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John M. Ford is a Bad Man!
How Much for Just the Planet
(Star Trek #36)

John M. Ford

I told him so in person, at least once.

This book was out of print for a while -- allegedly because the sort of Trekkie Get-a-lifes so perfectly skewered in that "Saturday Night Live" skit with Shatner rose up in arms and demanded to know how anyone dared actually make funny jokes with ST characters.

There's an episode of the British teevee series "The Goodies" in which the Goodies are on trial for violating the sacred boredom of a Welsh folk music festival. "And what did they do?" demands the druid (played by former "Dr Who" Jon Pertwee). "They set about to entertain us!"

Well, "Mike" Ford set about to entertain us, succeeded brilliantly (if you're not a humourless stuffed shirt) and didn't write another "Star Trek" novel for the rest of his life, so far as i know.

(The fact that his only previous ST novel, The FInal Reflection, was hugely popular and influential - and, unlike Planet, still in print - says something...)

There may be a connection. Predictable mediocrity is apparently preferable in the "Star Trek" franchise universe to lightning in a bottle brilliance that requires thinking outside the box.

That said, writing a musical novel is rather a startling concept -- though several of the songs are excellent, particularly "In Monochrome", the tribute to film noir in the sequence in which Uhura and a Klingon junior officer (and fellow film buff) find themselves in a noirish predicament.

This book also contains what may be the shortest "Dr Who" reference in fiction -- watch for the Brigadier and the Sergeant-Major.

And one of the GREAT lines -- i can hear it in my mind -- and i can perfectly visualise precisely what happens immediately afterward -- "Will someone please give the Captain a pie?"

((Incidentally -- should anyone question my credentials as a reviewer of "Star Trek" material -- i was at the World Science Fiction Convention at which "Star Trek" was previewed before it went on the air. I was one of the crowd there who gave it a standing ovation. And i have been a fan of the series -- though neither a "trekkie" nor a "trekker" by any means -- ever since.))

In 2001, BTW, Ford wrote a poem titled "110 Stories", inspired by 9/11; anything i might write about it cannot convey any real feel for it.

You should read it yourself.

"... this is new york.  we'll find a place to dance ..."