The Things We Find in Books Part 2

Characters Make Your Story front

A while back, I wrote a post about some of the odd physical objects we’ve found in books, ranging from (ahem) revealing photographs to marijuana leaves.

This time around, I want to discuss how what’s written in a book can sometimes be far more interesting than the book itself.

I’m not talking about an author autograph or inscription, but something else entirely. Case in point: we recently acquired a 1947 book on writing called Characters Make Your Story.

So, what’s interesting about this book? Not Maren Elwood, who apparently was a highly-regarded writing coach and wrote one other book (Write the Short Short), but is otherwise not a particularly significant literary personage.

No, what’s interesting about this book is who once owned this copy:

If you’re an old Trekkie like me, you’ll know that name: Fred Freiberger was the producer brought in to produce the third season of the original series He also produced the second season of Space: 1999, and the single season of the 1980 spin-off Beyond Westworld. Freiberger also wrote dozens of episodes of various television shows, and his movie credits include two giant monster movies, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Beginning of the End.

Freiberger’s reputation is a little controversial: some fans believe he was largely responsible for ending both Star Trek and Space: 1999, although Star Trek stars William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols both disputed that (as did Freiberger).

How can we be sure this is Freiberger’s signature in this book? Well, we haven’t been able to find another Freiberger signature to compare it to, but somebody named “Fred Freiberger” signed this book, and the timeline matches up: in 1947 (when this book was reprinted), Freiberger had worked on one movie (Susie Steps Out), for which he provided additional dialogue, and he had adapted a comedy called Stork Bites Man, but he wouldn’t acquire another writing credit for five years. Is it possible that Freiberger was studying books on writing to improve his craft and make that leap forward? If so, it must have worked because beginning in 1952 he worked almost nonstop for the next 37 years.

We’ve priced this pretty cheap – at twenty bucks it’ll be a nice addition to a Star Trek or science fiction fan’s library.