Cover Image: Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction

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Member Reviews

This book is definitely a "romp". I had so much fun reading this and trying to figure out how much was real and how much made up. (I"m still not sure). I enjoyed Brent Spiner's way of writing, I found it delightful. Reading about the cast members from the point of view of an insider was great, and getting a glimpse of their real personalities was very cool.

I would love to read more from Spiner.
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I would call this story more of a romp than anything, and that is a good thing. This is a fun read, and author Brent Spiner weaves us in and out of his memories while embellishing the pages with a hilarious plot that is probably based somewhat on actual events.

Basic plot: What would happen if a fan had difficulty separating fact from fiction and became a danger to a celebrity and his loved ones? While this is not a new idea in the realm of authors, Mr. Spiner’s handling of the story by mixing it with his life creates a realism that pulls readers into the book. His wry humor about his life and the people he knows and meets kept me interested right up until the last page.

While reading the book, I found myself pondering whether a moment in the story was inspired by or perhaps lifted intact from real life events. We all have anecdotes about what we do and where we work, and one can only imagine that, for those people more in the public eye, those happenings can sometimes appear to be on steroids. These larger than life descriptions could very well be taken from Mr. Spiner’s memories.

Gene Roddenbury’s funeral comes to mind as one of those events. The mood is different than the rest of the book and the scene creates a beautiful homage to a person who affected many lives. I counted it as a wonderful addition to Mr. Spiner’s tale and if I am correct about the retelling being more real than made up, I appreciate his sharing of what had to be a difficult moment.

In truth, I never was a trekkie, and cannot say I ever watched an episode of Mr. Spiner’s television show (he played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation), I did recognize him from his picture although I did not know his name until I read the book. Those of you standing in my shoes can be assured that this will not affect whether or not you will enjoy this book. I found it a welcome respite from all the real world events, and is certainly a breath of fresh air in the world of fiction. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
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I think Mr. Spiner should stick to acting and not writing a book.
It was not what I expected.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
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Quick head’s up: In this review, I use “Brent” to refer to the character and “Spiner” to refer to the author.

Let’s get the fanfiction discussion out of the way.

If you are into fanfiction, you probably know that, despite anything the OED may tell you, fans (or fen, as we’re sometimes pluralized) write it as all one word: fanfiction. Spiner’s book is titled Fan Fiction. But there’s a reason, I promise! In spite of Spiner not writing this the same way as fans do, I can fanwank the title! The novel itself, you see, is mostly Fiction, and it’s about not only Brent dealing with the attentions of a scary Fan, but the ways in which Brent is a Fan himself.

There is a point at which Brent tells Patrick Stewart that he feels as if he is a character in a work of fanfiction. At first, I thought, “Whoa, an actor aware of fanfiction in 1991?” but then I remembered that this is Star Trek, one of the first media fandoms and the first fanzine-based media fandom, and that the first issue of a newsletter devoted to Data and Spiner was released in the fall of 1987, well before this book takes place. That newsletter (adorable titled Data Entries) published its first piece of fiction in issue 3, which was published in spring of 1988, again well before this novel takes place. It’s worth noting that the first issue of the newsletter discusses establishing a fan club for Spiner and later issues report that Spiner requested that fans not do this and that the newsletter not include photos of him out of makeup. While the driving force in the novel is a fan who is creepy as can be, there were a lot of active fans of Spiner’s who were careful to respect his privacy. All of this to say, of course by 1991 Brent would be aware of fanfiction, though whether he would have actually read any for Star Trek or anything else is something I don’t know.

What I loved:

This book is a lot of fun. Brent Spiner makes it impossible to know what draws on real life and what’s totally made up, though there are interviews where he clarifies it a bit.

I can’t include exact quotes because I only have an Advanced Reader’s Copy and not a final version, but I can share some of my own notes with you. I think that will illuminate what I love about the book better than a summary can.

