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…

Spock Must Die cover1. 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?Black Fire cover

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)

How Much for Just the Planet coverLast, 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!

18 responses to “3 Wacky Star Trek Novels You Should Read

  1. My favorite Star Trek book is, hands down, Vendetta by Peter David. Possibly just my favorite book. It’s the sequel to two things: The Best of Both Worlds (so that’s awesome), and to the Doomsday Machine from the Original Series. Planet Killer and the Borg? Yes please! Peter David writing it? Double yes please! Humor, character development and backstory, crazy shenanigans against the Borg… it’s fantastic.

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  2. OH wow! Black Fire is, hands down, one of my all-time, favorite Spock books, along with Ex Machina and Time for Yesterday.I also like those Sondra Marshak books that are basically just Kirk-Spock slash fiction without the any of the sex, and are very weirdly written.

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  3. “How much for just the planet” is amazing – slapstick for a REASON. Funny and also smart. Great stuff. Personally, I didn’t care for “Black Fire.” It was too patronizingly fan service, basically soft Spock-porn. Others I loved: “Uhura’s Song” by Janet Kagan and “Ishmael” by Barbara Hambly (which involves time travel, always a plus for me, and is enhanced by the knowledge that Mark Lenard, who played Spock’s father, also played Aaron Stemple in the TV show “Here Come the Brides” about the adventures of some young men in a post-Civil War logging camp in Washington State and the young women who travel from back East to marry them. Seriously. It ties in.). It’s no surprise that both of these authors have successful writing careers outside of tie-ins. Their skill shows.

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    • I’m a sucker for Spock fanservice, I freely admit. 😉 And I’ll have to find Ishmael, I love time travel. If you liked Uhura’s Song, check out Tears of the Singers as well!

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    • I have this huge collection of Star Trek paperback books. I’ve been reading these since I was a teenager, and collecting them. I loved Uhura’s Song. It is by far one of my favorite books too. I re-read that often, back in the day, when I had that kind of time.

      Hey! Soft core Spock porn is a feature, not a bug!😄😄😄
      That was one of my main reasons for reading Black Fire. I have never heard it called Spock porn before, but that’s exactly what it is! I’m always up for some of that, considering that when I was twelve years old, I had declared to my Mom that I was going to marry Spock when I grew up.

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  4. I’ve never read Star Trek novels but these sounds amazing! haha

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  5. Pingback: Star Trek Column: 3 Wacky Star Trek Novels You Should Read – Hannah Reads Books

  6. Pingback: “I Loved Star Trek: The Original Series, Where Can I Get More Episodes?” – Comparative Geeks

  7. I loved How Much for Just the Planet? when I first read it, but then I developed a deep dislike for the author (for reasons having nothing to do with Star Trek), and I can’t ever read that novel again.
    My favorite Trek novel? Well, there’s The Wounded Sky, and Uhura’s Song, and Ishmael, and a few others whose titles I’m not remembering at the moment because all my print books have been packed away in boxes for the last five years. There was one about a woman who disguises herself for YEARS as a Romulan as a spy and then has to help McCoy when he gets captured (on purpose, I think) by the Romulans, and one of the other characters is Lt. Naharat (spelling?) Rock, the first Horta in Starfleet…

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    • I NEED to read this one about the Romulans and the Horta! It looks like it’s probably The Romulan Way by Diane Duane. Apparently she wrote about Hortas several times.

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