It’s no secret, I loves me some Star Trek. The movies, the TV shows, and the comics? All of them I regard with deep affection. The novels though? I’m crazy for the novels.
I’ve not read all of them. Hell, I doubt I’ve even read most of them. That would be a full time job.
Trek books are the purest kind of brain candy, providing a familiar escape. They offer an easy transition to a far-a-way place that while strange, is populated by friends we’ve known a long, long time. These stories are neither challenging nor threatening.
Strangely enough, that is some times a good thing.
I love a book that’s in my face, pushing me, agitating me to consider new ideas… even scaring me. But there are times when you need the comfort of a known quantity, the friendly voice of a beloved character.
Star Trek books have gotten me through some stressful times. In a lot of respects, these books are a security blanket I clutch when times are bad.
I tend to read more Trek in the summer, a time for trashy books.
I was at a bookstore once and overheard two guys talking about Star Trek novels.
“You read this one?” The guy asked his friend about the latest novel.
“Nah,” The friend responded, “I only read the important Trek books.”
I laughed at the notion of an important Trek book. Oddly enough, I understood what he was talking about. He was referring to the big, chunky event novels released in hardback. Back in the day, these books were no stranger to the best sellers lists.
Pocket Books, starting their run of Trek publishing in 1979 with The Motion Picture novelization, has done a fantastic job in cultivating the Trek playground. There are so many books that are worthy of reading and re-reading in all their sweet, sticky goodness:
- Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Entropy Effect features an exciting, memorable scene of Sulu pushing Enterprise through his Drunkard’s Walk maneuver, recreated in my Trek RPG game for YEARS after.
- John M. Ford’s Final Reflection took the glimpse we saw of the Klingons in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and explained it for the novels and the FASA rpg. It’s an immensely quotable book, examining the Klingon warrior culture. It also introduced what would later become the canon Klingon language. No stranger RPGs, Ford has written for both Steve Jackson’s GURPS and West End’s Paranoia.
- Triangle by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath is memorable not because it’s a good book – in fact it is frighteningly bad – but it is notable in that Spock and Kirk share a woman. Nice.
- The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Books One and Two by Greg Cox are crazy awesome. The books tell the story of Trek’s best villain, Khan, in his days on Earth linking him nicely to real events in our history.
- The Left Hand of Destiny books one and two co-written by J.G Hertzler (DS9’s General Martok) and Jeffrey Lang are terrific high adventure in the Klingon Empire. Set in DS9’s Season 8, the books detail Martok’s return to the Klingon homeworld as a Chancellor putting down the revolution.
- Peter A. David’s New Frontier novels are fan-freaking-tastic. They tell the story of a ship and crew not tied to a specific TV show. They are their own story… and as such, there are no rules. You’ll find all manner of stories here in the pages of the New Frontier books that you won’t find in the other Trek books. Good stuff.
There’s really a lot of good stuff to read in the Trek universe. These books won’t nourish your brain like the works of Ben Bova, Larry Niven and H. Beam Piper will, but they are sweet, delicious candy.
And everybody loves candy, right?