Since a good chunk of my writing revolves around Star Trek, I often get asked about other properties for which I’d like to write. I’ve rambled about that before, but another question I recently got in e-Mail was what other tie-ins, if any, I like to read in my leisure time.
After I stopped laughing at the whole “leisure time” thing, I told my kind e-Mailer that, yes, I do enjoy the occasional tie-in just for fun, mixed in with the other books and whatnot that ends up on my “To Read” pile. I still like reading them when I can, especially given that so many of them are written by people I’m happy to call friends and professional colleagues. As you might imagine, Star Trek is a good chunk of that pile, but I’m also able to squeeze in a few here and there from other shows like Warehouse 13, 24, and even the new novel based on the Spartacus cable series.
Now, when I was a kid? Tie-in books were the shizzle. Back in the days before VCRs, On Demand and live streaming over that newfangled internet thang, the way to revisit favorite characters and shows was through tie-in books. In those kinder, simpler times, the balance between books adapting TV scripts and those creating original stories using a show’s characters and premise seemed to be more in favor of the former. In addition to the odd Star Trek book, It wasn’t uncommon at all to check out the spinner racks at a local Woolworth’s or other department store and find something like these:
Ah, those were the days.
Even as I was reading what would become favorite science fiction novels from the likes of Clarke, Heinlein, Haldeman, Matheson, and so on, I was reading this stuff. I was always up for hanging out with Steve Austin or a return visit to the Starship Enterprise or Moonbase Alpha or that pesky ape planet, and let’s not forget (re)checking out adventures aboard the Battlestar Galactica or dropping in on Buck Rogers doing his thing in the 25th century. Oh, and don’t even get me started on novelizations of movie scripts. Star Wars? Alien? Tron? Read ’em, and a whole lot more. I still remember how jazzed I was to find the first “original” Star Wars novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye at the bright, impressionable age of 11 years old. Let me tell you something: Alan Dean Foster? The man has a writing resume as long as my…well, let’s just say it’s pretty damned long. In addition to that, he is and remains whatever the tie-in writing equivalent might be for “rock star.” He’s one of the people who inspired me to get into this game in the first place. Now I’m even further inspired by so much great stuff being written by friends and other people I admire, especially when you can see that the writer is such a fan of the show and is just having a blast with writing their own story.
“Those aren’t real books,” I’ve heard more than few times, both as a casual reader of the stuff, and later as a writer. “That’s not real writing,” is something you’ll hear from the harshest critics. Yeah, whatever. Blah blah blah. Personally, I get a kick out of writing the things. While I’m sure there are writers out there who do this kind of work because they see it as a quick and easy pay check, none of the writers I know fit that description. For me, writing tie-ins is the grown-up version of creating my own adventures with action figures and playsets from back when I was ten years old.
Now, when it comes to collecting tie-ins, I still have a whole bunch of favorites that I’ve managed to preserve all these years. I have a novelization of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and I recently got my grubby paws on a re-issued adaptation of the original Dawn of the Dead. Just the other night on eBay, I scored a copy of a recent re-release of the 1954 novelization from the original Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Yeah, I’m nerdy, that way. Now, I don’t have anything on my friend and co-writer, Kevin Dilmore, who has an array of tie-ins and novelizations that have made me seriously consider burglary. And if you really, really want to go off the hook? Go check out my friend Steve Roby, who may well be one of the foremost walking, talking repositories on the subject. Check out his site: The Complete Starfleet Library, and in particular get a primer about SF tie-ins here: SF Media Tie-Ins: A Brief History.
What’s the craziest tie-in book I own? I suppose it probably has to be this one:
Savor the flavor, yo.
Okay, now it’s your turn. Come on out of the tie-in closet, and fess up your favorites. The guiltier the pleasure, the better. Any brave souls?