Just bringing this discussion over to ning...

What books are you reading right now that don't have a narrative driven by images as well as words?

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THE AUTOBIOGRPHY OF JEAN-LUC PICARD

I really enjoyed reading The Autobiography of James T. Kirk in 2015 but, when I began reading The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard two years later, I got only about halfway through before I determined I wasn't familiar enough with Picard's backstory to fully appreciate the book, so I set it aside to re-watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. After that, I moved on to all of the spin-off series and just recently re-watched Picard for the first time. Now I'm ready to read the "autobiography."

The difference between the two is that Kirk's is like a jigsaw puzzle, but Picard's is like a tapestry. We're mostly familiar with Kirk's life story onscreen (seven years of it from TOS through TMP, then another nine spanning movies II through VII) with hints at the gaps peppered throughout. But with Picard, his onscreen life spans a mere 12 years (from TNG through Insurrection). Beyond that, what we know of his early life is painted in broad strokes: he grew up on a vineyard in France; he won a footrace as a freshman at Starfleet Academy; he has an artificial heart; his first command was the Stargazer; Jack Crusher was killed under his command; and so on. Keeping those milestones (and a few others) in mind, "editor" (i.e., writer) David Goodman embellishes details while remaining true to the overall canon.

By the time "Picard" gets to the part at which he takes command of the Enterprise-D (chapter nine, about three quarters of the way through), we are already accustomed to "episodes" being related as short, punchy anecdotes, so that by the time we get to the actual episodes of TNG, there's not a lot of rehash. the "mystery years" between Stargazer and Enterprise are filled in, and we get to see Picard's first meetings with several of the TNG crew in ways that do not contradict continuity or canon. 

The "autobiography" also fills in many scenes missing from TNG, such as Dr. Crusher's departure, Dr. Pulaski's arrival (and subsequent departure) and Guinan's arrival. The TNG episodes included are ones  that might be expected in an autobiography: his first mission; his assimilation by the Borg; his capture and torture by the Cardassians, etc. More personal episodes (such as "We'll Always Have Paris") are included as well, and the "editor" does a good job of fleshing out such episodes with introductory chapters early on. The story goes beyond Insurrection, but is more faithful to "All Good Things" than it is to Picard (which makes sense since the book was written before the TV series). 

I must say I enjoyed the Picard autobiography as much as I did the Kirk one, but in a different way (as a "tapestry" rather than a "jigsaw puzzle"). And both were much better than The Autobiography of Spock, which suffered from trying to integrate the prime universe with revisionist Discovery one. Conspicuous in its absence from Spock's autobiography is any mention of Spock's wife at all. Picard's autobiography spends more time on Spock's wedding than Spock's does. 

UP NEXT (but not immediately): The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway

THE NEW YORK HERALD-TRIBUNE: A friend of mine recently acquired a Sunday edition from November 26, 1928. It is brittle but complete, sealed in plastic. The first thing I looked was (of course) the comics section. It was eight pages, which means eight comics in full-page format. I was hoping for a Gasoline Alley or a Little Orphan Annie, but no such luck. One of the front page articles was about a hold-up on Lexington Ave. It was written like a pulp novel, and all of the witnesses complete names and addresses were provided. 

Two guys with hand guns walked into a laundry and forced the two clerks into a back room. The robbers thought there was no exit, but it connected to the barbershop next door. The clerks ran to the building an called for the police. A beat cop was on the scene and shot it out with the two thieves. He was shot but, wounded, managed to shoot one of the crooks who fled in different directions. A manhunt ensured for the other. Some eyewitnesses said he jumped a fence, some said he ducked into one of the nearby buildings. A room-by-room search was initiated, but the second bandit was not found. the other bandit and the cop were in the hospital, both critically injured.

The chase was related in quite some detail. At one point, the bandit ran through a "Ladies Health Facility" where so-and-so of such-and-such address was hooked up to an electric shaker machine in her effort to combat plumpness. She thought the commotion outside was due to a mad dog, but she refused to get dressed or leave because the last mad dog she responded to turned out to be a false alarm. she later changed her mind, though, and stepped into the hall just as the bandit was fleeing down it. "You won't live to identify me!" he said, as he fired a shot at her point blank but missed. She "felt the bullet whizz by her head," it was reported.

Now I want to find the November 27 edition just to find out if they caught the guy and if the policeman lived. 

Oh, I almost forgot! The thing that surprised me most about the newspaper was that it was printed entirely on single sheets. I never realized big city newspapers were printed that way, and the Herald-Tribune was one of the biggest. (I do know that The Morning World was also big in New York at the time.) 

"You won't live to identify me!" he said, as he fired a shot at her point blank but missed. 

The only thing that would have made that "quote" better was if it ended in a BWAH-HA-HA!

