Over the years, Gene Rodenberry has taken on an almost mythical status in the eyes of Star Trek fans, as not only the creator of the much beloved franchise, but also as a pioneer who contributed towards bringing televised science fiction to a mainstream audience. Stories of his alleged womanising, controlling attitude and shameless self-promotion run parallel to the belief that he was an idealist who dreamt romantically of a utopian future that could only exist in the stars. Now, on the 50th anniversary of the series that made Rodenberry’s name, Lance Parkin presents a (unauthorised) biography that is as insightful as it is entertaining.
Wisely avoiding probing too deeply into Rodenberry’s childhood, Parkin instead begins with his subject’s first attempts at launching a career as a screenwriter, while working as a police officer for the LAPD. His early successes writing episodes of long forgotten series are referenced before we get onto the good stuff; the launch of the original Star Trek series in 1966.
We’re treated to plenty of behind the scenes backstory (particularly in regards to Rodenberry’s relationship with NBC) brought to life using a chronology of events supported with extracts and quotes from autobiographies of the actors behind Trek’s most well known characters. Most interesting is the tussle over creative control, the yearning for a world filled with racial equality, and the revelation that Rodenberry became distant from the original series once ratings started to fall, only to return later once his other pursuits in film and television had failed. Many fans may know the story of how Star Trek: The Motion Picture was originally conceived as a fourth series, but this biography delves deeper into the reasons for the slow decline of Rodenberry’s involvement as the film series continued.
Though not an exposé of scandal by any means, the book also sheds some light on the causes behind some of Rodenberry’s more notable feuds, including that with Leonard Nimoy. As with most Hollywood stories, drink and drugs act as a catalyst towards a downward spiral, and no biography is complete without a nod to love affairs: Rodenberry’s marriage to Majel Barrett (Christine Chapel/ Lwaxana Troi and the voice of the ship’s computer) is also featured, though in a non-intrusive manner respectful to the ‘First Lady of Star Trek’.
‘The Impossible Has Happened’ is as much a history of the Star Trek franchise as it is of the man who created it; a well researched and unbiased analysis told through the eyes of a self confessed fan that allows the reader to make up their own mind as to how history will remember the undeniably inspirational creator of a series that has spanned five decades.
THE IMPOSSIBLE HAS HAPPENED: THE LIFE AND WORK OF GENE RODDENBERRY, CREATOR OF STAR TREK / AUTHOR: LAMCE PARKIN / PUBLISHER: AURUM PRESS LTD. / RELEASE DATE: 21ST JULY