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Spock Must Die! (Star Trek)

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,006 ratings  ·  85 reviews
When a transporter experiment goes horribly awry, suddenly there are two Mr. Spocks! One is the true First Officer of the Enterprise. The other is his complete opposite, a traitor whose very existence poses a grave threat to the crew, the ship, and the Federation itself. One of the Spocks must die. But which one ... ?
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 1985 by Spectra Books (first published February 1st 1970)
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Imzadi by Peter DavidSpock's World by Diane DuaneUhura's Song by Janet KaganYesterday's Son by A.C. CrispinEnterprise by Vonda N. McIntyre
Best Star Trek Books
74th out of 246 books — 172 voters
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume84, Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffThe Crystal Cave by Mary StewartBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Best Books of 1970
61st out of 141 books — 43 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,618)
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Common opinion seems to hold that being a Star Trek fan is akin to declaring a form of voluntary abstinence in this sexual age:

I find that perception to be a serious boat miss. I am a Trekker...not an “in garb” convention going, mind-meld teaching, Klingonese poetry writing disciple of the Church of Roddenberry (for which it’s worth, I worship Cthulhu who reigns supreme over all). However, I am a big fan of the universe, the stories and the “can do” and “can do the right way” attitude that the
Apr 28, 2011 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
OK - the first Star Trek story not based on a shooting script, requested by popular demand (fan mail to the author, from readers of his script adaptations.)

What would you do with that opportunity? Let's just say I am unsurprised that Blish's story revolves round a transporter accident. The technology raises heaps of questions in the minds of anyone with the slightest philosophical bent - and any decent SF writer fits in that category. Also, at the time, most of those obvious ideas hadn't already
One of the first original Star Trek novels written, "Spock Must Die" is a product of an entirely different era in Trek publishing. Veteran sci-fi writer James Blish famously adapted most of the original 79 episodes of classic Trek as short stories in a series of 12 collections. (For many fans, like myself, these collections were an essential part of our discovery of the original series in the days before we could watch any episode we wanted any time we wanted via video-tapes, DVD collections or ...more
I shoplifted this from Eastlawn Pharmacy in Midland MI somewhere around 1972. Can't remember a damn thing about it other than everybody wanted Spock dead. Including me.
In this existential treatise on the philosophy of self, James Blish attempts to resolve the infamous "McCoy's Paradox" regarding the continuity of essentia through the medium of a Star Trek: The Original Series novel. As you do.

McCoy's paradox is of course well known to anyone who has even walked past a bookshop that contains philosophy texts, but for completeness I'll recapitulate it here in Blish's terms. The transporters of Star Trek can be (erroneously) thought of as working by converting th
I'm suddenly on a Star Trek kick, maybe due to the upcoming release of the new Trek movie. I really enjoyed this book a lot, and it actually had a couple of elements that surprised me. The plot was quite derivative of the original episode of "The Enemy Within," combined with the genie battle from The Arabian Nights, but it was enjoyable for all that.
Mike McDevitt
Never going to be a favorite. I need to make every effort not to judge early Trek fiction too harshly, but... sigh.

McCoy's fear that the transporter routinely murders the people who go through it and replaces them with identical (soulless) copies: I've never understood this- the device (impossible I know) turns matter into energy and back. It's not DESTROYING anything.

I've never subscribed to this attitude that McCoy has metaphyscial fears about the bloody thing: only that (like all modes of tra
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I'm a Star Trek fan, but I've never delved much into the spin-off novels. However, I'm also an admirer of Blish's SF, so it was inevitable that I would read this at some point.

For such a short novel (118 pages in this edition) it packs in a lot of good and some bad; an clever concept based around transporter technology, questions about the nature of identity, ethical quandaries, a mysterious vanishing planet and some exciting battle maneuvers. Unfortunately, it also manages to be rather talky e
David Palazzolo
Saw it at a used bookstore and could not resist.

Now at the half-way point of the book I have to say I'm sorry Blish apparently wasn't given a higher page count to fill. He has crammed the book full of unexpected tidbits like a discussion of James Joyce and philosophical debate on whether if anyone who has ever used the transporter device is truly alive. Unfortunately, all these extras are painfully brief, as we have less than 130 pages to tell the whole story.

