Writer To Document History of Trek FictionBy Michelle
February 8, 2005 - 9:21 PM
With Star Trek: Enterprise set to complete its run this May and no Star Trek film in production, the franchise is likely in the short term to return to its status quo for much of the 1970s and 1980s, when Bantam and later Pocket Books published the Star Trek novels that were a launching point for the careers of several science fiction novelists and which led to careers in film and television for others, including current Enterprise writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
StarTrekFans.net recently hosted a chat with Jeff Ayers, who is working on a book for Pocket on the forty-year history of professional Star Trek fiction. More than five years ago Pocket published Adventures in Time and Space, a book of comments and excerpts by Mary P. Taylor (like Ayers, a longtime fan) to celebrate Pocket's Star Trek line, but this will be the first professional publication to encompass Star Trek fiction from James Blish's novelizations of the original Star Trek to the current series. In between reruns of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, explained Ayers, "I would go to the same bookstores every day to see if a new novel had been unboxed and shelved."
Ayers, a freelancer writer who reviews suspense novels for Library Journal, said he wanted to write a history of published Trek fiction from the Blish novels to present day by "talking to everyone involved in the process to create a true and accurate account of the franchise." Most of the writers, he discovered, were fans like himself, with the exception of Blish, who had never watched the show and worked off scripts and anecdotes. Blish also wrote the first Bantam original novel, Spock Must Die, which preceded several other paperback novels before Pocket Books took over the franchise with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. "A lot of the first authors of Trek were fan fiction writers," Ayers said. "Bantam relied heavily on established sci-fi authors, but that started to change when Pocket bought the franchise."
Though the book editors communicate with the television producers about planned storylines, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry insisted that the novels were only stories set in the Star Trek universe, not a canonical part of that universe. "He was furious about some of the published stories," Ayers revealed. On the other hand, the Reeves-Stevenses - longtime collaborators with William Shatner in addition to their own original fiction - were brought onto Enterprise after executive producer Manny Coto read one of their novels, Federation.
Though he is familiar with Pocket's technical guides and companion volumes as well, Ayers said he had been told that "the non-fiction books don't sell anymore." With approximately 40 novels, e-books and collections of short stories released each year, Ayers added that he has read approximately 550 novels alone while working on his history of Trek fiction. An Enterprise fan, Ayers also revealed that he had written a letter protesting the show's cancellation to Viacom.
For the full chat, please visit StarTrekFans.net.