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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old September 1 2012, 09:12 PM   #46
Jarvisimo
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

I wonder if Hollow Men by Una McCormack, with its wonderful London scenes, fits the remit of this article on the "London novel"? Certainly it felt like the author was alluding to much 'London' and British literature in her novel...

Other nations have written about their major cities in a compelling way, but very few have been able to talk about them as places where everyone, from every point on the scale, mixes. The encounters between beggars and countesses in Bleak House, or the daughters of the indigent, schoolmasters, clerks, intellectuals, society figures and millionaires living on dust-heaps in Our Mutual Friend are quite natural, and lead to compelling consequences. It goes on – the meeting between Leonard Bast and the Schlegel girls in E M Forster’s Howards End, one of the great London novels, is plausible in detail and compelling in consequence.

[...]

The London imagination feeds on particulars, and however extravagant the London novel grows, however addicted to secrecy and conspiracy, it is always rooted in the known public facts: the confidential offices in John le Carré, or a group of churches in Peter Ackroyd, the arrangement of streets, rivers and open spaces in Iain Sinclair and the “psychogeographers” who followed him.
[I wasn't sure where to put this, but here seemed appropriate since it is a literary article. ]
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Old September 1 2012, 09:59 PM   #47
JD
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

I don't really separate non-tie-ins and tie ins when it comes to quality. To me a book is a book, and as long as I find the contents entertaining I'm happy.
So, I'm just going to list a few of my favorites. There are a lot more that I've enjoyed just as much as the ones in this list, but they are the first to come to mind when I think of my favorites.
The Destiny trilogy by David Mack
DS9 Mission Gamma: Twilight (this one is part of a fairly complex ongoing arc, so I honestly don't know how understandable it is by itself)
A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal by David Mack, and A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith R.A. Decandido
DS9: The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack.
The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III
The Lost Era: The Art of The Impossible by Keith R.A. DeCandio
Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions (These two are the beginnng and end of an arc, so it could be a little confusing if you only read these two) by David Mack
Titan: Orion's Hounds by Christopher L. Bennett
TNG: Q- Squared by Peter David
The entire Vanguard series by David Mack, Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri
Voyager: Full Circle, Unworthy, and Children of the Storm by Kirsten Beyer
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Old September 2 2012, 01:55 AM   #48
tomswift2002
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

When I think of favorites these books come to mind:
Grounded by David Bischoff
The Murdered Sun by Chistie Golden
Echoes by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and (sorry I'm drawing a blank)
Vendetta by Peter David
Capture The Flag by John Vornholt
Death of a Neutron Star by Eric (drawing a blank again)
Millennium (trilogy) by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Spectre
Dark Victory
Preserver
The Return by William Shatner
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Old September 2 2012, 03:29 AM   #49
Christopher
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

tomswift2002 wrote: View Post
Echoes by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and (sorry I'm drawing a blank)
Nina Kiriki Hoffman.


Death of a Neutron Star by Eric (drawing a blank again)
Eric Kotani, the pseudonym that astrophysicist Yoji Kondo uses for his fiction writing.
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Old September 2 2012, 05:09 PM   #50
dstyer
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

While I agree with Sci's list, about half of them take place as part of an over-arching storyline that might be difficult for a new reader to jump in with. What about books that are stand-alones but still are well thought out, well written, and (most important for me personally) make a person feel like they're watching an excellent episode of the TV Series?
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Old September 2 2012, 05:53 PM   #51
Sci
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

dstyer wrote: View Post
While I agree with Sci's list, about half of them take place as part of an over-arching storyline that might be difficult for a new reader to jump in with.
Not really. The only novels that are serialized to a meaningful degree are the Typhon Pact ones -- and they literally form a single story among themselves.

The rest are either standalone, or have sequels that you don't need to read.

For the record, the publishing order of the Typhon Pact books in my list is probably the best order in which to read them, and the order is as follows:
  • Zero Sum Game
  • Rough Beasts of Empire
  • Plagues of Night
  • Raise the Dawn
What about books that are stand-alones but still are well thought out, well written, and (most important for me personally) make a person feel like they're watching an excellent episode of the TV Series?
I disagree. A novel is a novel -- it should not make you feel like you're watching an episode of TV. Part of the point of a truly sophisticated novel is to take advantage of the strengths that prose provides which cannot be had in television or other media.

