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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old April 22 2008, 05:18 AM   #1
STIntergalactic
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SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

I'm not sure if it was necessary that I post a spoiler warning for a book almost 4 decades old. I sure thought it would be a hoot, though.

Anyway, it was a good read. My Dad just gave me a bunch of books that were his back in the 70s. SMD! being the first of them that I read. The first thing that strikes me about it (and the others) is how short it is. Only 118 pages in this book. I was able to breeze right through it. The story itself was solid with only a few gripes. My biggest problem with the book really had nothing to do with the story, but with Scotty. I don't think Mr. Blish did a very good job capturing Scotty's accent. It was nae impossible for me to read at times, and (to me anyway) seemed to come of almost more Irish than Scottish.

I like the idea of two Spocks, and how they argued and such. I was just surprised with all the other reference that were in the book (which were amusingly marked with asterisks) that Kirk's split into two by the transporter wasn't mentioned.

After I finished reading the book, I looked it up online. According to Memory Alpha, it was the first novel with an original story (as opposed to novelizations) aimed at adults. With that in mind, it certainly was an interesting choice to condem the Klingons to their homeworld for a 1000 years. Personally, I would have left more room for future use in sequals.

So what did everyone else think SMD!?
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Old April 22 2008, 07:48 AM   #2
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

ST_Intergalactic wrote: View Post
all the other reference that were in the book (which were amusingly marked with asterisks)
A common strategy in several of the Bantam ST novels, and even a lot of the early fanzines of the day. There are a few in TMP's novelization and (probably) Marshak & Culbreath's Pocket novels.

These days authors footnote whole novels on their websites!

"Spock must Die!" was probably about my sixth original ST novel I read in 1980. The day I found it, I was very excited - I felt like I already knew Blish quite well, via his chatty introductions to the episode adaptations he had done - and it was a great read. By this time, I'd only seen about half of TOS, but I knew I was onto something wonderful.
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Old April 22 2008, 02:06 PM   #3
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

ST_Intergalactic wrote: View Post
The first thing that strikes me about it (and the others) is how short it is. Only 118 pages in this book.
That was a pretty common length for paperback novels in the '60s and '70s. Most of the Bantam and early Pocket novels are in the 150- to 200-page range, I'd say.

My biggest problem with the book really had nothing to do with the story, but with Scotty. I don't think Mr. Blish did a very good job capturing Scotty's accent. It was nae impossible for me to read at times, and (to me anyway) seemed to come of almost more Irish than Scottish.
I think you mean "nigh-impossible," since "nae" means "not." Anyway, Blish himself was from England, so it's possible that the dialect he wrote for Scotty was a more authentic version of a thick Scottish brogue than Doohan's rather inauthentic accent was. I'm not sure Blish had even seen the show at the time the book was written; they didn't have videotape or satellite TV in 1970. So he probably just went with a stock Scottish accent (as heard through English ears) in writing Scotty's lines.

After I finished reading the book, I looked it up online. According to Memory Alpha, it was the first novel with an original story (as opposed to novelizations) aimed at adults. With that in mind, it certainly was an interesting choice to condem the Klingons to their homeworld for a 1000 years. Personally, I would have left more room for future use in sequals.
At the time, there was no reason to assume there ever would be sequels. The show had only just gone off the air due to perennially low ratings, and it hadn't yet taken off in syndication. Blish's episode novelizations sold well enough that Bantam felt an original Trek novel by Blish might do well too, but I profoundly doubt they were thinking in terms of an ongoing book series based on a failed, just-cancelled TV show.
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Old April 22 2008, 02:15 PM   #4
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

Actually, Blish was American, though he lived in England for many years.
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Old April 23 2008, 05:32 PM   #5
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

Does anybody know, was there any sort of continuity at all to these early Trek novels? Did Bantam books do a lot of these? Are any of these worth any money?
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Old April 23 2008, 05:59 PM   #6
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

There was no continuity to the Bantam novels, except between the two The _____ of the Phoenix novels by Marshak & Culbreath. Occasionally a couple of novels by the same author might have a supporting character or two in common; for instance, Kathleen Sky's two novels both feature Ruth Rigel, the Enterprise's veterinarian (yes, really).

In all, Bantam did 13 original novels and two anthologies, along with the 12 Blish episode-adaptation collections and J. A. Lawrence's Mudd's Angels (combining adaptations of the two Harry Mudd episodes with an original Mudd story that's incredibly bad and bizarre).

Are they worth any money? Maybe a little bit of trade-in credit at a used-book store. They're not that hard to find, and have been reprinted and re-released multiple times.
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Old April 23 2008, 06:06 PM   #7
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

Christoper, I must say, you are incredibly helpful.

Thank you very much.
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Old April 24 2008, 01:17 AM   #8
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

ST_Intergalactic wrote: View Post
Does anybody know, was there any sort of continuity at all to these early Trek novels? Did Bantam books do a lot of these? Are any of these worth any money?
It's worth picking up and sampling some Bantam novels to give yourself a perspective on what things were like in the 70s for ST fans.

When you say, "Are they worth money?" do you mean are they worth buying, or are they so rare as to be expensive as second hand copies?

They had incredibly long print runs, most going into many reprints and trialling numerous cover designs over the decades (one time even emulating then-current Pocket titles). By a quirk in Bantam's original contract, they are allowed to keep reprinting them whenever they like, even though the license passed to Pocket Books.

So they are not that hard to find, and should never be too expensive. Unless you're seeking minty first editions.
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Old April 24 2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

Didn't Spock, Messiah! reference Spock Must Die!? I feel like one of the earlier Bantams did.
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Old April 24 2008, 02:17 PM   #10
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

^ I do recall that Blish made a reference to the events of Spock Must Die! in one of his episode adaptations....
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Old April 25 2008, 01:44 PM   #11
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

Steve Mollmann wrote: View Post
Didn't Spock, Messiah! reference Spock Must Die!? I feel like one of the earlier Bantams did.
Yes, McCoy makes reference to the transporter accident that produced duplicate Spocks.
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Old April 25 2008, 01:56 PM   #12
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

The old Batnam books are a little rough/dirty compared to what we're used to now, but they're still an enjoyable read. The _____ of the Phoenix is a favorite series of mine, even if it does stretch the line between Kirk/Spock friendship/loyalty and go towards slash instead.

These are the kinds of books where you can't look for continuity, or a way to make them work with the rest of the books, just looking for a fun romp with the characters...
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Old April 26 2008, 12:41 AM   #13
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

I also have the Star Trek episode novelizations by James Blish. I read the preface by Mr. Blish, and he makes mention that he changed the end of an episode.

Anybody know what episode it was?
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Old April 26 2008, 01:09 AM   #14
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

As I recall, he changed the ending of "The Naked Time" because he didn't think the episode's ending worked well in print form.
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Old April 26 2008, 10:11 PM   #15
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Re: SPOILERS..My thoughts on Spock Must Die!

He hugely changed Operation Annihilate's ending, IIRC.
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