define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true ); Review: 1969 Star Trek 3 by James Blish » Reading Star Trek

Review: 1969 Star Trek 3 by James Blish


Novelizations suffer from some big problems, one of which is that it’s very difficult to convey what has already been showed perfectly on screen. Video is a medium where characters attitudes, poise and responses say much more than what the dialog displays. Another problem is that as the scenes have already been established, writers tendo to just fall into what has been potrayed instead of imagining new or more exciting scenes.

Take this scene, where the ship has been overrun by tribbles:

The attendant turned, and upended the pitcher. Three tribbles fell out of it.
It was worse on shipboard. The corridors seemed to be crawling with the creatures. On the bridge, Kirk had to scoop three or four of them out of his chair before he could sit down. They were all over the consoles, on shelves, everywhere.

Here we easily see it’s really missing the whole frustration and desesperation felt by the Captain. And so goes on for the whole story, just duplicating the dialogue of the TV episode. It really misses a lot.

By now, Blish had a notion of the popularity of the Star Trek scene, and was in fact impressed by the quantity of mail he had received for the previous books. He comments on this on the foreword.
He now selects the best scripts, especially those with Hugo nominations.

– Trouble with Tribbles
Fails to grasp most of the comedy of the video, but writes through the story acceptably.

-The Last Gunfight
This one is fairly decent, but only because of the original scriptwriting; it is also very heavy on dialogue.

-The Doomsday Machine
An action packed episode, translates fairly well, but fails to capture the suspense and drama, especially with the constraints of pages.

-Assignment: Earth
A transcript of a failed spin-off attempt by Roddenberry does not give merit to it’s screen implementation, even as a very short story…

-Mirror, Mirror
Another example of a bad transcription:

“What’s the procedure, Scotty?”
“We’re about ready to bridge power from the warp en­gines to the beams. You’ve got to go to the main controls and free the board, so we can lock in. Give us ten clock minutes, then you and Lieutenant Uhura create your diversion, and run like Martian scopolamanders for the Transporter Room.”
“Right. Count down on the time. Five . . . four . . . three . .. two … one … hack.”
“Got you. Good luck, Captain.”

-Friday’s Child
Originally a good episode, but here it reads more like a space opera.

-Amok Time
Blish cops out during the high part of the action, turning dialog into direct script!:

SPOCK: I’ll—I’ll follow you in a few minutes. In­struct Mr. Chekov to plot a course for the nearest base where I must—surrender myself to the authorities. . .T’­Pring.
SPOCK: Explain.
T’PRING: Specify.
SPOCK: Why the challenge; why you chose my Cap­tain as your champion.
T’PRING: Stonn wanted me. I wanted him.
SPOCK: I see no logic in preferring Stonn over me.


In general, the stories do not read that bad, but after a while you do seem rushed through like a grand european tour: see 7 cities in 2 days!

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