Friday, September 15, 2006

Getting animated again

Ballantine/Del Rey's 40th anniversary reprints of Alan Dean Foster's adaptations "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (the "ST Logs") turned up in Sydney yesterday!

Filmation's animated series (affectionately known as TAS) was the first TV spin-off of the original series (affectionately known as TOS). Science fiction author James Blish had adapted TOS into short stories for Bantam Books to great success, and Alan Dean Foster was offered a similar opportunity for TAS.

Originally, the first six singly-published "Logs" contained three episode adaptations (plus expanded scenes) each, but the last four "Logs" contained just one episode in the first third of the book, plus new adventures of ADF's creation. There are five volumes in the new trade paperback collections, two "ST Logs" in each book. A different one-page introduction from the author prefaces each volume:

In "Logs One and Two", ADF discusses getting the job, his excitement about writing for ST, and the trepidation of possibly padding out 20-page scripts into 60,000 words.

In "Logs Three and Four", he mentions how some authors consider novelization assignments to be hack work, and demonstrates how "Fire photon torpedoes, Mr Sulu!" can become two paragraphs of exposition.

In "Logs Five and Six", ADF discusses Filmation's approach to animation and mentions how he recognized a friend's artwork style in a cel from TAS used on the original release of "ST Log 5".

In "Logs Seven and Eight", he talks about the day Judy-Lynn del Rey told him to start padding out each remaining script into one per book. ADF's additional Kumara the Klingon adventure in "ST Log 7" is mentioned as being ADF's rejected two-parter script pitch for the third season of TOS. He was told to resubmit for Season Four. Sigh.

In "Logs Nine and Ten", ADF discusses how he deliberately kept the two strongest SF storylines to last, then worried how Larry Niven (creator of the kzinti) would react.

Keep in mind that each new introduction is only one page long. But irresistable to me. Had all five pages been repeated in each volume, I'd have probably only have bought the one volume, because I already have these adaptations as single volumes (Ballantine) and in the Pocket International three-volume set.

If you've never read the "Logs" (or even never seen TAS), but like "Star Trek" stories of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy era, then you need to know that there are slabs of additional material grafted onto the 22 TAS stories: flashbacks (including Uhura's childhood, M'Ress's family on Cait and her early career), extra subplots, sequels to TAS episodes - and whole new adventures, including several meetings with Kumara, Kirk's feisty Klingon roommate from an Academy exchange program. ADF wrote knowing that TAS was a show airing on Saturday mornings and primarily aimed at children, but also being watched by adult TOS and science fiction fans (still mourning the loss of TOS?) the world over. I've heard of numerous fans who recall the Foster's "Logs" as one of their first ever independant novel-reading experiences as children. They come with my highest recommendation.

This set of reprints is timed to celebrate 40 years of the original "Star Trek" and the forthcoming international release of TAS as a DVD boxed set later in 2006.

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