Jake Cardigan

Created by William Shatner
(1931–)

When I first heard about this one, I was all set to lace into this one. I mean, Tiberius Hambone a writer?

But he — or at least Ron Goulart — pulled it off. The first novel, TekWar (1989), which kicked off the whole franchise, was nothing earth-shattering, but decent enough entertainment.

In the not-too-distant future, JAKE CARDIGAN (great P.I. name, that) is a disgraced ex-cop and ex-con fresh out of “The Freezer,” a prison that keeps its inmates in suspended animation, on trumped-up charges of dealing Tek, a highly-addictive and deadly controlled substance. Jake has been sprung early from his fifteen year sentence by Sid Gomez, a former cop buddy who wants him to go to work with him for the Cosmos Detective Agency of Greater Los Angeles. Needless to say, the thought of tracking down those who framed him does cross his mind.

Jake does all the right private eye things, in a surprisingly bleak Southern California. At the time I thought a sequel might be interesting. And it would keep Shatner from making more bad movies…

Speaking of movies, I wondered when I first read this if that was Shatner’s game plan. Apparently it was — Shatner subsequently admitted he the novel began as a screenplay during a Writers Guild strike that had delayed production of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. But on re-reading that first novel, it seemed obvious: After all, Jake tends to think out loud, a polite term for speaking to himself. And given Shakespearean-trained Shatner’s propensity for bloated soliloquies and the fact that he and Jake are about the same age, one couldn’t help but wonder if a movie deal or something was in the works.

Or something, as it turned out. The first novel was the first step in a multi-media blitz. The subsequent novels, comic book adaptations and made-for-television films and syndicated series have been astoundingly average at best. I was wrong about the movie deal — turns out it’s been produced as a bunch of made-for-tv flicks, starring Greg Evigan as Jake (BJ plays TJ?). And the Good Captain kept pumping out the books at an alarming rate, although Jake’s status as a P.I. at this point is sort of questionable…

Still, Shatner pulled it off — at least for the first novel, which was actually kinda fun. Rumours abounded at the time that Ron Goulart actually wrote the  books. The clues were there: Goulart was explicitly thanked in the dedication to each book, and “Goulartian” touches — zippy pacing, pop cultural shout-outs, bad jones and bad puns — abound throughout. But the books just didn’t seem quite good enough (or quite wacky enough) to have been written by Goulart, the Salvador Dali of sci-fi. Maybe, I figured, he was slumming. It turns out he definitely was (see True Confessions below). Maybe he let Shatner sit at the keyboards for a while.

Still, what with Shatner’s clout as Captain Kirk, the whole venture has been nauseatingly lucrative, spinning off into television and comic book deals. There was even  a 1995 TekWar computer game by Capstone Software. The worst part, of course, is that Shatner probably now thinks he’s a great writer. But what do I know? His name has now appeared as the author on over thirty novels (including several Star Trek books), ten or so non-fiction books and comic books.

File this one under “Cheesy, pulpy sci-fi/P.I. pastische”. Harmless but fun.

TRUE CONFESSIONS

  • “All the TekWar novels I helped ‘construct’ were read by their nominal author… All nine of the books are future private eye novels, set in Greater Los Angeles. And one of the two detectives is, harking back to an earlier thread, a Mexican named Sid Gomez.”
    — Ron Goulart, DorothyL (November 1998)

UNDER OATH

  • “Okay, I’ll admit I’ve read all Shatner’s Tek series. Shatner has said Ron Goulart helps him “a great deal,” but I’ll also admit to being a Trekkie (TV and movies, not the books). I actually feel some loyalty to Capt. Kirk. For some reason, the first four books are better than the last five. Maybe Goulart is less involved now. I read the books less for good, gripping stories than to keep tabs on Shatner. Often, I find myself puzzling (and chuckling) over his clunky style.”
    — Gerald So
  • “While the writing is awkward in spots, the pace is unrelenting…”
    — Publishers Weekly on TekWar
  • “Fast-paced action, high-tech gloss, and a dash of romance combine to establish Shatner as a capable proponent of the hard-boiled school of sf action/adventure.”
    — Library Journal on TekLords
  • “Though told with humor and at a brisk pace, Shatner’s sixth yarn featuring futuristic PI Jake Cardigan is so overstocked with cardboard characters, nearly each of them trying to do damage to another, that it’s sometimes difficult to tell who is doing what to whom… Overall, this reads like an uninspired blend of Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick, but given the success of the previous Cardigan books, as well as the author’s Star Trek allure, it’ll probably climb the charts at warp speed anyway.”
    — Publishers Weekly on Tek Power

NOVELS

COMIC BOOKS

  • TEK WORLD
    aka “William Shatner’s Tek World”

