Star Trek Tie-in Novels

From Fanlore
(Redirected from Star Trek Pro Novels)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Title: Star Trek Tie-in Novels
Creator: Various
Date(s): 1970 - present
Fandom: Star Trek
External Links: List of Star Trek novels on Wikipedia

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Star Trek Tie-in Novels are professional tie-ins set in the Star Trek universe, that are meant to complement the source material.

The Star Trek Tie-in novels are notable as many of them were written by fans. Some Star Trek fan writers transitioned to writing professionally published Star Trek books in the 1970s and 80s.

See Bantam Books. See Ballantine Books. See Pocket Books.

Guidelines and Constrictions

The Fan Labor Connection

Small salaries spark better writing? Fans will do it for cheap? David Hartwell, Star Trek pro novel editor, suggested both things were true:

Vonda took a pay cut to write "The Entropy Effect." One of her dreams in life was to write for Star Trek. At that time, an average advance [for an original novel] was between five and six thousand dollars. For a Trek novel, it was three thousand. This weeded out people who wanted to do do it for the money, and we got authors who needed to care about what they were doing. [1]

See Star Trek Pro Books with Fan Connections.

The Gender Gap: Declining Number of Female Writers for Star Trek TOS Tie-ins


In 2016, some fans discussed the declining number of female writers for Pocket Book Star Trek TOS tie-ins over the years and how that year there weren't any female writers at all:

2016: Discussion on Facebook

"The gif.... is the result of my research on the TOS Pocket Books novels published between 1979 and 2016 (of course the 2016 ones are as yet unpublished.) Each frame shows the ratio of authors identified with male pronouns on the internet (in green) to authors identified with female pronouns on the internet (in red), for three years of Star Trek TOS Pocket Book releases (source). There are a couple of exceptions for the three-year frames. The first frame covers 1979-1983, because only one novel, Gene Roddenberry’s novelisation of The Motion Picture, was published in 1979, and the next one was published in mid-1981. The final frame covers 2015-2016, including forthcoming novels listed on Wikipedia. 2008 is not represented because no Star Trek TOS novels were published."[2]


tl;dr - Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing.

Okay, so I’ve been doing some research. I noticed recently that all - and I mean all of the current TOS Star Trek novels are written by men. Every. Single. One. Obviously men have a place in Star Trek. Obviously men have a place in science fiction. But women have a hell of a place in Star Trek too. Women were instrumental in keeping it on our screens and so instrumental in the early novels and fan fiction. Also, we tend to write differently. Most importantly for a lot of us, we write Spock differently. I acknowledge that the early days of Star Trek writing were biased more towards women. But surely we should be aiming for an equality of the sexes in Star Trek writing, especially since men and women come at it from different angles and probably read for different reasons. Since the turn of the century Star Trek writing has become formulaic, commercialised, and boring. It’s a far cry from the early days when essentially the novels were fanfiction put in professional covers. And we love fanfiction. Sure, some is terrible, but some is absolutely awesome.....

....So, what does this gif show? An astonishing slide towards a completely male authors. Yes, in the early days there was a female bias, but in the last five years (if we include the upcoming 2016 releases) there are no female authors at all. Not a one. Zilch. The last two frames are entirely green.

Why is this? Why have Pocket Books made this their strategy? They’ve narrowed down the range of authors massively, with only a few authors repeatedly releasing books. They’ve narrowed down on creativity and plot too. They’re ignoring female writers, and they’re ignoring female readers, too. This needs highlighting, it needs discussing, and it needs changing.[3]

[Jackie T.]:"I don't think men have ever really got it. The women do."[4]

[Aconitum Napellus]: "I suppose men get it in a man's way, and women get it in a woman's way."[5]

[Jackie T.]:"Yes, you're being fair. So I would like some more written my way!"[6]

