Ishmael

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Title: Ishmael
Creator: Barbara Hambly
Date(s): 1 May 1985
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS/Here Come the Brides
Language: English
External Links: at Memory Alpha

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Ishmael is one of many, many Star Trek pro books. It is unique in that the book was a crossover with Here Come the Brides and done without permission from HCTB's owners.

Ishmael.jpg

Other Star Trek: TOS Pro Books with Fan Connections

Summaries

The USS Enterprise is on a peaceful mission 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 and frightening. The Klingons are traveling into the past, searching for the one man who holds the key to the future. If they can kill that man, the course of history will be changed -- and the Federation will be destroyed! [1]
Spock has amnesia and time travels and ends up with Aaron Stemple in Seattle ala Here Comes the Brides. I understand there was quite a fit over that book because the publisher didn't know she had swiped another TV show and the TV show's owners didn't approve. It's a good book anyway. I liked it more for the HCTB than for the Star Trek, but what the hey. The one thing they didn't mention in it was how like Sarek... Aaron's was. He looked a lot like Jim Plumber, too, since they were all Mark Leonard [sic]." [2]

The book is known for having a number of media cameos:

Several other television characters appear throughout the book. In San Francisco, Spock plays chess with a gunfighter dressed in black who matches the description of Richard Boone's character Paladin in the TV series Have Gun Will Travel (pages 180-182). Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is credited for writing 24 episodes of this series.

The British TV series Doctor Who is referenced at least four times: the Fourth Doctor is described on page 13, Metebelis crystals from the serials The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders are mentioned on page 57, the Second Doctor is described on page 154, and Kirk recalls legends of a planet of stagnant time-travellers in the Kasteroborous galaxy on page 200.

Numerous other Western and science fiction characters make cameo appearances throughout the book. Page 13 features Han Solo ("a scruffy-looking spice smuggler") from Star Wars as well as Apollo and Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica ("a pair of brown-uniformed pilots from some down-at-the-heels migrant fleet"). Pages 153-154 feature Little Joe Cartwright and his brother Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza ("a good-looking boy in the dusty clothes of a trailhand just in from Virginia City, and his oxlike older brother") and Bret or Bart Maverick from Maverick. Emperor Norton and his dogs also appear. Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke), Lucas McCain (The Rifleman), The Rawhide Kid (Rawhide), and the Man With No Name also make appearances. [3]

In a May 1st, 2011 post the author blogged about the origins of the novel and how she was able to skirt around interference from TPTB:

"People have asked me, Have I ever written fan fiction?

When I started writing Star Trek stories for my few friends in High School in the fall of 1966, as far as I knew there WAS no media fan fiction. I had two friends, both struck with that first season of Star Trek as I was. We wrote Star Trek stories for each other, but there was no network of fans and no way we could have gotten in touch with them if there had been. As far as we knew, it was just us....

....When I started writing Ishmael...My agent called me saying that Pocket Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) had acquired the Star Trek franchise, and were looking for already-published science fiction authors who had Star Trek stories sitting around in their files. I dug out the manuscript of Ishmael that I’d written for my friends, about the first third of what it later became. I knew MUCH less then about how licensing worked, but I wrote to the editor of the new Trek line explaining that it was a cross-over, and saying that I could easily and cheerfully re-write it in a generic Western milieu – a cow-town in the 1870s, I think.

I’m glad I kept a carbon of that letter. (This was slightly before the days when photocopying was easy and cheap).

The editor (the second one of the line already – the Star Trek line at Pocket went through four or five editors during the time I worked with them) told me, “I checked with the Legal Department and they say there isn’t enough of a similarity for us to worry about.” I was surprised, but very pleased.....

...Almost a year after the book appeared (and there was yet another editor in charge of the Trek line), I received a phone call. “Hi. We’re the Simon and Schuster Legal Department. Who told you you could do that?”

I said, “The editor.” I think I offered to send them a copy of the original, I’ll-rewrite-it letter I’d sent to Editor #1.

They said, “Thank you,” and hung up.