Just like part of the point of a truly good episode of television is to take advantage of the strengths TV provides which you can't find in prose or in other media.
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Old September 3 2012, 05:50 PM   #52
JD
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

^Exactly. That's one of the things I love about the books so much, they are able to give us stuff we couldn't get on TV.
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Old September 3 2012, 05:56 PM   #53
Christopher
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

^Right. The purpose of Trek novels is not to copy the episodes, but to complement them by exploring the Trek universe and characters in ways that TV can't but prose can.
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Old September 20 2012, 07:33 AM   #54
JimZipCode
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

CNash wrote: View Post
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be coming in with the assumption that most tie-in fiction is by definition inferior to "literature" or even mainstream science fiction.
I would back him up on that assumption 100%. The overwhelming majority of tie-in fiction is inferior to "original" fiction, pretty much by definition.

John M Ford's book The Final Reflection gets a lot of love on these forums. In my opinion, it stands out as the only Trek novel* that can stand with good "original" science fiction. And one of the most striking things about that book is how different it is from other Trek books. It does not use the standard TOS setting and characters, except as a framing device. Its main story examines a whole different culture and that culture's encounter with humans. In one stroke it avoids the generic weakness that limits tie-in fiction, when compared to original sf. And at the same time it zeroes in on a traditional strength of sf, the encounter between alien cultures and values. It takes its place among other great "alien encounter" novels in sf history: maybe not quite LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness, but not two or three shelves below it either.

Other Star Trek books remain "tie-in" novels. Fun for Star Trek fans, not much to offer non-fans.


_____________________________________
* "only Trek novel" -- Obviously I mean, "only one that I've read." I've read fewer than 30, maybe fewer than 20, and only TOS (+ TAS "logs"); so theoretically there are dozens of Star Trek tie-ins I've missed, that are peers of the best original sf novels. I freely acknowledge that theoretical possibility; but I find the odds pretty slim.

Last edited by JimZipCode; September 20 2012 at 08:55 AM. Reason: to finish the footnote
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Old September 20 2012, 07:34 AM   #55
Sci
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

JimZipCode wrote: View Post
* "only Trek novel" -- Obviously I mean, "only one that I've read. I've read fewer than 30, maybe fewer than 20, and only TOS (+ TAS "logs"); so theoretically
It sounds to me like you have not read enough to know what you're talking about.
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Old September 20 2012, 07:38 AM   #56
JimZipCode
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

tomswift2002 wrote: View Post
Well don't forget that Peter David is also known for his Hulk stories and his episodes of Babylon 5.
His Supergirl series is under-appreciated. It was pretty daring, and terrifically well structured.

Tossed aside like chaff when DC decided they wanted to bring back the old, standard, powerful SG. Yet another sad moment in a litany of them, from decades of being a fan of corporately-owned pop art.
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Old September 20 2012, 08:22 AM   #57
JimZipCode
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

Christopher wrote: View Post
the key is balance. If a book doesn't feel enough like Star Trek, or if it gets certain things about it wrong, then that can alienate readers. Not to mention that a number of original-SF writers, let alone "literary" ones, tend to see tie-in writing as slumming, so they might look on a Trek novel just as a quick-and-dirty way to make a buck and not put a lot of care into it, if they bothered to do it at all. The best tie-in writers for a given franchise are generally fans of it, people who really know it well and care about it and are willing to put their best work into a tie-in novel about it. You can be an accomplished original/literary writer and love Trek and thus produce really top-notch Trek novels -- but if you're a hugely acclaimed, accomplished author who's never been much of a Trek fan...
and doesn't have strong feelings about it, then your attempt to produce a Trek novel might not work very well as either a Trek novel or a self-contained literary work. After all, good writing entails passion toward your subject.
Great points.

