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

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Old February 28 2013, 03:09 AM   #1
Desert Kris
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Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

I've seen people reference these covers as simply generic book cover art that wasn't carefully researched by which ever artist did the cover at the time. There are all kinds of interesting curiosities going on with them.

One major part of these covers was how the uniforms and the ship didn't match. There would be covers with characters in their TV series uniforms of gold, blue, and red, and the Enterprise would be in refitted configuration (Dreams of a Raven, Chain of Attack, ect). I think I've seen a couple of books showing characters in their Motion Picture uniforms, but the Enterprise looks as she does in TOS.

There is something of an overall effect that I remember the covers having when I would look at them as a kid. Before a certain age, I had never seen The Motion Picture and never seen pictures of the uniforms from that movie, so I only knew of the TOS uniforms and the Wrath of Khan and beyond movie costumes. The book covers that showed TMP uniforms were fascinating, the first look I had at them; made me wonder about the time the book was set in.

The coloring inaccuracies were another interesting curiosity. There's a version of the Enterprise on the interior cover of The Final Frontier with features the Enterprise's deflector dish and nacelle tips as light blue (makes me think of discussions about the proper color when it comes to the 2009 movie). Then there's Yesterday's Son, featuring the top of Spock's maroon uniform style, except that it's more pastel colored, like TMP.

Accuracy issues aside, there's this foggy look to the artwork, which is really evocative, I think. Gives the picture a larger-than-life quality. Dwellers in the Crucible, The Final Reflection, The Wounded Sky and so many others, have this hazy quality that is haunting. It's also a bit fantasy-ish, which, although I know Star Trek is generally more properly considered Science Fiction, the old show seems significantly less Hard Sci-Fi these days, with some of the concepts it explores and the way it does so.

A couple years ago, when I watched through the entirety of TOS on DVD, I bounced around between episodes, rather than watching them in the order they were arranged. Through something of a random quirk, I found myself watching a string of episodes that had a really hefty dose of swordplay, as well as some elements that on the surface appear magical (Trelane, swords appearing in Day of the Dove). It struck me that watching the right string of episodes and being none the wiser, a newcoming might regard Star Trek as something of a Sword and Planet series of adventures. And that's what some of those covers capture as well, IMO.

When I got to the point where I was familiar with the layout of Star Trek's internal history, it's progression from series through the movies, I would still read those books and be open minded about what my mind's eye would present. When I read Dreams of a Raven, even though I knew that I was supposed to set the story during the TV series, I still played with the images in my head. I pictured everyone in their TOS uniforms, just as the cover does, but the interior and exterior I pictured as a version of Enterprise from TWoK, and pictured the starship battles as being along the lines of the combat seen in TWoK.

Does anyone else like those old covers, to the point of letting it influence how a novels events look in your mind's eye when reading them? Anyone a fan of those pulpy, sword and planet, wildly "inaccurate" covers from the earlier decade? I say "inaccurate" in quotes because, even though I know there's a tendency to prefer regarding ST as having one (or as few as possible) continuity or universe, the novels kind of do have their own continuity, their own version of things (different cultural depictions of Klingons and Romulans; different historical details, especially with Strangers From the Sky and Federation). It seems to follow that there's room for having it's own visual identity of oddly mixed elements.
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Old February 28 2013, 03:36 AM   #2
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Desert Kris wrote: View Post
Accuracy issues aside, there's this foggy look to the artwork, which is really evocative, I think. Gives the picture a larger-than-life quality. Dwellers in the Crucible, The Final Reflection, The Wounded Sky and so many others, have this hazy quality that is haunting. It's also a bit fantasy-ish, which, although I know Star Trek is generally more properly considered Science Fiction, the old show seems significantly less Hard Sci-Fi these days, with some of the concepts it explores and the way it does so.
Well, the covers you mention are all by Boris Vallejo, one of the most prominent fantasy cover artists of the past few decades. So it's no wonder his style would strike you as "fantasy-ish."


It seems to follow that there's room for having it's own visual identity of oddly mixed elements.
You left out the use of Battlestar Galactica ships on the covers of The Romulan Way and TNG: Ghost Ship. Talk about an odd mix...
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Old February 28 2013, 12:28 PM   #3
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

I was always fond of the painted covers, and I'm sorry to see them go. The inaccuracies always bugged me as a kid, but that just gives them an air of nostalgia now. The one that I always think of most is "Yesterday's Son," which had Spock in his TWOK uniform, but painted it as blue!
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Old February 28 2013, 12:37 PM   #4
F. King Daniel
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Pre-CG, pre-Photoshop art has a lot of charm. I prefer it in general, although that's not to say we haven't had a few wonderful covers recently.

I also prefer the way Trek comics used to be drawn in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Original art, not based religiously on photo references.