That is all that I actually know of my own knowledge."[4]

Reactions and Reviews

I just finished reading Ishmael by Barbara Hambly. What fun! Star Trek meets Here Come The Brides. A must read and I'm happy to report went from #14 to #2 on the Waldens bestseller list. [5]
Hooray! The current "new" STAR TREK novel written by Barbara Hambly, is a must book to read. A very well crafted, interesting, and intriguing story. This novel is light years ahead of the last released novel by Pocket Books, THE SHADOW LORD, and is in the same league with the other fine ST novels by Duane, Lorrah, Mclntyre and Crispin. The novel begins with familiar settings. Captain Kirk in his cabin on the Enterprise. In the first chapter we learn that Spock has gone aboard a Klingon ship on an 'espionage' mission, and has apparently been captured. For Spock's sake, Kirk is hoping that his First Officer is dead, knowing what torture the Kling ons can inflict. However, with chapter two, this book leaps off into a new dimension...with the introduction of Aaron Stemple, as he finds the battered body of Spock in the woods outside of Seattle, WA. Aaron Stemple? Seattle? Yes, Aaron Stemple, Jason Bolt's nemesis from the TV series HERE COMES THE BRIDES. Spock has returned to Earth in the year 1867, is befriended not only by Stemple, but also by the Bolt brothers, Lottie, Clancy, Candy, Biddy, etc. Meanwhile, back in 'real' time, the author keeps us advised as to how the crew of the Enterprise is dealing with Spock's 'death,* and trying to ascertain exactly what the Klingons are up to. Besides the cast of HERE COME THE BRIDES, we are also introduced to, during a trip to San Francisco, some characters from other old TV series. On page 153, Little Joe and Hoss Cartwright from BONANZA are alluded to, and on page 180, Spock (Ishmael) has a game of chess with the man in black, Paladin. The novel is well written, very fast paced, and has an excellent denouement. Barbara Hambly is a welcome addition to the family of STAR TREK authors. I hope she writes more than one STAR TREK novel. The only problem I had with Ms. Hambly's novel, is that I found it very similar to two short stories written years ago. The first one is "Mind Sifter," written by Shirley S. Maiewski, published in STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES by Bantam Books. In the "Mind Sifter," it is Kirk who is captured by the Klingons, tortured with the mind sifter, and winds up on Earth in the past. The second story is "Echoes Through Time" by Eileen Roy, published in the Mark Lenard International Fan Club zine, Despatch, issue 27. In this short story, the year is 1869, and Aaron Stemple is in the woods outside of Seattle, when he runs into Sarek and Amanda. Stemple takes them to his cabin outside of town and becomes friends with them during their short stay, Sarek volunteering to take a look at Stemple's mills' bookkeeping. As in ISHMAEL, Amanda is discovered to be a descendent of Stemple! [6]
I must express my dismay about the latest ST pro novel, Ishmael. HERE COME THE BRIDES?1! I don't believe it. Perhaps Eddie Murphy [7] isn't so stupid an idea after all. [8]
Barbara: I need to direct this question to you. I'm not trying to be malicious in my intent, but when was the last time you saw HERE COME THE BRIDES? I just spent a year re-acquainting mysolf with it—five nights a week—and re-developing a healthy interest in Robert Brown and his character in the process. The inconsistencies between your book and the show are astouding. What's even more interesting are the small details you got right. The following list is only the tip of the iceberg. I will be glad to supply appropriate episodes and further inaccuracies to anyone who wishes them. Right now, in the interest of space, I'm unable to do it here. —There were 100 New Bedford girls, not 30! —All three Bolt Brothers went to New Bedford, not just Jeremy, and they met Clancey in New Bedford. —The bet with Stemple wasn't that the girls had to be married within the year, but that they had to be marriageable and stay in Seattle for a year—and they were aware of the bet concerning Bridal Veil Mountain. [many, many more examples, snipped here...] [9]
Was HERE COME THE BRIDES a Paramount program? Barbara Hambly's new ST novel, ISHMAEL, is set in the "universe" of HERE COME THE BRIDES but there is no credit or recognition of this on the copyright page. (HERE COME THE BRIDES was not a Paramount production. --Ed.) Surprise aside, I think the setting is a great idea, as I always liked HCTB and especially Aaron Stemple (the fact that he was played by Mark Lenard helps!). And I am of course amused to read a ST novel set in Seattle, even if it's 19th century Seattle, the geography seems a little shaky at times, and it rains too much. [10]
OH MY GOD!! Has anyone else out there read Ishmael by Barbara Hambly? This wonderful book has Spock captured by Klingons and ending up in an alternate Here Come the Brides universe. As a passionate Aaron Stemple/Brides fan, I have to say that I think it's a wonderful idea and beautifully executed. I bought the book only yesterday afternoon and I am already on my second reading (and with a 4-year old and a 6-week old that requires dedication). What a treat to see two of my favorite universes combined!!! I even approve of the changes in the Brides universe that the author had to make to make the novel viable (Aaron Stemple and Biddie Cloom!). Are there any other Stemple fans out there, or brides fans, who can appreciate this? Barbara Hambly-wherever you are- you have made one fan ecstatically happy. I wish I could see you publish a sequelI! (Maybe fanpublishing...) I don't even want to touch the implications of mixed media Trek publishing. (Anyone out there care to write a Trek/Hill Street Blues novel?) In fact,despite the quality of the book, I'm amazed that it was ever published. Thank you, Pocket Books!! [11]
Who has the copyright on "Here Comes the Brides"? Was it Paramount? I was surprised not to see a credit in Ishmael. I didn't think that Ishmael was edited nearly as well as previous novels. Subconsciously and unconsciously are not synonyms. And there were more misprints than usual. [12]
Though I enjoyed "Ishmael" very much, I did find the extensive use of the characters and storyline of "Here Come the Brides," to be somewhat disturbing. [13]
I too am a raving Brides fan, but I loved ISHMAEL. The changes that Barbara made were mainly cosmetic, and in fact create a very viable alternate universe. While I am willing to concede you most of the objections that you made, I do have to disagree strongly with your final point. Stempel's mercenary nature is adequately brought out in the book - but he was a far more complicated character than you described... I have to say that I thought the characterizations in the book were excellent. Give the book a try, but this time try not to balk at the changes. (They are a bit jarring at first.) You may like it better the second time. [14]
