Thu
Dec 12 2013 5:00pm

Five Stages of Reading the Novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek the Motion Picture novel gene roddenberryOver a few months of reading, I hit two books about Deltans. Once is chance, twice is coincidence, and I like to be the mastermind of my own conspiracies, so I went looking for a third.

Gene Rodenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the most easily identifiable option. I found it very informative. It’s like a cross between an encyclopedia and a roller coaster.

 

1. Awe.

It’s by GENE RODDENBERRY! It’s the finest vision of humanity’s future that 1979 had to offer! There’s a huge space rainbow on the cover! The novel is based on the screenplay by Harold Livingstone, and the story by Alan Dean Foster; it seems an impressive collection of genius. It adds a whole new highly-evolved species to the Star Trek universe! Roddenberry wrote it, so everything in it is canonical! Plus, did I mention the rainbow?

2. Interesting sexual revelations about the Kirk family.

The book starts with a special preface by Admiral Kirk. He introduces himself by talking about his name. Kirk, because he’s a traditionalist, Tiberius because of his grandfather’s fascination with the classics, and James after his uncle and his mother’s first love instructor.

Yeah. That’s what it said. That’s page one.

I feel it is the obligation of a reviewer to carefully digest this information and use it to place Star Trek on a continuum of proposed future sexualities in relation to the work of other science fiction writers like Margaret Atwood, Robert Heinlein, and Lois McMaster Bujold. It took me some time to do this, because I first had to locate my response to this revelation on a continuum in relation to “Wait, what?”, “How many love instructors is it usual for a person to have in the 23rd century?” and “Is this a prudish over-reaction?” After an earnest struggle, I put myself on a continuum right next to Piers Anthony, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture: A Novel significantly closer to Heinlein than to Bujold.

I’m really glad I got that done before I found the footnote on Kirk’s lovers. Official word from ST:TMP:AN is that Kirk isn’t in to Vulcans—the once-every-seven-years thing is an issue. So Kirk and Spock were never lovers. Kirk notes, “I have always found my best gratification in that creature woman.” Which raises the question, has he done a comparative study? Reasonable people can disagree, but I feel strongly that the answer is yes. Of course he has. Rodenberry is happy to tell us about the pressure Kirk feels in his genitals (ick) when he sees his ex-lover on the holographic comm system, but he isn’t naming names. The possibilities are infinite minus Spock! Loose the hounds!

3. Starfleet does what?

They have emergency communication devices embedded in their flag officers’ brains! These provide an intense sensory experience of the information being conveyed, with a tingling sensation as the only alert to an incoming message and no controls for the individual user. Receiving an emergency alert induces symptoms similar to an absence seizure. Fortunately, Kirk is in a museum when Starfleet calls him on his brain phone, and not free-climbing in Yosemite. This may be a slightly better emergency plan than assembling all of Starfleet’s highest-ranking officers in a pre-designated room on the 36th floor of a building in San Francisco, but not by much.

Starfleet also has medical scan devices embedded in everyone’s belt buckle. These send data to the medical computers in sickbay so that crew health can be continuously monitored during missions. An explanatory footnote addresses concerns about privacy, but not about associated risks from continuous scan exposure and over-screening, or the information-processing challenges this presents for medical staff. I desperately need to read the Federation’s medical journals.

4. The Deltan.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Ilia is bald. She’s sexy. She is both an excellent navigator and easy to replace. She’s taken an oath of celibacy. Kirk has to work to keep his lust in check. She makes Sulu feel very awkward. She has never slept with recently-demoted-from-captain-to-XO Will Decker.

And then she’s abducted by the massive entity that is menacing the galaxy in general and Earth in particular, and apparently she dies and is re-created in mechanical form, complete with brainwaves and memories and pheromones, plus bonus super-strength. And from that point on the question on everyone’s mind is…

Is she a sex-bot? The mechanical re-creation hasn’t taken an oath of celibacy. They need her to communicate with the scary alien cloud thing. She might be able to give them information about what it wants. She seems willing to talk to Will Decker. Recently-demoted Will Decker has to simultaneously remember that she’s not the woman he remembers, and consider schtupping her if it might help the general, extremely urgent, time-sensitive effort. It’s awkward.

