The Old Paperbacks! Pt. II: Complete Blish Covers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 Horrorthon Posts

About a week ago I posted photographs of the contents of a box of old paperbacks I’d retrieved from my parents’ house. Of course you all immediately noticed the glaring omission in that post: I display the ostensibly-complete sequence of James Blish books (called Star Trek 1 through Star Trek 12) with two volumes missing. That’s right, Star Trek 10 and Star Trek 11 were not in the box. (Also, the quality of the “Star Trek paperbacks” picture I posted last week was really bad.)

Of course I knew I had those other two books…I just had misplaced them, that’s all. I specifically remember triumphantly completing the set some time in ninth grade, way too old for it but not being able to resist the final volume off a sidewalk blanket. Anyway I had to go back there tonight (my mother’s computer…don’t ask) and I did some fishing around and located the two missing books. So, above, please observe brand new scans of the 12 covers of these pre-home-video, completely superfluous volumes into which weird British hack James Blish has transcribed the scripts of all 79 episodes of Star Trek, while making arbitrary changes and added his own strange details whenever he felt like it. Terrible stuff…and Blish didn’t even survive the process; as you can see, the final book was finished by somebody else (somebody even more of a hack than James Blish).

But, look at those covers! They’re incredible. The first book is obviously a conventional 1960s Hollywood illustration based (pretty clearly) on publicity stills from the episode Where No Man Has Gone Before (the second pilot). The second and third are just boring (except for those fantastic numerals)…but then the paintings start, and all nine of them are exceptional. Remember that this was the ‘seventies and the only images we’d ever seen of the Enterprise in flight were the awful effects shots from the original show. I fondly remember staring at the covers of these books (while eating cereal after school or whatever) and grooving on the incredible images and the way they made the Trek universe so much fun to picture. Great stuff.