Are the Blish novelizations canon?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Neopeius, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    (waits for the reflexive onslaught of "NOOOOOOOs!" :) )

    I don't mean canon canon -- obviously, the definition of canon is what appeared on screen.

    And yet, the Blish (and Foster) novelizations were "official". They were the actual episodes in books that said Star Trek by a real science fiction author.

    So, at least back in the day, how influential were these stories? Did concepts get incorporated into official Trek canon? Did some become official fanon if nothing else?

    At a time when no new Trek was being made, how much were these adaptations slurped up and the concepts introduced, such as they weren't in the original episodes, accepted as official?
     
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  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Tomorrow Never Knows Premium Member

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    A lot of my perceptions of many episodes were shaped by the Blish books, because I could read those when ever i wanted instead being at the whim some TV programmer. With the advent of VCR that changed.
    I'm not aware of any Blish's versions making it into canon. Several of his books conflict with what was aired because he was working from early drafts. He was adapting the episodes not creating new material. His only original Trek story was "Spock Must Die".
     
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  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Official" has nothing to do with canon. It just means a product is authorized by the owners of the property to be created and sold -- i.e. it isn't bootleg merchandise. That's got nothing to do with story content. Heck, the Spock helmet with the flashing light on top was official merchandise. The jigsaw puzzles where Spock had lime-green skin were official merchandise. That didn't give them canon value. They're two unrelated concepts.

    That said, there were ideas from the Blish books that did have influence on fan thinking, for lack of any opposing information. For instance, Blish was the one who first proposed 40 Eridani as Vulcan's home star -- which has never been made explicitly canonical, but was all but confirmed in Enterprise's fourth season when Vulcan was established as 16 light years from Earth. He was also the first one to state that the show took place in the 23rd century, though it was probably The Making of Star Trek's mention of that fact that locked it into people's minds.

    Also, the Blish adaptations sometimes included deleted scenes not present in the episodes. For instance, the adaptation of "This Side of Paradise" included a deleted explanation that the spores on Omicron Ceti III were an intelligent telepathic life form making humans docile to serve as their hosts. I was surprised when I realized that scene wasn't in the actual episode, because I've always taken it for granted that it was there. I don't think that's the only such instance.
     
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  4. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    No.
     
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  5. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Yes and no. As @Harvey has said elsewhere, Blish often went his own way and changed names and events, often differing from what the scripts said .
     
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  6. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    For me as a kid, obviously Star Trek was unavailable except for that precious hour when it was "on!", and sometimes barely even then. At one point the show moved to a distant Canadian station we couldn't really pull in with rabbit ears. It was almost all snow and the sound of white noise, on a b&w TV, and I watched it anyway. My father couldn't believe it.

    The Blish books weren't the real thing and I knew that, but they served as a kind of Methadone treatment that eased my need for Star Trek. The world provided us with a LOT less bandwidth in the '70s, and so the books seemed like a very big deal. They were a back door into the show when the show wasn't on.
     
  7. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is there an in-print omnibus collection of the Blish novelizations?
     
  8. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ....

    There isn’t a decent light up Enterprise replica until I reach adulthood what with Art Asylum—but they could...could...,Trek merch was sabotaged even before Star Wars.....err
     
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  9. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Every Blish adapation was canon with itself.

    Many of the Blish adaptations were canon with many of the other Blish adaptations, although I don't know if each and every Blish adaptation was canon with every other Blish adaptation.

    Some of the early Blish adaptations implied that the date of the episodes they adapted was in the middle or late third millennium, about AD 2500 to AD 3000. But Blish soon changed that dating, perhaps due to input from the show's creative staff.,

    Thus some of Blish's adaptations had conflicting indications of the dates of TOS. But I guess that can make them canonical with each other as much as actual episodes and movies with conflicting indications of dates can be canonical with each other.

    I don't know whether Blish actually was the first person to publish something that said Star Trek was in the 23rd century

    I believe that Blish described Uhura as a 23rd century woman in his adaptation of either "The Savage Curtain" or "Tomorrow is Yesterday", and people can look up the date that his adaptations of those episodes were published.

