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Old July 15 2011, 06:41 AM   #61
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

These questions are from Melissa Davis and are quite long, as are their responses, so I'm going to break this one up.

Hi, Kirsten,

I’m going to begin by thanking you for giving me an opportunity to ask a question (or five) since a family reunion is interfering with my chance to come to your Bring Back Janeway panel in person. Well, the reunion and the fact that I live in Kansas.

I do have several questions, but I understand that you may or may not use any or all of them. Quite possibly, others will ask similar questions in a format that you prefer, and that’s fine. However, these are all issues I’d love to hear you discuss!

Question 1: The editor who supposedly told Peter David to “kill” Janeway has been quoted as saying that “Janeway’s story had been told” in the televised series and that as an admiral she was not going to do anything worth writing about. The implication was that there was nothing left for Janeway to do. Do you agree with this assessment? That is, can you imagine Janeway involved in things that would have been interesting to the readers? Should that decision be revisited?
What Margaret actually said...I was in the Shoreleave panel at the time...was that in some ways Janeway's story had been told. I know it sounds like I'm splitting hairs here, but I think the distinction is important because to just say "her story had been told" sounds vaguely idiotic, which Margaret is not, and leads people to further implications that are simply not part of the statement as a whole.

What this meant to me, and I tend to agree with, is the idea that Janeway's most compelling character arc as captain of Voyager was getting her crew home. It starts in "Caretaker" and is there all the way through "Endgame." No one ever said that after she got her crew home she wasn't going to do anything worth writing about and no one ever implied that there was nothing left for Janeway to do. In fact, she appears as an Admiral in several novels prior to Before Dishonor and is featured in Full Circle. Paramount made the decision to promote her to Admiral..as we all saw in Nemesis, and Christie Golden made the choice to make that promotion happen virtually the moment the crew got home in her first relaunch novel.

What that means is you only have a handful of choices going forward. You either leave her as an Admiral and keep her actions somewhat separate, but likely interrelated in some way with the events that are happening on the ship. You let the events on the ship become less important and focus more on Janeway as an Admiral. You focus more on the ship and allow Janeway to become a less significant character. Or you find a way to have it make sense that going forward the ship would need an Admiral on board.

Here's where everyone usually starts to scream and yell that we knew we were going to have an admiral leading the fleet back to the DQ and why in the name of all that is holy didn't we just use Janeway as that admiral and spare everyone this misery.

But the fact is, we didn't have any idea that there would be a fleet going back to the Delta Quadrant when Margaret first conceived of the notion to allow Janeway to die as part of the bigger Borg/Destiny arc of books. Marco and I came up with the fleet years later and long after Before Dishonor had been written.

Yes, of course, interesting things could have been devised for Janeway, despite the dangers of retreading old ground ala Kirk's many adventures after he became an admiral but somehow kept finding his way back to Enterprise's captain's chair.

But it seemed to me at the time, and to my editor, that one of the most interesting things she could do was to die in the line of duty because, as I've said many times before, this was a story we'd never seen before. Maybe not interesting for her since she's, you know, dead. But terribly interesting for everyone she left behind who still has a job to do and must now do it while wrestling with their grief at her loss. And terribly interesting for Voyager as a whole.

I don't think the decision needs to be revisited, by which I mean that I don't think it was a bad call at the time. It has given us some really good stories which, if they do not appeal to you, you should definitely not bother reading. And they in no way preclude the possibility that she could return and be a part of more really interesting stories going forward.

KB
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Old July 15 2011, 06:59 AM   #62
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Again, from Melissa Davis...

Question 2: In the last few years, the three “concurrent” series, TNG, DS9, and VOY, have been intertwined in the novels to the point of being incestuous. These novels have also taken a continuing plot many years past the finales of the television programs, making it difficult for new or casual readers to brave picking up a single novel without worrying about the ones that came before. It also disappoints new readers who may have discovered Star Trek in reruns and want to see those characters in action who have been written out (like Janeway and, to a certain degree, Sisko). Do you think this timeline has become too unwieldy for readers and writers? How would you feel about writing stand alone Voyager books that ignored the other timeline? That is, would you be interested in writing a novel that ignored “Before Dishonor” and established a timeline in which Janeway is not assimilated?
For me, this is one of those "you can't please everybody" things. There have been periods of Trek publishing when all of the stories were stand-alone adventures, and periods when they were more deeply interconnected and every time you move too far in one direction there is outcry that the other direction would be far more interesting and should be explored. We happen, right now, to be in a more interconnected period and given the ease with which the various authors can and do interact with one another as they are crafting their stories, I truly enjoy the process.

