Novelizing TV Spies: Paperback Adventures Never Broadcast
By WESLEY BRITTON
Note: The article below is a May 2008 revision and update of Wes Britton’s compilation and analysis of paperback tie-ins for espionage television shows. It will be an appendix in his forthcoming Encyclopedia of TV Spies (Bear Manor Media); its posting here is its only online publication.
During the 1960s, both American and British television studios realized there was interest in original literary adventures based on TV series. So a number of novelists were hired to knock out quickly produced tie-in books that filled paperback racks in discount and drug stores alongside the works of Ian Fleming, John Le Carre, and a plethora of imitators.
In some cases, little flavor of the original TV program found its way into the “official” sanctioned books beyond photos on the covers and the use of character names in the yarns. Other efforts for other series became “canon” for experts while others still resulted in internet debates long after the demise of the series they drew from. For example, it was the 4th Ace MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. novel, The Dagger Affair, by David McDaniel which gave the world the history and meaning of the evil organization, THRUSH. (McDaniel dubbed the adversary the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjection of Humanity.) In a 2003 New York Daily News interview conducted by writer H. C. Beck with director Quentin Tarentino included his ideas about a U.N.C.L.E. movie. “I always said that when they do these movie versions of old TV shows they should go back to some of the paperbacks. For a long time I talked about doing the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and I said that Harry Whittington’s The Doomsday Affair is the story to adapt, cause that’s a book.”
So TV spy novelizations aren’t just memorabilia for nostalgic collectors. They’re part of TV history in sometimes important ways. Below is as complete a list as possible of original secret agent tie-in books, excluding items discussed in my Encyclopedia of TV Spies, with detailed notes and introductions. (This list does not include privately published “fanzine” stories available on the net or through personal vendors.)
For decades, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the unquestioned champion in terms of the volume of tie-in stories. These included 23 Ace novels, novelettes published in a monthly magazine, as well as books for children. No other series came close. Until Alias.
Admittedly, the 12 Bantam Books issued from 2002-2004 featuring Sidney Bristo and Michael Vaughn were designed for teen readers, beginning with prequels set before the series premiere when Sydney was a young recruit for SD-6. In 2005, a new series of novels entitled “The APO Series” were coordinated with the season four timeframe and were published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment. Show creator J.J. Abrams was involved with many of the titles, especially those produced after the show left the air.
BANTAM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
- Recruited: An Alias Prequel. Lynn Mason. (2002)
- The Secret Life. Laura Peyton Roberts. (2003)
- Disappeared. Lynn Mason. (2003)
- Sister Spy. Laura Peyton Roberts. (2003)
- The Pursued: A Michael Vaughn Novel. Elizabeth and Lizzie Skurnick. (2003)
- Close Quarters: A Michael Vaughn Novel. Emma Harrison. (2003)
- Father Figure. Laura Peyton Roberts. (2003)
- Free Fall. Christa Roberts. (2004)
- Infiltration. Breen Frazier. (2004)
- Vanishing Act. Sean Gerace. (2004)
- Skin Deep. Cathy Hapka. (2004)
- Shadowed. Elizabeth Skurnick. (2004)
“The APO Series” from Simon Spotlight Entertainment
- Two of a Kind? Greg Cox. (2005)
- Fina. Rudy Gaborno. (2005)
- Collateral Damage. Pierce Askegren. (2005)
- Replaced. Emma Harrison. (2005)
- The Road Not Taken. Greg Cox. (2005)
- Vigilance. Paul Ruditis. (2005)
- Strategic Reserve. Christina F. York and J. J. Abrams. (2006)
- Once Lost. Kirsten Beyer. (2006)
- Namesakes. Greg Cox. (2006)
- Old Friends. Steven Hanna. (2006)
- The Ghosts. Brian Studlet. (2006)
- A Touch of Death. Christina York. (2006)
- Mind Games. Paul Ruditis. (2006)
Avengers/ New Avengers NOVELS
The first Avengers novel, never issued in America, was simply titled The Avengers, written by Douglas Enefer. Published by Consul Books in 1963, the story featured Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) and John Steed (Patrick Macnee). After actress Diana Rigg replaced Blackman and became Mrs. Emma Peel, a new series of novels was issued in Britain and America with different covers by Berkeley-Medallion Books. The unique descriptive style of John Garforth characterized the first four of these novels. While often dark in tone with adult themes, Garforth dropped some inside the music industry jokes in “The Passing of Gloria Monday” in which Emma Peel became a pop singer. Garforth also added continuing characters of his own who never appeared on television like the black George Washington, a British agent who assisted Steed. When Keith Laumer became the principal writer of later books, Tara King (Linda Thorson) was the new Avengers girl and the tone of the books became considerably lighter. All these books are highly collectible if uneven reading.
