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Old August 17 2013, 12:21 AM   #1
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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.

Last edited by Nerroth; August 17 2013 at 02:31 AM.
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