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

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Old October 31 2009, 03:56 PM   #1
Garm Bel Iblis
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James Blish

I just came into possession of Trek 1-12 by Mister Blish. These are the TOS episodes. Are they any good? What's your opinion on them? I'm going to start them this afternoon on a long drive.
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Old October 31 2009, 04:18 PM   #2
Dayton Ward
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Re: James Blish

Like many "old school" Trek fans, the Blish books filled a void for me in the mid 1970s while waiting for favorite episodes to cycle back around on afternoon reruns. They, along with the "fotonovels" and Alan Dean Foster's Star Trek Logs, the Gold Key comics, and the handful of Bantam novels as well as a few "kid's books" from publishers like Random House were all Trek fans had if they were seeking new stories (assuming they weren't writing their own for one of the many fanzines of the era).

They're certainly products of the time in which they were written (pre VCR/DVD, etc.). Mr. Blish often worked from early drafts of episode scripts, and in the early days was working without even having seen completed episodes, so his depictions of events and characters differ to varying degrees from episode to episode. Still, that gives them much of their charm. They're a part of Trek's long history and deserve space on any discerning TrekLit fan's shelf. About a year ago I came across a pristine set of the original 1-12 volumes, each book lovingly preserved in mylar bags, and I ended up getting them for a steal at a used book shop.

Oh, and the covers for several of the volumes absolutely rock.
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Old October 31 2009, 04:27 PM   #3
Steve Roby
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Re: James Blish

Just keep in mind that they're a product of a different era. In the early books, Blish was working from early drafts of some episodes, and it was a few books before he actually saw any of the episodes he was adapting. The adaptations are pretty short early on, but that was in line with the style used in the Twilight Zone books from the same publisher a few years earlier. As Blish got more fan feedback, more final draft scripts, and actually saw more episodes, the adaptations got longer and closer to the aired episodes.

Some of us grew up on those books. It's been a long time since I read any of them, but back in the '70s, before DVDs and VCRs, I lived for those books. I read a lot of them before I'd actually seen the episodes.

And Dayton beat me to it, of course.
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Old October 31 2009, 11:32 PM   #4
C.E. Evans
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Re: James Blish

I actually bought the three paperback editions of Blish's novelizations released during Trek's 25th-anniversary (they were grouped by TV season and arranged by intended broadcast order).

I have to agree that there is definitely a kind of charm to these novelizations borne out from the pre-home video era they were written in. To me, it's TOS in its most raw and undistilled form.
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Old October 31 2009, 11:48 PM   #5
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Re: James Blish

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
I actually bought the three paperback editions of Blish's novelizations released during Trek's 25th-anniversary (they were grouped by TV season and arranged by intended broadcast order).
Actually they were arranged by production order, which was never intended to be the same as broadcast order, because they knew going in that it wouldn't be. Back then, shows were generally not expected to have any specific order to their episodes, and were deliberately made with minimal continuity to be as easily rearranged as possible. And this was particularly the case with TOS, due to the length of time needed to do the elaborate (for the time) special effects. An episode with a lot of FX work could take weeks longer to get finished than one with lighter FX.

Unfortunately, the 3-volume Blish compilations left out the Harry Mudd episodes, since those were adapted as part of Mudd's Angels (later retitled Mudd's Enterprise) rather than the numbered volumes.
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Old November 1 2009, 01:16 AM   #6
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Re: James Blish

I also read them in the 70's along with the Alan Dean Foster TAS novels which I liked much more. I was given boxed sets of the Blish and Foster books one Christmas and I was ecstatic!

Haven't read them in years and I'm curious how they would seem to me now. Quite a lot of books I adored during that period I find unreadable now.
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Old November 1 2009, 01:59 AM   #7
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Re: James Blish

I recommend them, if only for the quality of the writing, which is an order of magnitude higher than that of a typical Star Trek novel.
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Old November 1 2009, 02:09 AM   #8
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Re: James Blish

Yup, these are essential for any Trek fan.

Also, even for those of us who did grow up during the VCR era, the Blish books were a great way to sneak some Trek after bedtime.

You should definitely check out the non-Trek books by Mr. Blish.