Lead Avenger himself, Patrick Macnee, penned two Avengers novels with co-writer Peter Leslie in the 1960s. Both contained many background details about his character, John Steed, as well as his most famous partner, Mrs. Emma Peel. Readers of the era, and those who read the re-issues in the 1990s, were also treated to Macnee’s ideas about just how he saw the role of Steed in the covert world. After the series demise, in 1977 Tim Heald’s John Steed–An Authorized Biography (Vol. 1) Jealous in Honor was only released in the U.K. After collaborating with Geoff Barlow on a series of non-sanctioned Avengers stories published in Australia, Dave Rogers co-wrote the ultimate 1990 literary sequel to the show, Too Many Targets (New York: St. Martins) with John Peel. Bringing together the five principal leads–Dr. David Kiel, Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, Tara King, and of course John Steed, the story merged ideas from the televised episodes with those from the earlier paperbacks. I will briefly observe here that the novelization of The Avengers Motion Picture (Bantam, 1998) by Julie Kaewert, based on the screenplay by Don Macpherson, is just as convoluted and disjointed as the film.
BERKELEY-MEDALLION AVENGERS NOVELS
- The Floating Game. John Garforth (1967)
- The Laugh was on Lazarus. John Garforth (1967)
- The Passing of Gloria Monday. John Garforth (1967)
- Heil Harris. John Garforth (1967)
- The Afrit Affair. Keith Laumer (1968)
- The Drowned Queen. Keith Laumer (1968)
- The Gold Bomb. Keith Laumer (1968)
- The Magnetic Man. Norman Daniels (1968)
- The Moon Express. Norman Daniels (1969)
Hodder and Stoughton Books
The 1994 Titan Books reissues of these titles did not mention Peter Leslie on the covers.
- Deadline. Patrick Macnee and Peter Leslie. (1965)
- Dead Duck. Patrick Macnee and Peter Leslie. (1966)
Futura Books New Avengers Novels
The tie-in books for the 1977-1978 New Avengers series were all expansions of TV scripts and not original stories. The Eagle’s Nest was typical in that it was not one long adventure but rather a collection of short stories based on episodes of the show.
- House of Cards. Peter Cave (1976)
- The Eagle’s Nest. John Carter (1976)
- To Catch a Rat. Walter Harris (1976)
- The Cybernauts. Peter Cave (1977)
- Hostage. Peter Cave (1977)
In August 2008, Tod Greenberg’s series of books will begin with the first of three commissioned novels. An interview with him is scheduled for Spywise.net when the first title appears.
Discussed in Encyclopedia of TV Spies.
See Secret Agent novels below.
Tempo Books issued 9 Get Smart novels from 1966 to 1968. All were written by William Johnson who deserves considerable credit for keeping fans laughing.
While few of these books are rare, they remain enjoyable reading.
- Get Smart (1966)
- Sorry Chief (1966)
- Get Smart Once Again (1966)
- Max Smart and the Perilous Pellets (1966)
- Missed It By That Much (1967)
- And Loving It! (1967)
- The Spy Who Went Out in the Cold (1968)
- Max Smart Loses Control (1968)
- Max Smart and the Ghastly Ghost Affair (1968)
Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Books and Magazines
During its one-year run, there were only two GFU tie-in novels issued in America, both published by Signet Books. (Signet also published The ABC’s of Espionage , a nonfiction history of espionage for high-school readers under the guise of these revelations being in U.N.C.L.E.’s secret files.) Both were dark tales written by Michael Avallone, the author of the first MFU Ace novel. The titles were: “The Birds of a Feather Affair” and “The Blazing Affair.”
Also in 1966, the “New English Library” issued four novels in England, only one being a Signet reprint. The other three were never published in America.
- The Global Globules Affair. Simon Latter
- The Birds of a Feather Affair. Michael Avallone
- The Golden Boats of Taradata Affair. Simon Latter
- The Cornish Pixie Affair. Peter Leslie
Like MFU, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. was also the subject of a monthly “digest” with original stories with filler features. The April 1967 issue is of special interest as it contained an article by the then-young Nora Ephron who wrote “How Stephanie Powers Came to U.N.C.L.E.” Few other articles, however, had anything to do with either U.N.C.L.E. series.