Characterizaton is also very sparse.
An established sci-fi author + a really interesting premise. It could have been an enjoyable read if only the characterizations weren't totally off. One of the ingredients that made Star Trek such a great show was the friendship between Kirk, Spock & McCoy. If I didn't know otherwise after reading this book I would think that they are mere acquaintances.
Kelley Ross
While rating this, I have to confess that I am a huge Star Trek nerd. This was my first time reading any of the novels and I thought the writing was very neat. Neat= full of scientific explanations for absolutely everything going on! I realize that the scientific conjectures in this book might be completely unfounded and downright silly to a scientist, but I'm just happy to stumble across a SF book series that attempts to involve the scientific method and other reasoning processes. There really ...more
Hayley Swanson
I may be biased because I love Spock and, really, the entire TOS crew. In Spock Must Die!, Dr. McCoy is puzzling over the spiritual ethics of the use of the transporter. These musings prompt an alteration of the transporter room to send a duplicate to the planet, with the benefit of being able to transport over longer distance, which is important because the Klingons have just violated the Treaty of Organia and now nobody's sure if Organia still exists. Rather than fly for six months to reach tr ...more
Tracy Poff
This review also appears on my blog.

In 1968, James Blish wrote in the introduction to Star Trek 3 that he would be writing an original Star Trek novel, the popularity of the television series warranting such an effort. By the time that book was published, in April 1969, Star Trek had already been cancelled, with only its final episode, "Turnabout Intruder", yet to air. Finally, in February 1970, Bantam published Blish's (sole) original Trek novel: Spock Must Die!

The Enterprise is mapping out a
Andrew Perron
It's interesting to look back in the early history of a franchise like this and see all the could-have-beens, the paths taken before "how you're supposed to do it" was set in stone.

In this case, James Blish gives us a very hard-SF-style take on Star Trek. The book starts off with a thoughtful discussion of one of the pillars of the Star Trek setting - "Doesn't the transporter, y'know, kill you?" - and runs with the implications to set up the plot. By itself, this would be an interesting historic
James Sorensen
James Blish was commissioned to novelize all the Star Trek:TOS episodes, of which he did a very good job.

James Blish was also a science fiction writer in has own right. Although I have not ready any of his writing other than this book and all of the novelized short stories.

Aside from "Mission to Horatius" which was the first Star Trek novel, published by Whitman as a children's tie-in book, "Spock Must Die" was the first book ST book directed at an adult audience. This is the first ST novel by B
Aman Mittal
Spock Must Die by James Blish is the first book in the Star Trek Adventure series originally published by Bantam. The world of Star Trek is humongous. There are different series in which this enormous world is divided. For a week I was confused to start reading which series or any particular book. My previous knowledge of Star Trek world is limited to the two movies which have came lately and are directed by J. J. Abrams. I know what an enterprise is, I knew the main characters and of course the ...more
Full disclosure: I am an avid Star Trek fan--not the cosplay, name your child or pet for a character, or having a Klingon wedding type of fan--but a huge fan nonetheless. To some, what I'm about to say may sound self-hating and/or trek-bashing, but hear me out...

Read--and enjoy, unabashedly--this story for what it is, the first legitimate attempt by a legitimate science fiction writer to craft a Star Trek novel, and spurred largely by fan request at that.

I admired all the attempts by Blish to pu
Brian Lewis
I wasn't expecting much when I started this book. The reason being, is most of the extremely early Star Trek fiction were just awful, or mediocre at best. However, this book was fantastic and I highly recommend it.

The book has a nice plot, the characters are correctly portrayed and there are nice segments of insight into science and questions regarding philosophy. The book is quite short and to the point, and can be read quite easily in 1 or 2 sittings (118 pages), compared to modern Star Trek f
Benjamin Featherston
Written in 1970, this novel has all the hallmarks of a weak season 3 episode. Not only do we get yet another "which duplicate character is the real one" story, but there is little in this book to engage the reader. At a slim 118 pages, this novel still managed to bore me. The story relies to much on bulky verbal exposition, the characters all seem slightly "off", and the sweeping changes made to the Star Trek universe in this book now appear dated and silly. Worse yet, Blish insists on writing S ...more
This is the first Star Trek novel, and I'm afraid it leaves much to be desired. I didn't particularly feel the author captured the characters just right - especially with Scotty and his exaggerated Scottishness which sort of annoyed me. The story itself was needlessly convoluted as well. I felt for such a short book, to focus so much on technical things like malfunctions and tachyons was a shame, because it bogged down the pace, when it would have been nicer to get a more character driven drama. ...more
This review originally appeared on my blog, Shared Universe Reviews.

