‘The Impossible Has Happened’ reveals how an undistinguished writer of cop shows set out to produce ‘Hornblower’ in space and ended up with an optimistic, hope-filled view of humanity’s future that continues to be watched and adored by hundreds of millions of fans.
Lance Parkin’s unauthorised biography is most definitely the most stark account of Gene Roddenberry that I have ever come across. As a Star Trek fan myself I am well aware of Roddenberry’s reputation as both and innovator but also difficult character.
Admittedly as a fan of the show and the ethos it stands for, this was at times a difficult book to read. It unabashedly exposes Gene Roddenberry in his flaws of character, habits and appetites and it feels as though Parkin cannot bring himself to write anything that Roddenberry achieved without feeling the need to add a sharp edge or critique to the sentence as if success consistently ‘as with the original show, as with the movies, things improved despite of Gene Roddenberry, not because of him’.
I found this book to be a fascinating and in depth work that exposed everything I would ever want to know about the evolution of the franchise from the hands of Roddenberry all the way through to 2016 and the very newest films. The relationship between Gene and the broadcasters and his colleagues is frequently fraught. However I found Parkin to be as strong a subject in this book as an opinionated narrator and somewhat distracting where his dislike of Roddenberry was palpable.
In essence this biography charts the progress of the Star Trek universe in riveting detail with genuinely satisfying facts, encounters and information that will pique even the most knowledgeable of fans. There is so much to be derived from the book it could not be more thoroughly researched and the interviews provide the authentic voice and truth that are a welcome relief but also sometimes evidence for the dislike of the narrator for Roddenberry.
It is fascinating once Roddenberry passes away in the book and the narrator can move on that the read feels much more greatly balanced and the narrator less of an abrasive presence. Indeed finally Roddenberry is embraced posthumously in the descriptions of the scientific funding being provided and that he had ‘created something that has had a genuine, measurable, inspirational effect on generations of people who strive to make the future a better place. as Majel Barrett put it, “I’m looking forward to a Gene Roddenberry world, a better, kinder, more gentle world. I don’t think he believed that ‘s the way it was going to be either, but suddenly we have enough people who are trying desperately to live in a world like that.” ‘
I am left with mixed feelings I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the obvious time, effort and care that has gone into creating a work that I would recommend to all genuine science fiction fans for the rich and accurate history that has been notated here. I do wish though that the narrator had not been such a presence throughout and I felt that a balance was not struck in the objective way it should have been. That aside though, this is a well written biography that gives voice to all those who participated in this inspirational franchise.
Title: The Impossible Has Happened The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry
Author: Lance Parkin
Publisher: Aurum Press
Published: 21st July 2016
Reviewer: The Aviator