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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 1" represents the first season in 1966-67.
The volume includes an introduction by D.C. Fontana, and the prefaces that Blish wrote for his original paperbacks, along with the forward Judith Ann Lawrence wrote for "Star Trek #12." The first season episodes are arranged in order of their television appearance: "Where No Man Has Gone Before," "The Corbomite Maneuver," "The Enemy Within," "The Unreal McCoy [The Man Trap]," "The Naked Time," "Charlie's Law [Charlie X]," "Balance of Terror," "What Are Little Girls Made Of?," "Dagger of the Mind," "Miri," "The Conscience of the King," "The Galileo Seven," "Court Martial," "The Menagerie," "Shore Leave," "The Squire of Gothos," "Arena," "The Alternative Factor," "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," "The Return of the Archons," "A Taste of Armageddon," "Space Seed," "This Side of Paradise," "The Devil in teh Dark," "Errand of Mercy," "The City on the Edge of Forever," and "Operation-Annihilate!"
The most memorable story is "The City on th Edge of Forever," because as Blish notes in his footnote the script for the story different drastically from Harlan Ellison's original version (which Harlan shared with Blish). Blish attempted to preserve what he thought were the best elements of both scripts and freely admitted that he might owe apologies to everybody. Ultimately Blish is forced to go with Gene Roddenberry's televised version, where McCoy is the person who gets accidentally gets injected with cordrazine and it is Kirk who acts to let Edith Keeler die, but he does manage to work in Ellison's original ending where Spock speaks to Kirk about offering the universe for love. For years this was the only indirect look we had at Ellison's original script, which was reprinted in an obscure science fiction collection until he included it in a published diatribe against what Roddenberry did to the episode.
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 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!"
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