Oh, and when I first got a TV, we only had four channels. Count 'em, four. The repeat culture was not what it is today whereby if you miss something you can bet it'll be repeated on one of the ancillary channels about five times in the next week and then - if it's anything like Doctor Who - it'll be repeated ad infinitum anyway, even after release on DVD (twice).
Videos were a lot more expensive in those days as well. I spent an awful lot of money collecting all the Star Trek videos (only two episodes per tape! For £13.99! You can pretty much buy an entire season on DVD for that now). And they took up more room, too. I used to have an entire bookcase that was just devoted to my Star Trek video collection. Now, with me owning them all on DVD, it's just two shelves on a bookcase.
But my point is this; we didn't have easy access back in those days to movies that weren't on TV. So film and TV novelisations actually had a point. Certain Doctor Who writers made a living off novelising stories from TV for a hungry audience who either wanted to relive the episode or who had never experienced it in the first place. And Alan Dean Foster built his entire career or novelising pretty much every science fiction film going, as well as his mind-boggling adaptations of Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Funny story about Foster's Animated Series books. They don't read like novelisations. He extrapolates almost book length adventures from a 25 minute television episode. And while sometimes they don't feel like bona fide Star Trek (not least in the adaptation of Larry Niven's The Slaver Weapon, itself adapated by Niven himself from his short story The Soft Weapon) they do make good science fiction.
Perhaps sadly, perhaps not, the rise in popularity of home video and now DVD and Blu-Ray, especially given the minimal time between movies appearing at the cinema and then in your home, the film novelisation process has taken a bit of a battering. Its modus operandi has been lost and it's fairly rare nowadays to see novelisations in the shops, and those that do appear (JJ Abram's Star Trek, written by the old hand of Alan Dean Foster, who, despite the Gene Roddenberry byline, it was rumoured wrote the novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture 30 years ago, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Stargate Universe: Air which is a novelisation by James Swallow of the three part pilot to the new series by the company that produces Stargate tie in fiction and who previously novelised the Stargate: Atlantis pilot) tend to be of the big event movies and are, by and large, more like proper novels than those skimpy speed-written 'masterpieces' of days gone by whose designation should be more 'tie-in merchandise' than 'literature'. Peter David, one of the best writers of comics and tie in fiction has made a nice sideline for himself in novelising all of the big Marvel movies that have appeared in the last few years. And of course, in years past, he was responsible for adapting Batman and Robin for prose. But we won't hold that against him, because he's also been responsible for some of the best Star Trek and Babylon 5novels out there.
You see, with the market dwindling for straight adaptations, companies turned to writers to craft original stories set in the same universe. It's an old practice, but one which really came to the fore with Star Trek, after a few novels published in the seventies, starting with the wonderfully titled Spock Must Die! by James Blish, who had novelised the majority of the original series episodes, the range really hit its peak in the eighties and, with the addition of The Next Generation when it aired, and subsequently Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise (and now there has been an announcement of a range of books based in the universe of the new film as well) as well as original novel ranges set in the milieu, like Peter David's New Frontier, there are hundreds of books, millions of words of prose all about Star Trek. Not all of them good, I have to admit. The range is peppered with books by people who were obviously in need of a quick buck and just churned out a Star Trek novel to pay the electricity bill. But after a low point in the late early 2000's, following Enterprise's low ratings and Nemesis' failure at the box office, the books have become re-energised. As with what happened to the Doctor Who novels in the 90's, when they suddenly had no TV series to support, they have become the main avenue for people who want adventures of Kirk, Picard et al. There are numerous comic books out there as well, but I am willing to place good money on the novels - some of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists - sell a lot more than even the best comics.
The people writing Star Trek novels now, like Christopher L Bennett, David Mack, Keith R A DeCandido and Kristen Beyer may well have started out as fans, but so to did some of the best novelists produced by the Doctor Who range. Being a fan is not necessarily a pre-requisite for being a talented author.
The literary Star Trek universe, thanks to a ground-shattering shake-up by David Mack's Destiny trilogy, but which was built up in the previous few books, is now a more exciting place than ever before.
But there's always going to be people who look down on tie-in fiction, purely because it's not 'original'. There was a great brouhaha the first year SFX did their reader awards, because they had not split the 'Novel' section into 'Original' and 'TV/Film Tie-In' which led to Kevin J Anderson's X-Files novel Ground Zero coming top, which subsequently led to an outcry. Every year since, there has been the distinction in the novel categories (and pretty much every year, Terry Pratchett or Iain M Banks wins the original novel, deservedly so). But it was a good decision, because at the end of the day, they are two very different media, even though, at their hearts, they are both prose fiction.
I read both. I'm unashamed of that fact. I like to read books that feature characters from TV who I care about. TV shows are really the only form of drama where we get to know characters on a week-in, week-out basis. It's easier to love someone like James T Kirk because we spend so much time with him, as opposed to someone in a film which is like a two-hour date, or a five hundred page novel, which is like a fling. Watching a TV show is a long-term relationship.