[Debbie P.]: "There were actually earlier Trek books than the ones you mention. James Blish did stories from the episodes that began to be published in the late 60s or early 70s. But you are right. Over the course of time, women authors have been eliminated from Trek novels. There were never a lot even though there were woman writing Trek fiction, but that has decresed to the point of zero. As a fan writer, I have considered submitting, but it is difficult to break in to the business. I don't like the Trek novels anymore as they are, just as you said, formulaic. I think they have found a few people who write reasonably well and sell reasonably well and are satisfied with that. I am not satisfied with the TOS Trek novels and have refused to go off on the multiple product lines they have offered. Give me TOS or forget it!"[7]

[Aconitum Napellus]: "Yes, this list is from the Wikipedia 'Pocket Books' list that starts with Gene Roddenberry's TMP novelisation. In one way I'd be honoured to be able to write a pro-novel but on the other hand I've heard such bad things from various writers who've written them, and also they've become so formulaic that there's just no room for creativity. On the other hand, fanfiction is endlessly creative, and free, as long as you pick the right writers."[8]

2016: Discussion on Tumblr


isn’t the story that fannish women abandoned the Pocket Books gig when they realized it was a pretty rum deal?? not enough money/creative credit, and you can’t do good fic work under the creative constraints placed on profic writers. [9]


The fanlore page on tie-ins links to some documentation on drama w/Pocket Books in the 80s; I don’t believe that as a rule the payout was very good? And there’s the case of Della Van Hise’s slashy-as-hell book Killing Time, which was re-issued with the queer toned down (though even bowdlerised it’s still delish); K/S was (explicitly?) disallowed, and of course tie-ins are also really hampered by the need for a reset at the close. This article in TWC mentions the editors at Pocket wanting to avoid authors “tainted” by fanfic, so it doesn’t sound like crossover success was much encouraged.

I feel like the vibe I got irt tie-ins as a young fan at the turn of the millennium was that they were fine, but not necessarily a venue for fen to count on for either creative or financial success.

There’s still def. an issue with women’s work being unpaid; but I think it’s the old struggle that was discussed by cupidsbow, among others, back in 2007. Our independence from monetization here in fanspace gives us freedoms undreamed-of by the market - but we don’t get paid, and can’t claim our work in professional contexts. [10]


You see, that raises even more questions. I was talking earlier about how I’d heard a couple of female Star Trek authors discussing how badly they were treated by the publishers. I haven’t read similar from male authors, although there may be complaints out there. Are women treated more badly by the publishers? Are they less willing to put up with it? What’s going on here? Do the publishers perceive less of a female audience willing to hand over money? Are women going more to fan fiction than pro novels? Is it a vicious circle or something that’s deliberately being pushed? We could ask similar questions about fan fiction. Why is fan fiction so overwhelmingly dominated by women? [11]


The steep decline in women authors across all Trek books started around the time S&S stopped doing open pitches for Trek novels in the late 90s. Since that time one needs an agent to pitch an idea - agents and agencies (and gatekeepers in general) in the publishing business are pretty misogynistic, which means fewer women authors being able to pitch Trek book ideas. That’s my theory anyway! [12]


It also corresponds (probably not coincidentally) to around the time that the novels started feeling like repetitive space operas rather than actual episodes of the series.[13]


Honestly, after reading the guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable material to submit as a novel, I’m surprised anyone is publishing any Trek books. Here’s the official list.

DOs and DON'Ts There are a number of plots that we would specifically like to avoid:

1. Any story primarily about a guest star or non-Star Trek regular. This means no stories about other crews, ships, or guest characters that become the focus of the story. The novels should always “star” Kirk, Picard, Sisko et al. Paramount Pictures feels very strongly that Star Trek stories should primarily be about the Star Trek characters, who must be the major problem solvers in any Star Trek novel.
2. Death of an established crewmember or character, or any other permanent change in the Star Trek characters, settings, or universe, such as introducing offspring or close relations of the characters other than those already in existence. Also no childhood or current sweethearts, although you can create temporary love interests. As with all series, the status quo must be restored at the end.
3. Any plot that hinges on or describes in detail sexual relations of any kind, especially between humans and aliens. We are not interested in books that suggest anything other than friendship among any of the Enterprise crewmembers.
4. No mixing of casts is allowed, which means no plots that mix the characters from one series with another. While we do intend to occasionally cross over between series this will always be handled very carefully in-house.
5. Traveling in time to change history or learn something, rescue someone, etc. Also, we are currently overstocked on alternate universe storylines.
6. For Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the books should stay current with the programs. Next Generation should, for the moment, be set between the end of the series and Star Trek: Generations, the first movie with the Next Generation cast.
7. No stories that turn out to have been a dream, a hoax, or a virtual reality sequence. We are also avoiding novels that start out with an action-packed opening that turns out to be taking place on the holodeck.
8. No “test” stories, i.e. stories where the Enterprise is tested by god-like beings studying humanity or judging our worth.
9. Avoid trying to definitively map out a character’s history beyond what has already been done in the movies or television episodes. When we do biographical books, we work very closely with Paramount and the writer. As a general rule, the best chance for a Star Trek submission by a first-time Star Trek writer is to submit a “traditional” Star Trek mission story that follows the Problem on Planet/Problem on Ship (or Station) formula. If you’ve been reading the novels, you know that we do take some chances and publish books that push the boundaries somewhat, but be advised that we approach these stories very carefully, working closely with experienced Star Trek writers and Paramount Pictures.
10. Do not introduce any levels of technology beyond what has been established in the television shows.

As you can see, a lot of these rules are pretty arbitrary at times and fairly stifling to creativity (not to mention that #3 is blatantly aimed at discouraging shippers). And frankly, it really shows as most of the more recent books are often fairly dull in comparison to some of the stuff published in the 70′s (”Child of Two Worlds” is probably the first exception in a long while where I actually enjoyed a Trek book published after 2000).

Maybe I’m just being optimistically naïve, but perhaps the female Trek writers felt that these rules were just too constricting and would rather publish their writing in zines or online where they were free to use their imaginations without restraint. I think it is a stylistic tendency that a lot of female Trek writers (at least the ones I tend to read) tend to focus their stories on new possibilities, “what if?” scenarios, and/or complex emotional journeys, and this list tends to discourage nearly all such writings. A lot of male writers (at least nowadays) may be content with writing yet another story about Capt. So-and-So fighting a space battle/avoiding galactic war/saving a planet and so have less problems working around the guidelines.[14]


The irony in that is that most of the new pro Star Trek novels I’ve read have very definitely broken a number of those rules, including childhood sweethearts, the death of Amanda, the mentioned death of Kirk’s parents while he was fairly young (although they were very much alive in another pro novel from the same publishing year), and romantic relationships aplenty. Oh, plus a lot about Edith Keeler.
Tagged: #trying not to find it even more ironic that my original post about this only has about 15 notes #while this taken from my Facebook has over 100 #while also glad that at least it's getting out there[15]


…which is probably why I own so few of the newer books and so many of the old ones. And it’s why I’ll continue to focus on fanfic for my Star Trek reading pleasure.[16]


The current gender imbalance of Star Trek writers is clear, but evidence for the OP’s claims is less so. How does the OP know Pocket Books are ignoring female writers? How can the OP declare this is a strategy? Without solid information to back up these statements, they’re no more than unfounded conjecture.

Here’s one version of theStarTrek Novel submission guidelines - it’s far from current (MSs submitted on paper, no mention of the “Enterprise” series, much less the current movie reboot etc.) but it lays down the ground rules as I remember them from “The Romulan Way” and “Rules of Engagement”.

