Guide to the Early Star Trek Novels

Today STAR TREK spans six television series, ten feature films and several interactive CD-ROMs. In addition, the STAR TREK afficionado had hundreds of novels to choose from with dozens more being published each year. It was not always thus. Those of us who were loving STAR TREK in the late 1960’s and into he early 1980’s remember a time when STAR TREK was not so abundant. In the years between 1969 and 1981, we had only the animated series (22 half hour episodes), reruns of the original series, one movie and a handful of novels. In those 12 years there was published only 15 original novels and two collections of short stories. This was before Pocket Books gained the rights to publish STAR TREK books. —Guide to the Early Star Trek Novels

I am such a geek. There are only two or three of the original Star Trek episodes that I remember seeing for the first time — I grew up with them being shown five days a week in prime after-school viewing hours. (This was back in the days before VCRs and cable TV, when if you lived near a major city you got the three major networks, PBS, and maybe an independent station or two).

I read and re-read most of the early Star Trek novels on this list, in addition to the James Blish short story treatments of the TV episodes.

The first Star Trek novel produced was “Mission to Horatius,” in 1968, while the original series was still running. One of our local libraries was selling the books it took out of circulation… my wife picked it up a 1999 facsimile for chump change.

My son asked me to read it to him for our next bedtime story. (We just finished “The Whipping Boy”).

I’ll be honest — the characterizations are not nearly as detailed what I remember from the later novels (which I haven’t read in about 15 or 20 years), and in places the story looks like a pastiche of favorite bits and pieces from TV shows, without any of the epic scope that a novel (free from the special effects budget limitations) can produce. Plus, the author spends far too much time explaining the technology of the Enterprise. We know what the bridge looks like, thank you, so you can dispense with the opening exposition that describes exactly who is sitting where.

The book was obviously written with children in mind, and as long Peter’s enjoying himself, I’m happy.