Read a TV show, whydontcha.

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?


14 thoughts on “Read a TV show, whydontcha.

  1. When Lost was a popular television series, both myself and kayjai thought about writing tie in novels of the series.
    Back when I was a kid, I used to love reading comic books, especially tie in comics like the Star Trek series, Twilight Zone, and of course my favorite, Ripley’s Believe it or Not True Ghost Stories. (not sure if this was a tie in, but I think there was a television series later)
    Great post, it really brought me back


    1. Thanks to trade paperbacks and DVD-ROM releases, I’ve finally been able to read the run of Trek comics from the late 60s/early 70s. I wish they’d so something similar for Twilight Zone.


  2. In many ways, the Tie-In novels were my gateway books into the world of Sci-Fi. Starting with A.C. Crispin’s “V” novelization, I spend much of my teen years reading these books. From the “V” novels, I also was reading the novelizations of many of the summer movies- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Secret of My Success, Karate Kid. (As well as ones based on TV shows- yes, there were a tie in novel to “Family Ties” & “It’s Your Move”).
    But things really took a change for the better when I picked up a copy of “First Blood”- I thought it was going to be like the movie, but instead, I was shocked to learn it was a “BOOK”!! A real live book- not some novelization. Then, it was the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming- written BEFORE the movies were made.
    Finally, in 9th grade, I sat down and read what was to be the first of MANY MANY MANY Trek Tie-In novels- “Yesterday’s Son” by A.C. Crispin. My grandmother picked up the book for me- she knew I liked “Star Wars with that Chechie and Dark Vander and R3D4”. But I knew the author from the V books and felt that I would give it a go.
    And thus, an addiction was born.

    So I give a BIG Thumbs up for Tie In novels and Novelizations!
    And I say keep on writing them- I will keep on reading them.


    1. I also read the original First Blood after seeing the movie. I actually like it more than the film. The only reason I read the novelizations of the first two sequels is because David Morrell wrote them.

      Speaking of novels which inspired movies, have you ever read the books from which the first two Die Hard flicks were based? Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, and 58 Minutes by Walter Wager.


      1. Actually, I did read both of them. I read 58 minutes just before Die Hard 2 came out- the cover claimed “Basis for Die Hard 2” or something, so the Die Hard Fanboy HAD to buy it and read it. (Back in the day, trying to read a novelization or the book that was a bases for a film was a ritual of mine).
        And about a year later, I found a copy of Thorp’s novel and read it. (I also tried tracking down “The Detective”, also a Thorp novel).

        And as for the Rambo books- well, I read the Rambo: First Blood 2 because I wasn’t allowed to see the movie in the theater. (I couldn’t see the film, but I could fork over a few bucks at the used book store down the road and get the book. LOL). And I read the 3rd book because- well, I had read the other two. (Although I ended up waiting over 12 years between reading the book and seeing the film. Figured the book was good enough).
        Of course, the same logic was applied to “Catwoman”. I read the novel- and figured that was all I needed to know to NOT see the movie.


  3. Love tie-ins. I have an entire shelf devoted to them(other than Trek, for Trek I need a whole room). Just found Voyage to the bottom of the Sea and Man from Atlantis a short time ago. Kept all my Space 1999 books even the cruddy second season ones.


    1. Along with Trek, I still have complete sets for The Six Million Dollar Man, Planet of the Apes and Space: 1999, along with assorted titles from V, The Prisoner, Alien Nation, and various movie novelizations.


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