I share [Cathy B's] dismay over Ishmael. While as a rule I don't buy or read the pro novels anyway (but have no criticism for those who do enjoy this sort of thing), in the case of Ishmael I an actively opposed to its existence. It's a matter of principle. Cross-universe stories may be a harmless diversion for fans, but they have no place in pro fiction. By using the characters from another TV show, the author is constantly reminding her readers that Star Trek, too, is a TV show, and thus all credibility is destroyed. In order to achieve suspension of disbelief, I must for the length of the story feel that Kirk and Spock are actually doing and saying things, that they are not merely puppets to be manipulated by the writer. [15]
STAR TREK has always been a difficult universe for me to write in, because I care enough for the characters and concepts to be as affectionate and accurate with them as possible. ISHMAEL has forever cheapened the reputation of professional ST books for me. The author has taken the over-done time-travel paradox, the "meeting your own ancestor" cliche, and combined them In a predictable novel that doesn't even have the saving grace of more than one really original character (Aurella). To make matters worse, the story alternates between Kirk and McCoy's attempts to locate Spock, and Spock's experience In—now get this—a time period from another television show. As I've said, this leaves no room for originality in either story or characters, and the people that populated the 1970's show, HERE COME THE BRIDES have little more to recommend them than those from MAYBERRY RFD. Spock, sans memory, of course, spends several months in Seattle of 1867 as depicted by the aforementioned show, becoming involved in the fairly mundane affairs of the inhabitants. The story isn't particularly interesting, and the paradoxical but predictable conclusion lacks any surprise or originality. This novel works as well as might a combined STAR TREK-GREEN ACRES story, and was almost like the illegitimate child (to use the polite phrase) of Rayelle Roe's MIXED METAPHORS, and nothing like a real ST novel should be, buried In cliches, mistakes, and over-used ideas. Hopefully, future books from Pocket won't be so bad that I will begrudge spending $3.50 on them instead of waiting until they showed up at my "maximum 75 cents" used book store. [16]
...The comments every one makes in TREKisM are always thought provoking, even (or maybe especially) when I don't agree. I didn't agree with you about ISMMAEL for example, though almost all your points were right on target. (Ed. note: refers to [Kim K's] review of ISHMAEL In TREKIsM #41/42. For me, all those things were just a lot of fun. Maybe It's easier for me to think of it as real since I never once saw HERE COME THE BRIDES, though I did know Mark Lenard was in it. I simply was moved by seeing Spock as himself with a lot of his prejudices gone or buried. I like Barbara Hambly's other books and she's good at characterization. I never take pro ST stuff very seriously, however, and almost never fit it into my personal view of the ST universe. But I liked the ending very much, where Kirk finally comes to rescue Spock who had given up on being found, and Kirk recognized Spock through all the human veneer when McCoy did not. I thought that was a good touch. (But why didn't somebody comment that Stemple looked like Sarek, I wonder?) [17]
I found this a very unique book. Ms Hambly has found a very successful way to combine two separate universes and make It workable. For all you western fans and Star Trek fans, this is the book for you. You figure out in the first few chapters that Spock hast been sent back in time to 1867, and that he has wound up in Seattle, WA, during the time of Aaron Stemple. For those of you who don't know, Aaron Stemple's universe is HERE COME THE BRIDES. Spock has lost his memory, and Aaron names him Ishmael for simplicity. The story follows Spock through his adventures in Seattle and San Francisco. Even though he has lost his memory, Spock always remains in character. He is his same logical, unemotional self throughout the book. Even at the end, what may seem to be out of character isn't, but fits well Into the story. The story also flashes back to Kirk and the others in their search to locate Spock through the cryptic clues that Spock managed to communicate to them. The story deals with Spock on a spy mission of sorts to a suspicious looking Klingon vessel. This vessel is on an experimental journey to Earth's past to change history by killing one man. Spock just happens to be on the vessel when it goes back in time, and manages to escape, only to be found by Stemple, who cares for htm until he is well. Spock is then integrated into the community by Stemple, and passed off as Stemple's cousin. Spock in the end prevents the man the Klingons seek from being killed, but only succeeds when the Enterprise arrives. Upon seeing the Klingons, Spock's memory returns, and he does what has to be done. In the end, he even shocks McCoy, which I think was well deserved. I stayed up all night reading this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I rate it a 10. [18]
I would like to pass on a bit of shocking news. A local "Star Trek" club member, in their latest bi-monthly journal, has accused Barbara Hambly, author of "Ishmael," of plagiarism! Can you believe that? Somebody is really getting up enough nerve to accuse her of that serious a crime. The accuser's reasoning was that there was no credit given "Here Cones the Brides" on the copyright page. Anyhow, my eyes popped out when I read it. [19]
I'm glad to finally find someone else who enjoyed the Pocket novel, Ishmael. Personally, although I watched the "Here Come the Brides" series from time to time, I wasn't particularly thrilled with it. But, while reading the book, I found myself attaining a new appreciation of the characters through their interaction with Spock. The book was funny, entertaining, and enjoyable — I liked it! [20]
Without giving too much of the detail away and so spoiling it far those yet to read it, the plot of this book is a twisty little time-travel problem with the Klingons trying to wipe out the Federation by preventing it from coming into existence and our heroes trying to stop the Klingons doing so. The complications in this tale are that Kirk has only got a few cryptic clues from Spock to work with (but he has got some help from the crew and a very old Vulcan), and Spock is where the action is (America late 19th century) but he has amnesia.

