So it was the Republic at its height. Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within though the danger was not visible from outside.
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic."
-From the novelization of Star Wars, a "novel by George Lucas." First printing, December 1976; 15th printing August 1977.
I realize it is probably impolitic to say it today, especially because there are certain people (let's call 'em snobs), who will disagree vociferously, but I've always really enjoyed movie novelizations. Some of them aren't merely good, but actually achieve greatness on their own. I would certainly put the Star Wars novel (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster, allegedly...) in that category.
I remember reading this novelization back in the third grade -- and my mind opening up to a whole new universe. Yes, it was a movie universe, but it helped me fall in love with books and reading, and so also served as a gateway to great literary science fiction.
After reading the novelization of Star Wars, I was onto The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in sixth grade; Dune in seventh grade; The Martian Chronicles in eighth. And on and on. So I know some people (bitter writers, I think, who didn't get the assignment themselves...) complain that "novelizations" are an example of a semi-literate bankrupt culture, but I totally and completely disagree. If you look across the history of novelizations, many are written with great care by first rate authors.
Another novelization I loved arrived in 1982. Vonda N. McIntyre's glorious interpretation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Again - in an era before DVD bonus features - the novelization offered fans one of the few opportunities to learn about deleted scenes and background character and story details. This book is a prime example of that. For instance, McIntyre goes into detail about Peter Preston, Scotty's nephew (a fact actually omitted from the film's theatrical cut...) and especially about Lt. Saavik's half-Vulcan/half-Romulan heritage.
Although I believe that McIntyre's approach eventually failed with The Voyage Home...a lackluster read that bore only a passing resemblance to the movie and was loaded with irrelevant subplots, her adaptations of The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock were the stuff of magic.
Over the years, I've continued to read novelizations with enthusiasm. The summer before I attended college, I had a great day at the beach devouring Paul Monette's novelization of Predator...a riveting read that included a "new" scene set aboard the Predator's spaceship, which Dutch found in the jungle.
I enjoy other horror movie novelizations too. Dennis Etchison did some amazing work in the early 1980s with the Halloween license, as well as with the John Carpenter movie, The Fog. Again, these books stand on their own as good, satisfying reads even without an accompanying film; ditto for Nicholas Grabowsky's difficult-to-find but eminently worthwhile Halloween IV adaptation. I also read a novelization of the movie Moonraker by Christopher Wood that inspired me to read all the original Ian Fleming novels, and now I'm a huge fan of Fleming's work.
Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection of movie novelizations as well as other published works, and I treasure them for a number of reasons. One, they bring back memories of movies I love; and two - they stoked my love of science fiction and horror, which continues to this day. If you ask me, the best novelizations can compete any day with original fiction.
Any novelizaton fans out there? What's your favorite?