Last edited by Kelso; November 1 2009 at 10:42 PM.
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Old November 1 2009, 08:21 AM   #9
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Re: James Blish

Christopher wrote: View Post
Unfortunately, the 3-volume Blish compilations left out the Harry Mudd episodes, since those were adapted as part of Mudd's Angels (later retitled Mudd's Enterprise) rather than the numbered volumes.
When was it retitled? I don't ever recall seeing that version.
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Old November 1 2009, 10:21 AM   #10
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Re: James Blish

PaulSimpson wrote: View Post
When was it retitled? I don't ever recall seeing that version.
Yep, the Bantam Spectra edition that came out after the three-volume TOS set was called "Mudd's Enterprise". I made sure I bought that (cool cover) to complement my new editions.

http://www.amazon.com/MUDDS-ENTERPRI.../dp/0553569821
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Old November 1 2009, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: James Blish

Somewhere in a time capsule made by my old school, buried underground some 20 years ago, is a school's worth of questionnaires written by all the students in the elementary school, and in that capsule is a questionnaire filled out by one Johnny Allen, age 9. On that paper is a question that says "What are your favorite books?" to which the answer is written, in pen, "My favorite books are the Star Trek books series written by James Blish." Underneath that question is one that asks, "Who is your favorite author?", to which the answer is written, once more in pen, "James Blish, because he wrote Star Trek in book form so that I could watch them in my head and be in the world of Star Trek any time I wanted." A little further down that page is a question that asks, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" to which the reply is "I want to be an astronaut, so that some day I can become Captain of the Enterprise."

You'll excuse me now, I seem to have teared up a bit.

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Old November 1 2009, 12:00 PM   #12
C.E. Evans
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Re: James Blish

Christopher wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
I actually bought the three paperback editions of Blish's novelizations released during Trek's 25th-anniversary (they were grouped by TV season and arranged by intended broadcast order).
Actually they were arranged by production order, which was never intended to be the same as broadcast order, because they knew going in that it wouldn't be. Back then, shows were generally not expected to have any specific order to their episodes, and were deliberately made with minimal continuity to be as easily rearranged as possible. And this was particularly the case with TOS, due to the length of time needed to do the elaborate (for the time) special effects. An episode with a lot of FX work could take weeks longer to get finished than one with lighter FX.
Yes, I'm aware of all that, which was why I didn't say actual broadcast order.
Unfortunately, the 3-volume Blish compilations left out the Harry Mudd episodes, since those were adapted as part of Mudd's Angels (later retitled Mudd's Enterprise) rather than the numbered volumes.
Yep. That fact was included in the first compilation.
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Old November 1 2009, 02:44 PM   #13
Christopher
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Re: James Blish

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Yes, I'm aware of all that, which was why I didn't say actual broadcast order.
The point is, you said "intended broadcast order," as if they were somehow intended or expected to be broadcast in the order produced. I'm saying that was never the intention, and that it is erroneous and anachronistic to use "intended broadcast order" as a synonym for "production order" when we're talking about a show from the 1960s.
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Old November 1 2009, 03:30 PM   #14
C.E. Evans
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Re: James Blish

Christopher wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Yes, I'm aware of all that, which was why I didn't say actual broadcast order.
The point is, you said "intended broadcast order," as if they were somehow intended or expected to be broadcast in the order produced. I'm saying that was never the intention, and that it is erroneous and anachronistic to use "intended broadcast order" as a synonym for "production order" when we're talking about a show from the 1960s.
What you call "erroneous" and "anachronisic" I call just not being anal about the subject since it was more important for me to convey that the stories in the compilations weren't just placed randomly than whether or not I used the proper terminology.

But since you insist...


Once again posted by C.E. Evans (this time with hopefully 100% approval of Christopher)
"I actually bought the three paperback editions of Blish's novelizations released during Trek's 25th-anniversary (they were grouped by TV season and arranged mostly by the order they were produced in, because it should be duly noted that 'The Menagerie' is actually the novelization of the actual first episode 'The Cage' without the framing story because James Blish originally decided to skip that. It should also be noted that the order the compilations were arranged in is also the order how TOS was aired during second-run syndication in many major TV markets, but not all of them because some TV markets opted to air episodes randomly. In other TV markets though, 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' was generally aired as the first episode and subsequent episodes followed the production order with 'Turnabout Intruder' as the final episode of the series. But this was also not always the case in some markets."
Happy now?
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Old November 1 2009, 08:03 PM   #15
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Re: James Blish

Easy, easy. Christopher tends to take thing way too literally, and often focuses his attention on a few words without looking at the big picture, but I don't think he's intentionally anal about it.
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