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

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Old November 1 2013, 07:45 PM   #31
Thrawn
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

The thing about tie-in fiction, or long multi-work fiction in general, is that it earns a lot of its storytelling power from the weight of history. I wouldn't expect anyone who wasn't a Trek fan to pick up my personal favorite Trek novel - Children of the Storm - and get nearly as much out of it as I did. So much of why that novel resonated with me and what it meant came from its context in TrekLit at the time, its place in the philosophical conversation Trek has been carrying on in itself since the 1960s. Without the context, it's a solid adventure novel, but I found it to be deeply profound.

Like Serenity, possibly my favorite film. Literally had me shaking with emotion when I left the theater the first time. Non-Firefly fans, or even recent Firefly fans that hadn't participated in the fanbase and the struggle to get that movie made at all, liked it but not to the same depth.

I even experienced it myself; my first exposure to Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the episode Hush, which is genius. But if that's the first one you see, it seems campy and a little cutesy, and doesn't really make sense - I thought for sure I wasn't going to like that show. Came back to it later, and by the time I hit Hush I adored it.

I don't think it's an unreasonable conclusion for any avid reader of non-tie-in fiction to come to, that if they were to pick up a random tie-in novel they'd almost certainly find it forgettable at best. It's kind of missing the point, but I get why it happens.
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Old November 1 2013, 08:43 PM   #32
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I would say that journalist was correct. The majority of SW/ST novels are forgettable. Up until more recent times, both franchise tie-ins followed the same format in their respective novels.
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Old November 1 2013, 08:51 PM   #33
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I'm curious if those saying the novels are forgettable would concede the same about the TV episodes? There are probably almost as many novels as there are episodes now. Do you guys think the novels are more forgettable?
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Old November 1 2013, 09:15 PM   #34
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I think there's a good number of episodes from the series that are pretty forgettable.
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Old November 1 2013, 11:08 PM   #35
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I think saying "Yeah, sure, a lot of the novels are forgettable" is missing the point, or being disingenuous. Sure, any category of things has a lot of entries that are not particularly memorable, but that's not what the critic meant. If, out of all the words available to describe a whole category, the one word you choose for it is "forgettable," then that is unquestionably intended as a blanket dismissal of the worth of the entire category. Why not call them "diverse," say, or at least "variable in quality?" Saying they're "forgettable" as a class is saying "Never mind about any of them, they're all equally unworthy of attention."

While I agree that writing angry letters to the critic isn't going to change his mind, let's not pretend there isn't a widespread and longstanding contempt toward tie-in novels out there.
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Old November 1 2013, 11:28 PM   #36
Timewalker
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

Thrawn wrote: View Post
The thing about tie-in fiction, or long multi-work fiction in general, is that it earns a lot of its storytelling power from the weight of history. ... Without the context, it's a solid adventure novel, but I found it to be deeply profound.

Like Serenity, possibly my favorite film. Literally had me shaking with emotion when I left the theater the first time. Non-Firefly fans, or even recent Firefly fans that hadn't participated in the fanbase and the struggle to get that movie made at all, liked it but not to the same depth.
This is an excellent point. I saw the whole Firefly series for the first time within a 2-3 day period last month on Netflix, and loved it. A few days ago I tracked down the Serenity movie elsewhere, and while I found it interesting, it didn't pack any real emotional wallop for me. I was sad about the characters who died, but as you say - you were part of the original fandom for that series, plus you saw the Serenity movie in the theatre.

(btw, I read one of the Firefly threads here, and among the nods to other genre works, the posters there completely missed the Crow reference)

I was quite disappointed when I searched for Firefly/Serenity novels and found there are none, at least in prose form.
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Old November 1 2013, 11:30 PM   #37
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I agree with Christopher it was a blanket dismissal, a lazy one at that. Unfortunately the media (and life in general if we are to be honest) is plagued with these kinds of lazy blanket dismissals. It gets into the popular imagination, you get told by people "X is rubbish" because someone else told them that and in the end you start to believe it, until you try X for yourself of course then find "they" were wrong.
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Old November 2 2013, 05:00 AM   #38
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I'm pretty sure this qualifies as the journalistic equivalent of trolling.
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Old November 2 2013, 05:48 AM   #39
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

Christopher wrote: View Post
I think saying "Yeah, sure, a lot of the novels are forgettable" is missing the point, or being disingenuous. Sure, any category of things has a lot of entries that are not particularly memorable, but that's not what the critic meant. If, out of all the words available to describe a whole category, the one word you choose for it is "forgettable," then that is unquestionably intended as a blanket dismissal of the worth of the entire category. Why not call them "diverse," say, or at least "variable in quality?" Saying they're "forgettable" as a class is saying "Never mind about any of them, they're all equally unworthy of attention."

While I agree that writing angry letters to the critic isn't going to change his mind, let's not pretend there isn't a widespread and longstanding contempt toward tie-in novels out there.
While I'm sympathetic to your point of view Christopher, I think it's also fair to say you have a conflict of interest in this scenario.