5. The universe has one single purpose.

The universe is a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon so that Kirk can command the Enterprise with Spock at his side (though allegedly not in his bed). Kirk as an admiral is not an acceptable alternative. The galactic menace is vanquished. Will Decker is removed from the chain of command. Spock decides that his pursuit of advanced stoicism was misguided. Kirk is back in the center seat, which now has safety restraints. He’s ordered back to earth for de-briefing, but in a spectacular act of insubordination he commands Sulu to take the ship “Thataway!” Starfleet has options here. They could activate his emergency communication device to induce a tingling sensation followed by an intense sensory experience of the blue screen of death, but even they have to recognize what’s right. Kirk is back! I feel kind of euphoric.


Ellen Cheeseman Meyer is huge fan of both encyclopedias and roller coasters.

51 comments
Ken Salikof
1. Ken Salikof
I'm going to hazard a guess and say that the novelization was actually ghostwritten by another writer, with Gene Roddenberry given the credit for it.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
2. EllenMCM
It's got Roddenberry's name on it! It's canon!

I also suspect ghostwriting. But if Roddenberry put his name on it, I feel strongly that it's true.

Except for the part about Kirk and Spock not being lovers.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
Since he's credited with the story idea for the movie, I'm going to hazard a guess that Alan Dean Foster was the actual author.
Rob Rater
4. Quasarmodo
I read that novelization when the movie came out, but I don't remember any of this shit. Othern than Decker hanging out with the Delvian and wondering if it was still really her inside.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
5. EllenMCM
I didn't read the novel when the movie came out, because I was three years old in 1979.

I read it at some point in the early 90s.

I didn't remember any of this shit either. I didn't properly appreciate explanatory footnotes in my youth.
Michael Poteet
6. MikePoteet
I don't have any inside knowledge, but Pocket Books has always said that Roddenberry himself actually wrote the thing. In this day and age, when Lucas long ago gave Foster credit for writing the STAR WARS novel, and when so much behind-the-scenes info about TREK has come to light, the simplest explanation is that, as the cover says, Roddenberry is the author. It certainly has enough of his idiosyncratic vision of the future in it that didn't make it on screen (as your review points out.)

I always took "first love instructor" to be a kind of flip way of Kirk saying he was named after the man to whom his mom lost her virginity, but that's just my take.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
7. EllenMCM
@6 - There are a bunch of references to the new human movement, and they do sound pretty authentically Rodenberry-esque.
Ken Salikof
8. Ken Salikof
You have to ask yourself, how many other novels did Gene Roddenberry write? The answer, I believe, is none. So not to detract from his other accomplishments, but I still have to think that the novel was ghostwritten.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
Nobody who is at all familiar with Alan Dean Foster's style could possibly think he ghostwrote this book. It's clearly the work of a first-time novelist, most likely a screenwriter, because it overuses italics in a way reminiscent of the way screenwriters use underlining or other emphasis to call the production staff's attention to important bits of stage direction. And the preoccupations -- both with utopian futurism and with sexuality -- mark it very clearly as Roddenberry's work.

The myth that Foster ghostwrote the novel arose from two causes. One is confusion with the Star Wars novelization that Foster did ghostwrite. The other is a French (I think) translation of the book that accidentally left off the credits for Livingston as the screenplay author and Roddenberry as the novelizer and only listed Foster as the author of the screen story.

I'll never understand why people have trouble believing that Roddenberry wrote the book himself. It makes sense that George Lucas would use a ghostwriter, because he was a film editor who became a director. But Roddenberry started out as a writer, and then a writer-producer. He was inexperienced with prose writing in particular, and it shows, but he knew how to write.

Of course, the book is not canonical even though Roddenberry wrote it. Roddenberry never hesitated to ignore or rewrite his own past ideas, and in ST:TNG he ignored things from this novel like the holocommunicator (an idea not seen onscreen until later seasons of Deep Space Nine) and the brain implants in Starfleet officers. And of course other creators on film and television built on Trek canon in a way different from what Roddenberry would've envisioned. Trek has never been the solo creation that Roddenberry wanted people to believe it was, so "Roddenberry" and "canon" are not automatically synonymous.

