I was honored to be invited to participate in a Mind Meld article at SF Signal earlier this month. The topic was “Worthy Media Tie-ins,” so of course I took the chance to expand on my love of James Blish’s Star Trek books — particularly Star Trek 2, one of the very first books I ever owned, which I first mentioned a few weeks back in my review of The Best of James Blish.
What made James Blish’s Star Trek tie-in books so great? They were fun, fast-paced, and most of all, familiar. Before I plucked Star Trek 2 off the rack, the adult section of the bookstores was a strange and unfriendly place, filled with covers of stiff, formally attired men and much less stiff, partially-attired women. In short, Blish’s books were a gateway drug to a much wider world. With phasers.
But the book I was really dying to talk about was Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the very first Star Wars tie-in novel and the book that launched an entire publishing empire:
Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye isn’t just a media tie-in novel. It’s sort of an alternate-world, parallel-universe media tie in novel. A tie-in novel for a Star Wars universe in some time-stream that has nothing at all to do with our universe.
This is because Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye was written well before the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Before we knew that Vader was Luke’s father, before Han and Leia started making goo-goo eyes at each other, and before Leia traded in her princess gowns for a blaster with a full clip.
So Luke and Leia get a little more frisky in this book than you would reasonably expect from long-lost siblings, and Leia is a bit more of a helpless princess than you would anticipate after seeing Empire. Also, Darth Vader is a total dick, and has no compunctions at all about carving Luke up with his glowy red light sabre. Clearly, the paternity results had not arrived yet.
It’s not all about me, of course. There are some excellent discussions of other classic media tie-ins. John Mierau — who also has fond memories of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye — talks about Eric Nylund’s much-loved Halo novel The Fall of Reach; Aaron Rosenberg highlights Max Allan Collins’s Dark Angel trilogy, which tied up the dangling storylines after the TV series was canceled; James L. Sutter explores Richard A. Knaak’s classic DragonLance series The Legend of Huma; and Chadwick Ginther celebrates David Annandale’s entry in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Death of Antagonis — among many others.
Enjoy the entire article here. Thanks to Andrea Johnson at SF Signal for the invite — I had a blast doing this one.