- The Sheik of Araby Affair (Dec. 1966, Richard Deming)
- The Velvet Voice Affair (Feb. 1967, Richard Deming)
- Burning Air Affair (Apr. 1967, I.G. Edmonds)
- The Dead Drug Affair (June 1967, Richard Deming)
- The Mesmerizing Mist Affair (Aug. 1967, Charles Ventura)
- The Stolen Spaceman Affair (Oct. 1967, I.G. Edmonds)
The Sinister Satellite Affair (Dec. 1967, I.G. Edmonds)
Honey West Novels
Like The Saint, the Honey West 1966 TV series was based on novels written long before the show was aired by husband and wife team, Gloria and Forrest Ficklking. The first 9 Honey West books were republished in the 1960’s with black and white photos from the TV series on the covers.
- This Girl for Hire. (1957)
- Girl on the Loose. (1958)
- A Gun for Honey. (1958)
- Honey in the Flesh. (1959)
- Girl on the Prowl. (1959)
- Dig a Dead Doll. (1960)
- Blood and Honey. (1961)
- BombShell. (1964)
- Kiss for a Killer. (1960)
Two further novels in the series were later published by Pyramid Books:
- Stiff As A Broad. (1971)
- Honey On Her Tail. (1971)
The Invisible Man (1975)
Only one tie-in novel simply titled The Invisible Man (1975), written by Michael Jahn, was published by Fawcett.
One interesting side of TV books can be seen in the novels of John Tiger (pen name for Walter Wager) who wrote books for both I Spy and Mission: Impossible. In both cases, Tiger invented a number of characters and situations never integrated into the world shaped by TV scriptwriters. Of course, novelists like Tiger lacked the personal knowledge of insiders like actor Patrick Macnee when they were issued their contracts. In many cases the “back stories” for the secret agents and the organizations they worked for hadn’t been shaped when the books were commissioned.
For example, the major inconsistency between Tiger’s Popular Library I SPY books and the series was just to whom Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) reported to. To be fair, this situation arose as Sheldon Leonard’s production company never clarified the employer of these agents. In the books, but not on television, Robinson and Scott reported to a mysterious Donald Mars whose offices were in an underground chamber of a hotel. It was understood Mars was not his real name, and that he had three offices and four aliases. According to Tiger, it was Mars who recruited Domino (the code name for Robinson and Scott) in 1960 along with seven other similar teams. They assume Mars is in his fifties and from South Carolina, but nothing can be certain. In Tiger’s realm, “Domino” could draw on the resources of supporting agents and technology from the CIA. But in the series, the two agents relied on their own wits and ingenuity. In the series, just whom the agents worked for was a mystery with most assignments given by a variety of contacts in different cities. (See Spy Television for further comparisons between the characterizations in the books and series.)
In addition to the Popular Library series, a hard cover book for young readers, Message from Moscow (Whitman, 1966) was written by Brandon Keith, the same author who penned two similar U.N.C.L.E. books (see below).
Popular Library Books
(All by John Tiger)
- I Spy. (1965)
- Masterstroke. (1966)
- Superkill. (1967)
- Wipeout. (1967)
- Countertrap. (1967)
- Doommdate. (1967)
- Death-Twist. (1968)
It Takes a Thief
The Ace books for It Takes a Thief originally sold for 60c and were all written by Gil Brewer.
- The Devil in Davos. (1969)
- Mediterranean Caper. (1969)
- Appointment in Cairo. (1970)
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Books and Magazines
THE ACE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. NOVELS
Some of the most collectible TV spy items are the 23 Ace tie-in books with MFU, although some are more highly prized than others. The first 10 books were very popular, and there are many copies available. The later books came out after the show went off the air and are much rarer. In particular, Peter Leslie’s “Finger in the Sky Affair,” No. 23 in the series, is highly prized and hard to come by. Fans love to debate about the merits of the other books, and one of the favorites is David McDaniel’s “The Rainbow Affair” (No. 13 in the American series). In that adventure, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin shared time with Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, and Fu Manchu.