Especially since he changed his own opinions about what constituted canon. Late in life, he decided that the animated series was no longer canon -- which was largely due to Filmation going out of business and the rights to TAS being up in the air -- and reportedly considered many of the movies and parts of the original series itself to be apocryphal. If you read his foreword to the TMP novelization, Roddenberry presents himself as a 23rd-century producer whose dramatized recreation of the Enterprise's real-life adventures drew criticism from Admiral Kirk for being "inaccurately larger-than-life."

And Roddenberry quite clearly names the ex-lover on the holocommunicator; it's Vice Admiral Lori Ciana, the ex-wife Roddenberry creates for him in the novel (and identifies with the female extra killed in the transporter mishap later on).
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
10. EllenMCM
@9 - To clarify, Lori Ciana is named. Kirk's non-female lovers are not.
Ken Salikof
11. Al C
"and James after his uncle and his mother’s first love instructor."

Note to self: Uncle and first love instructor are separate people. The wording was just akward.



Note to self: Uncle and first love instructor are separate people.



NOTE TO SELF: SHE DIDN'T SLEEP WITH HER BROTHER.


Note to self: Stop thinking. Just...stop. Now. Please.
Ken Salikof
12. Al C
^--- There are supposed to be shudders in brackets in the large spaces. Fandango formatting.
Ken Salikof
13. Narvi
There's also some interesting science-fictioney things like shared minds on Earth and other stuff, though Kirk seems to find Earth interminably boring.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
14. EllenMCM
@13 - Kirk seems disillusioned with the new human movement. His preface explains the dangers of sending humanity's best and brightest into space. Apparently, they tend to mutiny. Kirk is part of a more conservative breed.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@14: I think that was meant to explain why the characters in TOS were so familiar to 20th-century audiences. Roddenberry was implying that the majority of humanity was beginning to evolve to a higher level, but the characters we saw on the show were throwbacks and thus more like 20th-century people. I guess he was trying to reconcile the need of a TV series to have characters identifiable to the audience with his own developing views of a utopian future. We can see the end result of that in TNG, where he tried to portray the characters as more advanced and perfect to begin with, beyond the petty faults and insecurities of the TOS crew.
Pat Hayes
16. SCTechSorceress
Ah... I saw the movie and read the book. Actually, since I was living in a part of New Jersey that did not get movies right away at that time, I bought the book on the same night that I saw the movie. I did not read it first, since I knew that would spoil the movie. Perhaps I should have. The book, as I recall, did explain what was up with the Deltans. The movie did not, or at least not in time, because I distinctly remember breaking out into a fit of giggles when a beautiful woman stepped on to the bridge of the Enterprise, and announce to James T, Kirk that she had taken an oath of celibacy.
Christopher Bennett
17. ChristopherLBennett
@16: In my case back then, I usually read the novelizations of movies long before I saw the actual films, since my father didn't take us to movies very often but we were heavily into books. So I read the TMP novelization well before I saw the movie -- probably several times, in fact -- and thus I was clear on what was supposed to be going on in the film. Which may be part of why I've always had a positive opinion of the film -- I perceived it as a richer story because I had the background from the novel.

I still have that same 34-year-old copy of the novelization. I believe it's the oldest surviving book in my Trek collection, or rather the one I've owned the longest, since anything older has either been sold off or replaced.
Joseph Newton
18. crzydroid
@11: She could have slept with someone whose brother would eventually become her husband.
Ken Salikof
19. Stefan Jones
Narvi @ 13 mentions one of the few things I remember about the book: Roddenberry's statement that earth humans spend a lot of time "becoming one."

This smacks of H.G. Wells' notion of humans eventually becoming . . . well, mass minds is the wrong word. But unified-on-some-ineffable-level beings, in a strictly utopian sense. Not like the Borg.
Keith DeCandido
20. krad
What Christopher said. A ghost writer would've written a much better book. ST:TMP:AN reads just like a first-time novelist's mediocre first draft, and, as Christopher also said, it's chock full of Roddenberry's stock obsessions: futurism, sex, and god-like aliens.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Tom Smith
21. phuzz
I read that sentance as menain that both his mother, and his uncle both had a love instructor called James.
After all, it's common for siblings to be taught be the same person right?

