Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by BruntFCA, Jun 2, 2014.
Which of the Bantam books are worth reading? Thanks.
My favorite Bantam novels are Planet of Judgment by Joe Haldeman and The Galactic Whirlpool by David Gerrold. James Blish's Spock Must Die! is also worthwhile, though very strange. Stephen Goldin's Trek to Madworld is a zany comedy that's kind of fun, although the funniest part may be David Gerrold's introduction.
I have a soft spot for Death's Angel, although it's a blatant Mary Sue story. If ultra-cheesy aliens turn you off (think bipedal crocodiles that talk, and man-size beetles) avoid it, but I had plenty of fun. Spock Must Die! was the first adult Trek novel, and well worth a look. I also liked The Starless World, because we get a little bit of Uhura's background and meet her father.
A warning (or not, if it's your cup of tea), the novels by Marshak and Culbreath -the two Phoenix novels and Triangle- are thinly veiled K/S. And the latter is also the most blatant Mary Sue story in Trek.
I can't speak for anyone else, by my favorites were The New Voyages, The New Voyages II, The Price of the Phoenix, and The Fate of the Phoenix (though I never finished the latter for reasons unrelated to the book). I never noticed the K/S slash elements in the Phoenix books.
Just to clarify, Triangle was actually M&C's second novel for Pocket, the first being The Prometheus Design. Only the Phoenix duology was from Bantam.
For me, New Voyages 1, Spock Must Die!, The Price of the Phoenix (if you squint your eyes and avoid the K/S stuff), and Vulcan! (it's also a Mary-Sue story, but I like the focus on McCoy).
Of the two Phoenix novels, I prefer Fate. The last time I tried to read Price, I couldn't even get through it. But Fate has some interesting ideas, even though little is done with them. It's the first Trek novel that tried to do something with the idea of the Prime Directive, to address and question the ethics of it, although there's no payoff to that.
I don't much care for Vulcan! or Death's Angel. Not only are they both built around blatant Mary Sues (especially the latter), but the main cast members are badly out of character (for instance, in Vulcan!, Spock is irrationally stubborn about an incorrect conclusion about an alien race, just so the heroine can be smarter than he is and prove him wrong).
The Galactic Whirlpool is the overwritten first draft of something that could've been a great novel. Sadly, it was published that way. Still an interesting book, but self-indulgent and digressionary in far too many spots.
Having said that, it's probably the best of the Bantam books, mostly by process of elimination, though both Spock Must Die! and Planet of Judgment have their moments (and great pedigrees).
Spock Messiah! is nothing short of awesome. It is lurid. It is trashy. When you're nine years old and you think Barsoom is the place you want most to visit in all the universe, this is the Star Trek novel you want. I love it unreservedly.
Oh, but the digressions are my favorite parts! Some lovely bits of worldbuilding of a totally alternative version of the Trek universe. They have nothing to do with the story, but that's their whole charm. They kind of anticipate the Guide entries in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, these weird little anecdotal interludes in the narrative.
I agree with Chrstopher about The Galactic Whirlpool. Gerrold at his quirky best and a darned good Star Trek story, too. Have always enjoyed the bit about the would-be galactic emporer and his very short reign.
When the thing that has nothing to do with the story is the best part of the book, it bespeaks a serious flaw in the book, IMO. Don't get me wrong, it's fun, but it should've been so much more....
Neat trick given that HHGTG predates The Galactic Whirlpool.
Well, okay. But only by a couple of years. And Adams was emulating Robert Sheckley anyway...
And I didn't mean the digressions were the best part, just that they're what stand out for me about its style. There's a lot I love about it.
Although it does have a major continuity error, in that a divide between the populations in the inner and outer levels of the cylindrical space habitat is later changed to a divide between those in its fore and aft halves. So I'll agree that parts of it needed more editing.
Wasn't Frederik Pohl the editor of the Bantam Trek novels?
Oh, god this book was bizarre. I think I was horrified the entire time I read it (although I did finish it). I was seriously starting to wonder if this book I'd picked up very cheap second hand was even an official ST book
Spock Messiah! and the Price/Fate of the Phoenix books are, to this day,the only Star Trek books I bought and then didn't keep. SM was disturbing and the Phoenix books I couldn't even get through.
Dark Knight Rises by Greg Cox is a great Batman novel.
I was a bit disappointed with "Death's Angel", which I pounced upon the moment it hit Australian bookshop shelves (a three-month boat ride for all imports in those days). But a friend loved it, and saw it only as parody. He created this costume for a convention just a few weeks later, and won:
Si-s-s-s (click) by Therin of Andor, on Flickr
As for the "Phoenix" novels, I found and read "Fate" first, frustrated in my long quest to find the first book in any condition. I enjoyed them, but had little to compare them to. It certainly helped reading Sondra Marshak's contributions to "Star Trek Lives!" around the same time.
"The Galactic Whirlpool" was wonderful, again partly because I has so few other Trek reading experiences to compare it to. "Starlog" magazine had promoted the novel with an advance excerpt. I was hooked!
I kind of dug "Spock: Messiah". I note no one has mentioned "Entropy Effect". Not sure of publication dates and all that, but if it qualifies as "Bantam", it gets my vote as one of, if not the, best.
I also misread the thread title as "Batman" at first, but I think the earlier poster was pulling our collective leg.
The Entropy Effect was the first original novel published by Pocket. In fact, its publication had to be delayed until Bantam had finished publishing the remaining novels under its contract, which was why there was a 2-year gap between Pocket's publication of the ST:TMP novelization and its publication of The Entropy Effect.
I was going to link to Curt Danheuser's page about the Bantam novels, but I get a 404 Not Found. Is that site defunct?
Do you mean this one: http://www.danhausertrek.com/Novels/Main_x.html
^Thanks. I've updated my bookmarks.
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