There’s a point at which Brent goes to see a detective at the LAPD. This detective offers a lot of assistance regarding Brent’s stalker, but of course he finishes their meeting by telling Brent he has a TNG spec script that involves Data traveling back in time to the 20th century to team up with a character who is clearly a self-insert for the detective. But really, who among us doesn’t have a TNG spec script that features Data collaborating with a self-insert character? When I was in middle school, my best friend and I plotted out the beats of an episode where Data teams up with a middle school-aged flautist to communicate with the Crystalline Entity through music. The middle school-aged flautist was a self-insert for my best friend; Data was guaranteed to be a Data Sue for me if we had actually finished the script.

Spiner portrays himself as a nebbishy, anxious wreck, which completely contradicts the image I have of him in my head as a confident, charismatic, and hilarious performer. It made me feel more aligned with the character Brent, which is nice because as someone who sees myself in Data, there was the risk I would find Brent to be so different from his character as to be not relatable. I too am an apparently confident and charismatic person who is actually an anxious wreck. (Can women be nebbishy? If we can, I am on the inside but not externally.) Because of this, I found Brent super relatable.

We get a glimpse into the glamor of a Hollywood life here when Brent puts in a CD in his car in 1991. How fancy is he? My family didn’t get a car with a CD player in it until probably 2000 or later. We bought one with a tape deck in 1993.

Spiner references his comedy influences in the book frequently; at first, I didn’t think of him as a comedic performer, in spite fo thinking of him as a funny person, but remembering that he was part of a panel on humor in Star Trek as part of First Contact Day 2021 reminded me that this is, in fact, a huge part of his work. Spiner’s comedy chops shine through in the book, when he has Brent drop jokes in a classic comedic structure. Again, I can’t tell you the exact quotes, but there are a lot of places where my annotations say things like “Fucking hilarious” and “Brent Spiner is a goddamn delight.”

Spiner confirms what I already knew (and used for my Data cosplay at my dissertation defense): Data is not white. He is gold. I liked that he confirmed this and mentioned it pretty frequently.

Spiner portrays Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry as freaking adorable. I don’t know what they were really like, and I know that Majel wasn’t the alpha and omega of Gene’s attractions and romantic/sexual relationships, but DAMN, so cute.

Spiner’s portrayal of his TNG classmates is, according to his SyFy interview, exaggerated; it’s also delightful. Levar Burton is the most enlightened hippie in hippietown and Patrick Stewart is 100% So Very RSC.

What I wanted more of:

There is a lot going on in this book, in spite of it focusing strongly on one storyline: Brent dealing with the mysterious fan who is stalking him and seems to believe she is his daughter from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Offspring” (almost there in my rewatch!), Lal. I wish we’d gotten to spend a little bit more time with any of it. It’s a fast and fun read but it wouldn’t have been hurt by I having more time on set, more time dealing with the mystery, more time with Brent handling his complicated relationship with FBI Agent Cindy Lou and her twin, private security guard Candy Lou.

What I need to warn you about:

Spiner’s writing voice here is sparse. I think this is because Spiner is putting on a Chandleresque voice; reading the Google Books preview for The Big Sleep confirmed this for me. I rarely read hard-boiled detective fiction or noir; I’m more of a Victorian/cozy kind of gal. Because of this, the voice took me by surprise. If you’re used to that kind of writing, I think you’ll go, “Yep.” If not, know that it’s an intentional style.

While Spiner imitates the voice of a hard-boiled detective here and “mem-noir” is a delightful neologism to describe what he’s written, this has a more optimistic vibe than is typical of noir or hard-boiled detective stories. There’s a mystery, the book is set in LA, and Cindy Lou and Candy Lou could be credibly called dames, but that’s where the similarities end.

There are a couple of anachronisms that I wonder if they’ll be in the finished book. There’s a point at which Spiner uses the word “besties,” which seems to have first appeared in 1991. So it’s possible it would be used in the context of this story, but it would be very cutting edge. There’s also a character described in the epilogue as having been taking online classes for years, and I can’t tell if the epilogue is supposed to be from the perspective of Spiner-now, as the prologue clearly is, or Brent-then. So that might be an anachronism or it might not, I can’t tell.

