William Shatner dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss Star Wars, Star Trek, and his new book, Zero-G, a science-fiction fantasy that tells the story of 80-year-old FBI director Samuel Lord, who must stop the Chinese from using a weapon that, unbeknownst to them, could destroy the planet.
“Science fiction is a wonderful medium both for reading entertainment and for visual, of course, in the movies with all the special effects,” Shatner said on Tiki and Tierney. “It’s a way of trying to explain these phenomena you see in the night sky or in a telescope or in your imagination that zip across the sky. These books like Zero-G seek to explain it in a mythological way. Zero-G is about what the FBI might be like 50 years from now when there’s a lot of stuff going on. In this case in the book, there’s doomsday machine, but there’s a need for law enforcement in space 50 years from now. That’s an imaginative leap into the future trying to explain the future. So both of those shows – Star Trek and Star Wars – seek to explain through imagination what our future might be like.”
Shatner discussed the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek and why some people prefer one over the other.
“I think it’s a matter of taste,” he said. “Star Wars is like grand opera. Star Wars is big and a big story and, like opera, the heroes and heroines and big. Star Trek, on the other hand, deals – (or) should be dealing – with stories that are human and small and here’s what a human being is like and human failings and the great things about human beings. That’s what Star Trek is about. So given your appetite for grandiose operas and big opportunities to have large battles, as against human failing, you could do both and be there.”
As it turns out, Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek from 1966-69, had a lot of influence over his iconic character.
“We would have talks with the writers,” he said. “As time went on, if you do three years, which is what I did, by that time you know everybody and the writers know you. They even know a lot about your background, so they’ll introduce stuff into the character that was part of your background. I wrote a series of books about Star Trek and Captain Kirk after . . . they changed the cast to the next generation. They allowed me to write a half a dozen books using my own life in an autobiographical sense on Captain Kirk. So the things that happened to me in life, I foisted onto Captain Kirk, so my version of Captain Kirk is very much like me.”