Untold Adventures: The Complete History Of Tie-In NovelsCharlie Jane Anders11/23/09 8:11pmFiled to: Media tie-insStar WarsStar Trekdoctor whoTopOvermindBooksWritingPublishingbabylon 5predator1362EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkSome of science-fiction's greatest writers have stepped into ready-made universes and created media tie-in novels. From small beginnings some forty years ago, media tie-in books have become a huge part of our publishing universe. Here are some of the highlights.AdvertisementNote: This is not a history of novelizations of existing movies or TV shows — just original novels and story collections set in those worlds. And for the sake of sanity, we're not going to touch on non-SF tie-ins like the amazing Shaft and Starsky And Hutch novels of the 1970s. (Even though Starsky And Hutch: Kill Huggie Bear and Shaft Among The Jews have pride of place on my shelves.)Also, I'm not even going to pretend this covers every tie-in novel ever published. Feel free to chime in in comments with stuff I've missed!AdvertisementThe early years:Doctor Who didn't get its own tie-in novels until the early 1990s (although there were annuals that included short fiction published almost ever year from 1964 through to the show's cancellation in the late 1980s.)But Who's 1960s rival The Avengers had a slew of books. Berkeley-Medallion put out nine books, including The Moon Express and The Magnetic Man, both by Norman Daniels. And star Patrick Macnee himself co-authored two novels for Hodder and Stoughton: Deadline and Dead Duck. The 1960s also saw a ton of novels based on Get Smart, Man From Uncle and Mission Impossible, over in the U.S.SponsoredThere were also a handful of novels tying in with The Prisoner — most notably, Thomas M. Disch wrote a Prisoner book called The Prisoner, in which Number Six finally tracks down Number One — and she's a female robot whose hand falls off. Hank Stine also wrote a demented novel called The Prisoner: A Day In The Life, in which Number Six falls through a succession of loopy, acid-trip realities designed to undermine his sense of self.Fawcett also put out one novel tying in with the 1970s TV show The Invisible Man, called simply The Invisible Man by Michael Jahn.AdvertisementJahn also wrote one of a half dozen Six Million Dollar Man novels that Warner Bros. put out in the mid-1970s. The Six Million Dollar Man, of course, was based on an original novel series, Cyborg by Martin Caidin, but the television show was drastically different and the later novels had more in common with Lee Majors' portrayal than anything from the original books. (Update: Jahn wrote to us and explained: "I wrote five "Six Million Dollar Man" books (one under the name Evan Richards), not just one, and about 15 other tie-ins including "The Invisible Man" book that you know about. The pseudonym was required because Caidin was afraid he was losing Steve Austin to me, which is a bizarre concept.")But probably the most significant stand-alone media tie-in of the 1970s, in retrospect, was the Star Wars novel Splinter Of The Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster. Splinter quickly became non-canonical thanks to its climactic battle scene in which Luke manages to lop off Darth Vader's arm — not to mention its incestuous embrace between Luke and his sister Leia. According to some reports, Foster wrote Splinter to be a low-budget sequel to the original movie in case it bombed — hence the fact that it reuses many props and sets from the first film, and avoids ambitious locations. It also doesn't feature Han Solo, because they didn't think his character was going to catch on. Han Solo did get to star in his own trilogy of novels as consolation, though, starting with Han Solo At Stars End There were also a handful of Lando Calrissian novels.The rise of Star Trek novels:According to the excellent book Voyages Of The Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion by Jeff Ayers, the first original Star Trek novel was 1968's Mission To Horatius, a young adult novel by Mack Reynolds. But the best known early Trek novel was the second, 1970's Spock Must Die! by James Blish, who also wrote adaptations of the original series. Spock Must Die!, which I totally read as a kid, involves an accident which produces two Spocks — and only one of them can be allowed to go on living.AdvertisementIn the 1970s, Bantam put out a series of original Star Trek story anthologies called The New Voyages,, plus a dozen original novels, edited by famed science fiction author Frederik Pohl.The golden age of Trek novels, though, was probably the 1980s, with David Hartwell editing the Trek line for Pocket Books. Vonda McIntyre, who also did incredible novelizations for Star Treks II, III and IV, wrote two great books: The Entropy Effect in 1981 (ignore the horrible cover) and Enterprise: The First Adventure in 1990 (which would be a good counterpoint to the recent J.J. Abrams film in terms of showing how the crew got their start.) In this interview, McIntyre explains why she identifies with Sulu, and how she gave him his first name: Hikaru. (The publisher freaked out, until someone actually asked Gene Roddenberry and George Takei, who were both fine with it. But you have to wonder what Takei thought of Sulu's porn stache. Probably he didn't mind it.)AdvertisementAnother great author who wrote a couple of memorable Trek books was John M. Ford, who vastly expanded our understanding of Klingon culture in How Much For Just The Planet? and The FInal Reflection. (Ford also wrote Klingon manuals for the Trek role playing game, and was always treated as an honored guest at Klingon gatherings. At the 2009 Worldcon, a panel about the late Ford included a moving tribute from a Klingon audience member.)Meanwhile, Diane Duane did more than any other author to flesh out both Vulcan and Romulan society, with 1984's My Enemy, My Ally and 1988's Spock's World, among others. The Romulans — who call themselves the Rihannsu in Duane's version — have never seemed as fully realized or believable as a culture on screen as they have in Duane's books.According to Ayers' book, however, all was not well with the Trek novels — Gene Roddenberry wanted to micro-manage the book line and had his personal assistant, Richard Arnold, read every single book. And Arnold tended to balk at anything that went beyond what had been established on screen. If you want to read a hair-raising account of what it was like to write a Trek book that ran into trouble with Roddenberry or Paramount, here's writer Margaret Bonnano's incredibly lengthy account of her troubles writing the tie-in book that became PROBE. Shorter version: tons of micromanaging, characters being cut out, and calls for Bonnano to rewrite the whole thing in six days.Other franchises to get tie-in novels in the 1980s included Battlestar Galactica — most of those books were novelizations of episodes, but eventually it looks like they ran out of episodes to adapt and started writing original volumes; and Blake's 7, which got a sequel novel called Afterlife. (There was also a horrendously poorly received B7 novel in the 1990s called Avon: A Terrible Aspect, written by actor Paul Darrow.) And of course, as we detailed in a recent post there were 16 great V novels, which continued the story after the original show went off the air.