I am Not Spock
By Leonard Nimoy
Published by The Recording Studios in Tulsa, Ok for the Library of Congress
Read by Carl Jansen
This is not an easy book to find, either in dead-tree or audio format. The original 1975 edition in paperback or hardcover demands a high price when sold via Amazon, B&N or eBay and I do not think the audio edition was ever released commercially. I might be wrong on that, but in the 70’s audiobooks were mostly prepared for those with physical handicaps that made reading hard to impossible for them. On the other hand, it would not surprise me to learn that there are hundreds or even thousands of copies available in local libraries in Braille. Maybe not, but this is relatively short and is the sort of thing I think blind listeners of Star Trek might have wanted to read. Of course most if not all of those Braille editions were probably transposed privately by patient volunteers. One such, a lady who lived across the street from me when I was growing up, was constantly creating Braille documents for the seeing impaired and the content of those documents varied from magazine articles to books like this.
This book was Leonard Nimoy’s first auto-biography and was written in the mid-1970’s before he came to reprise his more well-known role. Mister Spock from the original Star Trek Series. Twenty years or so later her wrote another entitles, I am Spock. Had he lived longer perhaps the next would have been called No really, I am Spock. You Have to Believe Me! However, in spite of the title, this book was not a repudiation of Nimoy’s “Star Trek” experience or intended as a slap in the face of his fans. What he was really saying was that while Spock was very much a part of him, he was more than just Spock.
Nimoy tells us about how he got into acting, his arrival in Hollywood and the various small roles he played. Then he tells us about how the role of Spock was sold on him and how that character was the only one that survived from the original pilot (later reworked into the Star Trek two-parter, “The Cage.”). There is a fun chapter with interesting anecdotes from the series and how his fan mail started out with a few envelopes and soon turned into a torrent.
Finally, he goes on about the various roles he played after Star Trek and his other projects (like photography) although even then Spock hangs on like a ghost, even if Mister Spock was frequently confused with Dr. Benjamin Spock. To use one of Spock’s signature words, it is a “Fascinating” look at the man who played the character and where the character himself came from. I have not yet read I am Spock, but I have been told that a lot of this first book was reused in the later one. Even so, I look forward to reading that one as well.
Carl Jansen does a great job reading this book. Absolutely. He puts in just the right emotion and emphasis and, at times I could almost believe it was Leonard Nimoy speaking to me. The problem? It was not Nimoy reading his own words. This is hardly the only autobiographical audiobook not read by the author. Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography was recorded by fellow Doctor Who alumna, Caroline John, but I believe that was released posthumously, so it might have been difficult to get Lis to read her own book.
I do prefer when autobiographies are read by the author, but when I am Not Spock was published, audiobooks as we now know them were just starting to be produced on cassette tapes and even then most were, like this one, produced for those who are visually impaired. So while it might have been a major coup for The Recording Studios in Tulsa, OK for the Library of Congress to get Leonard Nimoy to read his own book (and I would not have been surprised if he would have done so if asked), I am sure no one thought it might be a possibility.
So, I found this a fun book to listen to and while Carl Jansen is not Leonard Nimoy, he certainly read the book well.