3 Wacky Star Trek Novels You Should Read
This started as a list of my favorite original-series Star Trek novels, and then it turned out my absolute must-reads are also the three weirdest ones I could think of, so here we are. I’m usually a stickler for characterization, I swear! They coincidentally move from earliest in time forward, and also from least crazy to most…
1. Spock Must Die! by James Blish (1970)
The very first Star Trek novel! Exclamation point included! The idea is Spock gets duplicated in a transporter accident, right in the middle of a sudden war with the Klingons. Soon afterward, each Spock is insisting that the other must die. One of them might even be a Klingon spy.
The dialogue is horrendously out of character, and the plot doesn’t make much sense either — at the beginning the ship is close to the Klingon Empire, but then actually they’re on the other side of it somehow? And they don’t want to tell the crew there are two Spocks unless they have to, but then the whole crew knows in the next chapter? Questionable. But it’s fascinating to read a novel published so close to the original run. They even spend a few pages discussing why Spock is so attractive to “women” (read: to female fans), and it has the saving grace of being very short, almost more of a novella. Short enough that the essential mystery ingredient doesn’t lose its impact — the question, what really happened to Spock?
2. Black Fire by Sonni Cooper (1983)
This one is my favorite ever and I’ve read it a bunch of times and SPOCK BECOMES A ROMULAN SPY AND ALSO A SPACE PIRATE OKAY? Do I really have to tell you anything else about this? It’s totally straight-faced, not a comedy or spoof. The wackiness is in the setup. Within that, it’s kind of a story about Spock building relationships in these questionable situations, separated from his familiar environment. Eventually it comes back around to that most familiar of themes, his relationship to Kirk. (But also Spock is a pirate spy and the book wouldn’t even HAVE to be good…)
3. How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford (1987)
Last, but not least, we arrive at total crackfic. I’d describe the plot, but honestly that matters very little… Our heroes and a bunch of Klingons go to a planet. Slapstick ensues. There are musical numbers. Someone mentions “a good stiff drink,” so the replicator starts pouring milkshakes. It’s a farce in the best possible way and is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I’ve even heard it called the BEST Trek novel ever. Not making that up.
None of these are a good place to start if you don’t know Star Trek. Just watch the show for that. But if you love Trek and have never tried the novels, you can totally start with these!
What’s your favorite Star Trek novel? Wacky or otherwise, let us know in the comments!