Friday, May 8, 2009

Forgotten Books: Star Trek Logs by Alan Dean Foster

(Apologies, folks. I had tagged this post with the incorrect date.)

(This is my latest installment to Patti Abbott’s Friday Forgotten Books. Head on over to her blog for the complete list.)

The history of Star Trek has many milestone years. The year 1966 was the debut of the show on television. The first movie landed on earth thirty year ago this year (seriously!?). Nineteen eighty-seven saw the launch of The Next Generation while 1994 showed us the death of James T. Kirk, twelve years after the death of Spock.

The year that gets lost in the shuffle is 1973. That is the year that Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS) debuted. While there was some canonical discussion in the 1980s (whether or not TAS should be considered part of the wider Trek canon), it’s now more or less established that these 22 episodes constitute the fourth and fifth years of the Enterprise’s original five-year mission.

Here’s the funny thing: I’ve never actually seen any of the episodes. But I have read their adaptations, published as Star Trek Logs (to differentiate them from the adaptations of The Original Series (TOS) by James Blish) and written by Alan Dean Foster. Where Blish slimmed down TOS episodes to make them short stories, Foster expanded the 22-minute episodes into novella-length stories. There are ten Star Trek Logs that cover the 22 episodes. The first seven volume includes three novellas each. In the last three volumes, Foster expands the episodes into full-blown novels. He brings all of his gifts as a storyteller and explainer of scientific fictionalities to the fore. In short, he makes the Trek universe believable.

And this makes all the difference. His descriptions put Trek in a real universe with real machinery, not the cheesy backlot sets of TOS. But what I really took away back in the late 70s when I originally read these books was the sense of wonder you get from the pages. Back then, without an internet or cellphones that looked like communicators, the young boy I used to be really thought that a ship like the Enterprise could really be in our future.

It was my exposure to Foster via these Star Trek Logs that led me to start reading his own works and, from there, other SF and fantasy books. From there, well, I guess I boldly went...

P. S., A friend of mine has cued up TAS on his Netflix account. Finally, after 35 years, I’m going to get to see these episodes. Just after I see the new film.

(This is the last part of my examination of some forgotten Star Trek books in advance of the release of the new movie. Here is part one and here is part two. If you’re interested in my take on the new film, check out my SF blog, SF Safari, later today or tomorrow for the full run-down.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I have my tkts in hand. 7:45.

Barbara Martin said...

Then you'll love 'The Trouble With Tribbles', and one episode in particular from the first season was where a U.S. jet was caught in the Enterprise tractor beam and they had to send the pilot back to Earth as he was to father a man integral in future starship building. Those two episodes have remained imprinted on my memory banks for evermore.