One item of very special interest would have been MFU No. 24 by David McDaniel, “The Final Affair.” While manuscripts of this completed grand finale occasionally circulate among fans, the book was never officially published. In it, the battle between U.N.C.L.E. and THRUSH finally comes to an end, Illya Kuryakin returns to the Russian Navy, and Alexander Waverly dies. In the last pages, Napoleon Solo becomes head of U.N.C.L.E. with his long thought dead wife, Joan, a double agent for THRUSH, by his side.
The list below follows the order in which the books were issued in America. English versions were released in a somewhat different order. Interested readers might enjoy looking at U.N.C.L.E. websites where these books are listed and include synopses and reviews. Insights into these books and their authors can also be found in Jon Heitland’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Behind the Scenes Story of a Television Classic (London: Titan Books, 1988).
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Michael Avallone (1965)
- The Doomsday Affair. Harry Whittington (1965)
- The Copenhagen Affair. John Oram (1965)
- The Dagger Affair. David McDaniel (1965)
- The Mad Scientist Affair. John T. Phillifent (1966)
- The Vampire Affair. David McDaniel (1966)
- The Radioactive Camel Affair. Peter Leslie (1966)
- The Monster Wheel Affair. David McDaniel (1968)
- The Diving Dames Affair. Peter Leslie (1968)
- The Assassination Affair. J. Hunter Holly (1968)
- The Invisibility Affair. Thomas Stratton (1968)
- The Mind Twisters Affair. Thomas Stratton (1968)
- The Rainbow Affair. David McDaniel (1968)
- The Cross of Gold Affair. Frederic Davies (1968)
- The Utopia Affair. David McDaniel (1968)
- The Splintered Sunglasses Affair. Peter Leslie (1968)
- The Hollow Crown Affair. David McDaniel (1969)
- The Unfair Fare Affair. Peter Leslie (1969)
- The Power Cube Affair. John T. Phillifent (1969)
- The Corfu Affair. John T. Phillifent (1969)
- The Thinking Machine Affair. Joel Bernard (1969)
- The Stone Cold Dead in the Market Affair. John Oram (1969)
- The Finger in the Sky Affair. Peter Leslie (1969)
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINES
During the 1960s, fans of MFU were not limited to the Ace novels for fictional adventures of TV’s most influential secret agents. From February 1966 to January 1968, the Leo Margulies Corporation issued a monthly magazine based somewhat loosely on the show. Like the juvenile novels issued by Whitman Pub.
(see below), the author for each story was credited to Robert Hart Davis. In fact, a number of writers were “Davis” including John Jakes (best known for his “Kent Chronicles” books) and SF writers like Dennis Lynds, Harry Whittington, I.G. Edmnds, and Frank Belknap. each issue included an U.N.C.L.E. novelette,
unrelated short stories, and feature articles. More details can be found in Jon Heitland’s book listed above as well as John Peel and Glenn A. Magee’s The U.N.C.L.E. Files Magazine: The Second Year (Canoga Park, CA: New Media Books, 1985).
- The Howling Teenagers Affair (Feb. 1966, Dennis Lynds)
- The Beauty and the Beast Affair (Mar. 1966, Harry Whittington)
- The Unspeakable Affair (Apr. 1966, Dennis Lynds)
- The World’s End Affair (May 1966, John Jakes)
- The Vanishing Act Affair (Jun. 1966, Dennis Lynds)
- The Ghost Riders Affair (July 1966, Harry Whittington)
- The Cat and Mouse Affair (Aug. 1966, Dennis Lynds)
- The Brainwash Affair (Sep. 1966, Harry Whittington)
- The Moby Dick Affair (Oct. 1966, John Jakes)
- The Thrush from Thrush Affair (Nov. 1966, Dennis Lynds)
- The Goliath Affair (Dec. 1966, John Jakes)
- The Light-Kill Affair (Jan. 1967, Harry Whittington)
- The Deadly Dark Affair (Feb. 1967, John Jakes)
- The Hungry World Affair (Mar. 1967, Talmage Powell)
- The Dolls of Death Affair (Apr. 1967, John Jakes)
- The Synthetic Storm Affair (May 1967, I.G. Edmonds)
- The Ugly Man Affair (Jun. 1967, John Jakes)
- The Electronic Frankenstein Affair (July 1967, Frank Belknap Long)
- The Ghenghis Khan Affair (Aug. 1967, Dennis Lynds)
- The Man from Yesterday Affair (Sep. 1967, John Jakes)
- The Mind-Sweeper Affair (Oct. 1967, Dennis Lynds)
- The Volcano Box Affair (Nov. 1967, Richard Curtis)
- The Pillars of Salt Affair (Dec. 1967, Bill Pronzini)
(This issue is of special interest as it contained an article on the “U.N.C.L.E. Special,” the famous gun used in the series.)
