Are the Blish novelizations canon?

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

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I keep saying it, and it never gets less true: anecdotes are not fact. :)
     
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  2. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    The first two Star Trek books I ever bought were Star Trek 4 and 6, in the book section of Woolco on November 28, 1975. The third one I bought was Star Trek 10. Those books were the beginning of a collection of science fiction/fantasy novels, anthologies, magazines, comics, and fanzines that by now number in the thousands.

    VEE-gans don't eat meat, fish, cheese, or eggs.

    VAY-gans supposedly live on whatever planet(s) the writer decides is in orbit around the star Vega.

    I say "supposedly" because we now know that Vega is a very young star that is too young to have a developed solar system, let alone planets capable of supporting intelligent life.

    That's the downside of real science; it tends to lessen my enjoyment of older science fiction once I know that the civilization or lifeforms in general that are said to live on some planet orbiting giant stars or young stars can't happen, or that farms are not going to happen on any of Jupiter's moons (as written in a couple of Heinlein's novels), and any novel that has steaming jungles on Venus aren't plausible either.

    It's a shame that people were treated this way for having made the transition from amateur writer to professional. I met Sonni Cooper when she and Bjo Trimble were the Guests of Honor at one of the Con-Version conventions in Calgary in the early '80s. Ms. Cooper was super-nice and interesting to talk to; we ended up having a conversation about saskatoons after I'd mentioned them and she asked what they were. She was working on a second novel at the time and read an excerpt to us.
     
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  3. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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  4. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    James Blish's adaptations are if anything an alternate version of what we saw on screen! Sometimes they're set in different regions of space or have stranger names! Plus character's have different names like Lt.Phil Taintree in The Omega Glory and Brand Decker who survives the confrontation with the Doomsday Machine in the said version! :techman:
    JB
     
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  5. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    It wasn't, but at any rate, I think I have that particular issue in my collection. I know I have the fanzine version of Black Fire, and have been meaning to read it to see how it compares with the novel that was professionally published.
     
  6. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Mr Decker survives? Ooh! I have them all, but never sat down to read them. I must!
     
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  7. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    I was looking in my local bookshop today for a TOS novel. Forget it. I haven't seen one in a year.
    However there was a sort of Blish omnibus wrapped in plastic saying it was for the original series - a collection by James Blish and J A Lawrence. It was a hardcover with silver edges.
    However it was in a series of collections, along with Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, etc stuff that is out of copyright. So I was wondering if the adaptions were out of copyright.I live in Australia in the boondocks so maybe the rules are different or they had copyrighted and non-copyrighted stuff in the same omnibus series.
     
  8. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    the fanzine version of Black Fire is just the cut or rewritten sections and an alternate ending. I recently read it in conjunction with the official version, and could kinda-sorta see where it fit together. But the fanzine would make no sense read on it’s own.
     
  9. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I’d like to see that and Probe done in graphic novel style
     
  10. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    I'm encountering the last one right now since (from my perspective) Mariner 2 was a recent mission. The first realistic Venus story is Niven's "Becalmed in Hell" from 1965.

    As for Jupiter's moons having farms, that's a key plot point in The Expanse, which is pretty crunchy SF.

    But as for Trek having colonies around clearly unsuitable stars like Rigel and so forth, I chalk that up to poetic license and assume the colonies aren't *actually* around those stars proper...
     
  11. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    Read it Again Books in Suwanee, GA has a bunch of em including the Fosters (though I snagged #7 to complete my set... :) )
     
  12. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    The Blish adaptations are NOT out of copyright. They were works for hire, and the copyrights belong to Bantam Books (now part of the Bertelsmann conglomerate) Desilu and Paramount Pictures (both now part of CBS Viacom, or whatever the name is now.)

    Corporate-owned copyrights are effectively eternal, unless the copyright holder is dissolved without transferring those rights to another corporation.
     
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  13. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    Licensing would probably be a nightmare, but I'd love to see the Blish adaptations adapted into comics.
     
  14. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And if they were copyright to Blish... well, he died a bit less than 50 years ago, so decades till his copyright expires.
    But if he signed over his rights to Bantam/Desilu/Paramount, they own his work so long as the companies exist and reassert copyright if challenged.
     
  15. yosef

    yosef Ensign Newbie

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    If the copyrights to the books are indeed owned by a corporate entity, and the publication date is 1964 through 1977, the copyrights will expire 95 years after the publication of each book. I think this would only be for the literal text of the books though. The underlying stories would still have their copyrights connected to the copyright year of the original episodes, also expiring after 95 years and therefore sooner than the books, I believe. (See https://copyright.cornell.edu/publicdomain)
     
  16. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

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    Star Trek (that is, the first volume of Blish adaptations) was a Scholastic book club selection when I was in junior high school, and I read it more than a year before seeing my first actual episode of the series (the third-season premiere). I still have it somewhere; there's no price on the cover because it was a special edition for sale through schools.

    Having read some of Blish's original stories (and learned the titles of others) before I saw SMD on a supermarket paperback rack - wow, new original Star Trek! - and purchased it in 1970, I have always thought there was no possibility that SMD was Blish's own title. Too crass. If so, what was his title for it?
     
  17. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Well, he never had any rights to sign over. In the US, at least, novelizations and tie-ins were (and still are) treated as works for hire, which means all copyrights from the inception of the work are the property of the owner of the intellectual property. Which was Desilu, until they were taken over by Paramount the middle of the second season. It's odd they shared the rights with Bantam Books, but 1966 was a much different time, and the publication of a novelization of a TV show was seen as little more than free publicity for the show. So, Desilu were probably more than fine with Bantam splitting the copyrights.

    Scholastic eventually did multiple printings of Star Trek (as both Star Trek and Star Trek 1), Star Trek 3, Star Trek Log One, and single printings of Star Trek 8 and the mass-market paperback edition of the Star Trek Puzzle Manual. It looks like Bantam and Ballantine would do special printings of the books for Scholastic, usually with different trade dress (removal of the price, substitution of the Scholastic catalog number for the publisher's, etc.)

    If so, Blish's preferred title seems lost to time -- there is no mention of an alternate title in Imprisoned in a Tesseract: The Life and Work of James Blish. Unless someone can track down Blish's widow, Judy (J.A. Lawrence) and ask her.
     
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  18. ChallengerHK

    ChallengerHK Captain Captain

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    I think that's the best description of Roddenberry I've ever heard.
     
  19. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Possibly in the fictional universe of Star Trek, and many other fiictional universes, super powerful and advanced aliens move habitable planets into orbit around very young stars or maybe build planets in orbit around massive and very luminous young stars and quickly terraform them into habitable worlds and may create lifeforms and stock them on those new worlds, including new species of intelllgent beings.

    And those aliens might also do the same thing with giant and super giant stars. See my answer referring to Betelguese here: https://astronomy.stackexchange.com...-betelgeuse-is-its-habitable-zone/37025#37025

    And yes real science sometimes does lessen my enjoyment of various aspects of my favorite science fiction.

    I can't help wisihing that someone had sent Gene Roddenberry a copy of Habitable Planets for Man, Stephen H. Dole., 1964. 2007 and maybe some three dimensional space maps.

    https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/commercial_books/2007/RAND_CB179-1.pdf
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As seen in memos reprinted in The Making of Star Trek (pp. 90-97), Roddenberry's science advisor Harvey P. Lynn of the Rand Corporation did inform him that prominent star names like Rigel and Antares were poor choices for habitable planets, yet he chose to exercise dramatic license and use the more famous star names for the sake of familiarity to the audience.
     
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