STAR TREK LOG ONE by Alan Dean Foster:
The first episode of Star Trek I ever saw was “The Tholian Web.” I cannot swear it was first run, but I think it was. If so, I would have been four years old at the time. If it was a summer repeat, I would have been five. The “ghostly” image of Captain Kirk kind of creeped me out (I didn’t believe in ghosts, but I didn’t not believe in them, either), plus I didn’t really understand it. My brother was a fan of the show, and he introduced me to one he thought I’d like better: Lost in Space.
That worked, but by the time I was nine, I was a fan of Star Trek, too. I am sure of this fact because the first episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series debuted in September of 1973 and I can remember eagerly anticipating it. (I also remember eagerly anticipating The $10,000 Pyramid which reunited William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy for the first time since Star Trek, so that must have been before TAS.) I watched every episode and was disappointed when it was not renewed.
When I was still in elementary school, I worked my way through all the James Blish television adaptations. (It seems odd, even to me, that in the days before VHS etc. fans had to resort to paperback books to experience their favorite episodes “on demand.”) After that, I moved on to Alan Dean Foster’s Star Trek Log series, which adapted the animated episodes, but also fleshed them out and truly “novelized” them, stringing together usually three episodes per book.
When I was in college, ST:TAS was on TV Saturday evenings at 6:30. Unfortunately, I worked every Saturday night, but I was able to set up my VHS to record them. When I got a good number of them, they started showing repeats and I found myself continually rewinding to tape over an episode I had earlier on the tape. (I never did get them all.) Fortunately, the entire series was eventually released on DVD and I did buy that.
My ongoing project for 2019 will be to read a Star Trek Log, then watch the episodes from each book. I was pretty sure I had read the Log series only once before, way back when, but when I recently re-read the first one, I found myself anticipating what was going to be in the next paragraph. I think I had this same idea back in college, and re-read the first three stories (“Beyond the Farthest Star,” “Yesteryear,” “One of Our Planets is Missing”) in this manner, but as the episodes I had on VHS were way out of order, I found the project to be too difficult and abandoned it.
But now I’ve got them on DVD and can call up any episode I want with a minimum of fuss. I just finished re-reading the first Log book and re-watching the first three episodes. I don’t plan to read all ten in a row (I’ve already ,moved on to something else), but every once in a while throughout 2019 I do plan to read another and watch another three.
I could have written the above post.
I wrote the initial one two years ago when I had planned a combined reading/watching project, but got only one book in before my attention turned elsewhere. I'm in the midst of reading several "TV tie-in" books now, so I started this thread in hope of taking another crack at it. We already have a discussion of TAS in place, so I'll try to concentrate on what how the "Log" series differs.
I had the Log books but can't find them on my shelf. A few years ago I donated a bunch of paperbacks to a library fund raiser - the Logs may have been included. Still, I am interested in following along.
There are several other books I plan to read before I delve into the Logs, but I do have a comment or two about the Blish books. In the initial post to this discussion I found it odd that episodes of popular television shows were adapted into paperbacks but, as I child of the '70s, I certainly understand it. Some time ago (pre-COVID) I was surprised to discover that the Blish adaptations had been collected into a series of three (I think) hardcovers. One thing that always irritated me about the series was that the episodes were adapted in seemingly random order. ("The Corbomite Maneuver" was not adapted until volume 12!) If the stories had been reordered for the hardcovers in production order, I think I would have bought them; if I were editor of the series, that's certainly what I would have done.
Blish's adaptations did become a bit longer and his writing more polished as he went along. He did add his own little embellishments, but not to the extent Alan Dean Foster did in the Log series. Here is a memorable (for me) example from Blish's adaptation of "The Naked Time": "Nobody, it was clear, was going to miss the planet when it did break up. Nobody had even bothered to name it; on the charts it was just ULAPG42821DB, a coding promptly shortened by some of the Enterprise's junior officers to 'La Pig.'" Then he goes on to describe Starfleet's relationship in terms of "La Pig" for a page or two.
He also changed the name of "Man Trap" to "The Unreal McCoy." I never read Spock Must Die! because it "never happened," although I did read Mudd's Angels, an collection of Blish's adaptations of "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd" along with an original story featuring Harry Mudd. He died shortly before completing the series of adaptations but the remaining few were completed by his wife, J.A. Lawrence. He died in 1975 at the age of 54 (which sounds a lot younger to me now than it did when I was 11).
Since the Blish stories were adapted from early versions of the script it was always interesting to note the differences between what was first scripted and what finally made it on film. I seem to recall Harlan Ellison praising the Blish adaption of "City On The Edge Of Forever" because it was much closer to what he wrote.
Do they do like Terrance Dicks did in his Doctor Who novelizations and re-write the stories to remove the plot holes that were in the originals?
Do they... remove the plot holes that were in the originals?"
Plot holes in Star Trek? Perish forbid!
"Since the Blish stories were adapted from early versions of the script..."
I do remember that Blish explained in a note that he chose to dispense with the framing sequence of "The Menagerie" and simply adapted "The Cage" instead. He mentioned that various versions of the scripts he was working from alternately referred to Pike as "Captain Spring" or "Captain Winter" (which, I believe, were simply "placeholder" names early on).
"I seem to recall Harlan Ellison praising the Blish adaption of 'City On The Edge Of Forever' because it was much closer to what he wrote."
