In the late 1960s James Blish began writing "The Star Trek Readers," a series of paperbacks in which he adapted the scripts of what was then the late lamented original "Star Trek" series. When first published Blish basically started with what fans voted as the most popular episodes and eventually worked his way through the show's three seasons. However, for the 25th Anniversary editions the adaptations were reorganized so that there were not only three volumes, each representing an entire season. Therefore, "Star Trek: The Classic Episodes, Volume 2" represents the second season in 1967-68.
The volume includes an introduction by D.C. Fontana, and the prefaces that Blish wrote for his original paperbacks, along with an essay on "The Transcendatal Vision" by David Gerrold, whose classic episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" is from the second season. The episodes are arranged in order of their television appearance: "Amok Time," "Who Mourns for Adonais?" "The Changeling," "Mirror, Mirror," "The Apple," "The Doomsday Machine," "Catspaw," "Metamorphosis," "Journey to Babel," "Friday's Child," "The Deadly Years," "Obsession," "Wolf in the Fold," "The Trouble With Tribbles," "The Gamesters of Triskelion," "A Piece of the Action," "The Immunity Syndrome," "A Private Little War," "Return to Tomorrow," "Patterns of Force," "By Any Other Name," "The Omega Glory," "The Ultimate Computer," "The Paradise Syndrome," "Bread and Circuses," and "Assignment: Earth."
Blish was a well-known science fiction author, who has won the Hugo Award for his novel "A Case of Conscience," and what he brought to these adaptations was a great ability to flesh out both the characters and the actions. In many ways these adaptations hold up better than the original episodes, where the special effects are considerably less than what an eight-year-old can do on a home computer today. But throughout Blish shows an understanding of both the characters and the Star Trek universe that was being created, which explains why he was also the author of the first "Star Trek" original novel, "Spock Must Die!"
I have fond memories of Blish's adaptations because in these primitive days before even videotape let alone DVDs, the only way to watch "Star Trek" was if the series was in syndicaton in your neck of the woods. Even then, you had to catch the episodes when they were on. I still have my four hardback volumes collecting all of "The Star Trek Reader" volumes, with Funky Winkerbean "Star Trek" inspired cartoons pasted on the inside of the covers. Adapting television episodes into short stories is certainly a lost art, but James Blish was one of its master practioners.