📚 The Prisoner of Vega by Sharon Lerner and Christopher Cerf

12/2024 – ⭐️⭐️

Another late-70s children’s book. The Enterprise arrives at a planet to sign a trade treaty, only to find the planet captured by Klingons! Only apparently the illustrator had never watched Star Trek; the main character likenesses are shaky, and the Klingons look hilariously unlike Klingons (and much more like 1950s Sci-Fi villains).

Me holding The Prisoner of Vega

Year 50 Day 244

Me sitting at the top of a staircase, wearing a retro bowling shirt style shirt that's Star Trek gold and has the delta shield on the breast pocket. I'm giving the Vulcan salute. Arrayed across the stairs to either side and below me are a lot of Star Trek books.

Day 244: The books under the tree this Christmas got me to an exciting (for me, at least) milestone: I now have a complete* collection of Star Trek: The Original Series novels, as tracked by this spreadsheet based off of Wikipedia’s List of Star Trek novels page. From 1968’s Mission to Horatius to 2022’s Harm’s Way, and with 2024’s Lost to Eternity pre-ordered. (“Save the whales! Collect the whole set!”) I haven’t read them all yet, though it likely won’t be terribly long before I hit that milestone as well.

I didn’t originally have this as an actual goal. I’m just a Star Trek fan who reads a lot and tends to keep his books, and at first, the amount of books out there was so overwhelming that on the few occasions I considered trying to get them all, it didn’t seem realistic. But then the years went by, and I realized it was getting harder and harder to find books on the shelves that I didn’t already have, and turned to ordering more online…. Until this year, when I realized as we were doing our annual pre-Christmas book buying binge that I was surprisingly close to having them all. And so, here we are.

(I also have complete collections of Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, and Prodigy novels. However, those are new enough and there are few enough that that’s less notable of an accomplishment. The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the various spin-off series are in various states of completion, but all slowly working their way forward.)

* A few caveats for the hard-core collectors: I’m counting “complete” by the content, not by the various editions.

  • Mission to Horatius I have as an original 1968 edition, not the 1999 re-issue.
  • I have James Blish’s episode adaptations only in the 1991 “Classic Episode” three-volume collection, not in their original 12-volume versions.
  • I have Alan Dean Foster’s animated episode adaptations in the original Log One through Ten versions, not the 1993 three volume or the 1996 five volume editions.
  • I have the 2006 Mere Anarchy series as the single-volume omnibus, not the original six standalone volumes.

While I have no great drive to go out and get the “missing” editions listed above, I have to admit, if someone out there were to send them my way, I wouldn’t be terribly put out. But I’m not going to go chasing them down.

(Thanks to my wife for taking the photo, for the shirt, and for putting up with my hobbies and my monopolizing the staircase today.)

Here’s a closer look at the collection:

  • The earliest releases (1968-1978): Mission to Horatius is the first original novel, and was deemed “dull and poorly written, in addition to containing offensive descriptions of both Sulu and Uhura”. James Blish adapted the TOS episodes, here collected into three volumes, but did so (especially for the earlier episodes) without actually seeing the episodes and working from shooting scripts that often had not been finalized, resulting in some interesting deviations from the final broadcast versions.
    The three-volume Classic Episodes set of James Blish's episode adapations, and Mission to Horatius.
  • The Star Trek Adventures (1970-1981): Bantam’s sixteen original novels. These were long before the Star Trek Powers That Be were exercising much control over the content, and vary wildly in quality and characterization over what we’re used to today.
    The sixteen Bantam Star Trek novels.
  • The Star Trek Logs (1974-1978): Alan Dean Foster’s adaptations of the animated series episodes.
    The ten Star Trek Log books.
  • The Gibraltar Library Binding books and movie adaptations (1977-1992): Only two Gibraltar middle-grade books were published, exclusively for libraries. The movie adaptations shown here include the novelizations, the tie-ins for children, and a couple others that I’ve found (photo novelizations of TMP and TWOK and a Marvel Comics adaptation of TMP).
    Movie novelizations of the six TOS movies, related children's books, and the two Gibraltar library books for children.
  • The numbered novels (1979-2002) and original novels (1986-present): The main body of Trek literature. The first photo includes a “Which Way Books” (a “Choose Your Own Adventure” series competitor) Star Trek adventure.
    Fourteen TOS novels, plus one 'Which Way Books' Star Trek adventure.
    Eleven more Star Trek novels.
    Panoramic shot of about 40 Star Trek novels across a staircase step.
    Panoramic shot of about 40 Star Trek novels across a staircase step.
    Panoramic shot of about 40 Star Trek novels across a staircase step.
    Panoramic shot of about 30 Star Trek novels across a staircase step.
    The last seven books in my TOS collection.

