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Old December 23 2011, 03:00 AM   #181
MattWallace
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Sorry that you found that insulting. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently. However, I have found that female characters tend to come across worse with male writers and not just in Trek. Not all writers and not all characters. But the scales are not balanced in my eyes. I'm not saying it's intentional.

Sisko "died" at the end of DS9 and Avery Brooks had the line that he would return inserted into his farewell scene with Kassidy so that he wouldn't be seen as an absentee father as so many African-American men are portrayed. His return was pretty much set at that point. Kira carried on as commander of DS9 but then something happened and she walked away and joined a religious order. We don't even know why she did. We're just supposed to accept that she did.

It's good to hear that the crew of TNG has settled down. I haven't ready any post Destiny other than the Typhon Pact books and Losing the Peace. I'd lost interest in the characters. Perhaps I'll check them out again.
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Old December 23 2011, 03:17 AM   #182
Christopher
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

MattWallace wrote: View Post
Sorry that you found that insulting. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently. However, I have found that female characters tend to come across worse with male writers and not just in Trek. Not all writers and not all characters. But the scales are not balanced in my eyes. I'm not saying it's intentional.
I just don't think the evidence bears that assertion out where Trek Lit is concerned. There are certainly places where it is a justifiable accusation (including DC Comics' recent reboot, so it would seem), but I don't think that applies here. I think the men and women alike who write Trek Lit are equally dedicated to portraying effective characters of both sexes (and then some). And I think you're cherrypicking your evidence to support a highly counterfactual thesis.


Sisko "died" at the end of DS9 and Avery Brooks had the line that he would return inserted into his farewell scene with Kassidy so that he wouldn't be seen as an absentee father as so many African-American men are portrayed. His return was pretty much set at that point.
Which has nothing to do with what we're talking about, since after he returned in Unity, he continued to live as a family man on Bajor while Kira still commanded the station.


Kira carried on as commander of DS9 but then something happened and she walked away and joined a religious order. We don't even know why she did. We're just supposed to accept that she did.
And why you'd assume that story decision has anything at all to do with her gender is beyond me. By your own admission, we don't know why it happened, so why would you assume that reason?

And no, we're not "just supposed to accept" it. Rough Beasts of Empire was the first story in the new phase of DS9 fiction. As the just-released working cover for Plagues of Night shows, it's certainly not the last. The lingering questions about the changes in Kira's life -- as well as changes in the lives of several other characters of both sexes -- will presumably be explored further in upcoming books.
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Old December 23 2011, 03:35 AM   #183
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Seeing as Sisko essentially died, would Starfleet even have any way to force him to return? If he were declared dead then any agreement he had would be null and void. Besides, he'd just saved the Alpha Quadrant, the wormhole and Bajor. A little R&R was called for, especially with the arrival of his daughter.

With Kira we went from her being persona non grata with her faith to being a member of the clergy. It's like she's a ball in a pinball machine and just being bopped from one place to the other. "She's out! She's in! She's Captain! She's resigned!" How long until we get "She's back"?

The closest I could see a male character in a similar situation would be Worf. Named ambassador at the end of DS9 he was in a few books and then right back to Starfleet and the Enterprise. Ambassador Worf was an interesting take on the character and it would have been interesting to see where he would go but in the end his path took him right back to where he'd been a decade earlier.

I would imagine that something similar is in store for Sisko, going through some sort of trial and ending up back with Kassidy and perhaps on Bajor or DS9. I'd be much more interested in seeing Sisko go through a Heart of Darkness type story. His whole life he's been controlled by the aliens in the wormhole. He's now at the point where, rather than fight the prophesy he's embracing it. What happens to a man when he turns over control of his life to some prophecies written thousands of years ago? What happens when you realize that your life is not your own and never has been?
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Old December 23 2011, 04:13 AM   #184
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

MattWallace wrote: View Post
Seeing as Sisko essentially died, would Starfleet even have any way to force him to return? If he were declared dead then any agreement he had would be null and void.
Well, he didn't die, he just went to live in the wormhole. His Starfleet commission was still active upon his return. The first thing Starfleet did after Sisko came back in Unity was to offer to promote him to admiral. He declined and went on extended personal leave, until Starfleet reactivated his commission during the Borg invasion. So no, he was never declared dead and his Starfleet rank was never nullified.

