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Nerroth August 17 2013 12:21 AM

Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
A few years back, I posted my thoughts on Star Fleet Journal #1: For The Glory of the Empire, a collection of Klingon-related stories collected together and published in a single volume by Amarillo Design Bureau. (That file was and is available in print, but has recently gone up as a PDF on e23.)

That collection (plus another one reportedly set during the Day of the Eagle, which would gather a group of Romulan-themed stories as and when it is formally published) is mostly taken from various issues of Captain's Log, a biannual magazine which ADB publishes in order to support the various aspects of the Star Fleet Universe. While much of the material in each issue is more directly game-related (be it for one of the tabletop game systems like Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander, or with stats for the Prime Directive RPG line), many of the stories and background articles have been pretty interesting from a purely fiction-based perspective in their own right.

Away Team Log is an attempt to collect a number (but not all) of the stories and background articles published in the last 19 issues of CL (including a few pieces which will appear in the upcoming Captain's Log #48), divorced from any RPG stats tied to a given game engine. The goal here is to try and offer a slice of the story fiction (and universe-building data) which has been generated over the past decade or so's worth of issues, and present it in a way which would no require someone to order a large number of back issues (and thus end up with game-related material they may be in no hurry to use).

As for the material itself, the index (listed in this preview pdf) shows the contents divided into five main sections.

The first section, Tales of the Away Teams, includes ten story fiction pieces; some of which are short stories which were originally presented as lead fiction works in various CL issues, others acting as monographs which offer more concise snapshots into the setting. (I have several of these stories already in their original settings, and should note that many of the short stories do have an overtly militaristic theme, given that they were initially presented as counterparts to scenarios presented for SFB and/or FC.)

The second section, Geography and History, includes sixteen pieces aimed at describing given places or eras of the universe. These vary from planetary surveys to faction introductions (as they exist in the Star Fleet Universe, which often varies significantly from what one might expect in the Paramount/CBS Franchise), and from data covering a handful of the "home-grown" species in the SFU (such as the Bis'en and Borak) to the somewhat open question behind how a certain SFU-native faction of import managed to make it across from their home galaxy to this one.

The third, People and Organizations, is a set of fourteen articles which look at some of the individuals and institutions which have been created under ADB's watch. Not all of these stories or writeups are meant to be presented in a 100% straight-laced, but many of them are of interest nonetheless. (One of the institutions presented seems to have a somewhat thinly-veiled reference to an Earth-based equivalent organization in its name, but is presented as having a role to play in-universe nonetheless.)

The fourth, as the name suggests, is a Tholian Sourcebook Preview. Since ADB were left to develop their own history and identity for the Tholian species, these Tholians are quite far removed from the postulation done in, say, the Vanguard series of books. Plus, since the terms of the licence permitting the SFU to exist does not extend as far as Star Trek: Enterprise, the "biological" nature of the primary Tholian species bears no resemblance to the spider-like Tholians from In a Mirror, Darkly. (There were some other "breeds" of sapient Tholians which emerged back on their ancestral home world of Tholia Prime, but most of those are likely to be extinct at this point.) Eventually, a full Prime Directive sourcebook will offer a more complete presentation of what these Tholians are all about, but the six preview articles presented here may help get a sense of how they exist in this universe.

The final section is called Final Directives, and essentially wraps up the collection with a trio of miscellaneous articles. As well as explaing how pursuit works in a universe predicated on the use of tactical warp in combat, to a distinct type of sapient-portable phaser, and with a list of Prime Directive conversions which, for one reason or another, are not on th cards going forward.

For now, ATL is available on e23 and on DriveThruRPG. Also, it seems set for a print edition this November, for those who prefer not to go for e-publications. (The more explicitly RPG-related material which may tie into this file will show up next month as Prime Supplement Zero-G for GURPS 4th Edition, or Prime Supplement Zero-M for D20 Modern. Of course, if you only care about the background/fiction side of things, neither volume will be necessary.)

