Star Trek's 1983 Was a Hidden Great Year

Star Trek's 1983 Was a Hidden Great Year ...

Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982. But one year later, in 1983, Spock had become a space pirate, stopped two Romulan invasions, became a romantic partner with Kirk, and, finally, learned about his secret son Zar via the Guardian of Forever.

Starting in 1979, Bantam and Schuster each issued official Star Trek fiction, starting with a numbered original Trek adventure, culminating with a novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, written by Gene Roddenberry. This book is often regarded with surprise by hardcore fans, or, perhaps, not considered at all.

Because the '79 TMP novelization is so weird and apocryphal, it's tempting to assume that the following books (zero of which were written by Roddenberry) are equally strange. However, this is not the case. What's unique about Star Trek novels in general, is their ability and ability to look like actual episodes of The Original Series, often with a significantly larger budget.

Sooni Cooper's novel Black Fire (January 1983) is a case in point, in which Spock goes undercover as a sexy space pirate in an attempt to sabotage the Romulans. They are also central to four of the six novels written in 1983, including one from Samuel S. Murdock; another from The Wrath of Khan; and Mutiny on the Enterprise (Robert E. Vardeman), which was released in October 1983.

This makes a lot of sense from the perspective of people who are writing prose Trek stories. The Romulans are inherently more interesting in the early 1980s, due to their cultural heritage, which was more complex than the Klingons at that point in franchise history.

The Romulans were the wrong kind of villains: They're portrayed as evil Vulcans in both TOS and TAS; thus, their association with Spock and the Vulcans instantly opens up new plot possibilities. The Klingons, prior to 1984, are somewhat generic villains with cool ships. From a certain point of view, the Romulan Empire was a more realistic adversary for the Federation in '83.

What makes the 1983 Trek novels so special is their consistency and ability to fall in with the classic TOS pantheon in the 1970s. Because they honor the weird mix of progressivism and regressive sexuality of TOS, Kirk almost falls in love with this person, yet there is a thoughtful introspective theme here, like in an actual episode of TOS.

Triangle(March 1983) finds Spock's pon farr triggering outside of the seven-year cycle, and a love triangle between him and Kirk, but not more so than was previously implied in The Original Series or Roddenberry's TMP book.

Yesterday's Son, directed by A.C Crispin, features Spock as a lovechild of Spock and Zarabeth from the TOS episode "All Our Yesterdays." This sort of plot, similar to the DS9 episode "Time's Orphan," involves Molly O'Brien experiencing roughly the same thing.

The majority of Diane Duane's The Wounded Sky, which was published in December 1983, features a stunning cover art by legendary fantasy artist Boris Vallejo, who depicts Kirk and Spock in their TOS uniforms, even though the story happens sometime in 2275, which would put it after the film's shooting.

Diane Duane wrote several excellent and thoughtful Star Trek novels, including Spock's World and the Rihannsu series (more Romulans!) The Wounded Sky is an absolute must-read.In it, the Enterprise tests an "inversion drive," which is intended to improve the warp drive, but the result is that the crew is trapped in a spacetime rift, which results in dreams becoming reality.

Sound familiar? It should. The Wounded Sky was the basis for The Next GenerationEpisode "Where No One Has Gone Before," which aired just four years later on October 26, 1987, one of the best TNG episodes.

Although Star Trek flourished more rapidly in the 1990s than at any other time, the 1980s were probably the most significant periods. What's interesting about the snapshot of 1983 is just how similar the Trek atmosphere was to TOS back then, but how much more possibilities there were for new adventures.