Some people have criticized Spiner’s portrayal of women in the book, especially the twins Cindy Lou and Candy Lou, as being too limited and focused on them as sexual objecsts. It’s a fair critique, but it didn’t bother me.

Final word: Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation should definitely check this out. Noir readers might enjoy it too; Spiner does a good job of explaining things about the show that non-fans might otherwise confusing.
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I'm a fairly recent Star Trek: The Next Generation fan thanks to the LeVar Burton Reads pod. So of course I requested this ARC when it popped up on NetGalley. While I enjoyed reading about my favorite characters and the "behind the scenes" aspect of filming, this story was just too silly for me. The characters were straight from central casting (oversimplified stereotypes) and the plot was trite. I would rather have read a true memoir where this true stalker story was one chapter of his life.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and #NetGalley for a digital arc. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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I loved this book. I have to admit that I am a huge fan of Brent Spiner. I loved him as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and as Bob Wheeler in Night Court. And now I love him as a writer. Since I am a Star trek fan, I appreciated the inside stories about the show. I also liked the inclusion of other Star Trek stars. The story itself is excellent and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I had no idea what was fictional and what was real, but it didn’t really matter.  And while there were only a few laugh-out-loud moments, overall the book conveys a certain lightness that had me smiling most of the time. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance reader copy.
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I was drawn to this book because it was written by Brent Spiner, the actor who played Commander Data on 'Star Trek: The next generation' for years. 

Semi-autobiographical, the book is an odd combination of fiction and reality, as Brent's fictional plot takes place amid his life working on the TV show. A commentary on fan-dom and the life of a celebrity, it gives you the inside look at an actor's daily life. Funny in parts, it was certainly an interesting read.
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Well, that was quite a ride.   On the plus side, there are several moments of laugh-out-loud humor, it's an interesting picture of life on TNG in the 90s, and the fact that it's not-quite-true only adds to the dizzying feeling of unreality as the reader, like the narrator, wonders what's real and what isn't.

That said, the actual plot is campy, cheesy, and doesn't exactly break new ground.   This is not one I'll ruminate over for weeks.  The dream sequences drag and I started skimming whenever I saw italics.   But, it was a pleasant diversion and I'm glad to have read it.   For anyone inclined to read this, I'd recommend holding out for the audio book.  Given the casting, I think that might squeeze the most possible fun out of this story, and fun really does seem to be its strong suit.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press, the author, and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will release October 5, 2021.

This book is WEIRD. Not bad, not necessarily, but truly bizarre. I had no idea what to expect going into it (aside from the fact that it's a fictional mem-noir by an actor whose work I've come to very much enjoy over the past few months), because neither memoir—fictionalized or otherwise—or noir is a category I read very much. So, while I'm not the ideal audience for this, I did find myself enjoying it, to a degree.

We open with a ghastly gift from a Star Trek fan, and close with another (gruesome but slightly better-intentioned). In between is a very odd collection of events that read like... well, like fanfiction. And that's pretty fun. But there's not a whole lot of depth to the story or characters, and I don't know if it's because Spiner wanted to follow what I feel are noir genre conventions or not, but the portrayal of the female characters is... Not Great. So keep that in mind. I don't know how else to phrase it but to say that the overall tone and trappings of the book feel very much like a noir in form and function, but... silly? Over-the-top? Yeah, that's it.

In my opinion, the ending comes a bit too quickly—overall, this is a very short book, and I read it in a couple hours. Once again, I am a silly person who cannot figure out the culprit, but despite the fact that I DO like to make guesses, I actually prefer that in a book. Others will probably have an easier time, although it also felt like the truth came out of left field? 