;)
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@21: Kirk's preface says that James was "both the name of my father's beloved brother as well as that of my mother's first love instructor." So they weren't siblings. (And the phrasing indicates he's referring to two different people, so we can assume that her love instructor wasn't his brother.)

It's not like James is exactly an uncommon name, so it's not that unreasonable that both his parents could've known someone named James.

Although movie canon has now established that James was actually his maternal grandfather's name -- and Tiberius was his paternal grandfather's name.
Rob Rater
23. Quasarmodo
I always assumed Kirk was his own mom's love instructor. Kirk was named after himself.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
24. EllenMCM
While I have no interest in derailing a spirited and lively conversation about the life and times of Kirk's mom, I must absolve the novelist (and whoever wrote the rest of the book, I think there is compelling evidence that "Kirk's Preface" was Roddenberry's work) of any uncertainty on that front - ST:TMP:AN very clearly explains that the uncle and the love instructor were two distinct individuals. Any participles dangled regarding that issue are entirely my own.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: There's no question that Kirk's preface was written by the same person who wrote the rest. It's Roddenberry's book through and through. As Keith said, the prose style is far too amateurish to be the work of a ghostwriter. It's clearly the work of someone who knows how to tell a story but isn't familiar with writing in manuscript format, and it has the stylistic quirks of someone who's used to screenwriting format. Why would a screenwriter looking to write his first novel hire a ghostwriter who was also a screenwriter who'd never done a novel before? The ghostwriter rumors make absolutely no damn sense. If it had been ghostwritten, it would be better-written than it is.

Here's Robert J. Sawyer critiquing the prose style of the novel, and concluding that it had to be Roddenberry's work rather than that of an experienced novelist:


http://www.sfwriter.com/ow12.htm


His criticisms about the lack of description beyond basic stage direction further underlines that this was most likely the work of someone accustomed to scriptwriting. Of course, there are plenty of scenes in the novelization that do get into the characters' heads, but those are the ones that tend to have the clearest Roddenberrian flavor, which would not be the case if there'd been a ghostwriter fleshing them out.

Besides, it's been 34 years and Roddenberry is long dead. Surely if it had been ghostwritten, the ghostwriter would've come forward by now. The only person who's ever been suspected as the ghostwriter is Alan Dean Foster, and while he's long since admitted ghostwriting the Star Wars novelization, he denies having anything to do with the TMP novelization. Why would he deny ghostwriting the novelization of a movie based on his own story outline? And why would he ghostwrite it in a style far more amateurish than his own? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of ghostwriting?

So please, please, let's kill this ridiculous ghostwriting myth. Roddenberry wrote it -- there's no basis for believing otherwise except for some misconceptions and confusions that have long since been debunked.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
26. EllenMCM
I don't know, Chris. I don't think we can really put this question to bed until you've written a few thousand more words on it, with links and cited sources, and perhaps an appendix on how the overuse of italics in the text reveals a compendium of Roddenberry's personal quirks. It could have been Foster. He could have signed a non-disclosure agreement with an expiration sometime after ST turns 50. It could have been Foster and Livingstone with Roddenberry taking a last pas through the manuscript to make changes, or partly Roddenberry, partly Foster, and partly Livingstone. It could have been Kit Marlowe, who also wrote the works of Shakespeare, with an assist from the Guardian of Forever. You've only addressed one candidate. You have a lot of debunking yet to do.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
28. EllenMCM
@27 - It could have been. Are you an inexperienced novelist?
David Levinson
29. DemetriosX
The reason ADF gets accused of ghostwriting this (and certainly the reason I suggested him as possible) is that he is officially credited with the story for the movie (with Harold Livingston getting the screenplay credit). But yeah, if the book was ghosted and it was done by anyone who is now a name writer, it would be at most an open secret (sort of like how everyone knows Ron Goulart wrote the TekWar books from Shatner's outlines, but it's not officially acknowledged).