Or I did, when I was a part of it. In Voyager's case, the interconnectedness ended with Full Circle. Once we move on to Unworthy and Children of the Storm we are no longer tied to the events in the Alpha Quadrant, which as best I understand it, have now actually progressed a year or more beyond where Voyager stands right now.

You are right that there is always a chance that a casual fan might pick one of these books up, glance at it, feel overwhelmed and lost, and put it back on the shelf. But there is also a chance that the same reader will glance at it, find it fascinating, and try and figure out what else they could read to really get the most out of it. By the same token, the same casual reader might pick up a more stand-alone novel that looks and feels just like an episode of the series and think "been there, done that...why bother."

Because there is no way to please every possible reader out there, we don't try. We choose a course, set the sails and move in a particular direction until it seems prudent to make a new choice. I don't know actual numbers, but my sense is that the population of those who read tie-in books at all tend to be pretty hard core fans of any given series and most of them have access to the internet resources that can easily bring them up to speed on the events of other novels whether they want to take the time to read them or not. It's not that we don't welcome casual readers. But they certainly don't make up the bulk of our audience.

For any reader new to a series who is interested in stories set during the run of the show, there are already dozens of those in existence and though they may not be avaiable on the book shelves, the vast majority are also available from Amazon and other online retailers and private sellers. In short, there really is something out there for everyone, even if it is not the newest books being published right now.

Personally, I don't find the new direction onerously intertwined or unweildy. I think it's cool. But that's me. I love small threads found in one story that are picked up in an entirely different book. I love making connections for myself, even when they aren't obvious. I love the care and attention to detail that is part of the current line.

As to writing parallel stories, no, the idea doesn't particularly appeal to me, but I'm not the only author working in Trek lit and there are probably some out there to whom it might appeal. There is nothing stopping the licensor or editors from exploring those stories, should their interest be piqued.

KB
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Old July 15 2011, 07:07 AM   #63
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

forrie wrote: View Post
Kirsten,

First of all, I want to compliment you on your superb writing skills. These rich stories and characters can only live on through talent like yours. And you've done an incredible job.

I posted a message on Amazon.com, running on without first consulting this forum (oops). However, I feel my essential points are still applicable.

Kathryn Janeway has been the essential "glue" that brought Voyager's characters together -- Kate Mulgrew's portrayal of her was legendary; it made such a strong impression. The expectation/anticipation of that presence lingers in my mind when reading the Voyager novels. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed at the apparent lack of fanfare in which Janeway was killed off. When I read the prologue, my stomach sank -- so I braced myself for all the details, only to read brief second hand accounts of what had happened, that lacked detail. I feel Janeway is far too important to the story to be let go in that fashion - she deserved more.

I then began to imagine the impending end to the Voyager novels without Janeway (as I really have no idea how you and the editors decide the fate of these stories). It's a thought I have a difficult time imagining, as I have such a fondness for Voyager and the characters.

Though I have no doubt you could pull it off, being such a fantastic writer, I simply cannot accept a Voyager series long-term without Janeway. Eventually, she's going to get old and die, as will most of the characters -- but that's a ways off. I feel very strongly that she still has a significant role to play here, and into the future. In short, I implore you and the powers that be to please bring Janeway back.

I read a brief idea about Q having something to do with her return. It's clever, and I think it would actually work if it were written with a lot of substance (again, that's your forte!), it could be both workable and believable. The Caeliar may have something to do with this, too.

Q is fickle and still relatively mysterious (to me) as I don't really understand his (their) ulterior motives. It could be that, in spite of his arrogance, he has a genuine fondness (even envy) of the human race and specific persons, which he may not ever admit up front... if he didn't, he wouldn't be bouncing in and out of their lives as he had.