As the “Do’s and Don’ts” section makes clear, writing ST whether TOS, TNG, Voyager or whatever is a controlled environment. To a lot of writers that takes away the fun they have with unregulated fanfic, and “fame and the money” won’t compensate. (There’s not much of either, but you might well be invited as a travel-and-room-paid guest to ST cons…)

However, don’t look at the requirement for “agented MS only” and give up at once: getting an agent based on good-quality fanfic may be easier now than it used to be, they’re all looking for the next example of “Twilight is Grey”. The best way to find out is to look up some agents’ addresses and have a try.

This is where I give Yoda a dirty look. “Do or do not, there is no try” makes a good cod-philosophy quote, but not much else. Translate it to “Be published or not published, there is no asking advice from a professional” and it doesn’t seem such good advice.

Having a completed novel in hand despite the “three chapters and outline” process is a good move. Nothing encourages an agent like knowing their potential client can finish something as well as start it. Several finished somethings are even better.

The ability to rewrite following editorial advice is possibly best of all - once you’re dealing with agents and editors it’s not a writer’s workshop any more. They want to get the work into best possible shape so it’ll be accepted (the agent) or so lots of people will like it and buy it (the editor.) They’re on the writer’s side, even if some Big-Name writers don’t believe it."[17]


I think if the most important thing you can take from this post is the words ‘ignore’ and 'strategy’ you’re really missing the point. No, I didn’t do weeks of research into Pocket Books’ strategy for a tumblr post. But when the word is, or has been, that Star Trek publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts, and when they appear to have a stable of regular TOS writers, almost all of whom are male, we need to ask why they’re apparently not soliciting - or at the very least not publishing - manuscripts from female writers too. I’m sure that they have strategies in place for their publication process, and at some point that strategy has resulted in only men being published.[18]

meeedeee in response to petermorwood and aconitum-trek]:

Tagged: #gender bias, #if you only buy from agents you get smaller pool, #and a smaller pool can exaggerate existing biases, #unless you are aware of them and take steps to counteract, #affirmative action 101, #star trek, #women in science fiction[19]

[velvetsunset in response to petermorwood]:

Tagged: #current trek books are dull #I have stopped reading them #cut out the middle man and go straight to the fic


In 2019, Liz Barr (aka LizBee) demonstrated that the proportion of women writing Star Trek tie-in novels has been steadily dropping across the franchise; just 12% of Star Trek novels published between 2009 and 2019 were written by women.

Fan Comments

Most fans of fanworks tended to dislike the pro Trek novels, considering them lazy, lacking character development, written for money rather than love, boring, and out-of-character.

Many of these comments can be seen in The Ordover Wars, In support of Ordover, and similar posts.

General Dissatisfaction


'Mudd’s Angels' is the last in the adaptations of the live ST shows and includes both the Mudd shows - "Mudd's Women' and 'I Mudd.' Both are by Judy Lawrence from the partially completed adaptations which James Blish started before his untimely death. 'Mudd's Angels' also includes a short story (about half the book) by Judy Lawrence called 'The Business as usual, during altercations (a quick look in the dictionary for those as ignorant as me - altercation means a dispute or controversy). I very much enjoyed the adaptations of the two Mudd shows, mainly because the comedy of both shows came over in the book. 'Mudd's Women' was particularly enjoyable as I was able to picture much of the original show, which I haven't seen for a long time, while reading. 'I Mudd' was also very well done, showing that the original script, from which the adaptations are always taken, and the final shooting script were very much the same. What I didn’t like was Judy Lawrence’s own story. I found it very strange and somewhat lacking in something. I’m not sure quite what it was, but something just wasn’t there. The story is basically a mixture of the two original stories with the Enterprise again meeting Mudd, who this time is selling female androids to miners in exchange for their dilithium crystals, leaving the whole galaxy without power. There is also a piece in the story where Spock and McCoy are arguing whether androids can be classed as people. All in all, I think this is a really strange story, which for me took some fact it was a real effort to get through it. perhaps when I try a second read it might make more sense.

I, in fact, have found most of the different novels that have been written about Star Trek quite strange. ’Spock Must Die’ spent much of the book with Kirk going through some strange illusion which the Klingons had built to stop the Organians.

