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Sneakily taking the hinges off the doors of perception

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

6 Comments

  1. Flex
    December 2, 2013 @ 8:34 am

    I think I've alluded to this once or twice before while commenting here: despite the show being well into syndication by the time I became old enough to consume media, not having cable or being willing to buy the VHS tapes, a couple ropy home-recorded VHSes of Star Trek (mostly TNG, but a few TOS) and these novelizations were my primary access point to the show. While you're right that there are a few particularly painful adaptations, I generally found the books' ability to evoke the imagination outstripped its shortcomings. They're probably what really made me a fan of the show, and helped invest a lot of love into the original series that – by any rational standard – I really shouldn't have.

    Of course, at the age of 7 or 8 my love of Sci-Fi was very Golden Age (I still have boxes full of Asimov books somewhere) and this fit that taste well. It was wonderfully optimistic and interesting for me at that time. But, well, I was 7 or 8. It's not a vision that compels me now (outside of nostalgia for my youth, anyways) and I share the mixed feelings you have about it being part of the blueprint for Star Trek's fandom (Luckily, there's some other wonderful stuff in the mix that has more staying power).

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  2. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    If one were to come up with a list of qualities that might comprise a model Golden Age writer, well, Blish ticks pretty much all of the boxes

    Though again I would point to the ending of Cities in Flight, where the main protagonist becomes a dying god who recreates the universe, as a bit outside the stereotype.

    The last volume of Blish's novelizations didn't come out until 1977, by which point the Original Series had been in near-constant syndication for almost a decade…and VCRs were out.

    VCRs were out, but most people didn't have them. In fact our family didn't have one until the late 80s or early 90s (I forget which). There were many episodes of Star Trek that I read in Blish's versions long before I got a chance to see the tv version (and ditto for TAS and the Foster adaptations).

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