Tie-in Fiction Friday: Star Trek #8 Black Fire

Here’s something I’m going to try out on and off throughout the year, Squiders. I think there’s a bit of stigma against tie-in fiction, to some extent. And I don’t mean a book that gets made into a movie (though one could argue that there is some stigma against the movie, in such cases), as that’s a completely different case, but a book that’s based off a movie or a TV show or a video game or whatever.

Why the stigma? I think a lot of people see tie-in fiction as just a way whatever company is trying to milk more money from whatever the source material is. Books get “cranked out” by the dozens, farmed to random writers, continuity may or may not be observed, etc.

But how bad are they really? No doubt it varies wildly from franchise to franchise, and also within franchises, but I thought I’d give some a try. I’ve got a ton of Star Trek books I haven’t read since I was a kid, ditto Star Wars (though, do we bother with the new movies erasing the EU?), a Doctor Who ebook, a ton of D&D books (that my husband bought me to help me understand the universe better), and, if we get really wild, I’ll read back through the Myst books which I remember being excellent (…a long time ago).

Should be fun, if nothing else.

So, to start us off, today I’m offer Star Trek #8 Black Fire by Sonni Cooper, written in 1983. Amazon tells me she also published some romance novels in the ’80s, and has put out some other books in the last few years.

Black Fire was one of my favorite Trek novels as a kid. What I remembered most going into reading this was that Spock spends a significant amount of time being a space pirate (named Black Fire, hence the title). So, there’s the premise for you. Spock. Space pirate.

Well, in actuality, the space pirate part is a much smaller portion than what I remember. The book holds up better than I expected it to, but it still is a little lacking in characterization (not capturing the characterization of the original series characters so much as expecting the readers to know them well enough to fill in the blanks). The plot is still fun, and perhaps the weaknesses in characterization are to avoid making the twist ending too obvious.

She gets bonus points for her Romulans. (I love the Romulans and am always pleased when they’re properly portrayed.)

Is this a good novel? I think without being familiar with the source material, a reader would be extremely lost. That’s probably true of most tie-ins, I would think. Is it a good Trek novel? I would put it middle of the range. I read another Trek novel, Enterprise: The First Adventure, a few years back, expecting it to be cracky goodness, but that was actually a much stronger book, both from a Trek novel and a general novel standpoint.

Verdict? Okay. A quick read. Very trek-y. Read Enterprise: The First Adventure instead. There’s no space pirates but there is a space circus.

Read Black Fire, Squiders? Have any tie-in books you’d recommend?

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