The second was 'Spock Messiah', a book which considering the title had hardly any Spock in it at all. (Mind you, I'd love, to see Kirk, Scott, McCoy and Chekov as they were dressed in that story - purplish black hair shaved on each side so only a five centimeter strip was left.). The third was '[[Price of the< Phoenix]],' a book which to me had no real beginning and a complex middle. Still some of the scenes between Spock and Kirk are well written, showing that the authors had a better knowledge of ST than the other writers seemed-to have The last was ’Planet of Judgement', a book that after a while I wasn’t really sure who was on which side, or who was invading who. [20]


Perry's Planet isn’t only a bad novel, it contains a scene that is more sexist that anything in the original series. As you may recall, Uhura and Davis witness a rape. Davis is capable of saying quite calmly that this might be one of the quaint local customs. She isn’t even tempted to interfere. It doesn’t make her angry. Ditto Uhura. I’m sorry, but if I were in that situation I’d sure as Hell want to do something about it — native custom or not! I’d also say that a planet that wants to join the Federation had better come up to Federation standards and adopt some civilized laws protecting its citizens. This comes on top of Davis suggesting that Uhura might want to give up her career for a man and Uhura concurring! There’s no excuse for that kind of dialog in 1980! I can understand why the series was sexist. All TV offerings were even more so at that time, but pro Trek novels being published now should have an improved attitude rather than a worse one. [21]


I have some 800 zines in my Trek collection and would say that most of the American and a few of the British ones have better fanfic than the professionally published books, although these are improving as some of the last professional books have been written by fanfic writers!) [22]


Back up to the Third Programme room, and "Hacking on the Enterprise" was as entertaining as it sounded. Four writers (Barbara Hambly, Joe Haldeman (who I'd actually read), John M. Ford, and Melinda Snodgrass) all talked about the Star Trek books they'd written, and the difficulties Paramount had made with the writing... One point which amused the audience considerably concerned a scene in which Kirk is hiding in a closet. The original had Kirk thinking that he wasn't too bothered -- after all, he'd been in this situation several times before. Paramount insisted that the offending phrase be changed to once before -- Kirk was not to be presented as a womaniser. This raised a laugh, and a louder one when John Ford commented that they obviously wanted Kirk to come out of the closet. (Which was the nearest K/S got to being discussed at that panel....) [23]


I personally would refuse to write for anyone who said I could tell my story only in certain proscribed ways (one reason I don't bother with the pro Trek from Pocket Books). [24]


I will jump in cold and defend fan fiction any time. I would laugh too, and then laud the virtues of treksmut through some brilliant statement of cultural theory, perhaps along the lines of: (Marxism) Treksmut turns the capitalist power structures that control the production of cultural artifacts on their head! (queer theory) Treksmut refigures the dominant sexual norms to celebrate transgressive possibilities! (semiotics) Treksmut creates entirely new ways of structuring text and meaning! In short, fan fiction is one of the last bastions of genuine resistance to the dastardly forces of global econo-social conformity and control, whereas pro-fic is just whoring yourself out to the Man! [25]


I think [pro books with plots or characterization that deviated from later guidelines] were published before Paramount got really seriously involved in setting "rules" for the pro-books. They really weren't concerned until they realized they could make money for the franchise from the books. Then they got into all the rules which stifled the creativity - no new major characters, no big emotional involvements for major characters etc, which made some of the early books so well liked.

They (TPTB) gradually made them into routine action/adventure with very little to distinguish the characters as the ones we love. They brought in pro writers who hadn't even seen or read Star Trek. And of course they had to run them past Rodddenbury (actually, his assinine assitant whose name escapes me at the moment, but who still guests at conventions) for his censorship.

With all that, the later novels never had a chance. Nor did we. [26]

They simply didn't scrutinize any of the books for rigorous adherence to "canon" back then.

