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

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Old March 11 2013, 02:09 AM   #31
ChristopherPike
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

My sincere thanks Christopher, for going to the trouble of such a long and extensive post.

Christopher wrote: View Post
ChristopherPike wrote: View Post
Assuming this STO developer speaks truthfully and isn't just creating positive spin, about why we should be grateful their game exists... something I'll concede might be the case -- taken at face value, it seems like Abrams & co would've had absolutely no problem going through with it, had a third party not objected.
I've listened to the relevant portion of the podcast now, and I don't think we can conclude that from what he said. He said that the game people complained about how the plan would scuttle the whole game, and then he said "So that got changed," but that "so" doesn't necessarily mean "as a direct result of our protests"; it could just be a conversational "so," in the sense of "then, subsequently" (as in "so then I said..."). In other words, they were worried, but then it got changed, so they didn't have to worry anymore.

After all, this guy is an employee of a licensee. He doesn't have firsthand knowledge of Bad Robot's decision-making; he only knows what he hears about it from his go-between (John Van Citters, I assume) at CBS licensing. So we can't make any conclusions from this account about why Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci changed their minds.

Now, my own insights into the process are just as thirdhand as his, but here's what I know:
  • It was an earlier draft of the film script that had the more destructive version of 24th-century events. Later revisions toned it down. (And yes, it was going to be in the film, not just in Countdown. Countdown took its lead from the future events referenced in the film script, basically just fleshing them out and adding TNG characters to them.)
  • Kurtzman & Orci wrote the screenplay. As director, it would've been Abrams who was responsible for later revisions, particularly since the writers' strike limited the opportunities for the script to be revised during shooting.
  • Orci is a huge Trek fan. Kurtzman is a moderate fan.
So the idea to totally trash the Prime universe most likely came, not from Abrams himself, but from K&O, who are fans of the franchise. And it was probably Abrams who changed it in favor of the less destructive approach. At least, that's how I've always assumed it happened (though, again, my interpretation is as subjective as the interviewee's). So I don't think it's likely that the idea was meant as some kind of "middle finger" to the franchise. I think, based on what I know about the original plan, that it was just meant to make the stakes for Spock Prime as high as they could possibly be. Maybe they just got so caught up in creating a big enough existential threat to drive events that they overlooked the fact that Spock Prime failed to avert that threat in his home timeline. And once that was pointed out to them, they changed it, or Abrams changed it. That happens sometimes. Sometimes you get so caught up in part of an idea that you don't see how it fits into the greater whole, or so preoccupied with the mechanics and details of an idea that you lose perspective on whether it's really a good idea. This is why writers have beta readers and editors and producers and the like to double-check their work.
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Old March 11 2013, 08:04 AM   #32
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

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Maybe it's just me, but that guy seems to overestimate the importance of the game. Why should the novels be prohibited from killing a minor canon character only because the actress playing her seems to be the only one desperate enough for money/attention to be used as a marketing tool for a semi-successful MMORPG that will probably be dead in a couple of years?
1. Do we know that it won't be around in a couple of years? Are we any more sure that the novels will still be around? And what's wrong with a TNG actor being engaged with the universe (I write, living in a city that just hosted the entire crew at Comicon)? We can be generous, I think, towards the game and the actor.

2. Much probably depends on the art with which something is achieved. I've argued before that Sela was Spock's dark twin, a talented being of mixed human-Vulcanoid heritage who had to resolve issues around this parentage without her mother in a much more xenophobic society. Sela ultimately died because she couldn't resolve these issues, and did so ultimately because some of the nobler qualities of the Romulans came to prevail through Kamemor. Her death was actually a bit of a sad one, testament to the ability of a great writer like George to arouse sympathy for characters which had been portrayed as villains. Had he hadn't been so good in setting things up, I wonder if CBS might have had something different to say.
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Old March 11 2013, 07:59 PM   #33
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

ST09 is hardly the first movie to ever make changes from first-draft script to final finished film. I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert on the creative process of filmmaking, but it seems to me that it's pretty unfair to trash JJ Abrams or anyone else for an idea that turned out not to work and was dropped from the movie.
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Old March 12 2013, 04:10 AM   #34
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

Why is it unfair though? People are just annoyed that something so sweeping was even considered. No one is throwing rocks through his window, they're just voicing their opinions. I don't understand why that is such a big no-no.
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Old March 12 2013, 04:28 AM   #35
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

What I object to is the assumption that the idea was motivated by some kind of hostility toward Star Trek or its fans. I'm simply trying to explain that there's no reason to assume any such unsavory motive, and that if anything, the evidence suggests that the original idea most likely came from the members of the production team who are the biggest Trek fans. What's unfair is accusing people of negative intentions that they don't actually have, or suggesting negative things about other people based on false information or assumptions. (For instance, you're still saying "his" as if it were all about Abrams, when it was Kurtzman & Orci who wrote the script, and when there are five people -- Lindelof and Burk as well -- involved in all the decision-making.) It's fine to question the ideas, but if you start to make it about the people rather than the ideas -- especially if you do so without getting the facts straight first -- that's a whole other matter.
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Old March 12 2013, 04:38 AM   #36
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

