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From The Potato to Star Trek and Beyond: Memoirs of a Rocket Scientist

Updated: Jun 10

5 Star Review

by Deb Patrick

Get your copy by clicking HERE!

In his captivating memoir, "From The Potato to Star Trek and Beyond," Chester L. Richards invites readers on a rollercoaster ride through a life that defies convention. Richards, a seasoned rocket scientist, shares a series of enthralling stories that not only detail his experiences with the unpredictable and the extraordinary but also serve as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

The title of the book itself, which combines seemingly unrelated concepts like potatoes and Star Trek, alludes to the wide variety of experiences that take place inside its pages. Richards skillfully crafts a story that flows from almost fatal meetings with "The Potato" to unplanned contacts with Gene Roddenberry, the man responsible for creating Star Trek. The commonplace and the remarkable are juxtaposed to produce a lively and captivating story that has readers flipping pages with eagerness.

Richards's ability to add a spirit of adventure to even the most terrifying situations is one of the memoir's strongest points. The author's maxim to see life's obstacles as adventures reverberates throughout the book, whether it is negotiating the perils of a bubbling cauldron or staring down a rifle barrel. Readers are given an intimate view into the thoughts of a guy who has faced danger head-on and come out with tales to tell thanks to the vivid descriptions and open reflections.

The memoir gains an additional dimension of intrigue from the author's interactions with well-known individuals, such Gene Roddenberry. The story becomes a tapestry of both personal victories and setbacks and an inside look at events that influenced popular culture. One of the book's highlights is Richards' encounter with Roddenberry, which gives readers an insight into the Star Trek universe and how the show affected the author personally.

The memoir's emotional profundity is enhanced by Richards' open examination of love and grief. The story gains poignancy from his recounting of his sadness at losing Sarah, the love of his life. As Richards recounts the tales that resurrected him, the resiliency and healing he experiences via writing serve as a potent illustration of the therapeutic value of storytelling.

Not only is "From The Potato to Star Trek and Beyond" a memoir, but it's also an ode to a life well lived and proof that any experience—no matter how difficult—can be seen as an adventure. Chester L. Richards encourages readers to consider their own travels, discovering delight in the act of storytelling and motivation in the face of hardship. For those who are in search of a story that defies convention and provides an insight into the remarkable life of a rocket scientist who dared to go where few others have ventured, this memoir is a must-read.

About the author


Chester (Chet) L. Richards retired aerospace engineer, and inventor (19 patents), views life as a series of adventures. After narrowly escaping serious injury from The Great Potato, on a lark, he co-authored a spec script for Star Trek with friend Judy Burns when they were college students. The story, "The Tholian Web," became one of the series’ most popular episodes. Veteran writer Bob Duncan advised the young man, “You should write….Write your passions.” But I have nothing to say, Chet thought. He decided the real message was to fill his life with adventures. And he did — adventures in surfing, learning and performing music, travel to exotic places for river rafting, the work as a rocket scientist. Along the way, he’s always met fascinating characters. He did write — essays (over 50 have been published so far). But it was the loss of Sarah, the love of his life, that caused Chet to write his first book of stories. At the house in Thousand Oaks they once shared, the hair-raising adventures Sarah loved continue to occur, though as the author says, he no longer has much hair....

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