My first reaction when reading Ishmael was one of enjoyment. The story rattled along at a brisk pace and the writing held a nice slice of incidental detail about Seattle life in the late 19th which high-lighted Spock's chronic identity crisis. My second reaction was a vague sense of deja-vu. A bothersome little nagging feeling kept on telling me that I'd read something like this before. I'd reread Ishmael several times before I finally found out that the plot is a crossover between Star Trek and an old Western series called Here Comes the Brides. The tale about how I found out (in the photo library of the British Film Institute) is a whole other story that I won't bother you with but the BPT library did provide me with the casting details which proved to me that all of the main characters in the Seattle end of the plot were direct models from the HctB series. This starred Mark Lenard as Aaron Stemple so the idea for the connection of the two series is clear, as is the little connection at the end of the Ishmael story. That should have silenced the bothersome nagging feeling. Unfortunately it didn't and so I reread the book again, this time concentrating on the background details as deja-vu on the main characters had been explained. The answer became obvious. The minor characters come from other series (not HCtB) as well. The first set that I identified appear in the barroom scene on page 13. Apart from the Hokas there Is a 'scruffy-looking spice smuggler' involved in an argument over a girl with a pair of brown-uniformed pilots from some 'down-at-the-heels migrant fleet'. Could these be Han Solo of Star Wars and Apollo and Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica? The girl finally goes off with 'a tall, curly-haired man in the eccentric garb typical of space-tramps'. Could this possibly be the Baker Dr. Who incarnation? This identification inevitably led me to the second bar scene on page 153. 'A good-looking boy in the dusty clothes of a trailhand just in from Virginia City and his oxlike older brother' have an argument over a girl with a 'dark-haired gambler'. Could these be Little Joe and his brother Hoss Cartwright and one of the Mavericks? The girl goes off with 'an untidy little man with a flute sticking out of one pocket of hie threadbare velvet frock-coat'. Could this be the Troughton Dr. Who incarnation? On page 152, when Spock becomes involved in the chess game for money, the group consists of 'a dance-hall girl in red silk' (the female lead from Gunsmoke?), 'the rancher from Virginia City' who could well be Ben Cartwright (Little Joe and Hoss's father) while the 'two house gamblers' could be more of the Maverick tribe and the 'thin cowboy in the trailworn shirt' could be Dusty from Wagon Train -- there could well be many more. I suspect who the gambling man who loses at chess is, the description is very detailed, and my nagging little feeling tells me the Emperor of the United States and the Li Chang Laundry appeared in the Barbary Coast series that starred William Shatner and Doug McClure. A large number of the aliens are crossovers as well; at least the racial types are. Would anyone like to offer an explanation of the cryptic reference to the 'Ellison Trials' referred to on page 104? Would anyone else like to waste a little time trying to spot other characters?