I thought that the bits where Novel!Spiner was ruminating on the nature of the relationship between actors and fans, were the most touching and interesting, and I would have been interested if that had been explored more, but this is... very much not that kind of novel. Still, despite the concern of Novel!Spiner of the nature of his fans (let's be honest, some fans do go overboard, to say the least, and I think he is justified even in this fictional context), I do get the impression that the Spiners both inside the novel and out do in fact like their fans. Just, boundaries, people. 

I think that if you like noir and are used to that sort of dramatic yet dry narrative (I assume; I've never read noir, but I have a rough grasp of what the tone is like thanks to, you know, pop culture and osmosis) and you're a fan of something, Star Trek or otherwise, and don't mind knowing what's real and what isn't, you'll probably enjoy this, or at least parts of it! 

Or, you know, you could just go watch some Star Trek. That's my plan.
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A weird, wild, and unique story the likes of which you haven't seen before. It's immediately entertaining, setting itself deep within the STAR TREK world, but not requiring the reader to be immensely familiar with it. It both leans on the pillars of noir while also subverting them at times, mostly to get a joke in, and Spiner has no qualms about being self-effacing, which informs his character while also allowing him to fit in comfortably with the other exaggerated versions of his cast. 

A lot of the impact of a noir crime story is the twist, so I'm definitely staying away from that as to not spoil anything, so I'll focus on the fact that I did find that the true value of this book is its humor and prose; there's no "dead air" to be found, and it's easy as pie to follow the narrative (I say that because I've read my fair share of mystery novels that demanded re-reading due to lack of clarity).

Spiner's prologue does a great job of priming you for the story and precisely what it's going to entail, so allow yourself to absorb that section in. On top of just being a great opening, it's the calibration you need. 

I initially latched onto this book because I thought it was an outright autobiography, but the change in scenery doesn't hurt my feelings. If you like noir with some legit comedy in it, go ahead and treat yourself. 

Finally: A mention of Jack Lemmon in this with no reference to OUT TO SEA, in which he co-starred with the man? I'm guessing that, within the confines of this story, Spiner hadn't yet performed that role (which I always thought he played a quite viable villain to Lemmon/Matthau). Not a complaint--just was wondering. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance read.
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So ... the actor who plays the android Data on the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series has written a book.  And the main character in Brent Spiner's book is ... Brent Spiner.  Of thirty years ago. And the supporting cast in the book are Spiner's fellow actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It is 1991 and Star Trek: The Next Generation is a huge, global hit. The young actor from Texas, Brent Spiner, who plays the Pinocchio-like android, Data, receives a horrifying package and some very disturbing fan mail. He seeks advice from his cast-mates, whose quirks make them almost as odd as the fans writing to them, and ultimately he calls for the FBI. Taking his case is FBI agent Cindy Lou Jones, for whom Spiner immediately begins jonesing.

Spiner wants Jones around 'for protection' more often than she can afford to provide, so she gives him her sister's contact information.  Candy Lou Jones is Cindy's identical twin sister who runs her own private security company

Brent falls in love (or at least in lust) with the Joneses, but of course the one he prefers is the one not as interested in him.

And through it all, a crazed fan calling herself Lal (Data's daughter from the series) is threatening to kill Brent.

This reminds me of the Ron Goulart 'Odd Jobs' books of the 1970's-80's - a little mystery, a lot of humor, and some wild, crazy shenanigans. Only these characters we think we know because we watch them on TV.

But what worked for Goulart in the 80's is just a little bit tired here as Spiner maybe tries to do a little too much. There's mystery, danger, romance, humor, apparent biography, and always the lure of some ST: TNG insider insight all wrapped up in 250 pages. 

There are extremely odd moments, such as when Spiner heads to his favorite video rental store and learns that there's a woman calling herself Mrs. Spiner who also uses the store. And when she is killed in a car accident, he goes to her funeral, where everyone there only knows her as Mrs. Spiner - no one knew her real name. I'm not quite sure why this is in the book other than that it adds to the oddball humor that Spiner is trying to set up in the book. If those scenes with "Mrs. Spiner" were cut from the book it would have zero impact on the mystery or the romance. And as a 'red herring' it falls flat.