- The Million Monsters Affair (Jan. 1968, I.G. Edmonds)
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. JUVENILE BOOKS
Wonder Books issued one paperback titled “The Coin of El Diablo Affair.” of note as its author, Walter Gibson, who was famous for his “The Shadow” magazine adventures. Little big books also issued another such effort, the Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick. For Whitman Publishing, Brandon Keith was credited as author of two hardcover books geared for very young readers: The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur and The Affair of the Gunrunner’s Gold.
John Tiger’s books for Mission: Impossible were more developed than his I Spy projects if equally distinct from the series from which the characters were based. During the first year of MI, viewers looked for clues into the agents’ motivations and histories in the episodes, but little such information was ever shown in broadcast shows. As a result, many viewers sought further details in John Tiger’s first novelization published by Popular Library.
Unlike the I Spy novels, the Mission book showed some awareness of series creator Bruce Geller’s ideas and the backgrounds of the actors portraying the IMF team. For example, according to Tiger, it was Dan Briggs (Steven Hill), the original leader of the team, who’d recruited the four other primary agents, a concept reflecting Geller’s original “Brigg’s Squad” idea. According to Tiger, Briggs had been a high school football coach before doing intelligence work in Korea, an idea later repeated in Peter Graves’ back-story for Jim Phelps. Briggs wife and two children had been killed in a California automobile accident. He was a two-year student of psychology and games theory, a chess champion, an expert on foreign armies and military equipment, and a master glider and glide plane pilot. He was knowledgeable in ancient religions and karate. All these descriptions did, in fact, tie in with Geller’s view of Briggs as a master strategist who was an effective planner skilled in reading the psychology of his prey.
According to Tiger, the other IMF members knew none of this as each knew little about their teammates’ lives before joining the Impossible Mission Force. Each agent clearly had a life outside of the IMF, but they apparently dropped whatever they were doing to rush to the call of their chief. In Tiger’s version of the series’ characters, Briggs, intimately familiar with their dossiers, knew Willie Armitege (Peter Lupis) had won medals in the Olympics, was a son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, and was the youngest of five boys. Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) had run his own Florida acting company, and was the son of a Park Avenue doctor’s daughter and a genuine gypsy prince. In truth, Peter Lupis had won a number of weight-lifting competitions, although not at the Olympics, and Martin Landau had indeed run his own acting school. In Tiger’s outline, Barney Collier (Greg Morris) had been 3rd in his class at Caltech, was an expert water skier, and had joined the most secret of secret agencies to avoid difficulties with lady friends desirous of his attention. Maybe, maybe not. In the series, the few facts known about Barney were that his parents were teachers and that he was independently wealthy as president of his own Collier Electronics. In the 1970-1971 season, we learn Collier had a brother, Larry, who is murdered. In Tiger’s words, in Briggs opinion, Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), a former cover girl for Vogue and Harper’s Bazeer, a Chicago Banker’s daughter, was the one team member who did not see him as a father figure. Nor a brother, and we do get a notion the character had a steamy past in the pilot. In the series, however, there was never a clue into a romance between Carter and Briggs. The closest we see to any such interaction was in the episode, “A Spool There Was,” a unique story which featured Carter and Hand working as a couple without the rest of the team.
The major surprise of the MI Popular Library series is that only four books were produced, as the TV program itself outlasted its competitors which yielded many more non-broadcast stories. Ironically, if we can accept any aspect of the 1996 Tom Cruise film of Mission: Impossible, then the novelization of that
project reveals much about the IMF. According to Peter Barsocchini’s well-written rendition of the David Koepp’s script, the IMF had always been part of the CIA, but after the Aldrich Ames scandal, the agency took direct control over the operations to clean up covert actions.
Two hardbacks for children included The Priceless Particle (1969) and The Money Explosion (1970), both by Talmage Powell.
Popular Library Books
- Mission: Impossible. John Tiger (1967)
- Code Name: Judas. Max Walker (1968)
- Code Name: Rapier. Max Walker (1968)
- Code Name: Little Ivan. John Tiger (1969)
The Prisoner Novels
The three authorized Ace novels of The Prisoner are of special interest beyond adding stories to the short canon of Prisoner adventures. They are noteworthy as each appeared several years after the series demise and were not part of any attempt to promote a show no longer on the air. In addition, they demonstrated a variety of interpretations about the meaning of the show.