    "Tomorrow is Yesterday" is in Star Trek 2, published in February 1968, and "The Savage Curtain" is in Star Trek 6, published in April 1972.

    https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Trek_2

    https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Trek_6

    https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/James_Blish

    An early fanzine, Star Trek: An Analysis of a Phenomenon in Science Fiction, was published in 1968 and had a timeline that put TOS in the 2250s in the 23rd century.

    G. Harry Stine (Lee Corey) wrote "To Make a Star Trek" Analog Science Fiction Science Fact. February 1968. And if Stine stated that Star Trek happens in the 23rd century he would have been neck and neck with Blish.

    I wonder how many other Blish adaptations of episodes state that TOS happens in the 23rd century.

    The question of how much of the Blish adapations could be canon with Star Trek episodes and flims is complicated. Officially only the episodes and movies are canon. Individual fans can decide how much of the Blish adaptations are part of their head canon so long as they don't assume that other fans agree with them.
     
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  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Having technical difficulties there? Your signal appears distorted.
     
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  11. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    James Blish's books were marvellous back in the day when you were getting to really understand this show and taking in all it was but to read them now with their odd orderings and changed plots and names it seems like a totally different show! Why did he for instance write Where No Man Has Gone Before in his eighth novel instead of the first and after By Any Other Name? It's really Baffling! :scream:
    JB
     
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  12. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @ZapBrannigan always touches on the same nostalgia I feel. Those books represented the show for me between broadcasts. I even remember a few of the stores where I found a few: Star Trek "1" at, believe it or not, A&S, Star Trek 4 at a small and long gone indie bookstore (where I also found TMoST and a shitload of Fotonovels), Star Trek 11 at a local drug store. To this day, I love the "early weirdness" of the first book, with Robert and Nancy Crater renamed "Bierce" (and they lived at the "crater campsite") in the similarly renamed "The Unreal McCoy." And Spock being referred to as a "Vulcanite." I must still have two or three copies of each book, some for reading, others for display. These and the Mego Action Figures were how I lived Star Trek in the 70's.
     
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  13. Odona Kirk

    Odona Kirk Commodore Commodore

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    I bought one a few years ago at Barnes and Noble, but I think it was exclusive to that chain.
     
  14. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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  15. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The last time I was in one of their brick and mortar stores in March, they still carried them
     
  16. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I think it may have been Blish who first applied the phrase "Terran Empire" to the Federation's Mirror Universe counterpart. But I may be mistaken. Now that I think of it, the phrase may have even originated in fanfic.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nope -- I just checked, and Blish doesn't call it anything but "the Empire." It was DS9 that first used the word "Terran" for former Imperial humans (as it was a standard SF term for Earthlings). The first use of the term "Terran Empire" that I'm aware of was in the Shatner/Reeves-Stevens Mirror Universe novel trilogy, and it was first used onscreen in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly." (Diane Duane's Dark Mirror had called it "The Empire of Earth" or "The Earth Empire.")
     
  18. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    I read the Blish novelizations a lot when I was younger. I also read the earlier TOS novels quite a bit, and I don't recall anything particularly standing out and making me go "A-ha! That came from James Blish!"

    Kor
     
  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, I was mistaken about Blish, but not about fanfic: it appeared in Ruth Berman's "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited" (which was an opposite point of view parallel to Jean Lorrah's "Visit to a Weird Planet"). Both were stories of a transporter mishap that transposed Kirk, Spock and McCoy with Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley. Lorrah's original (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on the set of Star Trek) never made it out of fanfic (but can be found online), but Berman's (Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley on the Enterprise) got picked up in Star Trek: The New Voyages.

    Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley have decided to confide in Scotty, deeming it their only chance of getting home.
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's interesting. I wonder what made Berman coin that term way back in the '70s, long before DS9 associated the word "Terran" specifically with Mirror humans (of course, TOS, TNG, and the other shows frequently used it to refer to "Prime" Earthicans as well, making it nonsensical for Discovery to use it as if it referred exclusively to Mirror humans). There was nothing in "Mirror, Mirror" that identified the Empire as a solely Earth/Terran undertaking, aside from the logo with a sword spearing the Earth.