And what has any of this got to do with the topic? This isn't about Starfleet's decisions, because Starfleet is imaginary. What we're debating here is about the writers' decisions. The writers (and editor) decided to have Sisko follow that path. The writers (and editor) chose to keep Kira in the command position she'd been in at the end of "What You Leave Behind," and they continued to keep her there for another six books. They decided they wanted to keep "dealing with" a female captain.


With Kira we went from her being persona non grata with her faith to being a member of the clergy. It's like she's a ball in a pinball machine and just being bopped from one place to the other.
No, she's one of a number of characters whose journey in the interval between 2377 and 2381 has yet to be explored in detail. That passage of time brought changes for many characters, and it only seems abrupt because of the time jump. Was Spock a "ball in a pinball machine" because he went from being a science officer in TOS to a Kolinahr acolyte in TMP, and then was "suddenly" a captain in TWOK? Oh, the makers of the movies must've had a problem with male characters because of how this one single male character was treated!


The closest I could see a male character in a similar situation would be Worf. Named ambassador at the end of DS9 he was in a few books and then right back to Starfleet and the Enterprise. Ambassador Worf was an interesting take on the character and it would have been interesting to see where he would go but in the end his path took him right back to where he'd been a decade earlier.
Well, I could name another example, but apparently you haven't read Indistinguishable from Magic yet. But isn't Sisko an example too? Last time we saw him in the post-finale DS9 novels he was happy in civilian life and content with his family, and then we jumped forward and he was back in Starfleet and estranged from his family and generally miserable. That's surely an even more drastic change than Kira's.
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Old December 23 2011, 06:54 AM   #185
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

JD wrote: View Post
her leaving was completely voluntary, so I wouldn't be surprised if she popped back up eventually.
The other advantage with Kadohata is that, any time the books revisit the seven TV seasons, Kadohata is supposedly there, somewhere.
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Old December 23 2011, 07:24 AM   #186
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Hello friends,

Just a couple of things here...

MatthiasRussell wrote: View Post
They could have had the same effect killing Chakotay. Killing Chakotay would probably done a better job overcoming the mediocre state of Voyager at the time. And I doubt the Voyager fanatics would have complained about losing Chuckles. He was more involved in the Voyager books at the time and wasn't the icon Janeway was.
Well, as the person tasked with sorting through all of it post Spirit Walk and Before Dishonor I have to say that I could not possibly disagree with you more strongly.

Killing Chakotay would have presented no challenge at all. At the time FC was in the works, he was easily one of the least highly regarded characters in Trek, even among Voyager fans, unless we're talking about the J/C shippers. Yes, his death would have impacted his friends and many of our main characters, but it's hard to argue that he had the same central role or impact upon them that Janeway did.

Making him someone the readers actually cared about...that was a challenge.

It's my sense that the people who like the new direction, by and large feel the way they do precisely because we've been able to accomplish many difficult and unexpected things with the characters while at the same time still telling stories that retain enough of Voyager's themes to make them feel consistent.

MatthiasRussell wrote: View Post
But killing characters wouldn't be necessary at all with quality stories and authors. The good publicity of Beyer's high quality books would have rejuvenated interest in itself.
While I am pleased that you consider my books to be high quality, I'm really at a loss here. Killing characters is neither necessary or unnecessary to the production of quality stories. That you believe FC would have been well regarded based upon my writing skills alone is a nice thing to hear but imagining it now is like trying to figure out how to get oil out of water. FC was entirely about how our characters dealt with the death of someone central to their lives. Could another good book about Voyager have been written about an entirely different subject...I like to think so...but FC doesn't exist if Janeway isn't killed in BD.

The bottom line is we'll never know how well Voyager would have done without the choice to kill Janeway and deal in depth with its aftermath and to hear anyone suggest that it would have been easy to bring Voyager to the place it is now under any circumstances, let alone treating our main characters as interchangable meat puppets doesn't track with my experience of actually confronting the problem.

