Star Trek 4 by James Blish
Posted by Tracy Poff on December 9, 2014
Seventeen months after Blish’s previous Trek book, Spock Must Die!, was published, he finally put out a new volume of adaptations: Star Trek 4. It was the only one published in 1971, but he then picked up the pace substantially, publishing four more in 1972 alone.
This volume includes adaptations of six episodes: “All Our Yesterdays”, “The Devil in the Dark”, “Journey to Babel”, “The Menagerie”, “The Enterprise Incident”, and “A Piece of the Action”.
All of the short stories are substantially similar to the episodes as aired, with the exception of “The Menagerie”. That episode, if you recall, was a retooling of the pilot: Spock is court martialed for bringing Captain Pike back to Talos IV and presents the video from the pilot episode “The Cage” as evidence. Blish elected to omit the frame story and simply adapt the pilot episode itself.
There are several good stories, here, though not all of equal merit. I enjoyed the episode “A Piece of the Action”, but I think that the short story falls flat–it was never much of a story, and most of its appeal was in the seeing. Ditto “All Our Yesterdays”. The other four stories are quite entertaining.
Really, the quality of the adaptations is good, but I find myself disappointed that they are so similar to the episodes. I suspect this is due to the book being written after Star Trek had finished airing, meaning that it was no longer necessary for Blish to rely on early draft scripts. This is good, if what you want are faithful adaptations of TV episodes, but it was the differences that made me interested in the books in the first place, so I think it’s a shame.
Even so, Star Trek 4 is a worthwhile book, containing several entertaining stories. If any of those are your favorite episodes, I’d encourage you to give it a try, if only for the sake of nostalgia.