...maybe it's because of Gold Key's Enterprise interiors that I don't blink an eye at the new Enterprise's engineering sections!
(and FWIW, the Narada's innards seem to slightly resemble DC's Romulan ship interiors from the 80's, too!)
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Old February 28 2013, 02:59 PM   #5
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Fer wrote: View Post
The one that I always think of most is "Yesterday's Son," which had Spock in his TWOK uniform, but painted it as blue!
Also worth noting that aside from the uniform color, the painting of Spock on the Yesterday's Son cover is essentially identical to the painting of Spock on the Wrath of Khan novelization's cover, which was also by Vallejo.
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Old February 28 2013, 03:45 PM   #6
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

A couple of art inaccuracies that I remember are Sulu in a blue uniform shirt on the cover of Shadow Lord, and a large sword being prominently featured on the cover of Captain's Honor despite no sword being featured in the novel at all. And for something more recent, how about RIker's uniform on the cover of Titan: Synthesis?

And yes, there were many many instances of mixing TOS uniform styles with refit Enterprises on the covers, and vice versa. But those cover paintings were very cool, especially the ones by Boris Vallejo.
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Old February 28 2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Garrovick wrote: View Post
A couple of art inaccuracies that I remember are Sulu in a blue uniform shirt on the cover of Shadow Lord, and a large sword being prominently featured on the cover of Captain's Honor despite no sword being featured in the novel at all.
There are also plenty of New Frontier novels with swords on the cover, even though there aren't any in the books. It's not inaccuracy, it's symbolism. Not all art is literal. (Although in the NF case the sword represents the starship Excalibur. On The Captain's Honor, it presumably symbolizes the ancient martial traditions that drive the Magna Romans.)
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Old February 28 2013, 04:27 PM   #8
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Back in the day, the covers were often finished before the books were. I confess I've been known to adjust the books to make them fit the covers. (Beverly saves the day in Dragon's Honor because I'd seen the cover art and knew Gates McFadden was going to be on it . . . .)

Actual conversation:

"Hey, Greg. Is there a helicopter in The Eugenics Wars?"

"Er, not yet."

"Well, can there be a helicopter in the book? Because we put one of the cover."

"Fine. I'm sure I can work a helicopter in somewhere . . . . "

(This is also the reason Iceman suddenly shows up halfway through my X-MEN trilogy. Because he accidentally ended up on the cover!)
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Old February 28 2013, 04:43 PM   #9
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

^That still happens sometimes. With both The Buried Age and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, I got the cover art while writing the manuscript and it inspired me to adjust aspects of the novel to reflect the tone of the cover. In particular, the TBA cover arrived just after I'd written the scene it represented, and it let me add a lot more atmosphere and descriptive texture to the scene than I had the first time around.
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Old February 28 2013, 05:05 PM   #10
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Garrovick wrote: View Post
A couple of art inaccuracies that I remember are Sulu in a blue uniform shirt on the cover of Shadow Lord, and a large sword being prominently featured on the cover of Captain's Honor despite no sword being featured in the novel at all.
There are also plenty of New Frontier novels with swords on the cover, even though there aren't any in the books. It's not inaccuracy, it's symbolism. Not all art is literal. (Although in the NF case the sword represents the starship Excalibur. On The Captain's Honor, it presumably symbolizes the ancient martial traditions that drive the Magna Romans.)
I always took the sword on the New Frontier covers to be Calhoun's sword, the one that scarred his face and that he took from the man who scarred him.
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Old February 28 2013, 05:13 PM   #11
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

^But it has the Starfleet arrowhead on it.
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Old February 28 2013, 05:49 PM   #12
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^But it has the Starfleet arrowhead on it.
And Calhoun couldn't have added that later?
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Old February 28 2013, 05:53 PM   #13
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Can't remember if it was real or I made it up, but yeah, I had that in my head as his sword. Either physically added the arrowhead to it himself, or it's just a symbolic representation of his fusion of his warlord past and starfleet captain present.

Either way, it's been carried from the beginning, and thought Calhoun had the sword itself in his ready room...
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Old February 28 2013, 07:40 PM   #14
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

The ship is named Excalibur. Excalibur was King Arthur's sword. So the sword with the Starfleet insignia is a symbolic representation of the ship. I think that's self-evident. Sure, maybe there could be some resonance intended with Calhoun's warrior past, but it's still symbolic.
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Old February 28 2013, 08:17 PM   #15
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Re: Anyone Like the "Inaccurate" Book Cover art from the 1980's?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Garrovick wrote: View Post
A couple of art inaccuracies that I remember are Sulu in a blue uniform shirt on the cover of Shadow Lord, and a large sword being prominently featured on the cover of Captain's Honor despite no sword being featured in the novel at all.
There are also plenty of New Frontier novels with swords on the cover, even though there aren't any in the books. It's not inaccuracy, it's symbolism. Not all art is literal. (Although in the NF case the sword represents the starship Excalibur. On The Captain's Honor, it presumably symbolizes the ancient martial traditions that drive the Magna Romans.)
I made my previous statement regarding Captain's Honor in regards to the sword after reading in Voyages of the Imagination that David Dvorkin, the co-author of the novel, didn't see why the sword was on the cover. He also made mention of the fact that the sword looks much more like a Japanese sword as opposed to anything the Romans used. (I make no claims to being an expert on ancient cutlery but I agree with him on that.) He also makes the point that the likeness of Captain Seljanus on the cover doesn't really mesh well with the description given in the book. I am well aware that symbolism is often used in art but I prefer to take my lead from the book's author on this point.
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