In the end, I feel very strongly that keeping Janeway out of the Voyager timeline risks marginalizing the story. At least for me, it does.

I have to laugh sometimes at my utter emotional attachment to fictitious characters, but it is what it is. It's because of your talent that I continue to keep those sparks alive.

In the mean time, I'm hopeful that the editors and powers that be will see the sensibility in our collective request for the return of Kathryn Janeway.

Keep up the great work that you do!



My best,

Forrest
Forrest,

Thank you for your many kind words. I do appreciate them.

I just want to point out one quick thing before I sign off for tonight and get back to the other panel questions tomorrow...

You don't seem, as I read this, to be aware that Janeway's actual death was portrayed in the TNG novel Before Dishonor. Full Circle, which it sounds like you've read, did not show her death because it had already been shown. Rather, it showed all of the stuff related to her death we didn't see in the TNG novel.

I agree that if Full Circle's treatment of Janeway's death was all there was, that would be pretty lame and not at all worthy of her. If you want the whole story, you have to read Before Dishonor, but given your fondness for Janeway, that might not be a great idea for you. If you're curious, it's readily available. If you'd rather not, I completely understand. I just wanted to make sure you knew this. The Q angle is actually part of that story as well.

Also, I totally understand your fondness for the character. I share it, though I am inordinantly fond of all of Voyager's characters, both old and new to the novels.

Consider your feelings and preferences noted, and have a nice evening.

Best,
Kirsten Beyer
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Old July 15 2011, 07:29 PM   #64
Tidus79001
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Kirsten Beyer wrote: View Post
Frontier wrote: View Post
My Question:

"One of the Greatest Strength's of Star Trek: Voyager, in my humble opinion, was the Sense of Family woven between the Crew. It's something that, through meeting most of the cast at conventions, I've seen was a bit of art imitating life. Yet in the post-finale Star Trek novels, that wonderful family was broken up. Now they are finally beginning to come back together, but are still split up amongst this Voyager Fleet. Will we ever again see our family brought back together in whole? Or closer to what we once knew? And will they ever be made truly whole with the return of Kathryn Janeway?"
I completely agree that the sense of family was one of Voyager's defining points. And if anything, I feel we've continued to focus on that, while expanding it, in the newer novels. As to the core cast being split up...I'm a little confused. Apart from the Doctor, who is serving on the Galen, and Neelix, who remains on New Talax but has already been seen interacting with his old "family" a couple of times and likely will continue to be seen...I think the rest of the gang is still on Voyager.

I don't think Janeway's return would necessitate changing that, but I also think of the Voyager Fleet as one big family...Chakotay even has this realization in Children of the Storm when he is contemplating the loss of three of the fleet's ships. Even though the other crews aren't his direct responsibility, he feels that they are and is willing to risk anything necessary to ensure their safety.

Bottom line, for me, the sense of family is still very much intact in the Voyager fleet. It's just a much bigger family now. As to whether or not that family will ever again include Janeway...it's not a question of can...but should she return...and only when the story demands it.

KB
Kirsten Beyer wrote: View Post
Here begin the answers to the questions that were sent to me via email. If anyone knows these folks and can alert them to the fact that these answers are here, I'd really appreciate it.

Is there any chance that Janeway could be brought back as a main character in your books. With her with the Q there are many ways this could be done. There are also many ways that she can still be a key person in the Voyage stories admiral or not

Lynn
Yes. Even without the Q angle, there are many ways it could be done. And yes, she could still be a key person despite her rank.

The question is not can she, but should she...and I guess...will she...but you know I can't answer that right now.

KB
Kristen, it is not really a question of "should she” be brought back so much as it is a question of “why hasn’t she” been brought back. The only people wrestling with the “should she” be brought back question is the editors & possibly yourself. The “why hasn’t she” been brought back question is a question whose time has come & a question whose answer is well past due. Seriously it has been 4 years already & you can keep saying until you are blue in face that that isn’t much time when it comes to writing a book, but that doesn’t change the fact there has been 3 books since written since Janeway was killed & there is no indication on the horizon from either the editors, or yourself that this is likely to change anytime soon.

