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BLOG Spin-offs and novelisations

As part of SFX's Summer of SF Reading, blogger Steven Gaythorpe selects his favourite TV and movie tie-ins

My first exposure to science fiction was not the greats of the genre but "tie-ins"; novelisations and spin off novels of my favourite films and TV shows. I devoured them!

I'm sure that there are those who will look down on tie-ins as a form of literature not worthy of consideration, that's fair enough, everyone's allowed an opinion. I say anything that gets people into reading is a good thing, and can lead to harder literature, and a lifetime addiction.

I mostly read tie-ins from the TV shows or movies that I enjoyed: Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars. But I haven't read every tie-in ever written. The list below is a collection of my favourites.

Doctor Who And The Carnival Of Monsters by Terrance Dicks (Target 1977)
I vaguely remember Jon Pertwee as The Doctor. The Mighty Tom was my Doctor, and this book was published during his reign as the time traveller. Until I read this book I wasn't really aware of the depth of history of the Doctor. The calm Third Doctor was in stark contrast to the histrionic Doctor that I was used to on screen. It's an exciting tale, well told as always by Dicks.

Human Nature – The New Doctor Who Adventures by Paul Cornell (Virgin 1995)
Paul Cornell is a writing god and his association with Who has managed to raise the quality of the stories even during the hiatus, even with the Seventh Doctor! This story became the basis of Cornell's two-parter for new Who's "Human Nature"/"Family Of Blood". As well as a lot of other stuff it has the basic story of the Doctor becoming human and falling in love and then sacrificing himself but being unable to love! As touching and powerful on the page as it was on the screen. A great book.

The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F Glut (Del Rey 1980)
What I loved most about tie-in novelisations were the small collection of production photographs you got in the middle. For some reason that I cannot remember I read this book before I saw the film (I was an odd child!), so I was surprised when Yoda was green and not blue as he was described in my copy of the book. This book (like the others in the trilogy) is not great literature but it is great fun!

Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn (Bantam 1992)
Set five years after the death of Emperor Palpatine, Luke is a full fledged Jedi Knight and Han and Leia are married and she's pregnant. This is probably the best example of the tie-in genre. It's so good it can erase the memory of Episodes 1-3... almost. Zahn perfectly captures and shapes the essence of the Star Wars universe. It makes you wish they'd adapted this instead, but you know they'd find a way to frak it up. Highly recommended.

Enterprise – The First Adventure by Vonda N McIntyre (Pocket Book 1986)
Forget the recent film, this is how they really met! There are so many Star Trek tie-in books that you could easily read nothing else throughout your life and still have plenty to read, and some people obviously do! I'm not a completist so I chose this book for the event alone. It's an interesting read more for how it introduces each of your favourite characters, rather than for the story it tells. More Trouble With Tribbles than The City On The Edge Of Forever.

Han Solo At Stars' End by Brian Daley (Del Rey 1979)
I love this book because it stars one of the coolest characters ever created: Chewbacca. Han Solo is cool, if you like cheeky pirates in black waistcoats, but Chewbacca is the man... wookiee! This book, like the others in the Han Solo Adventures, gives more depth to the lovable walking carpet. This book proves that George Lucas created a great universe for other writers to play in, and unrestricted by daft mythology and hokey religions it delivers a really good read.

This is merely my own humble opinion - I'd love to hear recommendations of any other tie-in novels, especially for films and shows that I've missed off the list.

This is a personal article by Steven Gaythorpe, one of our reader bloggers. Feel free to share your thoughts on spin-offs and novelisations in the comment thread below...

The SFX Summer Of SF Reading is in association with Waterstone’s , where you can buy all the books you’ll be reading about.