James Blish had a successful career as a Science Fiction writer before he started writing “novelizations” of Star Trek episodes. But, as fate would have it, Blish is almost entirely remembered today because of his Star Trek work. James Blish wrote a dozen books of stories based on Star Trek episodes. The Star Trek Reader is an omnibus of three of those volumes. Now, you would think the editors would approach reprinting those volumes in chronological order…but no. The second, third, and eighth books are included in this omnibus edition. The other nine books were collected in other omnibus volumes, but in some ways this first volume is the best. Three of my favorite Star Trek episodes are included: “Arena” (teleplay by Gene L. Coon based on a story by Fredric Brown), “The City On the Edge of Forever,” (teleplay by Harlan Ellison), and “The Trouble With Tribbles” (teleplay by David Gerrold). What’s your favorite Star Trek episode?
Book 1: Star trek 2.
A taste of Armageddon.
Tomorrow is yesterday.
Errand of mercy.
Court martial.
Operation: annihilate!
The city on the edge of forever.
Space seed.
Book 2: Star trek 3.
The trouble with tribbles.
The last gunfight.
The doomsday machine.
Assignment: Earth.
Mirror, mirror.
Friday’s child.
Amok time.
Book 3: Star trek 8.
Spock’s brain.
The enemy within.
Where no man has gone before.
Wolf in the fold.
For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky.

14 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #428: THE STAR TREK READER By James Blish

  1. Sergio (Tipping My Fedora)

    Well, admittedly those are probably three of the best and best known episodes so I can see why they might want to group them together. Ellison’s CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER is far and away my favourite – have you read his book about the writing (and then re-writing) of that episode? A terrific book that includes his various drafts, a fantastic extended essay by him on the saga behind its transition to the screen and interviews with various people who were involved behind the scenes.

    1. george Post author

      Sergio, yes, I’ve read Harlan Ellison’s uncut script of “City On the Edge of Forever” and his essay on the episode. Fabulous stuff!

    1. george Post author

      Bob, you’re referring to the green-skinned Orion slave girl, Marta, in the Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy” (1969).

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    The Ellison was probably the most memorable.

    Of course, Shatner could never top his “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” Twilight Zone performance.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, I have no idea why they jumbled up the STAR TREK volumes in these omnibus editions. But, if you find them (and they’re around) the five omnibus editions collect all the volumes.

  3. Jerry House

    I’ve found Blish to be either very, very good or very, very meh. His Star Trek adaptations were his best work. Nonetheless, Trekkie that I was, I read them all when they were first published.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, I was hit-or-miss on the James Blish STAR TREK “novelizations.” This volume collects 21 of them including my favorites.

  4. wolf

    Bought all of the Blish “Star Trek novelisations” many years ago but again I have to confess that I don’t remember any episode of “Raumschiff Enterprise” (that was the series’ name in German) really well.
    Blish’s original works I really liked – “Cities in flight” is one of the best descriptions of a future imho.
    I remember reading it first in German translation which propmpted me to get the originals and also the magazines in which the stories had first appeared.
    What a pity that he died so young, not even 60 years old.

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, I read plenty of James Blish’s other SF works before he became famous with his STAR TREK stories. Yes, his early death was sad.

  5. Steve Lewis

    I passed on Blish’s STAR TREK collections when they first came out, and in meantime, I’ve never read any of them. How close, can you or anyone else say, did they come to catching the flavor of the series?

    1. george Post author

      Steve, the best way to determine whether James Blish captured the “flavor” of the STAR TREK original episode is to pick out your favorite STAR TREK episode and read Blish’s version. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


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