Voyager was defined by the characters that we grew so fond of watching & the portrayal of these characters by talented actors/actresses gave us much enjoyment. It is an unrealistic expectation both on the part of the editors & you as a writer to kill off the most prominent character of that series, or any other major character for that matter & then replace her with a faceless replacement (Captain Eden) & then just expect us to happily accept that replacement with no questions asked nor not to express dissatisfaction with this change having been forced upon us. Furthermore you cannot expect us to not be really annoyed that when we ask for something be done to fix these unwelcome change & that we observe that our request falls upon deaf ears, or is totally disregarded.

Why do I call Captain Eden a faceless replacement you ask? Captain Eden replaced a character who had great depth & was portrayed by real flesh & blood actress whereas Captain Eden is a character who has only ever existed on paper & we have never seen her face, nor will she ever has as much depth as Janeway since as a character that has only existed on paper we never get to experience the full range of emotions & subtle nuances that made Janeway unique. When I read a Star Trek book that has characters that I came to know so well through the portrayal of these characters by talented actors/actresses I am able in my mind see the faces of these characters & hear their voices. Tell me how you can a faceless replacement ever have that same level of depth, be as meaningful, and how do you expect fans to have equivalent devotion, or attachment to the new “faceless” character when compared to that.

Tidus79001 wrote: View Post
NextGen123 wrote: View Post
I really liked Kirsten Beyer's "Children of the Storm" and have read all three of the Voyager books. The return of Janeway, while it will get some readers back, will unravel all the progress that has been made with the characters.

After the return of Spock, Kirk, Tasha Yar, Ben Sisko, I have to wonder what's the point of the story if everything goes back to the way it was?

I thought the books moved beyond the status quo. It makes me cringe when I see the books only cater to the causual fan. If Pocket Books haven't noticed; the space for Star Trek books is getting smaller and smaller at book chains. [IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/ADMINI%7E1/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]
I don't see how if Janeway were to return that it would undo any of the so called growth of any of the characters. I find it unlikely that the writers would just press a reset button & then say that none of the events that happened in the novels in since Janeway has been dead no longer counts.

I for one don't want to roll back the clock on what has already taken place in the books since her death. That being said I see no reason why she can't return & be compelling, nor do I feel that her return in any way whatsoever diminishes any other character.

Personally I think that Captain Eden does more to diminish the characters than anything else. When Janeway was Captain of Voyager she was alone in the Delta Quadrant & in command of Voyager & she was solely responsible for leading her crew & making critical decisions, and she trusted her crew to make responsible decisions. Now that Chakotay is Captain he has to report to Captain Eden on every command decision that he wants to make & has to get her approval of that command decision instead of him having the freedom to just make that decision & act on it. My point is the characters had more freedom to grow without having to ask Mommy Eden if they had her approval before making every single decision.
That above quoted conversation is one other thing that I would you to ponder about Captain Eden as to how she diminishes the characters & limits their growth potential. As I said at the Bring Back Janeway panel no on expects for the changes cause by Janeways death to just be thrown out as if they never happened.

Janeway on the television series always strived to empower her crew through her trust of them, and always tried to help them to see & reach their full potential instead of stifling them as Captain Eden does in her redundant Captain role.

Kristen, please tell me why you feel that Voyager needs a “Captain Dunsel”. I don’t know how well you know Star Trek: The Original Series, but that term was created on the episode “The Ultimate Computer” see http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Dunsel. I think the term fits & aptly describes the role that Captain Eden serves.