Distinguished SF author Thomas Disch wrote the first enigmatic paperback sequel simply titled The Prisoner (1969). In this novel, Number Six learned he’s been brainwashed to forget much of his past in an attempt to make him the new, hopefully more reliable Number Two. When the story ends, Six finds Number One was a female robot who loses her hand. David McDaniel’s less philosophic follow-up novel, appropriately named Number Two (1969) began where Disch left off. The robot Number One, “Granny,” is
revealed to be an experiment gone wrong. Identified as “John Drake” in the novel’s first sentence, the simple plot is to persuade Six to stay in The Village of his own free will and be happy.
The most complex of the new adventures was Hank Stein’s 1970 A Day in the Life where the keepers put number Six through a series of quickly changing impressionistic realities to unsettle his core sense of self. Six is placed on trial for possession of narcotics, falsely sentenced to death, survives a severe case of the flu, and given a helicopter by a woman telling him “The Village” is a British instillation that turned out to be, oddly enough, port Meirion, the actual location where much of the series was filmed. Free in London, Six was disgusted by what he saw in the people around him. He has a spiritual enlightenment in which he realizes even what he considered reality is as much illusion as his Village life. After passing out on a London street, he awakens once again in The Village. While a prisoner again, he feels a sense of victory as he saw through the layers of deception and never lost his fundamental certainty of “the noble soul.”
To date, the best sanctioned sequel to The Prisoner was a graphic novel, Shattered Visage, published by DC Comics in 1990. The multi-layered story by Dean Motter and Mark Askwith s originally appeared in four magazines from 1988 and 1999, and was set 20 years after “Fall Out.” In the opening pages, it is made clear the Village was a British institution set up by the mysterious “Administration.” This group had appointed Chairman after Chairman–known as Number Twos–to deal with unusual problems. In this story, the events in “Fall Out” were a hallucinogenic scam created by Leo McKern’s Number Two which, in fact, broke number Six. After the Number Two’s had taken on an obsessive interest in number Six, the final Chairman had gone too far, so UN troops liberated the Village. The last Number Two spent twenty years in prison while Number Six never left the Village. Having nothing to return to, he remained a solitary gardener in the wreckage until a female agent is stranded there and helps him make a final escape and regain his mental stability.
Recording all of Simon Templar’s adventures in print would be worthy of a book unto itself. The Leslie Charteris books began in 1928 with Meet The Tiger, and stories penned by other authors continued until the novelization of the Val Kilmer film in 1997. During Charteris’s lifetime, he wrote or supervised the creation of 19 full-length novels, 48 novelettes or novellas, and 95 short stories. In addition, Charteris penned a further 40 adventures in French which have never been translated into English. Many of these tales became the basis for TV scripts for Roger Moore. In 1967, to keep his Saint magazine alive, Charteris reversed the process of story-to-script by adapting TV scripts into short stories with collaborator Fleming Li. In turn, these stories were reprinted in “new” Saint books including the Doubleday hardbacks, The Saint on TV and The Saint Abroad. For those interested in a comprehensive list, I heartily recommend Burl Barer’s 1993 The Saint in Print, Radio, Film, and Television, 1928-1992 (Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland and Co.)
Virtually all the old stories became TV scripts in one form or another. On TV, some of the specific episodes in which Templar battled Russian spies included “Fellow Traveler” and “The Saint Plays With Fire.” he recovered secret plans and formulas in “miracle Tea party,” one of the stories re-done from a radio script. Similar adventures included “The Saint Steps In,” and “The Paper Chase.” He nailed a defector in “The Sporting Chance,” and saved government officials from blackmail in “The Scorpion.” He fought terrorists and helped out in political revolutions in “The Revolutionary Saint,” “The Sign of the Claw,” and “The Wonderful War.”
There were two novels based on SEARCH, both by Robert Weverka, both published by Bantam in 1972. The first was a novelization of the Leslie Stevens-scripted pilot simply called Search. The second was called MOONROCK, also a novelization of an episode based on a Stevens script.
Unlike tie-in novels for I Spy and Mission: Impossible, featuring characters relatively undefined when novelists were hired, Secret Agent’s Jon Drake was an established agent whose personality was known world-wide because of his fame as Danger Man when books were commissioned by MacFadden Publishing in 1965. So, the novelists, like the scriptwriters, had much to work with. Still, the chosen writers cranked out the least satisfying literary incarnations of TV Secret Agents in the decade.
