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Brent Spiner is no stranger to playing fictional versions of himself. The actor, best known for his role as Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, has played various incarnations of his persona, most recently in the 2011 web series, Fresh Hell, and last year's short film, Brentwood. But his latest semi-true adventure, Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events, might be the wildest yet — and SYFY WIRE has the exclusive cover reveal and a chat with Spiner about how it came together.
In the new book, Spiner creates another character that happens to share his name and much of his experiences. This version of the actor, however, takes us back to 1991, where a younger Spiner, fresh off the success of Star Trek: TNG, finds himself thrown into a dark comedic adventure full of mystery, intrigue, and humor.
Check out the cover of Spiner's "Mem-Noir" below:
The cover, designed by Rob Grom, evokes the many genres that the book dovetails between — the lipstick-kissed envelope calls up a thriller/noir element, for example, while an image of a young Brent Spiner-dressed-as-Data looks like it was created out of cut-out of pieces of paper, very similar to those used in a ransom note. Despite those dark evocations, however, the look of Spiner also suggests that the book will be a humorous read as well.
In an exclusive interview with SYFY WIRE, Spiner shares how the book came to be, and what readers can expect.
“It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but it's primarily fiction,” Spiner explains. “There are slices of my own life in it, and then there are also people I have known…it's a mashup: It's a thriller, it's a comedy, it's a dark comedy. And it's partially a memoir, but none of it's real, really, even though a lot of things actually happened."
Fan Fiction's blending of fact and fiction came about because Spiner was asked to write a memoir, but he didn't find the idea very exciting.
"I thought, maybe I can write something else, because I have a story I'd like to tell. Maybe I can combine the two and do a sort of hybrid," Spiner recalls.
So he ran the idea by Jonathan Ames, author and creator of the TV series Bored to Death. Ames loved the idea and connected him with another author, Jeanne Darst, who became Spiner's collaborator on the book.
The result was Fan Fiction, a mostly made-up, somewhat true story of how a young Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and a series of letters that send him on an adventure to stop the danger that has his life and career hanging in the balance.
What parts of the story are true and what parts are fictional is something Spiner is keeping close to his chest. One thing he did elaborate on, however, is how the book's scenes with other real-life Star Trek actors like LeVar Burton and Patrick Stewart skew from reality.
“They're not serious versions of themselves,” Spiner explains. “They're a more heightened version of themselves, just like it's a heightened version of me.”
All the mystery, adventure, and Star Trek cameos, however, touch on one major theme: how everyone takes part in fandom, even those who are on the receiving end of fandom themselves.
“I know I'm a fan, and I have never met an actor who's not a fan of somebody,” Spiner says. “And I think in a lot of ways most of us [actors] have gotten into this business, just so we can meet people and work with them because they're who made us want to do what we do.”
Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events comes out Oct. 5, 2021. You can preorder your copy here.