I figure the sequence went something like this: Roddenberry pulls some elements from his idea for a new series and jams them into a construct made from "The Changeling" and "The Doomsday Machine" with coats of paint from "The Immunity Syndrome" and "The Corbomite Maneuver". This gets dumped on Alan Dean Foster, who produces a detailed outline. Livingston turns the outline into a script and Roddenberry takes both and churns out this novelization.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
31. EllenMCM
@29 - I also spotted The Power and the Glory.
Christopher Bennett
32. ChristopherLBennett
@29: It's more complicated than that, and there were more people involved. A good source for this is Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. TMP grew out of Phase II, an attempt to revive the series for TV as the anchor of a Paramount network (the same role Voyager later played for UPN). Alan Dean Foster was commissioned to write one of multiple script treatments for the series. His treatment, "In Thy Image," was inspired by a treatment from Roddenberry's failed Genesis II series called "Robots Return," which featured a NASA probe gaining sentience and returning home to seek its creator, an idea possibly influenced by "The Changeling." But the idea of doing a story that put Earth in danger came from Phase II producer Robert Goodwin. Because of the Earth-danger angle Foster had introduced, the production staff decided it was the logical story to use as the pilot, depicting the relaunch of the Enterprise following its refit.

But when Goodwin pitched it to Paramount's Michael Eisner at an August 3, 1978 meeting, Eisner was so impressed with the story that he decided then and there to make it as a feature film instead of a TV pilot. The fourth-network plan had already fallen through, and the only reason Paramount had continued pre-production on Phase II was to recoup the expense by producing a pilot which they would try to sell to one of the existing networks. But Eisner liked "In Thy Image" enough to revive the moribund idea of doing a Trek feature.

Harold Livingston, also a PII producer, didn't think Foster had the screenwriting experience to do the script himself, and looked at several candidate writers, including Steven Bochco and Michael Cimino, but ultimately couldn't find anyone. It was decided that Livingston would do the first draft based on a revised outline by Roddenberry. Roddenberry then wrote a second draft, but it was considered too dull and introspective, too concerned with philosophy and the worldbuilding of future Earth (i.e. the sort of stuff he fleshed out in the novelization). Eisner found Livingston's version more cinematic, but Roddenberry had added some worthwhile ideas. So the assigned director at the time, Robert Collins, did a draft attempting to combine the best of both. Apparently the idea of Decker merging with V'Ger originated here. But the draft wasn't well-received, and story editor Jon Povill made some important contributions in his script notes, most importantly the nature of V'Ger's transformation at the end.

Eventually most of the PII people left and Robert Wise took over as director, and apparently the script went through some more drafts by Roddenberry (who was pretty much the only writer left at that point). Roddenberry managed to coax Livingston back to fix the script's problems, though the two of them didn't get along well and there was an extensive back-and-forth rewriting process between the two, with script input by Wise, Shatner, and Nimoy as well. The script was being constantly rewritten, sometimes up until just before scenes were shot. (The stuff with Spock weeping and getting philosophical about the search for meaning was largely written by Nimoy, I think.)

This is another reason, come to think of it, why Roddenberry is the most viable candidate for the novelizer. I doubt anyone outside the production could've kept pace with the constant revisions and written a novel that ended up so close to the finished script.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
33. EllenMCM
What about Livingston? Roddenberry could have added some additional sections (like the preface) to a novel by Livingston, for whom the novel could have represented a midpoint in a four novel career. Has anyone read The Coasts of Earth?
Christopher Bennett
34. ChristopherLBennett
@33: By the end of the writing process, Livingston couldn't stand Roddenberry. It was a very contentious relationship. He only reluctantly agreed to come back and script-doctor the film, and that was only because Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to let him write a screenplay on whatever subject he chose. No doubt that's what he would've chosen to do after he was done with the film. I can't imagine he would've been willing to work further with Roddenberry on ghostwriting a novel under Roddenberry's name.

Besides, as you say, Livingston had two previous novels under his belt. TMP:AN is widely recognized to be the work of a novice prose author.

There's simply no need to look for a ghostwriter. There's plenty about the book that points to the conclusion that Roddenberry wrote it, and nothing that points to anyone else writing it.
Ken Salikof
35. Lye B. Ellis
Huh. I thought it was an open secret that Harlan Ellison set aside his work on The Last Dangerous Visions for a short while to ghostwrite the novelization of ST:TMP, and was so scarred by working with Roddenberry he was unfortunately left with a peculiar form of PTSD that has prevented him from ever returning to his interrupted work.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
36. EllenMCM
@33 - In my experience as a reader, plenty of experienced novelists write amateurish prose. You pointed out that it was kinda screenplay-ish.