One example of an ill-conceived story was Peter Leslie’s Hell for Tomorrow, a bash against youth culture with a hero who could have been anyone. John Drake is simply the name of a detective who spends one third of the book trailing a young man on a motorcycle before he is killed and says four words for the agent to decipher. As Leslie had penned a number of entertaining U.N.C.L.E. novels and collaborated with Patrick MacNee on several readable Avengers outings, this cold book wasn’t typical of his talents.
In the same year, neither the series nor any recognizable literary form inspired W. Howard Baker’s Departure Deferred. The incidents in this mish mash are much more violent than in the program, and the plot is indeed deferred as unrelated incident after unrelated incident kept Drake from beginning his mission,
which he finally accomplishes in a rushed conclusion. A secondary female character is assigned to help Drake, but despite the praise the author lavished on her, she contributed nothing on any page to the plot. Wilfred McNeilly’s No Way Out was perhaps the best of the lot, largely because his novel was an expansion of a TV episode of the same name. In it, the emphasis on the non-fraternization policy of World Travel (the cover name for Drake’s organization) was juxtaposed against Drake’s friendship for a fellow agent he seeks to bring back into the fold.
In 1962, Dell Publishing released Target for Tonight by Richard Telfair.
- Departure Deferred. W Howard Baker (1966)
- Storm Over Rockall. W Howard Baker (1966)
- Hell For Tomorrow. Peter Leslie (1966)
- No Way Out. Wilfred McNeilly (1966)
- Exterminator. W A Ballinger (1966)
The Six Million Dollar Man
The concept for the bionic adventures of Steve Austin (Lee Majors) came from Martin Caidin’s novel, Cyborg, which provided many of the character names and ideas for the show. For example, Oscar Goldman was based on an unnamed real-life mentor for Caidin, and Dr. Rudy Welles was based on a real-life bionics
expert with that name, the real Wells reportedly flattered by his portrayal on television. Caidin later wrote several of the novels based on the television show. Most of the other books were novelizations of TV scripts with adaptations not possible on network TV, including bionic enhancements not seen on Lee Majors.
Books by Michael Caidin
- Cyborg. (1972)
- Operation Nuke. (1973)
- High Crystal. (1974)
- Cyborg IV. (1975)
Warner Bros. Paperbacks
- Wine, Women and War. Michael Jahn (1975)
- Solid Gold Kidnapping. Evan Richards (1975)
- Pilot Error. Jay Barbree (1975)
- The Rescue of Athena One. Michael Jahn (1975)
- The Secret of Bigfoot Pass. Michael Jahn (1976)
- International Incidents. Michael Jahn (Merged several TV scripts. 1977)
In Jan. 2003, HarperEntertainment began its fictional series of books based on the Keifer Sutherland series with 24: The House Special Subcommittee’s Findings at CTU by Marc Cerasini and his wife, Alice Alfonsi. It was part a recap of the first season in the guise of CTU members giving testimony to Congress supplemented with additional material regarding the principal characters.
Beginning in 2005, along with John Whitman, Cerasini wrote “24 Declassified” novels, largely set before season one. To date, these include:
- 24 Declassified: Operation Hell Gate. Marc Cerasini (2005)
- 24 Declassified: Veto Power. John Whitman (2005)
- 24 Declassified: Cat’s Claw. John Whitman (2006)
- 24 Declassified: Trojan Horse. Marc Cerasini (2006)
- 24 Declassified: Chaos Theory. John Whitman (2007)
- 24 Declassified: Vanishing Point. Marc Cerasini (2007)
Wild Wild West Novels
Richard Wormser’s 1966 The Wild Wild West (Signet) wasn’t a new, original story. The only WWW novel issued during the series run was nothing more than an expansion of “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” episode from the first season. It is not rare and not treasured in the collector’s market.
Later, there were three novels by Robert Vaughan published by Berkley Boulevard in 1998 to tie-in with the release of the film, although the characters were based on the TV series and not the Will Smith remake. They appeared in June, Sept and Dec. of 1998.
- The Wild Wild West #1
- The Night of the Assassin
- The Night of the Death Train
Many other articles, interviews, and reviews about TV spies can be found at Wes Britton’s www.Spywise.net