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Spock Must Die! (Star Trek) Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1985
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Written by renowned sci-fi author James Blish, who adapted most of the original TV series into short stories, Spock Must Die! is a remarkably fast and easy read, despite the author's regrettable tendency to let his characters lapse into opaque techspeak at every opportunity. Blish understood the Star Trek characters thoroughly though, and this comes through in his prose, particularly his portrayals of Kirk and Spock. While Spock Must Die! certainly doesn't mesh with established Trek continuity since its original publication date, the novel remains a fun, thrilling tale, escpecially for those of us who still wax nostalgic about classic Trek.
James Blish was contracted to write this book because he had experience writing for Star Trek: he's already written most of the episode adaptations. The problem was that he was living in England at the time, where the show was not airing; he based his adaptations on scripts, many of them early draft scripts.
In short, Mr. Blish was contracted to write a novel based on a show he had never seen.
And that's where most of this book's many weaknesses arise. Blish's source material is a bizarre hodge-podge: the Star Trek scripts he'd read, his non-Trek novels (the explanation of transporter technology is borrowed from his own "Cities In Flight" series), and his imagination.
Unfortunately, his imaginings often flatly contradicted the series. When Kirk finds himself faced with two seemingly identical Spocks, he decides to tell them apart by trading Starfleet Academy class rings with one. Now, I've seen every one of those original seventy-nine episodes multiple times, and I don't recall EVER seeing a Starfleet Academy class ring.
Okay, I concede that's trivial. But the basic premise of the story is the presence of two apparently identical Spocks. In reality, one is a transporter-generated reflection of the other, right down to the curl of his DNA and the levoro-rotary sugars in his blood. (Right down to the moral structure of his brain, as well, which is why the mirror-Spock is "evil" and allies himself with the Klingons, but I digress.) The two Spocks can't be told apart until McCoy decides to bring in electron-microscope technology -- a casual exam can't distinguish between the two, because, we're told, Vulcan internal anatomy is bilaterally symmetrical. BUT, the series had already established that *this is not the case*: Vulcans' hearts are located in the lower right chest (remember McCoy's classic line, "His heart is where his liver should be"). The book is based on a notion that is in direct contradiction to the series.
The worst problem, however, comes early in the book: When these two Spocks materialize simultaneously in the transporter chamber, everyone stares at them in astonishment, trying to find a difference between them -- and *no one notices that one's shirt insignia is on the wrong side?* The entire story hinges on this item: that nobody, including Kirk, noticed this difference *at a time when they were specifically looking for differences.* This is what professionals call an "idiot plot".
Yes, people bought the book. Fans read it, discussed it, argued it at some length. But it's important to remember that at the time, unless you were actively involved in Star Trek fandom and thus had access to the privately-published fanzines, THIS WAS ALL THERE WAS.
As far as I can see, this book is primarily interesting as a museum piece -- a fossilized fragment of 1970s Star Trek fandom.
this book was the first trek novel published, the "official" timelines and continuity that is here now,
was not even close to being what it is now,and the "canon" was made to expand,control and sell the franchise.
So if your a Star Trek stuffed shirt and all your trek is the "established" paramount stuff fine pass this by,
but if not then give this book a read. It's not that bad, yes I have lots of trek books and have read them,
I find that many authors capture the characters poorly or opposite the on-screen personas (in my opinion),
to advance their story again fine, look at it as another alterverse.
Just enjoy the ride, I hated the show Enterprise but when I watch it with an "alterverse" mentality
I like it. See my point, if not, well so be it, but just cause this story is not "canon" does not mean it's not
a good read. but since this book was out before "canon".....uh huh, see what I'm saying....yeah you do...
sides with all the time travel in Star Trek look and think about all the little "rivers,streams,and branches" off of the main timeline that it would/could have caused.
one last note Next Gen did a transporter duplicate as well with riker.