Regular readers of Shared Universe Reviews will know that I’ve read and reviewed a few Star Wars books and I’ve also started an ongoing project to read more fantasy novels. That’s a lot to have on one’s plate but I don’t seem to care since I’ve started to read Star Trek novels. Why am I doing this all of a sudden? There are a few answers and one of them is simply, why not? I haven’t read any before. I like Star Trek. I don’t l
Randy Mcdonald
I first encountered British-American science fiction writer James Blish through his involvement in Trek, specifically through his TOS novelizations. One Christmas when I was very young, I got for a present Bantam Books' 1991 three-volume republication of his novelizations, one thick paperback per season. Those novelizations were my first systematic exposure to TOS, occasional Sunday afternoon reruns notwithstanding. It makes it all the more surprising that it's only in this past week that I've r ...more
S. J.
Feb 23, 2012 S. J. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Star Trek, people interested in the science of the show
*3 Stars*

*The Gush*
As the first novel based on the Original Series, Spock Must Die! sets the stage for many works to come, both good and bad. The philosophical debate surrounding the entire book was something that, ironically enough, my husband and I had discussed not two days before I started the book. Perhaps this helped keep my interest through the philosophy banded about, which normally would bore me. To be fair however, the transporter has always bothered me. The in-depth discussion of the
It is my opinion that pretty much any genre, franchise, or medium can produce great works of art. Unfortunately though some are at great disadvantages in this regard. There is no reason that a book based on an established franchise, such as a television show, should not lead to good stories. These books though are generally looked at as glorified fan fiction by both the audiences and the publishers, and as a result the author is not given enough time to write a proper book, nor is it edited prop ...more
Elijah Spector
A fun way to fill a few hours if you're a fan, but nothing mindblowing. I don't usually read novels based on franchises, but this seemed like the closest to an actual episode -- not canon-wise, but in when and how it was written, as well as by whom (this guy wrote most of the novelizations). It certainly felt like an episode, especially in terms of its limited scope (a whole war goes on, and we see NONE of it, as though they couldn't afford it). It also, it seemed, elaborated on Klingon culture ...more
The cadence of the narrative was a bit odd, but I think that was just Blish's writing style - and this seems to have been the first Star Trek novel, so I will cut it some slack. Though it seemed pretty obvious to me which was the real Spock - ummm...the one NOT acting like a total freak, perhaps? - the discussion about real selves vs copies via transporter technology was interesting. I am pretty sure I read this one when I was a kid, but I can't swear to that.
[These notes were made in 1984:]. Cashing in, no doubt, on the popularity of the Star Trek movies, Bantam have issued a major reprint of this, the earliest of the published original fiction. Blish is of course an established sf writer in his own right, and it shows in the quality of his plotting, just as his long association with the series and characters shows in his easy familiarity with the whole ST universe. A botched-up experiment on the transporter produces 2 Spocks - the original and a "r ...more
3.5 Stars
Caught behind enemy lines as the Klingons start a war against the Federation, the Enterprise must find a way back the the front lines and try to stop the war. Scotty comes up with a solution, but it leaves the Enterprise with two Spocks. Now Captain Kirk must deal with the duplicate and the ever present Klingon threat.

This book consists of an incredibly strong core plot that would have made a truly excellent short story. The Spock One versus Spock Two conflict as relating to the transpo
Read Ng
This was also dredged up from the back of my bookcase. I good story, written long before the Star Trek TNG. This tale does not fit into the current Star Trek universe, but it does a great job of extending out from TOS. This story marks the first time I read about space battle tactics using warp field technologies. Reading it today, I find small errors in why there was so much difficulty in telling one Spock from the other, but for the time it was written, it was pretty good. The story is short, ...more
Carmen Saminaden-honiss
I knew which was which from the beginning of the dilemma. Probably with the knowledge of the Spock character from the years of canon but truthfully it's not hard to figure out. Setting aside that this is sci-fi and you really do need to suspend disbelief to enjoy it, niggling parts of the science WILL render the more trollish audience absolutely IRATE though it should only annoy the rest of us. It's a little dated but hey it's Star Trek and was written decades ago. To the diehard militant femini ...more
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Spock Must Die! 1 22 Feb 23, 2010 12:24PM  
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James Benjamin Blish (East Orange, New Jersey, May 23, 1921 – Henley-on-Thames, July 30, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling Jr.

In the late 1930's to the early 1940's, Blish was a member of the Futurians.

Blish trained as a biologist at Rutgers and Columbia University, and spent 1942–
More about James Blish...

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