Thursday, 14 March 2013

"A Higher And Greater Star Trek"

At a Memorial Evening for James Blish in London many years ago, Charles Montieth of Blish's British publisher, Faber & Faber, described Blish's main science fiction series, Cities In Flight, as "a higher and greater Star Trek."

This comparison was made because of Blish's involvement with Star Trek which involved not writing TV scripts but adapting those scripts as short stories for book publication and writing one original novel, Spock Must Die!, which must be regarded as non-canonical because it ends the Klingon Empire which continued to exist in the films and in many novels by other authors.

Star Trek has made some attempts to show viewers how things started:

first interstellar flight;
First Contact with Vulcan;
the Enterprise crew when young;

Poul Anderson does this for his History of Technic Civilization in a few short stories and Blish did it for Cities In Flight in They Shall Have Stars. In the Okie series, collected as Earthman, Come Home, Mayor Amalfi and Manhattan-in-Flight parallel Captain Kirk and the Enterprise. Amalfi has a city manager instead of a Science Officer. The Vegans are approximate equivalents of the Klingons. Okies meet human colonists instead of implausible humanoids.

Star Trek continues into a further future with its three sequel series as the Okie series does with its sequel, The Triumph Of Time. I agree with Montieth's characterisation of Cities In Flight and it is unfortunate that plans to film it did not materialise.

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