Authors: David A. Goodman
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk
Print Edition ISBN: 9781783297467
E-Book Edition ISBN: 9781783297474
Published by Titan Books
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First edition: September 2015
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The Autobiography of James T. Kirk
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Jacket design: Julia Lloyd
Illustrations: Russell Walks
Editor: Dana Youlin
Interior design: Rosanna Brockley
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FIRST LET ME JUST SAY, I’M A DOCTOR NOT A WRITER
. But, having read this memoir, I’ve decided I do have something to add. For the most part, Jim Kirk said everything that needed to be said about himself. But he left out one important detail, for the obvious reason that he was too modest to think it, let alone say it, so I will:
He was the greatest hero who ever lived.
Now, before you assume I’m exaggerating, and before I tell you to go to hell, let’s look at his life objectively. Who else in the last fifty years was at the center of so many critical events? Who else in that time made more decisions that affected the course of civilization? It seems unbelievable that so much history could be centered around one person, but the record is clear. And I don’t know whether it was divine providence, luck, or the mythical Great Bird of the Galaxy that determined the man who would be in the center seat of the
, I’m just thankful it was Jim Kirk.
Though he skips this description of himself, his memoir leaves out little else, and for that reason it is revelatory. The personal secrets in here paint an honest portrait of the man. In some ways, he was just like the rest of us: lonely, ambitious, a son, a father, a lover, never truly content. Where he set himself apart is in the way he took responsibility for his mistakes, embraced his weaknesses, and always strove to do better, to be better. It is in this way that he is a true hero; despite his successes, he knew there was always more work to be done, and he never shied away from the call of duty. His passing is a catastrophic loss; he looked after all of us.
For me, the loss is personal: I had no better friend, and I raise my glass to him one last time.
To James T. Kirk, captain of the
HIDING IN THE BASEMENT ON THE RUN FROM THE POLICE
, it was difficult to see how I was going to save the Galaxy. But I had to work with what was at hand. Our hideout was neither well equipped nor comfortable. The brick room was cold and dark, smelled of ash and rodent urine, and its only source of heat against the bitter winter outside was a small coal-burning stove. All it provided in the way of equipment were thick cobwebs and a pile of damaged furniture. There were a few wooden storage boxes, stained presumably from exposed pipes that crisscrossed the low ceiling. Of course, the lack of the amenities was moot. This “headquarters” was only temporary, as it was doubtful the occupants of the building above would ignore us forever, especially if alerted by the local authorities.
And that was a concern, because though we’d been in the city, and the century, for less than ten minutes, I’d already managed to break the law. When we arrived through the time portal, I realized our uniforms made us stand out, so I stole some indigenous clothes hanging out to dry on the fire escape of a tenement building. Unfortunately, a policeman had observed my theft, so my companion had to momentarily disable him, allowing our escape. At the time, the crime didn’t seem serious, but now I was having second thoughts; I had stolen the clothes from people living in poverty, who certainly couldn’t afford to replace two sets of shirts and pants. This was further confirmed as I put the flannel shirt and cotton slacks on; though it presumably had been washed, the shirt still carried the strong odor of its owner’s sweat. This smell was mixed with traces of diesel oil, tobacco smoke, and alcohol. The cloths’ “bouquet” told a story: a primitive life of hard work, its stresses dulled by the use of cheap anesthetics. I found myself wishing for some.
“It’s time we faced the unpleasant facts,” I said. And they seemed endless. We didn’t know where we were, only somewhere in the United States, and that we had arrived in the past
McCoy. That was crucial. We knew he would change the past, and thereby wipe out our future, but we didn’t know exactly how. And we didn’t know exactly
he would arrive.
“There is a theory,” Spock said, when I voiced these concerns. “There could be some logic to the belief that time is fluid, like a river. With currents, eddies, backwash …”
So McCoy was going to surf a time current and wash up on our doorstep? If Spock hadn’t been a Vulcan who had devoted his life to the pursuit of logic, I would’ve said it was wishful thinking. I had no choice, however, but to invest in this belief, because if McCoy were to show up somewhere else, how would we know? And even if by some miracle we found out, how would we get there? And even if we
get there, modes of travel were so primitive that we’d never reach another city in time to stop him. We didn’t even know what he was going to do, so if any time passed before we found McCoy, he might have already changed the future. No, I was going to stick with Spock’s river analogy. The alternative was too overwhelmingly bleak, and the fact that my unfailingly logical science officer believed it possible at least gave me hope.
“Frustrating,” Spock said, referring to his tricorder. “Locked in here is the exact place and moment of his arrival. Even the images of what he did. If only I could tie this tricorder in with the ship’s computer for just a few moments …”
“Couldn’t you build some form of computer aid here?” I said.
“In this zinc-plated, vacuum-tubed culture?” Sometimes Spock spoke to me as though I was an idiot, and I knew most captains wouldn’t put up with that from their first officers. But I accepted it as part of the package. And I had my own ways of torturing him.
“Well, it would prove to be an extremely complex problem in logic,” I said, then turned to warm my hands in front of the stove. “Excuse me, I sometimes expect too much of you.” The truth was, I did expect too much of him. Spock was right—the idea that he could construct a processing aid with technology 300 years out of date was ridiculous. Yet I fully expected that he’d be able to do it. And that expectation would motivate him to try. So I would leave that to him while I saw to our survival. Which seemed almost as impossible as building a computer from scratch.
We were stuck in an ancient capitalist-driven society where the
way to see to one’s needs was by having money. We had none, and if we were going to survive, we were going to have to figure out how to earn some during a period where finding work was next to impossible. The more I thought about the situation, the more depressing it became. A lot of ancient religions relied on the concept of prayer, and in that moment I recognized the compelling power of superstition, to be able to silently ask for aid and comfort from a higher power. We would need help, and there was no one to ask, and I didn’t believe in angels …
“Who’s there?” A woman stood at the top of the stairs. I moved to intercept her to give Spock a moment to cover his ears with the wool hat I’d stolen for him. She stood in the light a few steps above me. She was in her thirties, wearing a plain blouse, skirt, and apron. Simple clothing, all somehow made elegant by its wearer.
“Excuse us, miss,” I said, “we didn’t mean to trespass. It’s cold outside.”