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Old February 20 2013, 03:57 PM   #186
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Re: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS 5-page preview

Ketrick wrote: View Post
I would also point out that there is a far better argument for making these comics canon than any others by creators in the past. For one thing, there has never been this consistent involvement of creators before in Trek literature, not even Jeri Taylor. For another, it can be argued that the creation of the alternate reality makes it necessary to consider changing the normal practice of only what is on film is canon for that reality because it's quite possible that only three movies and perhaps an animated series will take place in it and simply that the AR is a new and mostly separate unit and thus the old policy need not necessarily apply in this instance.
Even with creator involvement, though, the canon status of tie-ins is not something you can invest too much certainty in. Again, tie-ins are generally read by only 1-2% of a franchise's film or TV audience. If the makers of a new film or TV production had a great idea that required contradicting something in an earlier "canonical" novel or comic, they'd be crazy to abandon it just for the sake of consistency with that tie-in. After all, 99% of the viewers would be totally unaware of the tie-in anyway. This is why Lucasfilm is ignoring the Expanded Universe in its new Star Wars movie after decades of saying the EU was canon. It's a cinch that if Joss Whedon got to do new screen productions of the Buffy/Angel or Firefly/Serenity universe, he wouldn't be bound by the "canonical" comics he's overseen and written, because virtually all of his audience wouldn't care one way or the other.

So any "canonical" tie-in is going to be at best a secondary level of canon -- something that's assumed to be effectively true until it isn't. Which, really, is the case with primary canon too, since even screen canon sometimes contradicts and ignores aspects of earlier installments.

So canon isn't something you can trust or rely on. It's not an indicator of "truth" or consistency. It's just a broad pretense that's ultimately as imaginary and mutable as anything else in fiction. It's a veneer laid over a story rather than the foundation of a story.

Oso Blanco wrote: View Post
Like it or not, "canon" is a very important part of Star Trek. Why would I care for an episode or a movie, when everything that happened there will be ignored in the next episode/movie?
That doesn't make sense. Why should you care about one end-of-the-world movie or novel like When Worlds Collide when it's going to be contradicted by a different end-of-the-world story? Why should you care about a movie about one fictional US president when it's going to be ignored by a movie about a different fictional US president? You care because the value of a story is in the story itself. The world is full of stories that are meant to be entirely standalone, and they're no less enjoyable because of their inconsistency with other stories. Sure, the stories in a given series like Star Trek pretend to represent a consistent, continuous reality, but unless one is suffering from delusions, it should be self-evident that there is no reality to it, that it's all just a bunch of stories that different people are making up about a common set of characters and situations. Consistency between those stories is nice, sure, but it's not the only reason those stories exist.

In fact, sometimes discontinuity can be a benefit to storytellers. Out-of-continuity tales let you explore possibilities that are untenable with in-continuity tales. This is why DC Comics has done so many "imaginary stories" and Elseworlds tales over the decades, and why Marvel published What If...? This is why so many SF franchises do alternate-universe stories. This is why movie and TV adaptations of comics create new continuities rather than just being set in the comics' continuity. Because both continuity and discontinuity have value. Each can produce interesting and worthwhile stories that the other cannot.

Star Trek teaches that diversity in combination is a valuable thing -- that we're better off embracing diverse approaches and celebrating them all, rather than taking only one side and condemning or rejecting everything else. So we should appreciate the value of both approaches, continuity and discontinuity. Especially given that Trek tie-ins have been offering many different variations on continuity, suggesting different versions of specific events, for nearly four decades now. There have been some ongoing continuities in the tie-ins, like the current Pocket novelverse or the various comics continuities, but none of them has ever claimed to be exclusive; they've always coexisted with other interpretations. And given how the tie-ins have thrived for decades, I think that should be seen as a strength rather than a failing.
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