I love pulps and movies from the '30's, so in my imagination, everyone talks that way.  Don't tell me otherwise, 'cause I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALALALALALALALA....!!!!!

Towards the end of  Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 320: "The Unearthly", Joel, the Bots and the Mads all do their best "Dead End Kids" patois, and that's what I always imagine kids from that time period talking like.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

"You won't live to identify me!" he said, as he fired a shot at her point blank but missed. 

The only thing that would have made that "quote" better was if it ended in a BWAH-HA-HA!

I love pulps and movies from the '30's, so in my imagination, everyone talks that way.  Don't tell me otherwise, 'cause I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALALALALALALALA....!!!!!

The Seven Per Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer - the same Nicholas Meyer who co-wrote the "good" Star Trek movies. The conceit of the book is that it is based on a newly discovered journal by Dr Watson. The long lost journal reveals the true story behind Holmes duel to the death with Prof Moriarty and his subsequent disappearance.

He wrote a couple of these, including The West End Horror, which I read some years ago. That one features a mystery that involves several actual well-known people (mostly writers and theatre people) and, as a result, it could not be published at the time.

Meyer really plays off the "found document" conceit. Supposedly, the (water-damaged) ms of Watson's was delivered to him by a woman who located it after she read The Seven Per Cent Solution.

doc photo said:

The Seven Per Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer - the same Nicholas Meyer who co-wrote the "good" Star Trek movies. The conceit of the book is that it is based on a newly discovered journal by Dr Watson. The long lost journal reveals the true story behind Holmes duel to the death with Prof Moriarty and his subsequent disappearance.

I spent some time yesterday rearranging the books in my library,* making the ones I'm more likely to read more accessible and those less likely,** less. It has now been quite some time since I stopped reading comics,*** with the intention of reading books more "worthy" of my time. Lately, though, the "worthiness" of my selections has been steadily falling until have given up completely and resorted to reading trash. 

One thing I used to read are paperback adaptations of television series or original stories based on television series. That is a genre that has almost completely vanished from today's marketplace (except for, possibly, original stories of Doctor Who and its spin-offs). I know Tracy has some Charmed paperbacks, but that's the most recent series that springs readily to mind. (I don't count the "Sookie Stackhouse" series because the True Blood TV show is a spin-off of those.) I even remember reading a Happy Days adaptation of the "Fonzie Drops In" episode back in the '70s. 

*By "library" I mean an old chest and by "books" I mean paperbacks. They are stacked three deep with the bindings up, but the bottom layer is particularly difficult to access without unloading the entire chest.

**An example of something I'm "less likely" to read would be a set of Isaac Asimov's "Robot" and "Foundation" series I now have duplicated in hardcover.

***Except for new ones and certain "epic" comics.

First up is...

PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H: This is a series of six paperbacks, all written by different writers, based on the popular Australian soap opera about life in a women's prison. My mom used to watch this show (it aired in out market from 1030-11:00P, immediately following the news or Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, depending on which channel was on), but I never did. I was in the room, but the sound was turned down on the TV because my mother was deaf. (This was before "closed captioning" was a thing.) In more recent years, I tried to find captioned episodes on VHS so she could know what they were saying at last, but I never had any luck. By the time I found them on DVD, they weren't captioned. I mentioned them to her at the time, but she didn't even remember the show.

The paperbacks weren't very well-received by fans, I understand, because certain chapters border on the pornographic. I went through a phase of reading "lurid" pulp novels of the '50s (this would have been in the early 2Ks), but the ones I read were pretty tame by today's any standards. When Tracy and I started watching the entire series ten or 15 years ago, I decided to track down those six paperbacks, eventually fining five of them. I didn't want to read them at the time, though, as I didn't know how closely they mirrored TV continuity. 

I just finished the first one, though, and it hues pretty closely to the early episodes of the TV series. the sex scenes were a bit more explicit than one was permitted on 1980s Australian daytime television, but not more explicit than one would expect. I suspect that all six of the books were doled out to their respective writers at the same time, each concentrating on a different character. The first one is more generic, but later books in the series include The Franky Doyle Story, The Karen Travers Story, The Frustrations of Vera, The Reign of Queen Bea and The Trials of Erica. I hesitate to use the term "hack work" (because even the worst of the "hacks" is capable of doing something i cannot), but that's more or less what they are. 

This book has put me in the mood to re-watch some of the TV series... not all 692 episodes, but the first dozen or so, at least. There is one bit I remember differently (the details of the crime "Mum" was in for), but it's not significant. I will likely read a few more books in this series in the near future, but I have a different TV tie-in in mind to read next. 

Ha! The series used to run locally just before Saturday Night Live, so I have watched many finales to episodes and can still recall:

On the inside the roses grow

They don't mind the stoney grounds

But the roses here are prisoners, too

When morning comes around.