I have a vested interest in giving credit for the book to GR. but at most, he took a screenplay one person wrote from an outline written by a second person using his ideas and turned it into a novel. I can see many ways in which he owns the work, and also many ways in which it is not his alone.
Christopher Bennett
37. ChristopherLBennett
@36: Well, yes, that's what novelization is. The point is that there's no reason to doubt that Roddenberry is the one who wrote the novelization. The script was a collaboration, but the book is all his. The rumors of a ghostwriter are based on a couple of decades-old mistakes, nothing more. The only reason they still crop up even after being debunked is that rumors are hard to kill.

As I reported above, though, Roddenberry did write multiple drafts of the screenplay, even though he didn't contribute enough to the final script to get his name in the credits. But he was the one person other than Livingston who was actively involved with the writing of this story from beginning to end.
Ken Salikof
39. Eugene R.
Fortunately, Kirk is in a museum when StarFleet calls him on his brain phone, and not free-climbing in Yosemite.
El Capitan spazzing off the face of El Capitan? Man, would *that* drip with irony.
Christopher Bennett
40. ChristopherLBennett
@39: Which is kind of what happened in the opening of the fifth movie, although there it was just slipping and falling off (and being caught by Spock, who was flying with gravity boots, one of the dumbest, cartooniest conceits of the Trek movies).

I don't see the irony, though, because irony is when something happens that you don't expect. The captain climbing "The Captain" is pretty much the opposite of irony. But then, that seems to be what many people use the word "irony" to mean these days.
Ken Salikof
41. Eugene R.
Irony: 4. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1st Edition (1969)

Kirk (the Captain) falling to his death off a mountain named The Captain as a result of an embedded doo-hickey would be rather unexpected by most Star Trek fans, as well as by most StarFleet characters (I imagine), unless they are more utterly cynical about the efficacy and good intentions of StarFleet doo-hickeys (cf. holodecks and the idea of safety "overrides").
Ken Salikof
42. David G. Hartwell
Well, I was Roddenberry's editor at Pocket Books on the novel, and I was not certain he himself was writing it until the ms came in, and then I felt that it was his own work. I still do.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
@42: Wow, welcome to the thread, David! Amazing to hear from the actual editor of the book. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with it.

And I should thank you, because it was your efforts that inaugurated Pocket Books's Star Trek novel line. And my first novel for that line, Ex Machina, was a direct TMP sequel that owed a lot to the novelization we've been discussing. Which means I indirectly owe my career as a novelist to you. So thanks!
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
44. EllenMCM
@42 - thanks for the inside scoop!

@39 - the potentials of instantaneous, constant communication looked so much less deadly from 1979.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
46. hoopmanjh
It's been a long, long, long time since I read the TMP novelization. What I mostly remember was making a trip to our local independent book & tobacco store (remember those?), paying my own paper-route-earned money for copies of the ST:TMP and The Black Hole novelizations, bringing them home and being told by Mom that I had to return them because, um, no reason.

(The reason: They were already sitting wrapped under the Christmas tree.)
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
47. EllenMCM
@46 - I remember those stores. Not ones you could buy tobacco at, but independent book stores. Also, that's a beautiful story, and I'm glad it ended well. The penultimate line had me really worried.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
48. hoopmanjh
@47 -- Yep, definitely a happy ending. And the "and tobacco" part may have been unique to this particular store. I ended up working there in the summers back when I was going to college. It's long gone now, and I live in a different city, but I still miss it (and can remember how it smelled; that'd be the tobacco again).
Ken Salikof
49. Alright Then
#48

Wonderful little story. Thanks for sharing. Maybe someone should start a website to share memories of places long gone---book stores, groceries, gas stations, theaters, etc., those places that stay with you.
Ken Salikof
50. HelenS
In my day, it was secondhand books and incense. Some of those books reeked for YEARS.
Ken Salikof
51. Zeno
@42. Are the same David Hartwell that edited the huge science fiction anthology that included Van Vogt,William Tenn,Hal Clement,H.G. Wells, Chad Oliver,Harlan Ellison,Roger Zelanzy and even some modern writers? It also had a French story that was never translated before. If you are,that was a impressive collection. You have a wide range of knowledge about the history of the genre.

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