Book Report: Star Trek 3 by James Blish (1968)

Book coverAs I mentioned, I’m going to plow through the James Blish adaptations of Star Trek short storizations this year since I apparently have them all (and two of some of the later ones). (See also Star Trek and Star Trek 2 and, just to make this post forward compatible, the search for Star Trek book reports that mention James Blish which includes some of the books I’ve previously reported on and some books I compare to James Blish).

This book collects many iconic episodes, including:

  • “The Trouble with Tribbles”, the one with the little puff ball creatures that takes place on a disputed space station.
  • “The Last Gunfight”, the one where the Enterprise away team is going to be executed by aliens in being the losing side in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  • “The Doomsday Machine”, the one which gets retread in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: An alien artifact, speculated to be a doomsday machine launched by an ancient alient race, destroys everything in its path, and it’s headed toward Earth.
  • “Assignment: Earth”, the one, unlike “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” from Star Trek 2, is the one with Gary Seven. A human groomed by aliens is sent to Earth to do something in the past, and the Enterprise crew has to determine whether to help him or stop him.
  • “Mirror, Mirror”, the one where Spock has a beard. Several members of an away team, beamed through an ionic storm, end up in a parallel universe where the Federation is instead a violent Empire.
  • “Friday’s Child”, the one where the Enterprise away team is caught in a power struggle between primitive tribes who control resources that the Klingons also want. To be honest, I didn’t remember this one very clearly, but it’s got tropes that seem familiar.
  • “Amok Time”, the one where Spock goes through Pon Farr and has to return to Vulcan to mate, much to his high Vulcan chagrin.

You know, I have remembered many of the episodes in the first three books in the set, and I wondered a bit if the stories were in series order, but clearly not–we have yet to see “The Menagerie”, for example. Given the way the budget for the program was cut in the second and third seasons of the series described in Star Trek Memories, I wondered if the first books in the series would front-load with the best and most iconic storylines, and whether the stories would become less familiar as time went on.

Well, the introduction of Star Trek 4, already in progress, explains that 1., the series has already ended when Blish is writing the books, and 2.), Blish is kind of responding to fans’ recommendations of what stories to include. So the early books are not necessarily the television episodes in order by season, but rather popularity. Which will be the same result; since the series runs 11 volumes, they probably get all of the episodes in.

At any rate, I’m kind of interested to see if my familiarity with the stories diminishes as the series goes on, but my familiarity with the stories comes not only from watching the shows in syndication, but also in reading these books when I was younger and re-reading 5-10 in 2005.

More interesting for me than for you, gentle reader, but bear with me.

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