whswhs (whswhs) wrote,
whswhs
whswhs

Blish/Sturgeon

A few days ago, tracking down a reference, I got out my copy of The Issue at Hand by William Atheling, Jr., a pseudonym of James Blish (an allusion to Ezra Pound's writing music criticism as "William Atheling"). That led to my reading both that and the second volume, More Issues at Hand. One chapter in the second volume was about Theodore Sturgeon. It was mostly laudatory, but at one point Blish referred to his own work turning Star Trek scripts into stories, and commented that he thought that Sturgeon's two scripts were unusually poor work and he thought them an embarrassment to Sturgeon.

That really surprised me! One of those two scripts was the first season "Shore Leave," which I thought was an entertaining light episode, at least as good as "The Trouble with Tribbles," the best-known comedic episode. The other was the first episode of the second season, "Amok Time," which did more than any other episode to define Vulcan culture. It seems to me to be a perfect example of Sturgeon's motto "Ask the next question" applied to Vulcan claims to logic. C and I have rewatched the first two seasons of Star Trek on Amazon Prime, and we both found those episodes among the best.

Overall, I find Blish an intelligent critic, even if I disagree with him. But I'm really unable to imagine what he finds so deeply flawed in these episodes.
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