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Old July 15 2011, 09:05 PM   #65
Galekarens
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Kathryn Janeway's fans are NOT asking that if she would be returned to Voy. novels everything should revert back to the way it was before she "died." Of course not! Bringing her back after all the other characters went through after what happened to her would be the basis for a cracking good story, showing how KJ and the others would adjust to each other again. I would think KJ could be a changed person after spending time with the Q and her friends' reaction to her re-appearance could be quite dramatic and emotional. Combined with a Voyager adventure story, that would be a book many people would like to read. So why not write it. Well, it seems the TPTB at Pocket Books just don't want to. They can give whatever excuses they like, but they all ring pretty hollow. They got rid of Kathryn Janeway, a unique, irreplacable iconic role model, not concerned with how much hurt they would cause to her many loyal fans. And now they are still pretty much telling KJ's supporters "too bad," as if we are not a large group of customers that would gladly buy their products (as we have done before) if only we weren't treated like we don't matter. We're told we should still give our monies to an entity who mistreated the most important character in our favorite series, and disregard that this entity considers our protests mostly but noise to be overlooked. If someone at Pocket Books would decide that KJ would be brought back, I'm sure a writer would write an excellent book about that, and figure out how to present it logically and entertainingly. It's all a matter of attitude and right now unfortunately that is "we're not doing it and that's how it is." (No matter that there are more than enough reasons to do so.) OK, then so KJ's supporters won't buy your products, and with the way things are in the Trek lit universe now, we probably aren't missing too much, even if being apart from our original Voyager friends is something we'd rather not be experiencing. Even so, eventually one has to take a stand for what is right, bring our Janeway back, we know she lives! PS, the answer to the question "should she be brought back" is the same as "should she be killed": it's whatever someone decides, as we know the story of her "death" was a result of a decision, not that there was a story in the 1st place that so needed KJ's death in it. She was disposed of on purpose, because it was deemed something to be done, and because they could.

Last edited by Galekarens; July 16 2011 at 03:21 AM.
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Old July 15 2011, 09:12 PM   #66
forrie
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Kirsten,

Thank you for taking the time to post thoughtful replies here. I appreciate your giving everyone a clear perspective of where you're coming from. Especially the clarification to those who don't understand that you are not solely responsible for the decisions and direction the story takes.

I started reading Voyager novels after I had finished the DVDs - on response to my rejection of what's on current TV as lousy was the motivation for it. Wanting more, I dove into the novels. I did the best I could to figure out "which novel comes first" but I haven't found a definitive guide that connects these with TNG and the general ST timeline. There should be a tree diagram.

(I have been otherwise a fairly dedicated ST fan; though I'm dismayed that for the first period of years that I can remember, we are without a Star Trek based television serial. I'm puzzled. But that's more research I have to do to understand what happened.)

Having said that, I agree with you - had I known TNG was connected, and I had read the story... so I may do that to fill in the gaps I have :-)

[ if anyone knows of such a definitive list that connects the ST timelines as above, please let me know! ]

Giving this more thought, now that mention it, it could be that Janeway's story has been told. If were are to accept the present timeline as-is. If she were to be brought back, there would need to be a justified plan for her active participation in the storyline that didn't involve her sitting in a chair as Admiral, as a talking head hooting orders and going gray. Janeway would need to grow, as any other character. Her dynamic had the tendency to cause other people to grow; her presence alone going forward would need to be considered in that regard as a protagonist in the timeline.

It's fairly obvious that many of us are very fond of this crew and of Janeway -- I've read several passionate posts about this conundrum; some people are downright angry, others confused. The same dynamic happens in real life, when someone you love goes away. We are experiencing those withdrawals through science fiction novels.

Somewhere there has to be a fair middle ground that will satisfy. I remain hopeful that Janeway has a future still...

And that's the magic of writing, where anything is possible :-)


Thank you again.

Forrest
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Old July 15 2011, 11:18 PM   #67
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Have a look or ask in the Trek Literature forum. They love posting reading-order lists over there.

Here's my Voyager post-series reading list:

("Endgame" goes here)
Homecoming duology
Spirit Walk duology (I skipped Spirit Walk coz I can't stand Chakotay)
(The movie Nemesis goes here)
Before Dishonor (TNG novel where Janeway dies)

Full Circle
Unworthy
Children of the Storm

You might want to read the Destiny trilogy after Before Dishonor and before Full Circle. It's not essential, and Voyager's not in it, but it's the big galaxy-reshaping event that the subsequent Voyager novels are involved in.
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Old July 15 2011, 11:40 PM   #68
forrie
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
Have a look or ask in the Trek Literature forum. They love posting reading-order lists over there.