Tosk wrote: View Post
Why is it unfair though? People are just annoyed that something so sweeping was even considered. No one is throwing rocks through his window, they're just voicing their opinions. I don't understand why that is such a big no-no.
Star Trek Online is easily the biggest new development in Trek apart from the Abrams movie. Criticizing it as doomed to fail (based on what evidence?) and going after Denise Crosby for making the effort to be part of the effort just strikes me as being in poor taste. Again, are the novels really that much more popular, or more enduring?
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Old March 12 2013, 08:48 AM   #37
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Star Trek Online is easily the biggest new development in Trek apart from the Abrams movie. Criticizing it as doomed to fail (based on what evidence?)...
Pocket's novel line has endured since December 1979.

"Star Trek Online" is yet another licensed tie-in game, an evolution of similar of-their-time role playing games, such as "Star Fleet Battles" (only semi-licensed in the beginning), "Federation Commander", FASA, the various collectible card games, Interplay, Simon & Schuster Interactive, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, etc. Each of those, and others, has peaked and fallen by the wayside, and a whole new version/interpretation conceived - and the gaming style reflecting the new status quo in the wider world - when a new company took over the gaming license or negotiated a new one.

The novels have a proven longevity. The games have seemingly not. Now, "ST Online" might emerge differently, but the gamers will certainly be ready to move on to something else one day, as they have with previous ST games.
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Old March 12 2013, 02:54 PM   #38
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

What a weird post, Therin. Why equate multiple different generations of books under many authors and many editors with ONE game? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that both Trek lit and Trek gaming have endured with a large array of multiple titles stretching back years?

Wouldn't it be ridiculous to write "Now, Cold Equations might emerge differently, but the readers will certainly be ready to move on to other books one day, as they have with previous ST novels"?
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Old March 13 2013, 12:50 AM   #39
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Star Trek Online is easily the biggest new development in Trek apart from the Abrams movie. Criticizing it as doomed to fail (based on what evidence?)...
Pocket's novel line has endured since December 1979.
1. Didn't Simon & Schuster nearly encounter bankruptcy in 2008?

2. Even if the current novel line does remain with a Pocket that enjoys unbroken continuity, the current novel continuity doesn't have to endure. The Powers That Be may decide that a return to the Richard Arnold era would make more sense. Or, perhaps more plausibly, they might decide that continuing to produce material set in a timeline that Trek isn't going to explore again will just confuse new Trek fans.

The novels have a proven longevity. The games have seemingly not. Now, "ST Online" might emerge differently, but the gamers will certainly be ready to move on to something else one day, as they have with previous ST games.
Star Trek novels do have a long track record, yes, but the current continuity that people enjoy--a continuity that includes references from other novels, comics, RPGs, and computer games--has a shorter history. Counting on it to survive as an active form indefinitely isn't something I'm comfortable doing.

More to my original point, I was replying to someone who seemed to think that Star Trek Online wasn't especially worthy Trek, and that Denise Crosby's participation in the project was somehow ridiculous. I don't think it's fair to argue either thing: given lines of Star Trek media can be fragile and, frankly, criticizing a Trek actor for being active in Trek media two and a half decades after her original character died is a bit off considering that, well, we're here enthusiastically consuming derivative material from that series and older ones, too.

Last edited by rfmcdpei; March 13 2013 at 03:34 AM.
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Old March 13 2013, 01:37 AM   #40
Christopher
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Pocket's novel line has endured since December 1979.
1. Didn't Simon & Schuster nearly encounter bankruptcy in 2008?
The entire global economy nearly collapsed in 2008. The effect that had on S&S was not greatly different from the effect it had on the rest of the publishing industry and no doubt quite a few other industries. And S&S is now recovering along with the rest of the publishing industry and the rest of the US economy. So I'm not sure what your point is here.


2. Even if the current novel line does remain with a Pocket that enjoys unbroken continuity, the current novel continuity doesn't have to endure. The Powers That Be may decide that a return to the Richard Arnold era would make more sense. Or, perhaps more plausibly, they might decide that continuing to produce material set in a timeline that Trek isn't going to explore again will just confuse new Trek fans.
That seems doubtful. Marvel & DC haven't stopped putting out comics and novels set in their comics continuities just because the movies are set in different continuities. The general public, and the marketing departments, don't worry as much about the niceties of continuity as the more dedicated fans do. The broader audience just wants to see the familiar characters, and the folks on the business end don't care what continuity something's in as long as it makes a profit.