MattWallace wrote: View Post
It`s easier for the authors to stuff Janeway into the fridge than Chakotay. This way they don`t have to deal with a female captain unless it`s one that they put in place (Ro, Ezri). Female characters usually get the short end of the stick unless they`re the star of the show like Buffy, etc. In an larger group, even though one or two characters may be more like a traditional leading character, women usually end up on the losing end as time goes on.
What the...? Seriously..what the fuck?

Setting aside the whole women in the refrigerator thing which has been trotted out many times in the past as evidence of the worst kind of sexism on the part of anyone who dares to imagine a universe without Kathryn Janeway in it, you're seriously suggesting that it's no challenge at all to write a female captain as long as she is original to the author, but a female captain created by the series presents insurmountable problems? I didn't create Janeway so I couldn't figure out how to write her, but writing Eden was no problem?

Writing Janeway is a walk in a park on a glorious spring day, largely given Mulgrew's performance which on most occasions rose well above the writer's failings of her character. Janeway is one of the most complex and therefore most interesting characters to write. With Janeway I've got tons of rich history and a pre-existing connection between the characters and readers to mine for stories. I've got vivid images of the character committed to memory given the multiple times I've seen every single episode of the series. I've got tiny performance details that bring depth to every situation. It's like having a treasure chest full of gold and precious jewels and just taking my pick as to whcih one I'm going to play with today.

Creating a new chracter from scratch and placing them in a central position in a story that has lived for years without her? Well, you try it sometime. This is someone fans of Janeway are already predisposed to hate and I've got to find a way to bring her into lots of complicated relationships, make her interesting and original while she's sharing the stage with no less than nine other central characters, all of whom need their stories told too.

I'm not going to try to speak to all of television and literature here as it relates to women's issues, but if you've read Full Circle, Unworthy, and Children of the Storm and still think Janeway, B'Elanna, Seven, Eden, Conlon and Farkas have gotten the short end of any stick, I can't help you. Their isssues are central to every story and all are given their fair share story time in which they succeed, fail, and struggle to overcome whatever obstacle is before them, just like Chakotay, Harry, Tom and Cambridge.

Where your premise fails is in the idea that a characters's gender is some sort of primary factor in the creation of their stories or the amount of emphasis placed upon them in any given story. You may say, and may be right, that some authors write their characters, male or female, better than others. The sentiment is frankly so general as to be meaningless.

Women are certainly underrepresented in many forms of story-telling, but in the specific case of the current Voyager line, the math just doesn't add up. You may not like the way the characters are written, may not think their voices are accurate or may not find them compelling. That would be an opinion you are perfectly entitled to hold. But to suggest that killing Janeway and creating Eden was easier than just leaving Janeway in place or that women, on balance, are somehow being intentionally slighted in the Voyager stories because we just don't know what to do with them is patently absurd.

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Old December 23 2011, 08:25 AM   #187
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

i only bought Full Circle to spite the Janeway fans on here. but i loved it and bought Unworthy and am now fully commited to buying VGR novels as long as they're as brilliantly written as KB's stuff is. Prior to FC i'd read 2 VGR novels, one of which was the Caretaker novelisation and owned only that one.
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Old December 23 2011, 02:38 PM   #188
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

<round of applause for Kirsten>

She said it far better than I did. We're not writing "male characters" and "female characters," as if that's the overwhelming consideration. We're writing characters. Characters who have many traits including gender. The choice we make about them are the ones that make the most sense given the needs of the stories and the arcs and relationships of the characters. And since we're writing stories about officers and professionals in an egalitarian society, there are few story situations where any character's gender would be an overriding factor. Heck, gender isn't even necessarily an overriding factor in romantic subplots, considering how free the novels have been about incorporating GLBT themes.

MattWallace's generalization here seems to be based on only two examples, Janeway and post-timejump Kira. Because of what happened to those two captains who happen to be female, he imagines there's a pattern specific to female captains created onscreen. The problem there, really, is that screen canon gave us so very few female captains as regular characters in the first place. With only two examples, it's impossible to distinguish between a genuine pattern and a coincidence. The sample size is simply too small.
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Old December 23 2011, 06:10 PM   #189
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Kristen, I agree with you completely on Chakotay. I just finished rewatching Voyager on Netflix and I found Chakotay and Kim completely uninspiring, but Chuckles more so because he had much more lost potential. You are quite right, making him interesting and making us care about him was a challenge. A challenge met quite well, mostly probably because of his counseling sessions.

