilani — is unlike Kirk’s earlier romances. ”Because this could be the last one, it’s all the more dear, all the more intense. The other ones,” he says, dismissing three years of on-air philandering with a wave of his fork, ”they were just casual.”
A restless spirit facing retirement. Are there any parallels between the captain’s and Shatner’s own universe? ”Oh, I hope not,” he smiles, and quickly lists the projects that keep him busy. Aside from the Trek trilogy, he’s working on the next book in his best-selling TekWar series, a TekWar CD-ROM game due out in time for Christmas, and a movie he’s directing called Virtual Hero, which is now in preproduction.
”The similarity between the fiction of Kirk and the reality of me is that youth is a matter of staying connected with youth,” he says, sounding very Kirk-like. And, indeed, you get the distinct impression that he’d succumb to the lure of Eden — and Teilani — in a heartbeat.