Book Report: Star Trek 11 by James Blish (1975, 1977)

Book coverWell, having just finished the Doubleday children’s books I own with 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, I might as well move onto polishing the books in this series I have on my to-read shelves. So I read this, the penultimate volume I have of James Blish’s series of books that present the original Star Trek episodes as short stories. As I have mentioned, I also have several of the Star Trek Log books where Alan Dean Foster does the same with Star Trek: The Animated Series, but I’m not sure if I will jump right into that series after I finish Star Trek 13 someday in the near future.

At any rate, when I started this book, I noted that it was in exceptional shape. The spine is not cracked, the cover is cherry, and this despite the fact that previous owners(?) have written their names in the front and back cover. The front cover has Richard S. Musterman (?) Dec 2 1979, and the back cover has Steve Laube (?). How they wrote their names without cracking the spines… a mystery for the ages.

This book collects the following episodes as stories:

  • “What Are Little Girls Made Of”, the one where the Enterprise beams down to an inhospitable planet to find Nurse Chapel’s former flame has discovered technologies of an ancient civilization to build androids–and the Enterprise team learns that Korby, the aforementioned flame, is an android himself with the consciousness of the human transferred to it.
  • “The Squire of Gothos”, wherein the Enterprise encounters a rogue planet and investigates. Kirk and Sulu disappear from the Enterprise, and when an Enterprise away team beams down to the planet, they find an old castle with a seemingly omnipotent figure there. So it’s a bit of “Catspaw” and “For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky” from Star Trek 8 blended with Under the Dome, but that came later.
  • “Wink of an Eye”, the one where the crew beams down to a planet that had an advanced civilization, but the people are gone, and the crew hears an insect like buzzing. When they beam up, they hear the buzzing on the Enterprise, and something seems to be taking over the ship. Kirk learns, as he is accellerated by the former residents of the planet, they have been “sped up” so that they move faster than humans–and the queen of the planet has sped-up Kirk to make him her mate. But an ordinary injury will kill him, as all the time he has spent sped-up will cause him to rapidly age with any wound. I actually remembered this episode.
  • “Bread and Circuses”, wherein the Enterprise finds the wreckage of a merchant ship and are kidnapped by residents of the planet where they found it. A planet where the Roman Empire did not fall, and the Enterprise landing party will fight the gladiators. Kirk discovers a friend of his, a crewman on the merchant ship, has been elevated to leadership by the real powers in the Empire, and that a small group of Christians have arisen later that will change the planet forever.
  • “Day of the Dove”, wherein the Enterprise responds to a distress call but finds no sender–and then a damaged Klingon battle cruiser appears, believing the Enterprise responsible for the damage. Everyone, Klingons and all, end up on the Enterprise, and they eventually discover an alien form that feeds on hostility–not unlike the alien that feeds on terror in “The Wolf in the Fold” which I read, again, in Star Trek 8.
  • “Plato’s Stepchildren”, wherein the Enterprise finds a seemingly omnipotent group of humans whose leader has developed a simple infection that they cannot treat because they’ve spent their lives improving their mental powers, but they’ve lost their understanding of the physical world–so they compel the Enterprise people to tend them and to entertain them. Which includes Nurse Chapel’s declaring her love for Spock and That Interracial Kiss between Uhura and Kirk.

So I remembered clearly one of the episodes, but by this time and through repeated viewings in my youth, it’s easy to understand why so many were immemorable: they shared so many tropes and shuffled similar concepts and conceits.

Well, as I might have mentioned, I have but one to clear from my to-read shelves that I know of, the last, Star Trek 13. Blish died in the middle 1970s, so this series proved to be his most lasting contribution to science fiction. I’m not knocking it–as you might know, gentle reader, I have published a couple of books and have sold maybe 150 total. So I cannot cast aspersions upon any writer, especially writers with big house contracts who sold piles of books.

This book, unlike Star Trek 8, had a table of contents and a preface by the author. I must wonder if these features come from later printings and not the originals.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Sherry Jackson.

Sherry Howard played Andrea in “What Are Little Girls Made Of”–and I remember this along with one of the Mudd episodes where Kirk causes androids to fail using logical syllogisms. I certainly remember her outfit from the episode.

She got her start as a child actress, perhaps most notably in the Danny Thomas vehicle Make Room for Daddy. She grew up well, though, and had a slow but steady career in television into the 1980s, but seems to have moved on from all that. She’s still alive and is 80 years old. Hopefully, my posting about her will not jinx it.

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