I also agree that Full Circle was great because of how well it describes coping with grief. Something I tell the Voyager fans is death is a part of life and we have to learn how to cope and move on.For anyone coping with a loss, I think Full Circle well mirrors their feelings. And yes, writing that would not have worked to chakotay. (Question: when the Before Dishonor concept was constructed, was Full Circle and the new Voyager direction always the plan?)

Thein, Kristen, and others have made a great argument that Voyager is now stronger. And I agree Janeway's death was a springboard to that end. As said in the books, Janeway was opposed to returning to Delta. Though Voyager is amazing now, I still think it could have still been amazing with that character alive and the right person writing. That is my opinion right or wrong but I continue to kube the new books and try to convince the Voyager fanatics to give it a try. And Thein might be right, maybe they have no interest in reading and just want to complain and call trek sexist.

I also am in full believe that Janeway is no more dead than Sisko was at the end of the tv show or Kirk was after the Enterprise B incident. Whether she returns or not, I don't care but I'll continue to believe she's out and probably miserable with the Q. And to the Janeway haters, you might be happier knowing Janeway herself would probably wish Peter David had killed her than left her with the Q.

Lastly, I think Janeway fans and young female trekkers should love how Voyager is currently. It is still filed with strong women in leadership positions. Even without Janeway, it still has heart and even more inspiring female characters with the same sense of family. It just now has extended family. It is preposterous to think the series has anything but the highest respect for women, especially when it is written by one.
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Old December 23 2011, 06:41 PM   #190
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

I definitely can't see any systematic favoritism, but I think the handling of the two non-white and non-male flagship characters of the franchise have been thoroughly mishandled in lit. The franchise was not shy about exploiting their casting choices at the time and fans latched on and connected with them.

I don't think there was any racism or sexism present in either RBoE or Before Dishonor because just about every character in those 'books' got short shrift. They were both wretchedly written in my opinion, but RBoE hits me where I live so to speak and there is still a bad net result.

These are characters in a pie in the sky 24th century, but they are characters created for 20th & 21st century audiences. The flagship characters who connected with parts of the audience had to wait till the 90s to see an empowered captain character like themselves and these two books have ended up pulling the rug out from under those parts of the audience as they face 21st century issues.
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Old December 23 2011, 07:10 PM   #191
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

j3067 wrote: View Post
I definitely can't see any systematic favoritism, but I think the handling of the two non-white and non-male flagship characters of the franchise have been thoroughly mishandled in lit.
Again, you can't deduce a pattern from so few examples. If you want female or nonwhite characters to be treated equally, that means they're equally at risk of having bad things happen to them if it serves the story. It's contradictory to say you want equality and then cry prejudice every time a character who isn't a white male suffers a setback. Fiction is about bad things happening to the protagonists. It's about people facing crises and challenges. So it's bizarre to assume that if a given character is faced with a crisis or a challenge, it's because the writers have some special animosity for them.

If anything, the common thread between Sisko and Janeway that might explain their handling in the literature is not their ethnicity or sex, but how they were positioned within canon the last time we saw them. Picard and Archer were both captains in their latest canonical appearances, as was Riker, so it's straightforward enough to continue them in that role. And Kirk was a captain for most of his chronicled life and we know how that life comes to an end, so there's really no new place you can take him (short of Shatnerverse resurrection, and that comes with its own controversy). But canon promoted Janeway to the admiralty and took Sisko to be with the Prophets. They were both canonically removed from command/starring roles, so the initial conditions faced by the novelists having to move their respective series forward were different from those faced by writers dealing with Kirk, Picard, Archer, or Riker. So that alone is enough to explain why those two characters were handled differently than the others.