Here's my Voyager post-series reading list:

("Endgame" goes here)
Homecoming duology
Spirit Walk duology (I skipped Spirit Walk coz I can't stand Chakotay)
(The movie Nemesis goes here)
Before Dishonor (TNG novel where Janeway dies)

Full Circle
Unworthy
Children of the Storm

You might want to read the Destiny trilogy after Before Dishonor and before Full Circle. It's not essential, and Voyager's not in it, but it's the big galaxy-reshaping event that the subsequent Voyager novels are involved in.
I've already read Full Circle and just started Unworthy. Already read Homecoming and Spiritwalk novels.

It might be appropriate to start Before Dishonor now, before I get too deep into Unworthy.

Thanks for the info.
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Old July 16 2011, 05:35 AM   #69
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Tidus79001 wrote: View Post

Kristen, it is not really a question of "should she” be brought back so much as it is a question of “why hasn’t she” been brought back. The only people wrestling with the “should she” be brought back question is the editors & possibly yourself.
This is utter bullshit. I'm tired of the Janeway clan acting like they speak for every Voyager fan out there. The only reason I'd ever entertain the "should she?" come back question is because of the incredible writing talent of Kirsten Beyer. If I get a whiff of Janeway coming back with any other writer at the helm, I'll drop the relaunch like a hot potato and may still even with Beyer if I get some implausible resurrection.

I honestly can't fathom how people can't enjoy the new dynamics presented by Beyer. I get that your a fan, but at some point you just have to let go of a fictional character. It's not like her death in Before Dishonor erased her from the seven seasons that the show ran or the multiple novels she did appear in or the comics she appeared in.

The character died the way she lived... larger than life. And to paraphrase Guinan, "I can let her go".

As in all things... your mileage may vary.
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Old July 16 2011, 05:41 AM   #70
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

BillJ wrote: View Post
I honestly can't fathom how people can't enjoy the new dynamics presented by Beyer. I get that your a fan, but at some point you just have to let go of a fictional character. It's not like her death in Before Dishonor erased her from the seven seasons that the show ran or the multiple novels she did appear in or the comics she appeared in.
And it's not like her return will erase all the character development Beyer has brought us.
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Old July 16 2011, 05:59 AM   #71
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

teacake wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
I honestly can't fathom how people can't enjoy the new dynamics presented by Beyer. I get that your a fan, but at some point you just have to let go of a fictional character. It's not like her death in Before Dishonor erased her from the seven seasons that the show ran or the multiple novels she did appear in or the comics she appeared in.
And it's not like her return will erase all the character development Beyer has brought us.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I believe that Chakotay would quickly go back to being the Chuckles we see in the TV series.
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Old July 16 2011, 06:10 AM   #72
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Which means that his friends who value him as a person, would have to stage an intervention to bring back the Chakotay thy know and love before that woman wrecks him completely forever.

(I'm halfway into the fourth season of Felicity, watching men getting smashed into milk because they love too truly, so the above actually seems like a reasonable suggestion.)
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Old July 16 2011, 07:27 AM   #73
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Continuing with Melissa Davis's questions...

Question 3: In discussions regarding the “Janeway decision,” many fans (including some of your fellow PB writers) have said that using the tried and true Star Trek staple plot devices would “cheapen” the ongoing story. They say that bringing Janeway back from the dead (although she is actually with the Q), demoting her from admiral to captain so that she can return to Voyager’s bridge, or returning her from the Q continuum has “all been done before” and therefore would in some way take away from your work in “Full Circle” and “Unworthy.” Do you agree with this assessment? And, in a broader sense, do you believe that Trek novels should focus on “real life lessons,” on entertaining the reader, or on a nice balance of both?
I think it's a fair point to suggest that death should not be taken lightly in any universe of stories, including Trek. Because science fiction in particular offers so many possible ways to avoid or undo it, it has become expected that characters who die don't stay dead forever. So death becomes a cheap story gimmick rather than something anyone should take too seriously.

How much that affects the audience's enjoyment of these stories is completely subjective. Most people don't tune in each week to a series expecting to see any of the main characters die at the end. Willing suspension of disbelief aside, we live in a world where most people who watch TV understand that the actors who perform their roles are under contract and when there are contract issues that might result in imminent character death, it's usually reported long before an episode featuring such a thing can hapen so there's this odd thing taking you out of the story when you know it really wasn't about the story but about a real world thing that now has results in a story.