Don't get me wrong; you're right to say there's no guarantee that the current novel continuity will last indefinitely. But if it does end, I doubt it will be for those reasons. The most likely reason is the one that led to the end of the '80s novel continuity -- contradiction by new canon. But since new screen content is in an alternate reality, the odds of contradiction seem slim. Other than that, the only reason I can see why a wholesale change might be ordered is if the current continuity stops selling well.
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Old March 13 2013, 03:31 AM   #41
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

Christopher wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Pocket's novel line has endured since December 1979.
1. Didn't Simon & Schuster nearly encounter bankruptcy in 2008?
The entire global economy nearly collapsed in 2008. The effect that had on S&S was not greatly different from the effect it had on the rest of the publishing industry and no doubt quite a few other industries. And S&S is now recovering along with the rest of the publishing industry and the rest of the US economy. So I'm not sure what your point is here.
My point was that even a line of books as seemingly secure as the Star Trek series could stop publication altogether for any number of reasons, even reasons not having to do with the financial viability of the line. Sic transit gloria mundi.

2. Even if the current novel line does remain with a Pocket that enjoys unbroken continuity, the current novel continuity doesn't have to endure. The Powers That Be may decide that a return to the Richard Arnold era would make more sense. Or, perhaps more plausibly, they might decide that continuing to produce material set in a timeline that Trek isn't going to explore again will just confuse new Trek fans.
That seems doubtful. Marvel & DC haven't stopped putting out comics and novels set in their comics continuities just because the movies are set in different continuities. The general public, and the marketing departments, don't worry as much about the niceties of continuity as the more dedicated fans do. The broader audience just wants to see the familiar characters, and the folks on the business end don't care what continuity something's in as long as it makes a profit.

Don't get me wrong; you're right to say there's no guarantee that the current novel continuity will last indefinitely. But if it does end, I doubt it will be for those reasons. The most likely reason is the one that led to the end of the '80s novel continuity -- contradiction by new canon. But since new screen content is in an alternate reality, the odds of contradiction seem slim. Other than that, the only reason I can see why a wholesale change might be ordered is if the current continuity stops selling well.
I don't disagree here.

Last edited by rfmcdpei; March 13 2013 at 03:33 AM. Reason: typos
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Old March 13 2013, 05:43 AM   #42
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Star Trek Online is easily the biggest new development in Trek apart from the Abrams movie. Criticizing it as doomed to fail (based on what evidence?)
Based on the evidence that most MMORPG in the west (not named WOW ) have only the life expectancy of a few years until they're discontinued or aren't supported anymore by the developers.


rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
and going after Denise Crosby for making the effort to be part of the effort just strikes me as being in poor taste. Again, are the novels really that much more popular, or more enduring?
Granted, I may worded that a bit flippantly, but it was more aimed at the guy giving the interview thinking that CBS would give a crap about killing of Sela, only because she has a bit of prominence in STO right now.
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Old March 13 2013, 06:16 AM   #43
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
2. Even if the current novel line does remain with a Pocket that enjoys unbroken continuity, the current novel continuity doesn't have to endure. The Powers That Be may decide that a return to the Richard Arnold era would make more sense. Or, perhaps more plausibly, they might decide that continuing to produce material set in a timeline that Trek isn't going to explore again will just confuse new Trek fans.
Personally, I would think that the fact that Trek doesn't appear to be planning on returning to the Prime timeline any time soon would be a major plus for the novels. Now they can be promoted as the only place to (semi-)regular get new adventures from the Prime characters.
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Old March 13 2013, 09:04 AM   #44
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

Thrawn wrote: View Post
What a weird post, Therin. Why equate multiple different generations of books under many authors and many editors with ONE game? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that both Trek lit and Trek gaming have endured with a large array of multiple titles stretching back years?
Sure, but as a Pocket collector, I've seen the book line endure. Every few months/weeks, another title is added to my collection. Since December 1979.

I'm not a gamer, but have collected some ST games - and each run has arrived with a blast, run its course and vanished a few years later, only to be replaced by a different licensee's take and using a different gaming format. ST gaming has endured, but you have to be prepared to learn new sets of rules, switch formats, and see your older games become unusable as tech moves on.

Perhaps the "ST Online" continuity/universe will survive the next tech changes? At this point, I'm not sure it will.
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Old March 13 2013, 03:42 PM   #45
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Re: The original plan for Countdown

But that's a fundamental difference between gaming and books in the first place, not a symptom of varying levels of quality with Trek in particular. Very few games from 20 years ago play at all similarly to games now, but you can pretty much read a novel from 100 years ago no problem.

I mean, more people play Star Trek: Online than have ever read Star Trek: Destiny, for example.

Saying that this continuity, by your definition, in some way makes the Trek novels superior to the Trek games is a fundamental misunderstanding of format. It's like saying "I've watched five (six, actually) Trek TV shows all come and go, but there keeps being a new novel every month! The novels have a proven longevity where the TV shows don't." Well sure, but it's sort of a spurious comparison, yes?
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