The most fun aspects were the scenes with other members of the TNG cast and crew.  As Star Trek fans, we of course want to think this is exactly how the other cast members are, and while these characters may be based on real people, they do come across as exaggerated caricatures of themselves.

I did have some fun reading this, though the actual capture of the stalker was kind of a let-down (and most people should have seen it coming). This is the sort of book that I would consider a 'beach read' - something to read that doesn't take too much thought or reflection, and reads pretty quickly.

There is a built-in audience, given the number of Star Trek fans there are who are likely to glom onto this, and most will appreciate the book, but it's not likely to be long-remembered.

Looking for a good book? Fan Fiction is a humorous mystery by Brent Spiner (referred to as a 'Mem-Noir'). Inspired by true events is appealing, but one wonders where the line between truth and fiction lies.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a truly unique title that’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.  It will be book porn to trekkies everywhere but there’s a lot for more general audiences to like.  

Brent Spiner, Data from Star Trek the Next Generation creates this largely inspired by real life tale of fiction about super fans gone too far.

The plot is a huge draw as the crazy twists and turns seem like they have to be imagined but at the same time you just know some of this happened.

There are two major drawbacks to this that occasionally leave you off kilter but don’t ruin the story.

First, considering Brent Spiner was Data, a lot of people have a very defined interpretation of him.  His real life persona serving as narrator seems very much at odds with his show persona and that creates some weird dissonance that in some ways isn’t Spiner’s fault, but still feels off.

Lastly, sometimes you aren’t really sure if this is fiction or nonfiction and the narration mirrors that.  As a fiction it could have pushed even a little further into the absurd in order to really sell it as fiction.  

A very solid 4 out of 5 and a strong recommendation
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This book was very enjoyable!  When I saw that this was a non-fiction novel, I wasn't expecting for it to read like a fiction novel with one basic storyline for the entire novel.  I think this is the perfect book for readers who don't normally read non-fiction to get into reading non-fiction because it reads so much like a fiction novel.  This is a love letter to the fandom that is Star Trek.  I really felt the love and dedication that Brent Spiner had for the fandom and Star Trek as a whole, and it was nice to get to see that.  Reading the author's note, Brent says that he was told that he should tell the world about this thing that happened to him, and I'm glad he did.  The book is well written with chapters that will make any Star Trek: The Next Generation fan to read about.  I could see all of this taking place.  The ending may have been dramaticized, but it's Brent's story and he can tell it how he wants to.  I throughly enjoyed reading this novel.  It's  a must read for fans of Star Trek.  Even if you're not a fan, the story is interesting enough to keep your attention.  As I said before, it's really a love letter to the fandom.
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I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for this e-ARC.

This was a decent read. The writing was good and I liked the characters.
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Wow. This book was a fun, humorous take on the life of an actor being stalked. It mixed in parts of daily life as an actor with interesting, unique elements of story. I really enjoyed reading this book.
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Fan Fiction
by Brent Spiner

Star Trek is my fandom.  I remember when I became a Trekkie (spring of 1989) and I have loved it ever since. If you re curious, my current ranking of best Trek series as of today is:

LDS
TNG
DS9
DSC
TOS
PIC
TAS
VOY
ENT

But this could change tomorrow.  I have been a Next Gen fan since season 2, and have been to more than my fair share of Trek conventions.  So when I read an article on SYFY Wire about Brent Spinner’s not-quite-a-memoir noirish novel using the TNG actors as character, I was intrigued enough to request an eARC from NetGalley.  My opinion - better than TekWar, but not great.  As a memoir, it leaves much to be desired. It doesn’t cover a whole lot of detail about Brent Spiner‘s life. Most of what it does cover, about his terrible stepfather who was physically abusive, was interesting and I would’ve liked more of a traditional memoir or even biography. The mystery of a obsessive fan stalking Brent Spiner started out good, but there were so many red herrings that the final solution to the mystery was quite unsatisfying and somewhat inscrutable. The FBI agent and bodyguard who were beautiful identical twins who were both attracted to Mr. Spiner just seemed like the most blatant wish fulfillment fantasy that added nothing to the plot. Many of the jokes fell flat. I did enjoy it, because it was light and breezy and a fine beach read for the end of summer. But it’s hard to recommend.
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this memoir, mystery film studies book.

