Reviews - What do customers think about Inside Trek: My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry?
Gene Roddenberry: Human at last May 12, 2008
To my way of thinking, "Inside Trek" is one of the two most important Star Trek memoirs, presenting series creator Gene Roddenberry in breath-takingly sharp focus from about 1974 till his death in the eary 1990's (five years after the original series' cancellation, and up through the movie, "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country").
As unflinching in detail as the book by Herbert Solow and Robert Justman, Ms. Sackett manages to create a far more lively portrait of her boss, from the point of view of long-time office wife, and long-time secret lover. The portrait often not flattering, but invariably rings true.
Almost as heart-breaking as "My Tour of the Galaxy" (Grace Lee Whitney), with as strong a narrative as "Beam Me Up, Scotty" (James Doohan), "Inside Trek" also serves as a cold hard slap in the face for anyone with more than one or two illusions about Hollywood.
Perhaps the only unresolved question by the end of the book revolves around the role of Majel Barrett (Roddenberry's second wife) in his life. Based on Ms. Sackett's very convincing and detailed information, and my own reading between the lines, Ms. Barrett (Nurse Chapel, and other roles) comes off looking as utterly self-absorbed as William Shatner (and, to a lesser extent, Leonard Nimoy), to the great detriment of Mr. Roddenberry. As this "testimony" is not exactly corroborated elsewhere (notwithstanding NBC execs' complaints in the Solow/Justman book) we should probably not jump to any conclusions about Ms. Barrett (though she certainly seems awful in several of Ms. Sackett's colorful anecdotes).
New stories abound in this well-written (unauthorized) biography, which should make it extremely interesting to the Trek afficianado, and invaluable to any student of the Film & TV industry.
A very sad story. Nov 19, 2007
I'm thinking perhaps this is a book with more appeal to women than to guys. I dunno. I've always admired Gene Roddenberry's accomplishments, but this book left me feeling very sad for him and his family.
The two main characters come off as rather pathetic. First, there's Roddenberry. It seems that, regardless of his marital status, pushes himself upon any reasonably attractive, reasonably intelligent woman within his sphere. The beginning of his affair with Sackett totally skeeved me out -- married (to Majel Barrett Roddenberry, his second wife), with a newborn baby in the house, he first manipulates Sackett, his newly hired assistant, into swimming naked in his pool. Then, despite being rebuffed, he continually solicits oral sex from her, until she finally gives in. Yuck. And throughout their affair he shows little interest in her pleasure; indeed, in his booze-and-pills-addled state there's not much he could do. Nor is he even capable of being "faithful" to her.
Then there' s Ms. Sackett. She is clearly warm and extremely intelligent, but is incapable or unwilling to engage in much self-assessment. OK, she falls in love, I get it. But to a man she can never have, Roddenberry being both married and impotent. And then she finds emotional consolation in two other men she can never have (they are gay). Anyone else see a pattern here?
Along with the stories of their motel-room trysts, afternoon sneak-aways and occasional trips, I anxiously wanted to find some sense of emotional growth, some movement beyond her self-described codependency. It never comes, and this is what left me feeling low. At one point, she attends a weekend seminar that sounds a lot like Landmark Forum, and claims to emerge feeling "empowered." But even that doesn't seem to spark any analysis of her codependency. Toward the end, as Roddenberry's health severely declined, she's asked to take a pay cut. Finally, she's shocked when his death leaves her on the outside. Isn't that the near-universal fate of the "other woman?" And yet, a decade and a half is insufficient time for Ms. Sackett to prepare herself professionally, legally or emotionally for the inevitable.
Sackett reports the details of her long affair in a dispassionate and believable way, backed up by ample photographs of the two of them. And others have written of Roddenberry's flaws; that's nothing new. Hollywood's "boom and bust" cycles have led many brilliant, talented people to alcohol and drug abuse or other questionable behaviors.
I initially began reading the book for some of the behind-the-scenes Trek details. There's not all that much that hasn't been revealed elsewhere. I do have a better understanding of why D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold, two wonderful talents, bailed on Star Trek: The Next Generation so early on -- Roddenberry's lawyer, whom he insisted on involving in script editing (despite no experience), comes across as a complete putz. It's no wonder they left, and I considered their departure a great loss for that show. But, as is clearly stated on the jacket, this book is primarily the story of Roddenberry's and Sackett's relationship.
