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Spock Must Die! (Star Trek)

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,122 Ratings  ·  93 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,843)
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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 liked it
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
Mar 29, 2008 Kirk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 22, 2011 Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 14, 2016 Thom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-series
James Blish wrote a lot for Bantam's Star Trek books, including most of the 12 collections that covered each episode of the original series. His stories went into more depth than the episode, but usually not in the direction of the character. This book, one of the first original tales published, fits that mold quite well.

McCoy doesn't like the transporter, Scotty loves to talk about the technology, and Kirk must agonize over the decisions. In this case, the decision is which Spock must die, afte
Apr 11, 2016 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

In this Star Trek book from 1970, a transporter experiment gone awry results in the creation of what I call “Bizarro Spock.” (Not a spoiler; there’s two Mr. Spocks on the cover.) The incident lets James Blish discuss philosophy, solipsism, and the nature of human consciousness. We even have a bit (too much) about James Joyce.

But what I will remember about this Star Trek: TOS novel is culinary hope.

When I was a kid, I toured NASA’s Johnson Space Center several times. I wanted to be a
May 03, 2009 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
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
Mike McDevitt
Sep 14, 2011 Mike McDevitt rated it it was ok
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
May 23, 2010 David Palazzolo rated it liked it
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
Dec 14, 2011 Kelley Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Apr 18, 2016 Francisco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first time in the Star Trek universe we get a novel directed to an adult audience based on the Star Trek Original Series, but with a completely original story. Unlike the novelizations, or the Mission to Horatius novel, this is not episodic in nature at all, it's not a bunch of short-stories put together. For the first time we have a longish novel (it's like 100 and something pages, short but much longer than previous single pieces of writing in the franchise) developing one story from b ...more
Andrew Perron
Jun 25, 2014 Andrew Perron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eric Troup
Apr 02, 2016 Eric Troup rated it liked it
It was quite fun to read a Star Trek novel written so soon after the series's cancellation, before there was so much more material weighing the Trek universe down. It's not a perfect novel, by any means, even given a pass for continuity "glitches," as noted above. Scotty's accent is inexplicably different from how ed appears in the TV series, and McCoy is referred to as "Doc" constantly—something which is puzzling, given how familiar the author, James Blish, was with the source material, having ...more
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
Dec 05, 2014 John rated it liked it
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
Mar 30, 2015 Brian Lewis rated it really liked it
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
Ilsa Bonaparte
Apr 01, 2015 Ilsa Bonaparte rated it it was ok
Okay. I liked it when I read it, which is when I was something like eight years old. It was my first Star Trek novel, and I thought it was awesome. Looking back on it, though, it sucked.
Aarøn VE
Dec 21, 2015 Aarøn VE rated it liked it
Blish's style is very short and not too elegant. The story comes off rushed in the beginning then towards the end feels like it's being dragged on forever. The story was good and but also felt like Blish was trying too hard to be Star Trek rather than just letting the characters follow their courses.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the philosophical and moral ideas it puts forth are definitely areas in which I often have found myself wondering about, like does going through the transporter tran
Nov 30, 2014 Charlene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, star-trek
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
Mar 10, 2015 Mario rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2013 Randy Mcdonald rated it really liked it
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 liked it
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
Jun 10, 2013 Christian rated it liked it
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
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Spock Must Die! 1 24 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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