In the version that aired, it was Captain Kirk who held McCoy back from saving Edith Keeler's life, essentially sacrificing the woman he loved to save the future, but in Ellison's version, Kirk let McCoy past leaving it up to the logical emotionless Spock to stop McCoy, meaning that Kirk was willing to sacrifice the future for the woman he loved, quite a different message indeed.
But that wasn't the only difference. In point of fact, although Roddenberry followed Ellison's general outline, only a single line of his original script remained in the televised version. That Ellison would praise Blish over Roddenberry rings true. What I did not realize until I read Ellison's book (published shortly after Roddenberry's death) was that the only Star Trek that existed at the time Ellison wrote his script was "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (and "The Cage," of course, but that doesn't matter here).
Roddenberry called together a group of writers, Ellison included, showed them a screening of the second pilot and gave them a bible. These writers based their scripts on this alone. These scripts became most of the show's first season once it was decided which episodes to film in which order. But there were more profound differences between Ellison's script and the shooting script than just the ending. For example, the very first scene is of an Enterprise firing squad leading a crewman to be executed. Obviously that didn't fit Roddenberry's vision of the show and he was well within his rights to change it.
Ellison practically made a second career out of complaining about the handling of his Trek script. Admittedly, it is a good story, as someone, perhaps Roddenberry, observed "Harlan wrote a very good science fiction story it just wasn't Star Trek".
If you'd've asked ne a couple of days ago, I would have said that I read the Blish books ex post facto, but a quick check of the copyright shows me that #12 wasn't published until 1977. I have a first printing, so I must have read it fairly new. There are two different trade dresses, and I have #1-8 in the original, #9-12 in the new. You might think that that would bug me but, because it's a knife-edge cut, I can live with it. [I used to have a t-shirt with the same image as the original #1 cover images, from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (which, ironically, does not appear in #1; it is in #8).]
The Logs, too, had two different trade dresses. The originals featured cels or animation art, later replaced by drawing of the Enterprise from different angle. My collection of Logs was a mish-mash of covers, which bugged me to no end. It was when I was reintroduced to TAS while in college (see initial post) that I traded in all of my Logs for new copies in a consistent trade dress.
In addition to the Blish adaptations and the Logs, another mark of Star Trek fandom in the '70s was the photo-novels. (I might also include the Star Trek Concordance... with the wheel.) I made a purposeful decision to skip the photo-novels, and I'll tell you why. I remember flipping through one in a Grants department store and noting that it included thought balloons. There are some things that actors are able to convey in non-verbal ways (facial expressions, body language, etc.) which may not come across in static images, but I concluded that there was no way the adapter could have known what the character was thinking, so I dismissed them out of hand. (Hey, gimme a break. I was, like, ten.)
I did, for some reason, acquire three photo-novels at the time: "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Amok Time" and "The Deadly Years." The reason I picked up the first two of these is obvious, but I have no memory of why I bought the third. I do know that, of every Star Trek episode ever, "The Deadly Years" stands out in my memory as the one I have seen the most often. I got so sick of it, I refused to watch it for 30 years, until I re-watched it when I got the DVDs with the enhanced SFX.
I own one additional photo-novel: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (again, for obvious reasons).
A couple of years ago, I found the entire set of photo-novels in the "nostalgia" section of the nearest Half Price Books. Although they were reasonably priced (and I knew they'd sell fast), I decided to give them a pass. (By that time I already owned all of the episodes on DVD with enhanced special effects.) The next time I visited that HPB location, sure enough, about three quarters of them were gone, and the time after that none were left. As you might expect, I have since come to regret that decision.
More recently I found some of them at the same location, but it's an "all or nothing" proposition with me, so I again gave them a pass (and will probably again come to regret it later). I went to HPB yesterday and the photo-novels were all gone, but I did find a complete set of John Garner and Raymond Benson James Bond novels on clearance (i,e,, new, still shrink-wrapped) @ 8 bucks apiece, but I don't know when I'd listen to them. I used to listen to them during my morning commute, but Tracy and I now listen to Doctor Who every day and she doesn't like James Bond.
James Blish on "City on the Edge of Forever": The script for this story differed drastically in some respects from Mr. Ellison's original version, which he was kind enough to send to me. In writing this adaptation I tried to preserve what I I thought were the best elements of both scripts; but it was tricky to manage and it is more than possible that I have wound up owing apologies all around. It was a poetic and brilliant piece to begin with; if it is a botch now, the fault is entirely mine.
James Blish on "The Menagerie": As originally produced, this story ran in two parts. The main story, which takes place so far back in the history of the Enterprise that the only familiar face aboard her then was Spock, appeared surrounded by and intercut with an elaborate "framing" story, in which Spock is up for court-martial on charges of mutiny and offers the main story as an explanation of his inarguably mutinous behavior. Dramatically, this was highly effective--indeed, as I've already noted, it won a "Hugo" award in the category for that year--but told as fiction, it involves so many changes of viewpoint, as well as so many switches from present to past, that it becomes impossibly confusing. (I know--I've tried!) Hence the present version adapts only the main story, incidentally restoring it to the ending it had--never shown on television--before the frame was grafted onto it. I think that the producers came to feel that the double-plotted version had been a mistake; at least "The Menagerie" turned out to be the only two-part episode in the entire history of the series.