Brent Spiner, actor, comedian and singer, can add the occupation author to his lengthy resume now with the release of Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events. As the subtitle announces this is a fictional memoir about the actor showing his "crazy" life in 1991 as he performed the role of Data on the syndicated show Star Trek: The Next Generation, with stories of his early days as an actor and his childhood. His life is pretty normal as an actor on a popular show, except for receiving pig parts in the mail, a crazed stalker and twins. 

As the great Bruce Campbell did, Mr. Spiner works real events from his life and unhappy childhood, plus actor friends and relations into a Chandler-esque story of sinister stalkers, not as dangerous stalkers, fame, unhappy love affairs, Michael Dorn's veterinary background and LeVar Burton's knowledge of the cleansing power of sage. 
The book is funny, some jokes more forced than others, and also interesting from a fan's point of view. The book is not a heavy read, another edit might have helped clear up some points that seem confusing, but didn't I say it was like a Chandler novel. Also some things seem a little out of place in 1991, but again its fiction, so a parallel universe explanation can be used. 

More amusing is the stories about his fellow actors and how they talk and behave. I would have liked them as sort of a Scooby gang solving mysteries. I think there is something there. Also his celebrity encounter with Gregory Peck. I hope for Mr. Spiner's sake that was a bit of fiction for the book. I must admit I did laugh out loud. 
Great for Star Trek fans, or for people who enjoy humorous mystery stories, or readers tired of conventional memoirs. I'd like a sequel further along Mr. Spiner's career with more behind the scenes jokes and stories. A fun read.
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Fun Romp Through Star Trek: TNG In Its Heyday. This is a fictionalized loose autobiography featuring Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation - and more specifically, Brent Spiner, the human actor who portrayed him. As one of those Autistics that Spiner mentions during the course of this story as eventually being told so many of us looked up to that character, I can absolutely attest to that being true... and one of the reasons he became so legendary to me. But the story itself is pure light-noir Hollywood, with quite a bit of comedy tossed into a plot that is nominally about obsessive fans and the more serious aspects of how that can go a bit off the rails. Most of the rest of the cast of TNG comes through in various bits, with Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton getting the most "screen time" here but even Michael Dorf, Gates McFadden, and yes, Sir Patrick Stewart himself all getting at least one scene of direct interaction with Brent within these pages. Still, as a "fictionalized autobiography" / noir, these scenes aren't meant as literal "this happened" so much as "this is true to who these people were in my experience, even as these exact interactions are fictionalized". As such, it offers a great view "behind the scenes"... without *actually* going "behind the scenes". Great use of the medium, and a quick ish read to boot- I read it in a single afternoon. Very much recommended.
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Enjoyed this book. The plot and characters were well thought out and vivid. I would recommend this book to others and can't wait to read what the author does next.
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Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Pages: 272 / Genre: Fiction / Release Date: Oct. 5, 2021

Written by Brent Spiner, who’s best known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), this book is loosely based on his life story, including the real people he knows and has worked with and about how he had a real-life stalker who was obsessed with him. He took all that and then embellished to his heart’s content.

It’s a fun idea, but the writing isn’t great. But as a massive fan of TNG and Data in particular, I have to give it three stars for effort, entertainment value, and a grain of salt. It might be better as an audiobook with Data as the narrator. This book releases on October 5.

Thank you @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the advance copy of this book!
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