`BENJAMIN SISKO with Julian Bashir background seeks Jadzia Daks....'' If this personal ad confuses you, consider continuing your science-fiction education. Star Trek is a cultural leviathan no longer to be avoided.
The ad lists three characters from ``Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,'' the second TV spinoff from the 1960s Star Trek series. Even though the first spinoff is winding down, there's no use in wishing for an end to it all. A seventh Star Trek movie is under way.
But anyone can convert. William Shatner's ``Star Trek Memories,'' as campy as the original show, takes you all the way back to star date 000.0.
Shatner, better known as leading-man Captain James T. Kirk, freely acknowledges that he's no Trekkie. Still, he wrote primarily for fans, not bothering to describe the episodes ``because quite frankly, you people know them all by heart.''
Instead, with help from Chris Kreski's glib pen, he sticks to recounting Trek's arduous trek to the small screen. Mastermind Gene Roddenberry started out in the Los Angeles Police Department, until one day, in full uniform, he served Hollywood's top agent with a sample script and orders to read it.
Even after Star Trek reached the airwaves, the series ran under extremely tight budgets. That explains most of the jerry-built props, which often were found in the dumpster and adjusted to ``look weird.''
When the show teetered on the brink of warp-engine shutdown after its second season, enthusiasts organized and sent more than a million letters to NBC. One crusader infiltrated the network's executive parking lot in Manhattan and slapped ``I Grok Spock'' and ``Star Trek Lives'' bumper stickers on every Cadillac in sight. What could NBC do but relent? The network ultimately commuted the sentence, sending the show instead to a fatal Friday night time slot for its last season.
Some of the book's content may be old news to hard-core Trekkers, and Shatner's attempts at self-parody don't always make up for his prima-donna style. But fans long ago grew accustomed to the quirks of their pioneering crew and, along with bemused newcomers, will want to read the book: People may say they want to go where no one has gone before, but as the reruns demonstrate, they are quite willing to go there again.