📚 18/2021: _Shadows on the Sun_ by Michael Jan Friedman ⭐️⭐️ #startrek 🖖

Didn’t really care for a McCoy still blindly obsessed over his ex after decades, or the markedly somber tone of the crew’s return to Earth following the events of STVI:TUC. Very much a downer of a story.

📚 14/2021: The Folded World by Jeff Mariotte ⭐️⭐️ #startrek #tos

Mostly a trek through a haunted house, with weird vistas and spooky monsters or villains jumping out. Some odd characterizations that seemed a bit off. Not horrible, but not a standout, either.

From Q&A to The Cage

Including Short Treks episodes in a chronological rewatch means that the very recently produced Short Treks episode “Q&A”, dealing with Spock’s first day on the Enterprise, comes just before the original pilot for TOS, “The Cage” (and then the first two seasons of DIS before going into TOS proper).

Interestingly, I didn’t find this nearly as jarring as one might think, and while there are absolutely aspects I have problems with (like the external shots of the turbolifts that look like roller coasters surrounded by an absolutely ludicrous amount of open space), I do think it says good things about the care that the modern crew is taking with bringing TOS-era stories into the modern age.

Turbolifts aside, while the DIS version of the Enterprise is absolutely a modern interpretation, it is such a respectful interpretation that it works well for me, even when going from that to the very early ‘60s set from The Cage.

Part of Peck’s DIS interpretation of Spock, of course, was intended to act as a bridge between the more emotional version seen in The Cage and the more reserved version seen in the rest of TOS, and the events of Q&A tie directly into this. Romijn’s Number One is enjoyable, brining a little more warmth to Barret’s, and Mount’s Pike is quite simply an incredible match for Hunter, and it’s even more striking when watching them back-to-back like this.

So yes, as expected, there are differences. How could one expect otherwise, with five decades between the two productions? But even so, it’s quite impressive how well they mesh — at least, in my opinion. I may not agree with every choice the current stewards of Trek are making, but I think it’s clear that they have a lot of love and respect for the universe.

Star Trek Doesn’t Exist Within Star Trek

Occasionally in Star Trek — at least twice that I can easily think of, possibly other times — we are shown displays of prior ships named Enterprise. The first time this happens, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this display includes the first space shuttle.

(The second time I can easily come up with is the display cabinet in the observation lounge on the Enterprise-E in First Contact, but that display jumps directly from the aircraft carrier to the first appropriately named starship. A shuttle model is seen on display in Star Trek Into Darkness, but that’s contained in a lineup of notable space exploration milestones, not of ships of a specific name, so that passes — except for the fact that that entire film should be struck from the Trek canon, but I digress….)

However, since the Star Trek universe wouldn’t include the fictional Star Trek universe, the shuttle shouldn’t be included in these displays. The first space shuttle was originally planned to be named Constitution, but the name was changed to Enterprise after a campaign spearheaded by fans of the show.

Now, the Enterprise is a Constitution-class starship, but in ST:TMP, Decker specifically tells Ilia that “all those vessels were called Enterprise”, so it still wouldn’t make sense for the shuttle to be part of that display, and there was no known Constitution-class ship actually named Constitution that might have included a display with a shuttle named Constitution. There was, however, a shuttle named Discovery, so the Discovery in the current show could have such a display. But the Enterprise shouldn’t have the shuttle included in its historical lineage (unless, of course, a suitable in-universe explanation was given for why the first shuttle had its name changed).

Taken more broadly, there are other potential implications for Trek not existing within its own universe. Roddenberry either never created a hit science-fiction show in the ‘60s, or did so in a very different manner. Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, and the rest of the TOS crew wouldn’t be the household names they are, or at least not for the roles we primarily know them for.

Many scientists have credited Trek for inspiring them on their path to their chosen careers. What paths would they have taken without Trek? How would our technological progress have been affected without Trek as an inspiration, given how many of today’s devices, from flip phones (communicators) to iPads (PADDs), have been inspired in some manner by Trek’s visions of the future?

I’m not really going anywhere major with this. I just like playing with what fictional universes are like when you remove them from their own universe.

Linkdump for November 14th through November 29th

Sometime between November 14th and November 29th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!