If I say, "I've eaten hundreds of forgettable apples," I'm not dismissing apples in their entirety, I'm dismissing the subset of hundreds that to my mind didn't have any especially distinguishing characteristics.

But maybe it's a matter of whether we choose to interpret the sentence literally or are fishing for subtext.
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Old November 2 2013, 10:53 AM   #40
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

DonIago wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I think saying "Yeah, sure, a lot of the novels are forgettable" is missing the point, or being disingenuous. Sure, any category of things has a lot of entries that are not particularly memorable, but that's not what the critic meant. If, out of all the words available to describe a whole category, the one word you choose for it is "forgettable," then that is unquestionably intended as a blanket dismissal of the worth of the entire category. Why not call them "diverse," say, or at least "variable in quality?" Saying they're "forgettable" as a class is saying "Never mind about any of them, they're all equally unworthy of attention."

While I agree that writing angry letters to the critic isn't going to change his mind, let's not pretend there isn't a widespread and longstanding contempt toward tie-in novels out there.
While I'm sympathetic to your point of view Christopher, I think it's also fair to say you have a conflict of interest in this scenario.

If I say, "I've eaten hundreds of forgettable apples," I'm not dismissing apples in their entirety, I'm dismissing the subset of hundreds that to my mind didn't have any especially distinguishing characteristics.

But maybe it's a matter of whether we choose to interpret the sentence literally or are fishing for subtext.
Some people really are that dismissive, though. Back in the '80s, I was at a science fiction convention, and went to a panel on fanzines. To my surprise, the only people present at the panel were the panelists and myself. And then one of them asked if I had any fanzines.

"Oh, sure," I said. "I've got some Star Trek and Doctor Who..."

"Oh. Media fan," he said in a snide, dismissive tone. And with that one rude, snarky remark, the sum total of the people who were attending their panel dropped to zero, but not before I pointed out that this media fan was the only person in the entire convention other than themselves to show up for the panel.
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Old November 2 2013, 11:08 AM   #41
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

Nothing wrong with liking doner kebabs and sometimes you get a really tasty one but it's still a doner kebab.
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Old November 2 2013, 11:53 AM   #42
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

I really don't see how anyone can read the quote that ignited this whole thread and not infer that the writer was being dismissive of the entire Trek and Star Wars tie-in market. The writer's comment, while off-hand, is insulting to both the writers of Star Trek and Stars Wars novels and the readers of said novels.

As a reader myself of these novels, I find his casual disdain for an entire sub-set of fiction to be baseless, ignorant and all too familiar.

Some of us may recall when James Cameron made similar comments just a few years ago about nameless hacks, cheesy novelizations, and his desire for Avatar tie-in novels to be "legitiment novels." Clearly, Cameron went into much further detail with his low opinion of tie-in novels and their authors but the exclusionary disdain is the same.

This attitude of tie-ins not being "legitiment novels," of being a mass of forgettable pages, is tiresome and far too widespread.

I think that all of the current stable of Trek writers should be proud of the work that they've done for this franchise -- often surpassing the quality of the source material, in many cases -- while being equally angry with some jackass for throwing in a flippant and unnecessary dig at their work in an almost unrelated article.

I have probably spent more hours reading Trek than I have watching Trek on TV or on movie screens combined and it pisses me off that some smug A-hole categorizes my reading choices as forgettable in an article.
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Old November 2 2013, 11:54 AM   #43
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

Is it better to be regrettable than forgettable?
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Old November 2 2013, 02:18 PM   #44
Christopher
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

DonIago wrote: View Post
While I'm sympathetic to your point of view Christopher, I think it's also fair to say you have a conflict of interest in this scenario.
Except that I had the exact same opinion when I was just a fan and reader of tie-in fiction. And I'm far from the first person on the planet to acknowledge the existence of this prejudice; it's a widely known fact that tie-ins are considered a lesser, more disposable form of literature than original fiction. This has been the status quo for decades, not just among critics but among authors. Tie-in work is widely dismissed as slumming or selling out. The industry doesn't consider you a legitimate author until you sell original fiction.

Heck, there was a time back in the '90s when I would've probably agreed that tie-ins, on the whole, were mostly mediocre and uninspired. But then Pocket raised the game to a whole new level in the 2000s -- starting before I showed up, but I was lucky to come along at a time when I was able to write tie-in fiction on the same level of creativity, ambition, and innovation as I aspired to in my original work, and to enjoy reading the work of others who had the same freedom. And I believe that if I hadn't been given the freedom to work on that level, if I'd been under pressure to restrict my work to unambitious, homogeneous, reset-button stories, I wouldn't have lasted long as a Trek novelist because I would've found it too stifling.
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Old November 2 2013, 03:39 PM   #45
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Re: "Hundreds of forgettable novels"

What Christopher said. Let's not pretend that Hill was making a factual statement -- that just because there have been forgettable Star Trek novels, therefore Hill was raising a valid factual point. Hill's "forgettable" comment was a cheap laugh line, demonstrating his own bias against media tie-in novels. Whether it's worth bringing to Hill's attention or not, what he was saying was his own opinion, not fact, and didn't belong in the article.
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