So, if you want to get a sense of how the fiction side of that other licensed Trek-related propety has been going as of late, ATL might be a handy way to see what is out there. However, do bear in mind that due to the nature of the Star Fleet Universe's existence as a fictional property, what you may find would (and should) not square up with those materials written with the contemporary ST Franchise in mind.

BillJ August 17 2013 01:59 AM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
$25.00 for 146-pages seems a little steep! :eek:

Daddy Todd August 17 2013 02:13 AM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)

BillJ wrote: (Post 8516959)
$25.00 for 146-pages seems a little steep! :eek:

A146-page PDF, no less!

Nerroth August 17 2013 02:21 AM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
If I were to hazard a guess, perhaps ADB sees ATL as being equivalent to a single issue of Captain's Log, which has gone up to US$24.95 per 144-page volume as of CL45.

In terms of production, ADB are able to print their books on demand using their own print machines, with the exception of things like colour covers and countersheets (which have to be ordered in).

They are generally reluctant to undercut the cost of the print volume, lest they upset the distributors. (ADB's distribution network is set up to handle tabletop and RPG games, as opposed to the kind of novel-based channels used by Pocket Books.)

But yeah, there is a difference between the price point set for this volume, compared to what Star Fleet Journal #1 went for. (For The Glory of the Empire goes for 8-10 dollars US, but has a smaller paper size compared to ATL.)

King Daniel Beyond August 18 2013 06:04 PM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
A bit too expensive for me, but fascinating. Real AU Star Trek, branching off from the TV/movie 'verse in the 70's.

Nerroth August 18 2013 06:29 PM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
It looks like the price for the e-publication (as listed on e23 and DTRPG) has gone down to US$20. (I emailed ADB to ask about the print edition, and they say it will still go for the original price point when it ships out in November.)

Steve Roby August 22 2013 01:23 AM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
I'll be waiting for the print edition.

I've got the Klingon fiction collection they did a while back, but they were talking about a Romulan one, too. Did that ever happen in any form?

Nerroth August 22 2013 03:16 PM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
This was asked over on the ADB BBS not long ago, actually.

At this point, it seems that the actual work needed to get Star Fleet Journal #2 ready for publication might not take that long to do, but that it would take up time which, right now, is being sunk into a series of other projects. As a small company with several product lines that are all hungry for attention, there are usually too many irons in the fire for them all to be tackled at once.

At this moment, two of the bigger projects being worked on are Star Fleet Battles Module C6, which will offer "what-if" modern fleets for the Carnivons and Paravians* (both of which went extinct in the Alpha Octant during the Early Years time period) and Traveller: Prime Directive (which will port the PD RPG setting to Mongoose Traveller, as one of the three main projects outlined as part of ADB and Mongoose Publishing's joint venture). It's not quite clear what will surface next after (or alongside) those (well, except for Captain's Log #48, which itself will need a fair bit of design time to get ready for print); but whatever else is on the table will likely compete with SFJ2 for space on the production schedule.

Hopefully, it won't be too long before the Day of the Eagle gets its due. But it might be a while yet before that happens.

*As they would have appeared in Alpha, that is. There is a Paravian (exile?) realm over in the Omega Octant, but that faction would have to be treated differently from the ones in Module C6. Also, there are rumours of a "last command" band of Carnivon exiles making it as far as the Sargasso Storm region of the Milky Way (as the SFU portrays it); but that corner of space has not been fleshed out as a setting in the way that Omega has. (And even if there were any Carnivons over there, their ships wouldn't turn out the same way as those set to be published in C6 either.)

TheAlmanac August 22 2013 06:19 PM

Re: Away Team Log (Star Fleet Universe fiction compilation)
It's interesting that they're able to use the term "away team," which (although it's not trademarked or anything) didn't come along until TNG and is thus not associated with this TOS-only licence.

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