In the end, if the story of this extramarital affair sounds intriguing, go for it! Being a rather pragmatic guy, I confess to a lack of empathy for Sackett's story, though I admire her matter-of-fact prose (you don't get the feeling she's trying to settle any scores with this book).
I suppose I'd feel better if I knew that this book was cathartic in some way for the author. A warm and witty woman like Susan Sackett deserved more than Roddenberry could give, and maybe this book helped her move on. At least, I hope she's taken down that portrait of him that she says she has hung in her hallway --it's time it got shoved in the attic.
A good addition to your 'Star Trek' library... Jul 20, 2007
Susan Sackett makes no apologies as she not only tells the reader about her contribution to the 'Star Trek' franchise, but her love affair with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. (And, for the record, she has no need to make any apologies).
As one who probably knew him best, Miss Sackett was one who kept Roddenberry on track (or at least attempted to) in his creative life, as she offers little tidbits of how she was there when the original series went off the air, up to the inception of 'The Next Generation' and the films...(And Miss Sackett would write a few books based on the original series, and show up as an extra in a 'Next Generation' episode 'The Neutral Zone' in the blue skirt and go-go boots uniform).
As a personal inspiration to Roddenberry, Sackett gives us a portrait of Roddenberry, who was definitely a flawed human (as we all are in some way), and was kept afloat somewhat by her presence as he endured ups and downs while dealing with 'Star Trek' productions.
As one of the other reviewers mentioned above, a good read for those in love, and those very much interested in 'Star Trek'...
Gut Wrenching and Haunting Story of the Price of Fame May 30, 2003
This is not a biography nor is it an autobiography. It is a unique kind of document.
It is Susan Sackett's story and it is the story of Gene Roddenberry's final days, showing the roots of those final events within the years of Star Trek The Motion Picture, and Star Trek: The Next Generation and the deepening and developing intimacy between Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenbery.
Susan Sackett has taken an odd point of view to tell this story of her position in the world of Star Trek. As a writer, I have to admire the tight, disciplined writing.
The story she tells is searingly gut-wrenching, harrowing and filled with anguish dotted with moments of joy and happiness.
It haunted (still haunts) me day and night for a number of reasons.
As primary author of the Bantam paperback Star Trek Lives! and a professional sf/f writer active through those years in Star Trek fandom, I was aware of these events but from an entirely different perspective. This book has filled in the blanks and answered many questions for me.
During the intervening years, I have likewise been aware of the private lives behind the scenes of several very famous and popular writers who ended their days enmeshed in very similar kinds of situations.
Reading this book awakened the feelings of watching such events from the sidelines, helpless to affect the course of things. It also brought home how very ordinary such an extraordinary situation is among the famous and powerful figures of this world.
Sackett's writing style is factual, the language prosaic, completely devoid of purple prose, hyperbole, or passion. And that showcases the realities of this happy/sad situation that surrounded Gene Roddenberry as he fought to give the millions of dedicated fans the show they so richly deserved.
The point of view is entirely Susan Sackett's. These are the events behind the miraculous achievements of Gene Roddenberry, and this is what it felt like to be involved inside those events, and this is the enormous price Roddenberry paid to give us this miracle.
Not once in this narrative is there any speculation, accusation or finger-pointing. There is no blaming, no "flaming" and no attempt to present the motives of others which Sackett could not possibly have known except as supposition through a veil of emotion.
This document is an amazing piece of work, a tour de force of the writer's craft and a bit of history that may one day prove invaluable to researchers if enough copies survive here and there. Put one away for your grandchildren today.
I can't tell you that every word is true. I can tell you that you will not find a more objectively written account of a purely subjective experience anywhere in your public library. Just for that achievement, this book should be studied by every would-be writer. And while you're studying this book, do tally up the price of fame and the cost of glory and ask yourself if you really do want to be a writer after all.
Live Long and Prosper, Jacqueline Lichtenberg...
The best insider book I've ever read May 27, 2003
Susan Sackett's unique perspective brings new insight into Gene Roddenberry, the amazing creator of "Star Trek" who changed the face of filmed sci-fi forever. Their love story is touching and heartrending, and Susan's personal influence on Roddenberry's inventiveness has never before been revealed. Susan is a remarkable woman who has lived a one-of-a-kind life that's both fascinating and inspiring. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's ever seen "Star Trek" - or ever been in love.