When you read one of their tie-ins you get the feeling you're in the hands of not merely of a fine storyteller, but one who thoroughly understands the details of the genre, and the particularly universe where they're dabbling.
Today, for the "collectible of the week," I'm looking back at what might be termed the pre-history of these media tie-ins, in particular, a book I've owned since I was a little kid. It's the "authorized edition" of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea by Raymond F. Jones. Whitman Publishing Company (in Racine, Wisconsin) published this hardcover tie-in to the Irwin Allen series back in 1965...over forty years ago.
The book is 212 pages (of fairly large type), divided into eleven chapters with titles like "Doom Beneath the Sea," "The Magnetic Field" and "Farewell to Minos." Also - as a real plus - the book is peppered by a series of illustrations from Leon Jason Studios. These pictures are basic, and yet I find them rather lovely.
I always had a fascination with submarines when I was young. One of my favorite movies was the Walt Disney adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starring James Mason, and I also owned a toy GI Joe submarine (replete with giant squid!) that could go diving deep below the surface of the backyard swimming pool. So Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a natural for me. I always enjoyed the adventures of the Seaview and dreamed of piloting the Flying Submarine myself. When I was young, I didn't detect that the series became campy as it went along. To me, it was just a grand adventure.
This sturdy, solid book has remained with me through adolescence and now adulthood, its pages increasingly yellowed and parched; it's spine still strong, if tattered in a few spots. And you know something? The writing isn't half bad, either. Here's an excerpt:
"THE SEA mothered the giant gray submarine. With easy strength it lifted the vessel on long, rolling waves, then plunged it beneath the surface, only to raise it once more and bathe it in whitecaps and spray.
Captain Lee Crane stood at the huge, square observation ports in the bow of the Seaview and watched the breaking waves expectantly. At each plunge the water surged over the ports and drowned the world outside. Then, as the ship lifted, the water drained in shining cascades and sunlight poured in."
Well, I must have read this particular adventure of the Seaview a dozen times, and dreamed of wild adventures beneath the waves, manning the torpedoes or standing at the giant windows of the observation bay. So I just wanted to share my memories of this book today.
I have no doubt that - in some fashion - reading novelizations and tie-ins (like the James Blish Star Trek books...) - only stoked my enthusiasm for TV, film, and I feel good knowing that fine authors are performing the same duty for the next generation...