Categories: MemoirsNon-Fiction

Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, by William Shatner with Joshua Brandon

I previously read William Shatner’s memories of Leonard Nimoy (Leonard: My Fifty-year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner with David Fisher (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)). I had opened that book, braced for something inarticulate as the Betty White memoir, which was mostly superficial remarks about her dogs intercut with old photos. Instead in Leonard I found deeply considered, revealing stories, compactly told. Thoughtful, well-paced and circumspect, it was an enjoyable read and covers a lot of ground.

When I saw Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, I was hoping it would be as good. He is more than the self-satirizing blowhard he appears in the infamous ever-looping Saturday Night Live sketch and one of many roles.

“Memoirs are anchored in the past by necessity, but this hooks forward with hope and urgency to the future for himself, for readers and for the ecological survival of all our species. It’s a life-affirming sort of ride.”

The title encapsulates what to expect. A memoir from the organizing principle of awe & wonder. He might have added curiosity to the sub-title, but it would have made too much of a mouthful

What a difference a word in a title is. “To boldly go” would be a self-affirming nod to the television legacy. But “boldly go” is an exhortation to not let life slip past you. The book’s refrain is that we each have one shot at each moment. We take it, or we let it pass. We have one chance to experience what we will, with no prep time so after what matters. It’s an approachable book and tightly written.

Memoirs are anchored in the past by necessity, but this hooks forward with hope and urgency to the future for himself, for readers and for the ecological survival of all our species. It’s a life-affirming sort of ride.

Each chapter leverages a focus, whether swimming with sharks, his Ahead with Horses foundation for special needs kids, or recording his music. (He’s recorded eight albums. Of music, he says “music binds us to  each other.”). As a lifetime lover of learning, he includes excerpts from science books and memoirs he read and recommends such as the story of Robert Ballard who found the Titanic. He shares about wolves and Yellowstone. He revisits the perplexing and defeating problem of alcoholism of his third of four wives, and of Nimoy. He describes his relationship with musician Ben Folds. (I was as embarrassed and bemused as him to not know who that big name was. Cute story of his daughter’s incredulity that he didn’t know.) An index wouldn’t have been amiss in the book.

His entertaining anecdotes about naively doing his own stunts are a riot, and sobering as he learned his stunt double broke his spine. His reflections on “inner dialogue” are interesting. (Not everyone has them, did you know?) He includes his relationship with the actors of the Enterprise crews but his life is much wider and deeper. He walks us through how it is he ended up going to space thanks to Jeff Bezos and its unexpected impact on him.

His reflections are supplemented by quotes from fascinating people he has interviewed as part of his life path. He interviewed: Jeff Bezos, polymath Seth MacFarlane, and death-specialist David Kessler. On his web talk show I Don’t Understand, he interviews refugee Mareach “Moe” Angok, as well as a range of scientists on subjects from rising sea levels, to space junk, AI, muons and consciousness.

Shatner also speaks of abiding love for his children and grandchildren, of his fears, insecurities and gratitude and how each of us, every creature, is a miracle. The connective thread of the book, beyond gracefully accepting mistakes made and lessons learned, is how each miracle is intractably connected to all the others.


About the Author

William Shatner is the author of nine Star Trek ® novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Ashes of Eden and The Return. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Get a Life! and I’m Working on That. In addition to his role as Captain James T. Kirk, he starred as Denny Crane in the hit television series from David E. Kelley, Boston Legal—a role for which he won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Find more information at WilliamShatner.com.

Joshua Brandon, Mr. Shatner’s coauthor, is a director, producer, and writer, whose credits include CBS’s Friend Me, SyFy’s Haven, Fox’s Houdini & Doyle, and the upcoming feature film A Thousand Little Cuts.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atria Books (Oct. 4 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1668007320
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1668007327

Pearl Pirie

Pirie’s 4th poetry collection, footlights (Radiant Press, 2020) is shortlisted for the Lampman Award. Mudflaps for short dogs, (Trainwreck Press, July 2021) is surreal, concrete and machine poetry.  She is the editor of short precision, issue 19 of Guest: Journal of Guest Editors, (Sept 2021). Forthcoming chapbook: rain’s small gestures (Apt 9 Press, fall 2021) Find more at www.pearlpirie.com or patreon.com/pearlpiriepoet

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