Space May Days: Reading Sanctum Part I

When we decided that May would be our month-long dedication to science fiction, I told the Beard that I would focus my posts for this month on doing Reading Sanctums that would quick-cut review some of the Star Trek novels. We sometimes get top-heavy on movies during our genre-specific, topic-oriented months, and since we love all forms of mediated content, I always try to keep The Mustache and the Beard a well-rounded geek site.

As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. Over the course of the last two years, I have read close to three dozen Star Trek novels and I expect that trend to continue. Consequently, here I offer a few that you might like, kind of like a potpourri of book review content for the Star Trek fanatic.

The James Blish Star Trek novelizations are basically short story compilations that takes Star Trek: the Original Series episodes from the first to last season and converts them into short story narratives. I enjoyed this form and can see why James Blish wrote (with the help of his wife, J. A. Lawrence, and mother-in-law, Muriel Lawrence) 12 of these books. They give a unique insight as to what is taking place in the characters’ minds: something that is difficult to convey in a visual TV medium.

In my opinion, these are a must for every fan of the original show. These are hard to get, so if you see them, grab them when you can. Collectors horde these. Odd that posthumous, apocryphal stories about Blish claim that he was not a big fan of the show. His wife and mother-in-law claim that they wrote much of the later books (Book 6 and beyond), because as his assistants they did much of the grunt work which included research, and typing. Whatever the truth, these books feel like a labor of love.

Despite the anthology nature of these stories, the stories based on the episodes can sometimes feel uneven. Just as not every episode of the show was a winner; not every story is a winner. However, when taken as a whole, reading stories that I had seen as episodes on the show deepened my enjoyment of particular episodes and consequently I have to rate these books highly. I have given my caveats and feel comfortable rating the James Blish books the way I did.

4 out of 5 Grey Geeks is Excellent for the Mustache and the Beard

I received this book from a big Star Trek lot on eBay. It was a simple read that I remember now having read when I was a kid. There was of course some nostalgia factor here. The book is really dated for anyone who was ever a fan. I did not need to read this. I remember the TV show quite vividly and this really seems to be a primer on the original television series. Still fun. Still great, but I know I am wearing nostalgia goggles and hence, I cannot be trusted to be objective.

The monsters are in fact the aliens on the original show and is not really an exhaustive list. Cohen picks and chooses as any fan would, choosing favorites, of course. I went middle of the road on this so I don’t steer you wrong, but if you’re a hardcore fan you already know this stuff and hence, might want to skip this or might want to buy it just to keep your grandchildren hooked on Roddenberry’s vision of the future. The book is maybe 125 pages and elementary school reading level.

3 out of 5 means Good for the Mustache and the Beard: Middle of the Road

The Trouble with Troubles by David Gerrold is an autobiographical account of how he became a writer. Gerrold begins with his initial desires as a kid, and how he endeavored to make his dreams a reality. He communicates the step-by-step process of writing a story concept, to getting approval to proceed to the script phase, and more.

For Star Trek fans it is an excellent how-to, but further for science fiction fans it is a moving vision into the industry and both its pitfalls, and its disparate rewards. This is a hugely popular episode that can be found on most top ten lists of the original show. I found the book not just fascinating, but I had read it before and somehow had forgotten a personal story that Gerrold shared about a fan and the impact that Tribbles had on her life. I loved this book.

5 out of 5 Grey Geeks is about as perfect as you can get in an imperfect world.

Allright, you brilliant and beautiful Geeks out there. I have had some fun telling you about some Star Trek book winners out there. Next time, I will tell you about some Star Trek books that you should avoid. We at the Mustache and the Beard always try to paint an accurate picture with our reviews. Admittedly, these are quick cuts, but I hope I have provided enough information for you to choose where you spend your money.

As always, we say thanks for reading the blog. See you later this week! Take it easy! Peace!

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