Star Trek 2 - More intriguing looks at TOS episdoes before they were shown on our screens

Star Trek 2 - James Blish

*4.25 Stars*

The Gush...and a bit of Rant (not really)


Having read the first in the series, I knew to expect stories of episodes in no particular order and some that were quite different from the finished product. This is one of the main reasons I like these books, as you can see an early version as well as remember what the finished product looks like. Would not advise reading a story if you've never seen the corresponding episode.


This one in particular has some of the best episodes as well as stories from some of the best writers of Star Trek (Coon and Fontana being just two).

 

Areana - Gene L. Coon


The story focused on the tracking of the Gorn ship and then the fight on the planet. The attack on the base was mentioned but not shown, rather than in the episode where it was the first several minutes. It is basically the same other than the beginning, though you do get a closer look into Kirk's thoughts during the events as it is written from his POV.

 

A Taste of Armageddon - Robert Hammer and Gene L. Coon


The major difference in this story is that the diplomat Fox does not appear until the vary end of the story, whereas in the episode he manages to throw a wrench into a good bit of crew's plans. This also means that he does not himself see the horror of a world where mathematics kills the population and man continues a monstrously costly war because destruction and ruin are nonexistent and death is far too clean.

 

Tomorrow is Yesterday - D. C. Fontana


This is an interesting episode/story for me because it was one of the few I didn't see during my childhood. In fact it was only last year I finally sat down and watched all the episodes straight through. This story, if I remember the episode correctly, was quite different from what I read here. The major difference was none of the crew set foot on Earth of the past, which was my favorite part of the entire thing. The core actors of TOS were very skilled in acting out of place when the scene is actually set in the current time or a well known earth like period (A Piece of the Action). This is the main reason I like IV: The Voyage Home so much. Also, I found the character of Captain Christopher to be...bland quite frankly and think the actor went a long way towards making this character interesting.

 

Errand of Mercy - Gene L. Coon


This was largely similar to the episode with only two small differences. One is what happens right after Kirk and Spock blow up the munitions dump and the other is there is less of an emphasis on how...similar Kor and Kirk are as they argue their right to wage war. As this was one of the best parts of the episode, it left the story felling a bit lacking. I do love the allusion in both the episode and the story to the future where the Klingons and Federation are friends VI: The Undiscovered Country and beyond.

 

Court Martial -Don M. Mankiewicz and Steven W. Carabatsos


This is another episode I didn't watch until last year and I'm sorry for that, because I thought it was really good. The intros for both Areel Shaw and Cogley are lacking in the story with only a sentence or two telling about their relationship with and introduction to Kirk. This is contrast to the episode where we see Kirk's happiness in seeing Shaw again and her unease and embarrassment at the same. In Cogley's case, you don't get the sense of the bookworm or the man outside his time as you do in the episode. The ending is also a bit different, but not overly so. The episode is perhaps more dramatic but this is a solid story.

 

Operation: Annihilate - Steven W. Carabatsos


This is a really crazy version. Kirk's brother is completely absent, Arulean is just a colonist, the things leave some colonist alone so they can call for help and tempt ships in, and the 'free' colonists tell them most of what Spock relays in the episode. The...goopy things are made of energy, which I don't remember being in the show, at least not McCoy's in depth discussion of them. Magnetism instead of light spectrum, Kirk not making the decision to potentially harm a colleague/friend while dealing with the death of a family member, and destroying the creatures by going to the focal point of the the invasion and blowing up the planet; this is a very different take on the episode. Because of Kirk's lose and decision being absent, the emotional punch of the story is largely absent.

 

The City on the Edge of Forever - Harlan Ellison


This story is a meld between the original story (which apparently was very different) and the script of the episode. Blish attempted to keep the best of both.
This is largely similar, the bones are the same though it is fleshed out differently at times. One of the most prominent missing pieces is you don't see McCoy in the past until the fateful meeting on the street where Kirk must make the decision between millions of lives and one that means so much to him. I did find it interesting that at the end of the story, Spock offers to take Kirk to Vulcan to...heal. Going to Vulcan for emotional recuperation is an interesting idea but...Illogical, maybe? ;P

 

Space Seed - Carey Wilber and Gene L. Coon


Wow, he's hitting all the good ones in this book, isn't he? This is largely the same as the episode, though Kahn's name is different and he comes across as...just not as cool as he did when Ricardo Montalbán played him. I don't remember if the people with him where followers (what I always thought) or other supermen like the story says. The final line is rather prophetic given Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn: "I only hope that in a hundred years, that crop won't have sprung right out of the ground and come out looking for us." One almost has to laugh, though I can't remember if that is in the episode, I hope it was.

Conclusion


Like the previous book, I enjoyed reading this book because you got to see the stories in another format other than the finished product of the episodes themselves. I strongly encourage any fan of TOS to find a copy and at least read it once.

 

Note: I like this cover better than the previous, with the photo of Shatner and Nimoy on it.