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Old January 30 2010, 04:31 AM   #19
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Re: Jim Kirk, "Superman"

Daddy Todd wrote: View Post
I've always believed the whole idea was to get more Trek books into the marketplace before they stopped selling -- as Bantam surely assumed they would at any second. I can only imagine their surprise when the books continued to sell... and sell... and sell. Blish passed away in mid-1975 -- and he'd adapted almost all the original episodes anyway, so Bantam needed a new source of Trek books. But what's this? The FANS are writing stories already? Are any of them publishable? Pohl, get it into the pipeline ASAP!
Yes, and aside from a slight difference in emphasis, I don't see how that's inconsistent with my point that the stories in TNV were fanfic stories given professional exposure. It's certainly possible for a single event to have more than one motivation behind it; indeed, any event with more than one person involved in it (and, indeed, most any event with only one person involved) is virtually certain to have more than one motivation behind it.

Remember, I was responding to Sky's statement that TNV's stories were "a bit more like fanfic than treklit." My point is that they're not just "a bit" like fanfic, but actually started out as fanfic, so Sky was more right than s/he knew.

Ah, here's where I went wrong! I interpreted this as being a bit of a slam on paycheck-chasing non-Trek-savvy writers. I apologize for misconstruing your words as a gentle smackdown. I suppose if you mean to smack, you'll SMACK!

But let me make my point clear: at the time TNV was published, the only professional Trek fiction was 2 series of novelizations, Spock Must Die! and Mission to Horatius. There wasn't any such thing as a Trek novel series -- that was still months away from inauguration. It looked like you're making an comparison between TNV and a novel series that did not yet exist.
No, I'm making a comparison between the state of Trek literature in the 1970s and the state of Trek literature today. Again, remember that I'm responding to what Sky said, "a bit more like fanfic than treklit" -- and that s/he enjoyed them "even if" they were more like fanfic, implying that one would expect fanfic to be less enjoyable. I'm saying that Sky is defining those terms based on modern perceptions of the two categories, and that things were different in the '70s, that the fanfic of the day was not eclipsed by the pro fiction because the pro fiction wasn't as evolved. My point has absolutely nothing to do with which came first in terms of Bantam's publishing schedule, because I'm taking an overview of the evolution of Trek Lit as a whole, not a snapshot of one particular year.

Christopher wrote: View Post
So at the time, fan fiction was generally more authentic and truer to the Trek spirit than most of the pro fiction that was available (what little there was of it).
This is quite a debatable point -- most fan fiction, then as now, is worthless, unpublishable garbage. If Marshak and Culbreath are any indication of the state of Trek fan fiction at the time, it was a weird and unfamiliar place to a teenage Trekkie-at-large like myself.
Ahh, but that's just it. Yes, the fanfic of the day was crude in many ways by modern standards, but that's because Trek Lit has evolved so much since then. At the time, though, it was a different matter.

And of course I'm not saying that all fan fiction was good. Sturgeon's Law -- which was actually coined in response to a criticism of Star Trek, so it's aptly applied here -- holds true everywhere. Ninety percent of everything is garbage. But that's beside the point. My point is that in the climate of Trek Lit in the 1970s, the best of fanfic represented something of a cutting edge in some ways. While it may have had less technical proficiency than the pro Trek fiction of the day, it was more often written by people who truly loved and understood ST and the hearts of its characters and ideas. There was more emotion invested in it, and so it felt more like ST. Hence my point that it was an antecedent of the later professional Trek fiction by authors who were themselves devoted fans and who brought that authentic feel and spirit to their pro fiction.

And sometimes the authors who started out as fanfic authors were better at engaging with the core ideas of ST. As, err, problematical as the Marshak-Culbreath books were, The Fate of the Phoenix was the first novel that ever really engaged with the ethical questions raised by the Prime Directive. And while M&C's portrayals of the characters were achingly larger-than-life and adoring, they wrote stories that focused on their relationships, rather than just plugging them into generic SF adventures as many other Bantam authors did.

I think Planet of Judgment did a much better job capturing the elusive "spirit" of Star Trek than The Price of the Phoenix. YMMV, of course.
PoJ was one of the best Bantam ones, but it's a rather idiosyncratic take on the universe and the characters. And I'd say it's the exception, not the rule. Most of the other Bantams, with the exception of The Galactic Whirlpool, are pretty unimpressive. Which is why the fanfic stories in the TNV anthologies rate higher in the context of their era than they would today.

In any event, it looks like you're claiming the stories in TNV are "truer" to Star Trek than contemporary pro Trek fiction -- again, I raised an eyebrow, because at the time there was only the Blish and Foster novelizations, which at the time were pretty solidly based in the episodes, and a couple of novels then 6 or 8 years old.
Again, I'm talking in retrospect about the Bantam era as a whole, not specifically about 1976. I wasn't talking exclusively about the first New Voyages volume but about both of them collectively. I see now that I didn't make that clear in my phrasing.

Christopher wrote: View Post
It took time for Trek Lit to mature, and TNV was a step along the way.
I agree completely. I think the 2 TNV volumes are must-reads for any Treklit fan who wants to understand the origins of the genre. Just as are the Blish, Foster and Roddenberry novelizations. Throw in Planet of Judgment and The Galactic Whirlpool, and you'd have a pretty good syllabus for Treklit 101.
Thank you, that more or less sums up what I was trying to say -- that even though it may seem odd by today's standards to see pro anthologies collecting stories from Trek fanzines, the TNV volumes were significant steps in the emergence of Trek Lit.
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