The mention of Peter David a few posts before, puts me in mind of another possible background for a good tie-in writer. Mr David was an established comic book writer for some years before becoming a go-to Trek auther in the early-to-mid-90s. A comic book writer works on titles and characters owned by the company; he works witin the established setting. A great comic book writer develops a feel for how to inject originality into the series, and where he has to keep the stakes in the ground. Mr David moved from title to title – X-factor, Specatcular Spider-man, Hulk, etc – which meant that he re-learned "the rules" for each title. That's great on-the-job training for a tie-in writer.
(I have huge respect for his work in comics.)

That, plus Mr David's talent and professionalism, plus his obvious fandom: seems like a good recipe for a Trek-novel writer.

Having said all the above, in fact I have not read any of his Trek books. I've had one TNG book sitting around the house forever, possibly Strike Zone, but have never cracked it open. But I assume his Trek books are pretty good ones.



Christopher, I've interacted with you in the music thread, and read several of your other posts with interest. You are clearly a guy who thinks carefully about stuff. Please accept my assurances that a few posts above, where I basically impled that all tie-ins are crap, I did not have your novels in mind.

Actually, I haven't read a ST novel in several years, but reading your posts has kindled a small curiousity in me, to sample one of yours. Not a temptation I expected to encounter.
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Old September 20 2012, 08:54 AM   #58
JimZipCode
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

Christopher wrote: View Post
Eric Kotani, the pseudonym that astrophysicist Yoji Kondo uses for his fiction writing.
Astrophysicist and Aikido & Judo instructor, Yoji Kondo! I have been thrown around by Dr Kondo. It was like 25 years ago, and I didn't know who I was dealing with until I saw the Heinlein Requiem book a couple years later. A missed opportunity!
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Old September 20 2012, 02:48 PM   #59
Christopher
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

JimZipCode wrote: View Post
CNash wrote: View Post
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be coming in with the assumption that most tie-in fiction is by definition inferior to "literature" or even mainstream science fiction.
I would back him up on that assumption 100%. The overwhelming majority of tie-in fiction is inferior to "original" fiction, pretty much by definition.
That's total BS, no better than any other form of prejudice or stereotyping. The overwhelming majority of original fiction is inferior too. For every brilliant writer of original fiction, there are numerous hacks churning out "original" works that are just as forgettable and disposable as the worst tie-in work. It's Sturgeon's Law: 90 percent of everything is crud. (A law Sturgeon coined specifically when people criticized him for writing Star Trek episodes because they ignorantly thought television was worse than prose.) If you define the quality of original fiction based on its best works and the quality of tie-in fiction based on the mass of mediocrity, then you're cooking the books to fit your preconceived bias. It's unfair and self-deluding. The mass of material in any genre is going to be mediocre or worse, but there's greatness in every genre too, and you won't find it if you don't believe it's there.

Heck, what do you think are the most widely read works of original fiction? Romance novels generally outsell other genres by a good margin, and few would expect those to be great literature, nor do most of their readers probably want them to be. Mystery novels are quite popular too, and I'm sure that for every brilliant mystery there are countless derivative, formulaic, obvious ones. There's always a market for junk food. Originality is certainly no guarantor of quality or intelligence.


Other Star Trek books remain "tie-in" novels. Fun for Star Trek fans, not much to offer non-fans.
And that prejudiced assumption is blinding you to what's actually there. Prejudice is inferior to original thinking, pretty much by definition.


Please accept my assurances that a few posts above, where I basically impled that all tie-ins are crap, I did not have your novels in mind.
I don't accept your assurances, because they're hypocritical, not to mention insulting to a lot of my colleagues and friends.
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Old September 21 2012, 01:33 AM   #60
Sho
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Re: Literate Trek Novels

With regard to esteem I've always been puzzled that tie-in fiction writers get a worse rap than the TV writers do, when penning a novel is hardly any easier than writing an episode, and the episode writers had to work within franchise constraints just the same. Especially given how modern Trek Lit doesn't suffer the reboot syndrome any more (or at least no more so than the shows themselves did), I fail to see how one activity is less artistically noble than the other.
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