    (1992-93, Epic Comics/Marvel)
    24 issues
    Writters: Frank S. Shawn (Ron Goulart), Evan Skolnick
    Art by Lee Sullivan, Stephen B. Jones, Ian Akin, Rich Suchy, John Stanisci

    • “Born Again” (September 1992, #1)
    • “Across the Border” (October 1992, #2)
    • “Warbride Revisited” (November 1992, #3)
    • “Fatal Reunion” (December 1992, #4)
    • “Tek War” (January 1993, #5)
    • “Moonkill” (February 1993, #6)
    • “SpaceJack” (March 1993, #7)
    • “Welcome Back, Cardigan” (April 1993, #8)
    • “Prison Bound” (May 1993, #9)
    • “Fugitives” (June 1993, #10)
    • “Title Unknown” (July 1993, #11)
    • “Chasing Shadows” (August 1993, #12)
    • “Bionic Duel” (September 1993, #13)
    • “Attack of the Zombies” (October 1993, #14)
    • “Plague?” (November 1993, #15)
    • “Title Unknown” (Decembber 1993, #16)
    • “Title Unknown” (January 1994, #17)
    • “Title Unknown” (February 1994, #18)
    • “Title Unknown” (March 1994, #19)
    • “Title Unknown” (April 1994, #20)
    • “Title Unknown” (May 1994, #21)
    • “Title Unknown” (June 1994, #22)
    • “Title Unknown” (July 1994, #23)
    • “A Matter of Innocence” (August 1994, #24)
  • THE TEK WAR CHRONICLES
    aka “William Shatner Presents The Tek War Chronicles”

    (2009, Bluewater Productions)
    8 issues
    Writers: William “Bill” Shatner, Scott Davis
    Art: Erich Owen, Michelle Davies, Lipe Oliveira, Zachary Turner

    • “A Plague of Ghosts Chapter 1: Waking the Dead” (June 2009, #1)
    • “A Plague of Ghosts Chapter 2: The Second Coming” (July 2009, #2)
    • “A Plague of Ghosts Chapter 3: The Hollow Men” (August 2009, #3)
    • “A Plague of Ghosts Chapter 4 Waking the Dead” (September 2009, #4)
    • “Persistence of Memory Chapter 1: Slippery Slope” (October 2009)
    • “Persistence of Memory Chapter 2: Rain Rain Go Away” (November 2009)
    • “Persistence of Memory Chapter 3: Close to the Edge” (December 2009)
    • “Persistence of Memory Chapter 4: Beyond the Veil” (January 2010)

TELEVISION

  • TEKWAR
    (1993, Atlantis Films)
    4 2-hour made-for-TV movies
    Premiere: January 25, 1994
    Based on the Tek novels by William Shatner
    Teleplay by Alfonse Ruggerio, Jr. and Westbrook Claridge
    Directed by William Shatner
    Theme composed and performed by Warren Zevon
    Filmed in Toronto
    Starring Greg Evigan as JAKE CARDIGAN
    with Eugene Clark as Sid Gomez
    William Shatner as Walter H. Bascom
    and Torri Higginson as Beth Kitteridge
    Also starring Ray Jewers, Von Flores, David Hemblen, Marc Marut, Barry Morse, Sonja Smits, Sheena Easton

  • TEKWAR Buy the complete series on DVD
  • (1994-96, CTV/syndicated)
    Series
    18 1-hour episodes
    Premiered November 3, 1994
    Based on the Tek novels by William Shatner
    Starring Greg Evigan as JAKE CARDIGAN
    with Eugene Clark as Sid Gomez
    William Shatner as Walter H. Bascom
    Torri Higginson as Beth Kitteridge
    Natalie Radford as Nika
    and Maria Del Mar as Lt. Sam Houston

    • “Sellout” (December 22, 1994)
    • “Unknown Soldier” (December 29, 1994)
    • “Tek Posse” (January 5, 1995)
    • “Promises to Keep” (January 12, 1995)
    • “Stay of Execution” (January 19, 1995)
    • “Alter Ego” (March 2, 1995)
    • “Killer Instinct” (March 9, 1995)
    • “Chill Factor” (March 30, 1995)
    • “Deadline” (April 6, 1995)
    • “Carlotta’s Room” (April 13, 1995)
    • “Deep Cover” (June 10, 1995)
    • “Cyberhunt” (June 17, 1995)
    • “Zero Tolerance” (June 24, 1995)
    • “Forget Me Not” (July 1, 1995)
    • “The Gate” (January 20, 1996)

GAMES

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And a big thanks to Gerald So and Mike Clark for clarifying the waters here a bit.

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