Tek Power by William Shatner

tek powerIt’s sci-fi, Jim…

😀 😀 😀 🙂

Despite my soft spot for all things Trekkie and for the ever-lovely Cap’n James T Kirk, this is the first time I’ve tried one of his books. I say ‘his books’ but it seems to be a fairly open secret that they were in fact ghostwritten by Ron Goulart based on plot outlines created by William Shatner, though I can’t confirm if that’s true or false. Tek Power is the sixth in the series, and is based in a world of the not-too-distant future, where some kind of technological ‘drug’ is at the root of all kinds of gang warfare and corruption. Our hero is Jake Cardigan, one-time police officer, who now works in a private investigation agency alongside his old police colleague, Sid Gomez. There’s clearly quite a bit of back-story to the characters but I didn’t find that got in the way too much – this worked fine as a standalone.

When the cheatin’ wife of the son of the investigation agency’s owner is killed, the police are quick to class it as an accident and close the investigation down. But the agency head thinks there’s more to it than that, and puts Jake and Sid on the case. Meantime the President of the US is about to go into rehab for his unfortunate tek addiction and, to fool the public, his place will be taken by an android double. It comes as no surprise to the reader to find that these two strands gradually come together…

Cap'n Jim...
Cap’n Jim…

In reality, this feels more like an ’80s cop show than a sci-fi novel. Basically it’s lots of chases and gunfights (only of course with laser guns), evil drug cartels, corrupt politicians, smart talking ‘tecs, lovely but not always morally upright women, and seedy informants. The fact that several of these characters are played by androids is pretty incidental. Of course Cap’n James T Kirk morphed into TJ Hooker in the 80s, so it’s not altogether surprising that both roles seem to have influenced him. Both Jake and Sid are likeable characters if not very deeply developed. They’re like Starsky and Hutch – cool, indestructible and irresistible to women. The plot is silly, but then that ties in fine with the genre. The detection method can be summed up thus:-

Jake: Fingers McKay sent me here. He said you might know something about the case.
Slippery Sid: Here’s a snippet of info, and now you should go see Charlie the Columbian.
(laser fight)
Jake: Slippery Sid sent me here. He said you might know something about the case.
Charlie the Columbian: Here’s a snippet of info, and now you should go see Arnold the Android…
(skycar chase)

Starsky and Hutch...or... How to look cool in flares...
Starsky and Hutch…or… How to look cool in flares…

OK, I mock a little, but actually it’s all quite fun so long as you’re not looking for something to overtask your brain. There is a bit of a problem in that the futuristic technology is so out-of-date it’s hard to take seriously. (The book was originally published in 1994.) They have ‘vidphones’ but they’re not mobile, so people are still going to phone booths to make calls. Computers are not ubiquitous and things we would simply look up on Google take a good deal of finding out. But I think my favourite bit was when a crucial piece of evidence was stored on a video cassette – I bet there are kids today who won’t even remember what that was. (Maybe they’ll think it’s incredibly futuristic though!)

TJ Hooker - whose hair looks most realistic in this picture?
TJ Hooker – whose hair looks most realistic in this picture?

The series certainly seems to have a fan-base since it has apparently spun off TV movies and a series, and a computer game. Personally I wouldn’t say that I’ll be actively seeking out the rest of the books, but despite my mockery I did quite enjoy this – it’s a light-hearted action romp that isn’t trying to take itself too seriously and, as such, fills a few hours quite entertainingly.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Open Road.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

26 thoughts on “Tek Power by William Shatner

  1. This sounds quite fun! I have a huge soft-spot for Bill and I was just talking about out-of-date scifi the other day – very entertaining! I am also a fan of ‘women who are not always morally upright’. It is something I am continually aspiring too 😀

    • He’s always got such a wicked twinkle in his eye! Haha! Yes, morally upright can be so restricting at times, can’t it? Good enough as a fall-back position, of course…

  2. Some stories are like that, FictionFan – not exactly the deepest and most eddifying reading, but fun. Several years ago there was a mini-series in the US based on this series. Shatner played one of the characters, but not the protagonist, and it was really interesting to see how it was brought to screen. Much more 80s cop show than sci-fi, as you say, but still, well, fun.

  3. Have always enjoyed Shatner in his many incarnations. I’m sure there are many people who may have watched “Tek Wars”, based on his books I’m sure. I believe it was a Canadian produced show. But I often feel as though I might have been the only person who watched it, and admitted to liking it. Eek. As always, I have not read the book(s).

    • Lots of good sci-fi shows came out of Canada in the 80s and 90s, I think. I’ve never seen Tek Wars – I don’t know if it was shown over here – but I’m a devoted fan of Stargate. I’d probably have liked Tek Wars too – especially if Cap’n Jim was actually in it.

  4. This will probably come as a bit of a shock to you, but I OWN ALL THESE BOOKS! I stumbled on the first one when it first came out, and got hooked. They’re not great literature, but they are good fun, and the whole android/human relationship thing was quite thought-provoking.

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