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James Blish

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James Blish was a Nebula and Hugo-award winning science fiction author. In addition to his original work, Blish wrote the first original Star Trek novel for adult readers, Spock Must Die! He also wrote the novelizations of almost all of the original series' 79 episodes (some completed after his death in 1975 by his wife, J.A. Lawrence).

In 2002, he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Star Trek BibliographyEdit

Title Series Format Collaborator Published Image
Star Trek 1 The Original Series novelization anthology -- January 1967 Star Trek 1 (novel)
Star Trek 2 The Original Series novelization anthology -- February 1968 Blish2
Star Trek 3 The Original Series novelization anthology -- April 1969 Blish3
Spock Must Die! The Original Series novel -- January 1970 SpockMustDie1
Star Trek 4 The Original Series novelization anthology -- July 1971 Blish4
Star Trek 5 The Original Series novelization anthology -- February 1972 Blish5
Star Trek 6 The Original Series novelization anthology -- April 1972 Blish6
Star Trek 7 The Original Series novelization anthology -- July 1972 Blish7
Star Trek 8 The Original Series novelization anthology -- November 1972 Blish8
Star Trek 9 The Original Series novelization anthology -- August 1973 Blish9
Star Trek 10 The Original Series novelization anthology -- February 1974 Blish10
Star Trek 11 The Original Series novelization anthology -- April 1975 Blish11
Star Trek 12 The Original Series novelization anthology J.A. Lawrence November 1977 Blish12

Extended biographyEdit

"James Blish trained as a biologist at Rutgers and Columbia University, and spent 1942–1944 as a medical technician in the U.S. Army. After the war he became the science editor for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. His first published story appeared in 1940, and his writing career progressed until he gave up his job to become a professional writer." (Wikipedia)

Ironically "...Blish's state of relative financial security derived not from the sale of his best books but from a series of contracts he signed with Bantam Books to produce collections of story versions of the hit TV series Star Trek." (Ketterer, David; Imprisoned in a Tesseract; 21)

"Blish's doubts about this project are recorded in a notebook entry: 26 July 66 An apparent opportunity has arisen to do a book of 8 short stories derived from scripts of the forthcoming TV series Star Trek for a flat fee of $2000. This creates a dilemma. I need the money and could do the work quickly. One the other hand I don't like this kind of work and it's bad for the reputation to get involved in that sort of hacking.

I suppose the best out is to do it under a pen name- and bear in mind that it might help to work for the show directly- especially since the producer will be at the Tricon [1966 World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland]."

Despite his reservations, Blish signed a series of four-book contracts with Bantam Books, and beginning in 1967 eleven Star Trek collections appeared under his own name." (Ketterer; 249) "A 'Writing Accounts' ledger entry indicates that Blish received a $2,000 advance for each of the Star Trek collections." (Ketterer; 324)

"Blish, in Josephine Saxton's words, 'affected to despise Star Trek' and, in fact, he had not written Star Trek 10. Judith Blish has revealed that Star Trek 6-11 (all of which appeared under Blish's name except the last where J. A. Lawrence appears as collaborator) were essentially written by Judith Blish and her mother Muriel Lawrence." (Ketterer; 25)

When Blish wrote Spock Must Die! he had already finished the first three of his books of adaptations of the Star Trek series. This is was his first original effort, and is meant to be set after the events of the first three seasons of Star Trek.

On August 16, 2004, S. C. Mitchell of Mesa, AZ wrote in a review of the book on Amazon.com that "James Blish was contracted to write this book because he had experience writing for Star Trek: he's (sic) 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." (Mitchell; [1]) The fact is that until April, 1969, Blish lived in the United States, and if he had never seen Star Trek, it was because he didn't want to.

"The third of Blish's "Writing Accounts" ledgers indicates that he received an advance of $3,000 for this book (Spock Must Die!)- $1,000 more than the sum he was paid for each of the Star Trek collections." (Ketterer; 358)

According to Blish: "...no serious Blish student...should take anything in Spock Must Die! seriously. It was a potboiler, and to keep myself interested I threw into it at random anything that occurred to me whether it made sense or not." (Ketterer; 268)

In the Star Trek fanzine T-Negative, (issue 5, 1970), the publication of Spock Must Die! was announced, noting that the price was 60c. "It is essential to note that the price of Spock Must Die! was comparable to the price of many fanzines at the time. After the double-digit inflation of the early 1980s, the gap in the price between fanzines and pro novels widened, so that later, the average price of a fanzine became at least twice that of a pro novel. This makes the pro novels more of a bargain today. In these early days, by contrast, there were far fewer pro novels and far more fanzines. Many fanzines had professional quality stories and were comparable in price, making them more attractive than the pro novels of the time. (However, then and now, more Star Trek fans knew about pro novels than fanzines..)" (Verba, Joan Marie; Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987; 4)

"Blish lived in Milford, Pennsylvania at Arrowhead until the mid-1960s. In (April 1969), Blish emigrated to England, and lived in Oxford until his death from lung cancer in 1975. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, near the grave of Kenneth Grahame." (Wikipedia)

"Dedicated to Kay Anderson": Kay Anderson is one of the early members of Star Trek Fandom.

Annotations to the Author's Note:

Gene Roddenberry

Paramount Television

"...American network..." NBC

"...a ratings service of highly dubious statistical validity..." Nielson Ratings

Corgi Books: A division of Transworld, the British publishing arm of Random House, who also own Bantam Books (see above)

"...an enterprise so well conceived..." Blish puns on the USS Enterprise

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