I admit it: While I’m always happy to talk Star Trek, I really do enjoy talking about Star Trek novels, particularly when they’re not the one I wrote and I’m trying to promote.
Many if not most fans know – even if they’ve never read a single one – Star Trek novels enjoy a rich history, stretching all the way back to the days when the original television series was still in production. Star Trek, the first collection of original series episode adaptations written by noted science fiction author James Blish, was published by Bantam Books in January 1967. It would later be renamed Star Trek 1 once it was obvious that the program of translating the original series scripts to prose form would continue, and indeed it did for eleven more volumes. Blish would also pen one of the very first original Star Trek novels, 1970’s Spock Must Die!
Since then, there has been at least one Star Trek novel or novelization (and in most cases, way, way more than one) published every year. In addition to novels and short stories based each of the spin-off television series and films, Captain Kirk and the crew of the original Starship Enterprise continue to have adventures on the printed page (book and comics!) decades after their televised exploits ended in 1969 (or 1974, if you’re counting the animated series, and we that here.). Indeed and as I write thist, the most recent novel to feature yet another tale set during the historic “five-year mission” Captain Kirk talks about in the show’s famous opening narration is my own Agents of Influence, published in June. Meanwhile, friend and fellow wordsmith David Mack is making sure the “rebooted” crew introduced in the 2009 Star Trek feature film is treated well in written form with his own new novel, More Beautiful Than Death, which was just published on August 11th.
(Okay, I suppose a little shameless promotion is inevitable. My kids like to eat. Sue me.)
So, it seems fitting that Mr. Mack and myself recently were guests for a fun discussion about the topic of Star Trek novels with the Inglorious Treksperts podcast. Hosts Mark Altman and Daren Dochterman, both Hollywood veterans and acknowledged Star Trek gurus, gathered Dave and myself along with writer/producers Ashley E. Miller and Robert Meyer Burnett, the latter of whom may very well be an even bigger nerd for Star Trek novels than I am. It’s a distinction I’m not inclined to dispute, because for one thing this was a conversation he’d been wanting to have for a while and we ended up recording it pretty much as a birthday present for him. So, there’s no way I’m harshing that mellow.
The resulting discussion covers a lot of ground in just a little over an hour’s time, tracing our earliest encounters with Star Trek novels from those early gems of the late 1960s/early 1970s right up to the most recent publications. Our respective experiences with these books during our formative years are largely in step with one another, as we all came to Trek more or less within the same era: watching reruns of the original show in the 1970s and latching on to whatever Star Trek merchandise there might be here and there. Those early James Blish novelizations and the handful of original novels along with other publications like the Star Trek Poster Books was what kept us interested during those years before the first feature film came along and elevated the franchise to new heights of public awareness it enjoys to this day.
Of course we had to discuss some of our early favorites, which for me include Vonda McIntyre’s The Entropy Effect, Ann Crispin’s Yesterday’s Son, Margaret Wander Bonanno’s Strangers from the Sky, and Diane Duane’s The Wounded Sky.
(I’m gonna stop there because seriously…I could do this all day.)
There is also plenty of discussion about how one actually goes about writing such books, both for shows like the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as novels based on the shows currently in production, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard.
Dave and I also get to take a bit of a trip down Memory Lane as we revisit our own past endeavours. This included the absolute blast that was, along with Kevin Dilmore and Marco Palmieri, writing the Star Trek Vanguard novels, which still rank as one of the most fun and creatively fulfulling Star Trek projects with which I’ve ever been involved.
Star Trek novels have been around for over 50 years, and there’s no sign they’ll ever be stopping soon. I don’t know how many more I have in me or how much longer I’ll even be able to do so, but it’s been a privilege contributing to this wondrous little sandbox and to be a part of such an amazing publishing legacy. So, for those of you who await the next Star Trek novel to show up on bookstore shelves or your eReader device, spend an hour with us as we wax nostalgic about some of those that came before.
Many thanks, to Mark, Daren, Rob, and Ashley for having us on the show. It was tremendous fun!