So, no matter how dire circumstances become in any given story you're just looking for the solution that is going to fix it because on some level you know they have to fix it, otherwise there's no episode the following week. And honestly, for a lot of people, that is the fun. They don't want radical changes because they like the show the way it is and they get their enjoyment out of just how cool the solution is, not whether or not there will be a solution.

But I'll never get my first experience of watching Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan out of my head. It truly was a defining moment for me as a consumer of stories. I was twelve. I'd seen all of the Original Series by that point, and the first movie and loved Spock like everyone else. And even when Kirk was standing there in engineering and Spock was on the other side of that wall I was screaming inside that he just couldn't be dying. And then he was dead. And I was completely destroyed. I was too young to understand that Nimoy had requested this, or that the next movie could bring him back. I seriously believed that was it. I wasn't angry at the people who made the movie for killing Spock. I was just blown away that it could happen, and did, right before my eyes. It made me feel part of the story in a way nothing else I'd ever seen before ever had. It told me how much I actually cared about the characters. Yes, I was sad, but I was also amazed and impressed that such a huge thing could happen and I was there to see it. What twelve year old me couldn't have said then, but I understand now, was that I was impressed by the bravery of the idea. That was a big storytelling risk to take, and because it moved me so, I loved it.

And then Star Trek III came along and immediately took it back and I couldn't have been less interested. Nothing involving Spock for me, to this day, has ever had the same impact, or seemed quite as brave. I get why the did it. I get what it does to movie sales and the ongoing stories and all that to have Spock gone. But part of me was the littlest bit pissed. I mean, why did they put me through all of that if they didn't mean it? If they were just going to take it back in the next movie? I felt played and as an audience member, I didn't like it.

So, I guess, more than the "it has all been done before" thing, I feel like, for me, if I'm the one telling a story about a character dying...we're going to tell that story. I can't treat it as a game or as a gimmick for the readers. It's got to be what Star Trek II was for me...utterly mind blowing I can't believe they just did that and now what the hell am I going to do...kind of thing. Not just..oh, well, she'll be back eventually..what shall we watch in the meantime?

And if she were to be brought back, it also has to be...utterly mind blowing I can't believe they're just did that and now what the hell is going to happen next. There has to be an in story reason that is so compelling that things just can't happen any other way. This is what I mean by the story demanding Janeway's return. We can snap Q's fingers and she's back. But what's the point of that? Yes, we have Janeway back, but we've lost the respect of everyone who has been along for the ride, unless that compelling story reason satisfies the readers that we weren't just jerking people's chains the whole time.

The fact of bringing her back cheapens nothing. And adds nothing. It's all about the execution. The fact that it's all been done before just makes the execution issue infinitely more complicated. But hard can be good. Just because it's hard, that's also not a reason not to do it.

As to entertaining vs. lessons...I don't know. I tend to agree with Aaron Sorkin on this one...as said through his character Tabitha Fortis (I think that was her name) in the episode of West Wing, "The U.S. Poet Laureate"..."My job..is to hold your attention for as long as I've asked for it. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky." So first, I guess we entertain. For me the best lessons in Trek don't really involve any one character. They're more how issues we are struggling with as humanity are presented allegorically or symbolically in the stories and then possible resolutions are brought forth. Janeway dying certainly wasn't meant to teach anyone a lesson. But showing how people who loved her deal with death...I hope there are lessons there. I know that what little I know of death and what comes after is there on the page and if anyone can make use of it in their own lives...well I guess I got lucky.

KB

Last edited by Kirsten Beyer; July 16 2011 at 07:29 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old July 16 2011, 07:48 AM   #74
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

Again, from Melissa...

