Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bantam Books, Star Trek and nostalgia

As a new Star Trek fan in 1980 - discovering fandom and the Trek merchandising behemoth - via "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", the most frustrating thing about the Bantam Star trek original novels was that there was no definitive list! The only way to know about titles you were missing was to read the little "Have you also read ______________?" messages inside.

I remember the day I celebrated in a poky little suburban newsagency (a drugstore without drugs for my US readers) after finding "World Without End", which I hadn't even heard of! How frustrating and exciting it was to know that the treasure hunt must continue: each new find would carry another title inside, for which I now needed to go looking.

World Without EndDevil WorldPerry's PlanetThe Galactic WhirlpoolDeath's Angel

Every time I thought I'd completed my set, there was more out there! The Star Trek Welcommittee had no list available, so they mentioned "Books in Print". I went off to the NSW State Library and checked every volume from the 60s through to 1982, finally satisfying myself I had them all. The frustration for Australian collectors was because we not only had the Bantam printings (of original ST and the James Blish adaptations of TOS), but also the Corgi UK versions! This made keeping one's collection consistent almost impossible. If I saw a new title in Corgi (which also did Alan Dean Foster's TAS adaptations for the UK), did I grab it and replace it later with a Bantam, or did I just wait patiently"?

"Devil World" was exciting: my first "new" ST novel from a Dymocks' "New Release" shelf, IIRC! Then came "Perry's Planet", which I'd actually seen listed in a "Locus" a few months before. "The Galactic Whirlpool" was so eagerly awaited: "Starlog" had carried preview chapters rather like the Titan ST mag does today! (Amazing to know some content in advance!) Then came "Death's Angel" - I was very disappointed by it, only to discover, at ST club meetings, that a few fans were calling it the best novel they'd ever read.

And "Locus" was promising that finally, the oft-delayed "The Entropy Effect" (the first from the new license holder, Pocket Books) was coming from an award-winning science fiction author, Vonda McIntyre. The delay was because Pocket had to wait for all of Bantam's contracted novels to come out and Sky's "Death's Angel" had been that last one. I'd never heard of McIntyre, but the local SF community even seemed to be interested.

The Entropy Effect

With so much new product coming these days, I'm unlikely to be able to do more than skim the Bantams every so often. Although they are steeped in nostalgia, they don't hold a candle to most of what's coming out now.

Sunday's magic number: 93.5 - yay! I was beginning to worry the scales were broken.

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