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.

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YESTERYEAR:

I became interested in TAS at three points in my life: 1) first run, 2) in college, 3) on DVD (I guess this would be the fourth), and I have watched the odd episode here and there beyond that. Of them all, the two I have seen the most often are "Beyond the Farthest Star" and "Yesteryear." Based on the comments I have received so far, I'm going to assume that most reading this are familiar with either TAS or the Logs or both. If not, "Yesteryear" employs a violation of the predestination principle when, via the Guardian of Forever, Kirk and Spock inadvertently change the past and wipe Spock from existence. Spock then must use the Guardian to return to his own past in order to restore his personal timeline. The episode is written by D.C. Fontana. 

I have read that the actors were rarely in the studio at the same time. They would each record their lines individually, and they would be edited together later. the parents of the boy who played young Spock got ahold of the shooting script and had their son read the lines into a cassette recorder by way of audition. Those in charge liked it, paid him scale and that was that. 

Regarding ADF's Log adaptation, he takes 14 pages before his version synchs up with the animation, roughly one minute into the show. After that, he takes an additional 16 pages to convey the next six minutes of action. Foster's additions largely dealt with the protocol of historians using the Guardian of Forever and the safeguards that were in place to prevent its misuse. 

While we're talking about Vulcans and D.C. Fontana, I'd like to take this opportunity to address a misconception held by "Trekkies" and "Trekkers" alike regarding the pon far mating drive. Many (falsely) believe that Vulcans mate only once every seven years. D.C. Fontana herself has asserted that this was never their intent. Like humans, Vulcans mate whenever they want to, for what ever reasons they want to. It is only that, every seven years, they are biologically compelled to seek a mate. 

ONE OF OUR PLANETS IS MISSING:

A giant, planet-devouring entity enters our galaxy and begins eating planets. It is on course for a Federation planet governed by, in a nice bit of continuity with TOS, Bob Wesley, the commodore from "The Ultimate Computer." The episode this one is based on was written by Marc Daniels, who directed 13 episodes of TOS (but, oddly, not "The Ultimate Computer"). Spock uses a Vulcan "mind touch" to communicate with the creature and send it on its way. 

As we shall see going forward, TAS takes advantage of an essentially unlimited "SFX budget" to present stories which couldn't have been achieved convincingly on TOS. "One of Our Planets is Missing" does a good job of recapturing the spirit of TOS. It is similar to several live action episodes, particularly "The Immunity Syndrome" (the one with the giant space amoeba, which wasn't very convincing-looking until TOS' SFX were remastered). Watching TAS episode after reading the adaptation, I estimate that for every line of dialogue from the cartoon, and additional two have been added to embellish the prose. Just as animation can better portray certain SFX in comparison to live action, so too can prose improve upon animation.

This is where I left off in 2019. Time will tell how well I will continue in 2022. 

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