In particular, I don't understand the objections to taking Sisko to a place that's uncomfortable for the readers to see him in. I mean, where was he in "Emissary?" He was a depressed, broken man at a low point in his life. That was the initial problem that his experiences in the series helped him to deal with. What I see in Rough Beasts of Empire is the beginning of a new arc for Sisko, one that starts with him in a similar place to where he was when we first met him. It stands to reason that his situation will evolve as the books progress, just as it did before. DS9 has always been about characters going through big changes, often suffering painful setbacks and losses, and having to find their way forward again. For a lot of its characters, DS9 was about journeys of redemption or healing or self-discovery. If a character starts out happy and fulfilled and content, where would you go from there?

As for Janeway, I don't really know why the decision was made to kill her off, but I think Full Circle and Unworthy proved that killing a character doesn't mean mishandling her. Kirsten has handled Janeway's death and its impact on her friends and loved ones in a magnificent way that's made it very meaningful. If she were still alive as an admiral, giving the ship its assignments from a desk somewhere or constantly being given contrived excuses to join the crew on mission after mission, that wouldn't be a very meaningful role, just a contrived way to keep the character in play after she'd been canonically placed in a peripheral role. But having the characters have to deal on an ongoing basis with the emotional consequences of her loss makes her absence important and powerful, and makes her a more crucial character even though she isn't physically present.
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Old December 23 2011, 07:30 PM   #192
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

So keeping Janeway relevant and interesting would have been a "challenge"? Why couldn't Janeway have changed her mind about going back to delta and decided to be the Fleet Admiral? Sisko couldn't have gone back to work without going through a divorce. The stories are compelling and interesting as is. However, I think out is silly to say these characters can't have amazing stories and careers while either having happy family lives or desk jobs.

For example, take Clive Cussler's protagonist Dirk Pitt. Most of those books had him in a job that put him in the center of the action while meeting new loves and occasionally watching them die. Now Pitt is married with kids and a government desk job. However, he still leaves his desk in assignments and has adventures just as good as in Cussler's earlier works. A desk and a family is not the death of a character's ability to be compelling, have adventures, and generate emotion from readers. Cussler and Pitt have proved that.

The books have been great and I in no way wish to undermine their value. But the direction the franchise went isn't necessarily the best way, it is just the way that was chosen. it is what it is. In life there are times where we zigged where we could have zagged. No matter how great our life is, who's to say it couldn't be better or equally as good if we didn't take a different turn in the fork. Take the hand your dealt and make the best you can with it, but don't think you couldn't have had a better hand to work with. Most of the time that isn't true.
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Old December 23 2011, 08:38 PM   #193
Therin of Andor
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

MatthiasRussell wrote: View Post
Why couldn't Janeway have changed her mind about going back to delta and decided to be the Fleet Admiral?
That event would not have gained sufficient free word of mouth, whether such a story was well written or a turgid piece of crap. Kirk took up the admiralty twice. Picard has turned it down just as often. Deja vu.

Sisko couldn't have gone back to work without going through a divorce.
He has divorced Kassidy? Now I'm very intrigued!

So yeah, that works for me. The book goes higher on my "To Read" pile.

However, I think out is silly to say these characters can't have amazing stories and careers while either having happy family lives or desk jobs.
No one is saying that, but if the cumulative effect - if every ST novel guarantees that all the main characters stay happy and healthy and satisfied at the end of every story - then the books stretch their credibility, ongoing arcs become disjointed, and readers start to drop by the wayside. Especially when there is no current canonical parent show to keep the line buoyant.

For example, take Clive Cussler's protagonist Dirk Pitt. Most of those books had him in a job that put him in the center of the action while meeting new loves and occasionally watching them die. Now Pitt is married with kids and a government desk job. However, he still leaves his desk in assignments and has adventures just as good as in Cussler's earlier works. A desk and a family is not the death of a character's ability to be compelling, have adventures, and generate emotion from readers. Cussler and Pitt have proved that.
Who has time to read novels without Star Trek on the cover?

And whatever will you do if/when Dirk Pitt gets killed off?

I take it that some books have him at near-death. If you know he's always gonna make it, eventually you tire of that mysterious lucky charm he must carry in his pocket, and begin to hope that one day his luck will run out.

If Janeway was given exactly such a guaranteed charmed life, I wonder if we'd have the Janeway diehards complaining that Pocket had wrapped a great female character in cotton wool, had promoted her to a position of relative safety, and were giving her special treatment instead of treating her as a equal to her male counterparts.

