Monday, October 21, 2019

Literary Treks 285: Those Bloody Mind Control Revolts!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
by Gene Roddenberry
40th Anniversary Edition

Trade Paperback: | |

A destructive menace is heading directly towards Earth, and the Enterprise is the only starship in interception range. Admiral James T. Kirk must once again assume command to take on this threat and solve the mystery of "Veejur" before it destroys all life on Earth. The film that launched the Star Trek movie series has mixed reviews, but the novelization of that film offers us a glimpse into the mind of the creator of Star Trek!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are joined by "Dr. Trek" himself, Larry Nemecek, to discuss the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry. We talk about differences between the film and the novel, the persistent "Alan Dean Foster myth," Kirk's subtextual relationship with Spock, the story from Veejur's perspective, Decker's ultimate fate, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we report on the announcement of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Inside the Art & Visual Effects by Jeff Bond & Gene Kozicki, coming in March of 2020. We also respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 283: Everyone's Tilting at Windmills.

Literary Treks 285: Those Bloody Mind Control Revolts!
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novelization by Gene Roddenberry - 40th Anniversary Edition

Previous episode: Literary Treks 284: Smoothing Over the Rough Edges of Canon
Next episode: Literary Treks 286: The Wrong Thing for the Right Reason

1 comment:

  1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The Book aka "What if NOMAD landed at a fondue party/orgy in the suburbs of Passadena circa 1976?"

    "James...was the name of my mother's first love instructor."

    Her FIRST love instructor mind you.

    Move over Melville. E.S.A.D. Charles Dickens. THIS is how you start a book!

    Did you know that the moon was once inhabited by aliens who conducted genetic engineering on Earth? It's true. Gene drops this little tidbit and devotes one entire sentence to it before moving on. Also - Starfleet is made up of the dumbest part of humanity. "Primitives" compared to the more evolved "new humans." To make up for being being big dummies Starfleet officers have tech in their head that allows HQ to beam images directly into their brains without any warning. Sound kinda silly to you? Too bad 'cause it's canon. Unlike TOS which turns out to be nothing more than inaccurate propaganda. Also there was a "mutant-farm civilization of pre-history" too apparently. Were the farmers mutants? Did they grow mutants? Or was the farm itself some sort of mutant? Gene ain't saying. No room for explaining things when you need to squeeze in a scene featuring Sulu getting a boner when he meets Ilia. Or a scene with middleaged Kirk popping a bit of a chub 5 seconds into a holographic telephone call with his ex. Oh, and it's a two way video conversation so she can probably see his Lil' Admiral.

    A couple of my favorite lines:

    "It was Ilia! Lovely, almost unbearably lovely in her nudity!"


    "The thought occurred to him that there were those who might criticize this mass announcement as contrived dramatics. To blistering hell with any such critic!"

    A few comments:

    Something I didn't notice during the many times I've watched the movie: Kirk is a jerk and is absolutely useless throughout the entire film. He literally accomplishes nothing except for stealing the ship from Decker and promptly almost destroying the entire crew. Decker and Spock are the only ones doing anything productive here. Kirk waltzes in, acts like a tool, screws up repeatedly, and is happy as a clam at the end of the day because he gets "his" ship back.

    I love the cast of TOS. Reading the novelization makes you realize just how many faults the audience's love for the actors and characters can cover up. There really aren't any great lines for the Big Three here.

    I don't like a lot of 80s Trek novels. My main gripe is many of them don't "feel" like Trek to me. I misjudged them because I now realize that a lot of them were using elements of this novel as springboards. You know that recreation area that Diana Duane always included in her books? That's from this book. Except in this book the recreation deck is a place where the crew can get together for a game of ping pong and then screw. Harb Tanzer: Space Panderer. Important note: The Rec area is not to be confused with the "extreme forward area of the engineering hull" where the crew gets together to watch the stars. And then screw. Loudly. At least according to Spock.

    Final comment: The movie is a rehashed episode of TOS ran in slow motion, with better visual effects and a cooler ending. The novelization is made even worse because Gene Roddenberry obsession with sex is equal parts creepy and embarrassingly sophmoric.

    Rating: One and a Half Ill-timed Public Erections Out of Five.

    P.S. I would love to see a Myriad Universes take on this story with Decker as the main character.

    P.P.S. Even though I don't care for this book (or movie) I'd still like to recommend a couple of related novels. The Lost Years by J.M. Dillard is a very good prequel, and Ex Machina by CLB is an excellent sequel. Both are definitely worth checking out, imo.