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Star Trek 8 Mass Market Paperback – November, 1972
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As Blish was from Great Britain, the adapted stories have a very strong UK feel, especially in the dialogue; just imagine William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy speaking with British accents and you'll have a pretty good idea of how the narrative sequences are framed. The stories themselves vary in quality; sometimes the action seems rushed, sometimes thing drag out for way too long. Blish is most successful in conveying the impression that the Enterprise crew are highly intelligent, trained specialists; he gives McCoy, Scotty, and even Uhura lots of technical speeches to emphasize their brilliance in their respective fields.
Star Trek was in its protomorphic stage when this book was written (1967), and this shows in the stories. Spock is described as coming from the planet "Vulcanis" on the back jacket, and the "Balance Of Terror" story states directly that McCoy and Scotty do not like him--the notion of the senior Enterprise crew being a "family" was still very much a work in progress. The importance of Yeoman Janice Rand is exaggerated; she's referred to as being the third of TREK's "Big Three" and the most popular crew member, a truly "out of this world blonde"! While Blish's prose hasn't aged well, the stories are still brisk and entertainingly written, with the genuine intention of recreating the flavor of the TV series as best as possible on the printed page.
STAR TREK isn't top-flight writing by any means, yet it's a fun way to kill a few hours. And if you're curious to get an idea of how the general public viewed the TV series in its earliest days, you'll end up liking the book even more. So, as the Blish-inspired Kirk would say, "Mark and move!"
Why did he feel the need to hit Season 3 heavy that soon? By this point, he covered 17 first season episodes (18 if you count "The Menagerie" as two), 8 from season two, and 3 from three. In this book he does six from the third season (with "This Side of Paradise" from the first season being the exception) and four more third seasons in the next book. I actually like the episodes in the next book better than this one.
Some of these worked better on TV than in print. It was hard to catch the great acting of Leonard Nimoy in "This Side of Paradise" or the more challenging role William Shatner handled in "Turnabout Intruder". But if I made a top 20 list of favorite episodes (let alone top 10), the only ones that would make it may be "Turnabout Intruder" and possibly "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" -- namely because I'm a Frank Gorshin fan.
My criticism here is not Blish's writing, but more his episode selection. If you want to read through all the Star Trek episodes, then this needs to be in your collection. But if you want to catch the greatness of Star Trek, most of the other books would be better (especially 2, 3, 4, and 9).
One note -- this is the last book that had seven episodes covered, and I think in the next one he expanded his coverage of the episodes.