Question 4: In many of the Voyager novels/stories that I have read, Janeway appears as a much simpler version of the character I knew on screen. In the PB books, she is almost always distant from her crew, totally obsessed with getting home, insensitive to the needs of the people around her, arrogant about always being right, unwilling to listen to advice, lacking a sense of humor, and (probably) frigid. Many of the other characters are similarly simplified into “angry” B’Elanna, “playful” Tom Paris, etc., making me wonder if the writers are as familiar with them as they should be. I find Janeway to be the most complex, human, deliciously flawed, and compelling of all the captains in the franchise, which is one reason I was so dismayed with her disappearance from the novels. What is your assessment of Janeway? Do you find her as complex as I do? Do you agree that her characterization in the novels has been less complex than it should have been, at the expense of making her more “interesting”?
I tend to agree about all of the characterizations if we're talking about the novels that were written while the show was still being produced, apart from those written by Jeri Taylor, where I found the character work to be fascinating, even if the overall plots were a little meh...But I think a lot of that was a function of how little information about the characters the authors had when those works were written. I believe the first couple were written only from the series bible and without even having seen the first few episodes. So those authors have nothing by my sympathies.

As for what came later, I see a bit of both going on. I think there are some writers, particularly some who had pieces in the "Distant Shores" anthology, who really had a good sense of the characters. Some..less so for me.

Sadly, I think your description of Janeway as you have found her in many of the books may be as much a result of her writing on the show as anything else. At one time or another she was each of the things you listed. For an author to choose only one of those does a disservice to the character, and that's not a road I've ever chosen. I've watched the entire series multiple times now and agree that Janeway, and all of the characters, for me anyway, are incredibly complex. There are moments for every character that speak volumes, usually when they aren't even talking in a scene, and reveal character more fully than the writing of any given episode. But I'm also an actor. I've spent my entire life trying to understand how behavior reveals character as much as words. So either I have a very vivid imagination, or what I have seen has informed my view of all of the characters in a way that someone without my experience and training might miss.

I don't believe any author has made Janeway less complex to make her more "interesting." I think each of us approach the task at hand with our own perspectives and that sometimes authors fall into the very easy trap of forcing the characters to serve the story they are trying to tell rather than allowing the story to evolve organically based upon the most fully realized version of the character they can possibly imagine.

This is always a good test for me when I'm writing. If I'm in a scene and I need something to happen because I've already decided that it has to, but the characters aren't coming with me...their dialoge isn't flowing, or they start saying things that make the story unravel...that tells me I'm imposing stuff on them that isn't going to work and it's time to go back and look at my story choice. It's an incredibly frustrating experience. You keep thinking...I'm the author, damn it...just do what I need you to do. But when they don't...they're usually right and I'm usually wrong.

I hope that makes sense. I also hope that if you have read any of my novels featuring Janeway, and everyone else, that you don't believe I have presented an overly simplistic view of any of them. As I said, for me they are all incredibly complex. That's what makes this work fun.

KB
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Old July 16 2011, 08:00 AM   #75
Kirsten Beyer
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Re: Questions for Bring Back Janeway Panel

And finally, Melissa's last question...

Question 5: How much do you regret being handed the reins of the Voyager relaunch after its main character was “killed off” a previous novel? Of all the PB writers, you seem to be the one most in tune with her character. Although many say that she can’t plausibly be brought back following "Before Dishonor" and the subsequent novels, I can think of dozens of interesting plots that could knock the socks off of the nay-sayers, continue your plot without interruption, and open up lots of possibilities for Voyager to return to its unique position as a deep-space ship. What do you think? Are you up to it? If not, email me. We should talk.

I think that about covers it! LOL

BTW, I assume that the little girl in your BBS avatar your baby. I thought she was just born a month or two ago! She is adorable!

Thanks again for doing this panel. I hope you have lots of people there and generate some great discussions!

Peace,
Melissa Davis
I don't regret it for a single moment. Voyager was the first universe that didn't belong to me that I ever tried to create stories for. To have been handed the reins at any time was and remains an absolute thrill. The loss of Janeway and Tuvok made my job harder. But it was a challenge I was happy to attempt to rise to meet.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but when it comes to anyone else telling me what can and can't happen in a story, I don't sweat it. Before I started using my daugher's picture for an avatar, I used a picture of Obama from the 2008 campaign where he was standing at a podium and the caption read..."Everybody chill the fuck out. I've got this." The reason was simple. On a daily basis, that's pretty much my attitude.

Perhaps I need to change that avatar back again, though you are right, that is my daughter. She'll be two next month. And as to her adorableness...on that you and I are in complete agreement.

KB
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