It could also have been that Pocket couldn't go back and re-edit books into compliance with their new guidelines if they had already been accepted and finalized, or essentially 'gone to press', under the previous publisher's policy without reopening the contract and paying the writer some more money. The prospect of being required to part with more of the green stuff than was anticipated over old products can create amazingly bad eyesight in upper level management.

Otherwise, how could *Spock: Messiah!* ever have been published? <ugh> <ugh>

LOL. Or "Spock Must Die!". Both of those would probably have fallen through the policy cracks like Duane's because they were previously published by Bantam. It's interesting to note that I can't find any mention of the Blish titles, the Phoenix books, or the two [ Marshak]]/Culbreath New Voyages books on the Pocket Books website. Makes me think that they simply decided to deny the existence of and disassociate themselves completely from any previously available book that didn't adhere to their guidelines. They do mention all of Duane's, though. Probably too popular and acclaimed a writer to ignore, with the possibility of increased amounts of inbound green causing selective myopia again. <g>

Jeez, why not allow the readers to interpret a book they way they want to? Because that would suggest that their readers are intelligent and have minds of their own. They're afraid said readers might believe them and start thinking, which could lead to them stopping buying what they're trying to sell.[27]


Early Trek novel publishers couldn't put a ban on slash material in their books if they didn't know what slash was.

That's not really it, though ... There was a very porous line between K/S and the K&S friendship stuff which was loved by a wide swath of fans (not necessarily K&S zines, but the sort of typical stuff you see in gen and pro fics between Kirk and Spock from that period, as well as on the animated series--for example, the scene where Kirk and Spock hug in "Mudd's Passion").

The publisher was probably deficient in clue--after all, they printed some really crappy Trek novels by scifi authors looking to make a buck, including wives and brothers of people they'd already published, and some of them really didn't know Trek. (One author had apparently learned about Trek by watching some TAS episodes.)

And if you look at the guidelines today, it's a bit broader than "no slash"--although K/S is certainly not wanted, while certain other pairings make it into print via some mysterious process not known to mere mortals. (Like that Mirror Universe novel a couple of years ago where everyone is a lesbian.) There have been gay characters in Trek books from the 80's on, although I haven't seen a really major gay character in a Trek book yet. Of course, the hint that any Trek cast character could be bi or gay is assiduously avoided. Just silly. [28]

Star Trek Pro Books with Fan Connections

The Original Series

Deep Space Nine

Further Reading and Context


  1. ^ from [1] (2006)
  2. ^ Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  3. ^ Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  4. ^ comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  5. ^ reply to Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  6. ^ comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  7. ^ comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  8. ^ reply to Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  9. ^ lotesseflower, Archived version
  10. ^ throbbing light machine — meeedeee: lotesseflower: meeedeee: Read the..., Archived version
  11. ^ aconitum-trek, Archived version
  12. ^ defconprime, Archived version
  13. ^ Frenzied Flitting From Topic To Topic, Archived version
  14. ^ pepperpup86, Archived version
  15. ^ aconitum-trek, Archived version
  16. ^ Waiting For The Red Hour, Archived version
  17. ^ Peter Morwood, Archived version
  18. ^ aconitum-trek, Archived version
  19. ^ aconitum-trek: petermorwood: jmathieson-fic:... - Fandom is my Fandom, Archived version
  20. ^ from Beyond Antares #23
  21. ^ from a letter of comment in Grip #9
  22. ^ from APB #37
  23. ^ from Breathing Together at Brighton or, I should have remembered that!, a con report for WorldCon by Jane Carnall and Frances Tucker which mentions attending a panel on writing pro-Trek fiction)
  24. ^ comment from Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (24 Apr 1997)
  25. ^ comment by Julie Levin Russo at Writers on Writing (Jan 6, 2000)
  26. ^ conversation at Re: Trek goes back to the fans (February 2005)
  27. ^ from a mailing list, quoted anonymously (June 4, 2001)
  28. ^ conversation at Re: Trek goes back to the fans (February 2005)