How Star Trek met Here Come the Brides (26 years later)
Many of the early Star Trek novels, especially a few of the 1970s Bantam line, where generally written by fans of TOS. Authors like Sandra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath were huge proponents of the Kirk and Spock relationship, and more so it seemed a lot of the time, just Spock himself. Many of those Bantam titles and the early ones by Simon and Schuster’s Pocket Book line after Star Trek: The Motion Picture, were heavily Kirk, Spock and McCoy centric and a good percentage were written by women.
Which was not bad, just a rather interesting statistic. Back in 1985, author Barbara Hambly released her first Star Trek novel, Ishmael. And for the last 26 years, it has sat in either a bookshelf or in a box, unread. When I started collecting the Star Trek novels back in the 1980s, I had a lot of good intentions of reading them. But somewhere along the line, I sort just bought them and knew I would probably never read them. It just became, in my new addiction of books, a habit to buy them. While I gave up buying them years and years ago, I still have most of the Bantam Trek’s and most of the Pocket Book editions released in the 1980’s and 90s –with 99.9% of them never read.
Anyways, I had read Hambly before, having enjoyed her Darwarth Trilogy and eventually her Windrose Chronicles. But like so many authors during the 80s, I eventually stopped reading them. Mostly, I guess, because I loved something they wrote before, and was usually disappointed with their later stuff. Not that it was bad, but that was how it worked.
(Side note: I met Hambly once, back in the mid-1980s a Doctor Who convention in San Jose. Decades later, while working at my Borders in Rancho Cucamonga, I would get a chance to meet her mother from time to time, who apparently lives nearby).
So about a week ago, bored or what not, I was on Youtube and was watching opening titles to various TV shows that I grew up with in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Somehow I chanced upon the opening credits to Here Come the Brides, a western/dramedy that ran for two seasons on ABC. I remember the show for one reason, that it co-starred Bobby Sherman, who was a teen heartthrob both my sisters loved –though until I watched those credits again, I did not know future Starsky & Hutch actor David Soul was also on the show. It also starred Mark Lenard, known to us Star Trek fans as Spock’s father.
So, I went over to Wikipedia and hunted down the show to find out what information was on it. Now Here Come the Brides was inspired by the 1954 musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It was also loosely based on the Mercer Girls, a 1860s project of Asa Shinn Mercer, an American who lived in Seattle, who decided to “import” women to the Pacific Northwest to balance the gender ratio. The show starred Robert Brown, who also, ironically, guested in a Star Trek episode, The Alternative Factor. So what is this all leading to?
Well, further down the page on Wikipedia, it told of a crossover of Here Come the Brides and the Star Trek novel Ishmael. So coming back to my main point about fans writing the early Star Trek novels, this one is pretty much an ultimate fan book. So I went out into the garage, found my copy and decided to finally read it.
After 26 years.
The plot concerns the Enterprise arriving at Starbase 12 when a bizarre cosmic phenomenon causes a Klingon ship to suddenly vanish — with Spock aboard for the ride. Spock’s last message from the Klingon ship is cryptic. The Klingons, it is soon realized, are traveling into the past, searching for the one man who holds the key to the future.
Meanwhile, in the past, 1867 in fact, a man named Aaron Stemple recuses a mysterious man with pointy ears. Fearing that if he takes this injured man into town, he’ll be killed, Stemple secrets him away at his cabin, nursing him back to health. But the injured man has no memory of who he is, and once he is well, introduces the mysterious man in Seattle as his nephew Ishmael. Hijinks insure, of course.
Not an original idea by far, but I do commend Hambly for crossing over the huge Star Trek universe into a little seen TV series that premiered the year the TOS was cancelled. But I’m also sure, as a fan of Star Trek –and obviously Here Come the Brides- it was a cool idea to have Spock interact with the characters of that show, some who also acted on TOS. And as I noted, there is a wink, wink for long-time fans: Aaron Stemple, the man who saved Spock in the book, was played by Mark Lenard, Spock’s TV and movie father, Sarek.
The joke goes on way too long, though, and while it was fun, this could have been a short story more than a full-length novel. But that was the status of those early Trek novels.
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