In life there are times where we zigged where we could have zagged. No matter how great our life is, who's to say it couldn't be better or equally as good if we didn't take a different turn in the fork. Take the hand your dealt and make the best you can with it, but don't think you couldn't have had a better hand to work with. Most of the time that isn't true.
The only way to prove this is for Margaret Clark to slingshot 'round the sun. And then we'd never know she'd done it anyway.
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Old December 23 2011, 09:15 PM   #194
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
j3067 wrote: View Post
I definitely can't see any systematic favoritism, but I think the handling of the two non-white and non-male flagship characters of the franchise have been thoroughly mishandled in lit.
Again, you can't deduce a pattern from so few examples. If you want female or nonwhite characters to be treated equally, that means they're equally at risk of having bad things happen to them if it serves the story.
They are 100% of the non-white non-male population of commanding officers to be featured on a weekly series. I never said I want the CAPTAINS to be treated equally either. If bad things happen to them I don't want them to be treated like redshirts.

Christopher wrote: View Post
If anything, the common thread between Sisko and Janeway that might explain their handling in the literature is not their ethnicity or sex, but how they were positioned within canon the last time we saw them.
The franchise cashed in on their sex and ethnicity. I'm not concerned about how well adjusted society is in the 24th century in this case. I am concerned about a captain that serves as a focal point for an audience in the 21st. The net result is that some Captains are in a 'more equal' situation than others on this farm.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Picard and Archer were both captains in their latest canonical appearances, as was Riker, so it's straightforward enough to continue them in that role. And Kirk was a captain for most of his chronicled life and we know how that life comes to an end, so there's really no new place you can take him (short of Shatnerverse resurrection, and that comes with its own controversy). But canon promoted Janeway to the admiralty and took Sisko to be with the Prophets. They were both canonically removed from command/starring roles, so the initial conditions faced by the novelists having to move their respective series forward were different from those faced by writers dealing with Kirk, Picard, Archer, or Riker. So that alone is enough to explain why those two characters were handled differently than the others.

Cannon made Kirk and admiral for a little while too, but no one depicted him getting sucked into a wall. Spock did his Kolinar but did not go into a total emo superfunk when it did not work out.

Christopher wrote: View Post
In particular, I don't understand the objections to taking Sisko to a place that's uncomfortable for the readers to see him in. I mean, where was he in "Emissary?"
Where he was first and foremost a devoted father?

Christopher wrote: View Post
He was a depressed, broken man at a low point in his life. That was the initial problem that his experiences in the series helped him to deal with. What I see in Rough Beasts of Empire is the beginning of a new arc for Sisko, one that starts with him in a similar place to where he was when we first met him. It stands to reason that his situation will evolve as the books progress, just as it did before. DS9 has always been about characters going through big changes, often suffering painful setbacks and losses, and having to find their way forward again. For a lot of its characters, DS9 was about journeys of redemption or healing or self-discovery. If a character starts out happy and fulfilled and content, where would you go from there?
Would have been awesome if that were as well handled as Kirsten handled Paris/Torres in Full Circle.

Christopher wrote: View Post
As for Janeway, I don't really know why the decision was made to kill her off, but I think Full Circle and Unworthy proved that killing a character doesn't mean mishandling her. Kirsten has handled Janeway's death and its impact on her friends and loved ones in a magnificent way that's made it very meaningful. If she were still alive as an admiral, giving the ship its assignments from a desk somewhere or constantly being given contrived excuses to join the crew on mission after mission, that wouldn't be a very meaningful role, just a contrived way to keep the character in play after she'd been canonically placed in a peripheral role. But having the characters have to deal on an ongoing basis with the emotional consequences of her loss makes her absence important and powerful, and makes her a more crucial character even though she isn't physically present.
I really enjoyed Kirsten's books and I think she did a great job. I think she would have done a great job regardless of her starting point. None of that makes me like Before Dishonor more

Last edited by j3067; December 23 2011 at 09:29 PM.
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Old December 23 2011, 09:23 PM   #195
Relayer1
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Firstly -

<joins in round of applause for Kirsten>

Secondly -

Christopher wrote: View Post

Starfleet is imaginary.
Christopher - WTF ?

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