M*A*S*H GOES TO TEXAS: Back when guys like Tim and Bob were watching Doctor Who and reading the Target paperbacks, I was into M*A*S*H. I started watching the television show, not from the very beginning but certainly well before Henry and Trapper were replaced with Potter and B.J. There are 15 books in the M*A*S*H series, and although only three of them are worth reading, I read them all. The first was written by Richard Hornberger (under the pseudonym Richard Hooker), and begat the movie which begat the TV show. It also spawned a sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, which was also very good. 

That led to a series of "M*A*S*H Goes to..." paperbacks, credited to Richard Hooker and William E. Butterworth, but actually written by Butterworth alone. Those books are broad farcical romps with little to do with either the first two books or the TV series. They have been described as being "of dubious literary merit" and written in "a very unusual style, indeed" (that last quote from the author himself). After the last of the "Goes to..." books, Hooker himself returned to write M*A*S*H Mania. It is that one, along with the original and the first sequel, that are the three worth reading.

But I am here today to discuss M*A*S*H Goes to Texas, the twelfth in the series. I have read the original three times, the first sequel twice, and all the others once each. Even when I was in junior high school, I knew these weren't great literature. Much of the humor derives from numerous digressions, often in the form of footnotes. Whereas I foresaw the possibility of rereading the three good ones at some point, I never really thought I'd ever reread the others. I hung onto them, though, because y'never know. 

Here I am, almost 25 years later, making my way through TV tie-in paperbacks I read as a kid. Who'd've figured? I have been living in the great state of Texas for the past two decades, so I decided to start with M*A*S*H Goes to Texas. The plot (such as it is) centers around a Saints-Cowboys football game to be played at Texas Stadium (which was demolished in 2010). It satirizes Texas sports, politics and oil, but the backdrop has changed a lot since the 1970s. A good portion of the action takes place in the vicinity of the former stadium, including Love Field and DFW International Airport 9which was only three years old at the time to book was written).

If you like M*A*S*H (the TV show or the movie) but have never read one any of the books, read the original (or all of the three written by Hooker starting with the original), but steer clear of the rest of the "Goes to..." ones, except in cases of morbid curiosity, in which case you should be find odd ones in used bookstores. It doesn't matter which one you read; one is much the same as another. they also feature satiric caricatures of 1970s public figures such as Luciano Pavarotti ("Alexandrovich Korsky-Rimsakov") and Dan Rather ("Don Rhotten"). 

UP NEXT: A TV tie-in to another series. 

PLANET OF THE APES: Man the Fugitive - "The Cure"

Around the same time I was first getting into M*A*S*H, there was another TV show I liked even more: Planet of the Apes. It lasted only one season, 14 episodes, but it spawned a series of four novelizations, each one adapting two episodes each. I must never have seen these on the paperback racks or I certainly would have bought them. Four years ago, though, they were all collected in the massive (852 page) Planet of the Apes Omnibus, Vol. 3. I was going through an "Apes" phase back then (see earlier in this discussion), and I bought all four volumes even if I wasn't in the mood to read them all at that time. 

The stories in the volume adapting the TV episodes are all written by George Alec Effinger, so they all have a consistency of style. I know the broadcast order of the episodes, but I also know the wildly different production order. The order of the adaptations is different still, but I hoped that, perhaps, Effinger smoothed over the continuity (in the way Alan Dean Foster did with the animated episodes in the Star Trek Log series) so the stories aren't so episodic, but I don't think he did. (So far I've read only one, and although I don't have any plans to proceed further at this time, I have skimmed ahead.)

One thing that strikes me as odd (although perhaps not, given the vagaries of '70s publishing) is that the first episode was not adapted. (The first episode is titled "Escape From Tomorrow" and, although one of the paperbacks is titled Escape To Tomorrow, it adapts two different episodes.) I suppose the thinking was that anyone buying the paperbacks at the time was already a fan and thus would already know the origin. I have no idea in which order the paperbacks were originally released, trusting the editors of the omnibus to assemble them in the best order, I started at the beginning.

Frankly, it doesn't make all that much difference in which order one experiences the stories, except that the first one should be first because it introduces the five main characters (Virdon, Burke, Galen, Zaius and Urko), brings them together and sets up the premise of the series. The first story in the omnibus is "The Cure" from the collection Man the Fugitive, which was the sixth episode produced and the twelfth episode aired. An epidemic of malaria is spreading through the population of humans and apes alike. The astronauts know how to make quinine to cure it, and the chimpanzees are willing to try it but the Gorillas are against it. Meanwhile, the Orangutans are ineffectual. And if you think I don't see some modern day parallels in that situation, then you've got another think coming! 

UP NEXT: Another TV tie-in from the same era. 

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