Incidentally Ms Hambly is not the only published Star Trek author to include 'other series' characters into Star Trek stories. Ms Lorrah has also managed it. In the 'IDIC Epidemic' the ambulance attendants described during the evacuation of the hospital strongly resemble two L.A. cops normally known as Starsky and Hutch. [21]
I found it very entertaining, a lot of fun, but I remember thinking at the time, "Can they do that?" when there was no indication of any permission having been granted by the copywrite holders on "Here Comes the Bride." The book was written very much in the style of the best of fan fiction and was fun in the same manner, but being published as a pro novel opened it up to legal scrutiny way beyond anything we have to deal with as fan writers. I don't know if it ever did end up in court, or if there was some kind of

settlement or agreement reached, but I've heard repeatedly that Pocketbooks will never reprint it because of the (real or potential) legal problems that would raise. So, if you haven't read this book and are intrigued by the premise, head down to your used bookstore and see if they have a copy. If not, you might try the dealer's room of a Trek convention. But do it soon. Those pro dealers have a nasty Ferengi habit of jacking up the price on anything like this. I've seen out-of-print Trek related books on sale for $50-$75 at

conventions. So, if you can find it at that used bookstore, you'll come out way ahead. [22]
To me, that was the best TOS book ever. Of course, I love amnesia stories. But I was worried when I read it about the copyright stuff. I just assumed Paramount must have owned _7 Brides for 7 Brothers_. [23]
Barbara said she wrote the story while she was in high school, and kept it in her desk for years. Then she was contacted by Pocket Books to write a Trek story - and shazzam! she sold them "Ishmael". Barbara was under the impression Paramount produced "Brides", when in actuality it was Columbia Television. After "My Enemy, My Ally", it is one of my favorite Trek novels. [24]
Original premise really well developed, fabulous characterization and great OCs. [25]

References

  1. from the book
  2. from The Outlaw Trail #1
  3. from Wikipedia
  4. Ishmael - Let me Say This About That, dated May 1st, 2011; WebCite.
  5. from Cheryl B in Interstat #92
  6. from Morjana Lee C in Interstat #92
  7. a reference to the rumor that Murphy was going to be cast in the next Star Trek movie
  8. from Cathy B in Interstat #92
  9. from Ruth H in Interstat #92
  10. from Bev C in Interstat #95
  11. from Jan M. M in Interstat #93
  12. from Rennie D in Interstat #93
  13. from Jo W in Interstat #94
  14. from Jan M. M in Interstat #94
  15. from Debbie G in Interstat #95
  16. from Kim K in TREKisM #41/42
  17. from Karen E in TREKisM #45
  18. from Karen H in TREKisM #45
  19. from Fenton H in Interstat #92
  20. from Sheryl H in Interstat #101
  21. from IDIC #2
  22. comment by Ann Zewan at Vulcan/Spock novels, July 1998
  23. comment by Julie at Vulcan/Spock novels, July 1998
  24. comment by Morjana at Vulcan/Spock novels, July 1998
  25. a fan's comment at Star Trek book recs, November 2014