Karen: Continuing the theme of Buried Treasures this week, I came across these four paperbacks a couple of weeks ago while looking for another book entirely in one of the plastic bins full of books in my garage. I had honestly thought I had donated my Star Trek novelizations years ago, so I was delighted to find these James Blish books were still in my collection.
Karen: Blish wrote the adaptations for the episode of the original series. Twelve books were produced, and each book contained several episodes, typically half a dozen or so. Initially he often worked from the early drafts of scripts, and so sometimes the stories in the books were slightly different than the episodes broadcast. When the Trek production crew discovered that the adaptions in the books were not mirroring the final episodes, they were annoyed, to put it mildly. Marc Cushman describes what happened in his book, These Are The Voyages Volume Two. It was actually Leonard Nimoy who first heard about the problem, when a fan wrote him and complained about how Spock was portrayed in the first novelization, as well as discrepancies in the adaptation of "The Naked Time." Nimoy went to Roddenberry with it. After the second book came out, D.C. Fontana was upset that Blish had left out the central point of her script for "Tomorrow is Yesterday," that Captain Christopher had to be returned to Earth because of his unborn son. She also found fault with his handling of "Court Martial" and "Operation:Annihilate!". Roddenberry wrote an executive at Desilu (Star Trek's production studio) and he contacted Blish's editors at Bantam books. All of the complaints were sent off to the author, along with a writer's guide for the series. Later books appeared to cleave more closely to the finished episodes.
Karen: Of course I knew nothing about this as a kid. Back in the mid-70s, I was just happy for any Trek product I could get my hands on. Although I only purchased four of these books, I read all of them through our public library. It was a way to relive the episodes, back in those days before DVDs and the internet.
Karen: I thumbed through the books, and actually read "Space Seed" from book 2. I can see why the Trek production crew were frustrated with the adaptations. In "Space Seed," Blish completely leaves out McCoy's encounter with Khan in sickbay, the scenes establishing Khan and McGiver's relationship are also left out, and the physical confrontation between Kirk and Khan at the end is summarized in a single sentence! He also spells Khan "Kahn" throughout. To be sure, the stories are less than perfect. But they have a certain nostalgic value. I think however it has lessened since we have easy access to the actual episodes now.
Karen: Any thoughts or memories about these adaptations?