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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Literature

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

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Old March 28 2015, 03:53 PM   #1
mid83
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Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I have always wanted to get into Star Trek but the huge amount of tv series to watch has always kept me from starting. Aside from the 2009 Abrams film, I'm brand new to the Trek world.

My main question is how accessible Trek literature is for people new to the franchise. It may seem like a weird question, but I am a much more avid reader vs watching tv so starting with novels would actually be my preference. With that said, do the novels assume you've seen the various television shows all the different plots/characters shown on the show?
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Old March 28 2015, 04:07 PM   #2
Thrawn
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

Yes, they do, but that's not necessarily a barrier to entry. One of the authors that posts here, Christopher L. Bennett, likes to point out that the very first episode of the original series of Star Trek was (at least partially) about the crew dealing with the aftereffects of a recent mission that wasn't depicted. Stories that refer to the past can often work just as well on their own, even if you didn't see the backstory.

And if you're asking me, the books are better anyway.

So here's what I'd recommend. There's a novel series called Star Trek: Vanguard that features an original cast of characters (not from the TV shows) through 8 books. Chronologically, it runs in parallel to Star Trek's original series. It's an absolutely badass bunch of novels. The original Star Trek crew (Kirk, Spock, etc) show up a couple of times, and there are many references to original series episodes, but I've given this series to a friend of mine who had never seen any original series episodes and he loved it.

If reading that series goes smoothly for you, then you might try getting into the complex, interconnected novel continuity that comes after all of the endings of all of the aired TV shows. That novel continuity has been developing for 14 years now, and has a real life of its own (click the link in my signature and you'll see what I mean). Certainly there are innumerable references to the TV shows, but depending on how willing you are to roll with summaries of past events that you didn't see, you might love them anyway.

Vanguard is a good test to see if that works for you.
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Old March 28 2015, 04:16 PM   #3
Christopher
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

What Thrawn said. It's hard to find a work of fiction that doesn't refer to past events that the reader/viewer is unfamiliar with. That's part of what makes the characters and the world feel real -- the fact that they have a history. Anything from that history that you need to understand for the purposes of the story is explained in the story or is evident through context; and the rest isn't important beyond giving that sense of texture. For instance, Raiders of the Lost Ark makes it clear early on that Indiana Jones and Rene Belloq have a long history as rivals, that Indy and Marion had a turbulent past, etc. We may have a lot of questions about what happened to create those rivalries and tensions, and we don't learn the answers, but we don't need them to follow the story. We learn about the characters through what they do in the present. (Indeed, we've seen plenty of subsequent stories about Indiana Jones' childhood and youth, but we still don't know the history with Belloq or Marion, unless it was explored in some novel or comic I haven't read.)
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Old March 28 2015, 04:58 PM   #4
Sran
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I'll second what Thrawn said about references to past events, as the overwhelming majority of the books contain multiple references or allusions to things that happened earlier in the characters' lives.

The Vanguard series (which I'm currently rereading) is a good idea. I'd also suggest other self-contained series like the Crucible novels or even Mere Anarchy, as both allow for nice snapshots of the characters' lives. There are small details that may be difficult to piece together without watching the TV series or the films (i.e., Kirk's back-and-forth between desk jobs and commanding starships), but Trek authors are usually careful to include enough backstory that a new reader can figure out what's going on.

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Old March 28 2015, 05:49 PM   #5
ryan123450
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I like Thrawn's suggestion that you start with Vanguard and see what you think from there. I would however caution against starting the post series Litverse totally unaware of the series' storylines.

There are novelizations of all the TOS episodes and films, and the TAS novelizations contain expansions that are markedly better than the episodes themselves. For someone who would rather read than watch, that seems like the best way to experience those shows.

All the really big TNG and VOY episodes and the TNG films are novelized as well. You could really get a feeling for those two shows by reading the novelizations, and maybe throwing in some of the best during-the-series books (which we could give suggestions on if you decide to go that route).

DS9 being my favorite series, and the one with the most interconnected ongoing storylines, I would advise that you start watching it all the way through, rather than reading the few novelizations. You won't regret it.

Enterprise I wouldn't worry about for now.

After familiarizing yourself with the different series in this way, you'll be prepared to dive deeper into the newer post series books.

Good luck and happy reading!
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Old March 28 2015, 06:04 PM   #6
Thrawn
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

For what it's worth, I started reading the post-finale novels without ever having seen past the first season of either Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I eventually watched selected highlights of both TV shows, but I've still only seen maybe a third of either of them, and the Deep Space Nine and Voyager novels are actually my favorites. Any time something gets referenced that I didn't see I'll look it up on Memory Alpha and possibly watch whichever specific episode is being referenced. I too prefer reading to watching, and this has worked for me.
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Old March 28 2015, 06:19 PM   #7
mid83
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I just read the sample of book 1 of Vanguard on my Kindle. I'll definitely give the series a shot.

I guess if I like the series I'll ask where to go from there at that time. The 7-8 books of Vanguard should keep me busy for a while.
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Old March 28 2015, 06:30 PM   #8
hux
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

As an avid reader, I was always put off the Trek books by the idea of reading about established characters. I like using my own imagination when it comes to who people are and how they look and what they sound like etc so the books based on various series seem limiting (plus the first one I ever read was very very dry)

I'm not familiar with the vanguard books myself but that sounds like it might allow me the freedom to create my own worlds (to some extent) I guess there will always be a certain amount of Trek influence regarding the backdrop to each book (but that's surely why it's appealing to begin with)
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Old March 28 2015, 06:36 PM   #9
Thrawn
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

^ Yeah Vanguard is full of new and fascinating people places and ideas. Great place to start if you're curious about the novel-only Trek series.
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Old March 28 2015, 07:35 PM   #10
Leto_II
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

Christopher wrote: View Post
For instance, Raiders of the Lost Ark makes it clear early on that Indiana Jones and Rene Belloq have a long history as rivals, that Indy and Marion had a turbulent past, etc. We may have a lot of questions about what happened to create those rivalries and tensions, and we don't learn the answers, but we don't need them to follow the story. We learn about the characters through what they do in the present. (Indeed, we've seen plenty of subsequent stories about Indiana Jones' childhood and youth, but we still don't know the history with Belloq or Marion, unless it was explored in some novel or comic I haven't read.)
Very interestingly, the unproduced third season of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series was to have introduced the characters of René Belloq, Abner Ravenwood, and (I think) his daughter Marion right before it got cancelled by ABC.

Additionally, the historical figures that Indy would have encountered in that season's first episode (titled "Honduras, December 1920") would've been Herbert Spinden and Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, and the episode would've dealt with an expedition to retrieve a crystal skull from some Mayan ruins. (The men are actually name-checked onscreen by Harrison Ford in the 2008 movie at one point.)
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Old March 28 2015, 07:37 PM   #11
Kilana2
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I have already read the first three Vanguard novels with the next two upcoming and I´m looking forward to reading them.

DS9 has become my favorite TV series. Paradoxically I started with reading the novels including the relaunch bevore having seen all of the episodes. The characters have grown dear to my heart, so I got myself the DVDs.....

Destiny was great, but some foreknowledge about the ST status quo is necessary. Vanguard is indeed easier to start with. The TNG relaunch is focused mainly on an old foe and character development. The Voyager relaunch deals with what happened to the characters after the final VOY episode. IMO it is better to know what happened during the various series. I have little knowledge of ENT, but I don´t read the novels except short stories.

There are a few single stand-alone novels or short story collections, The Lives of Dax for instance. So if you like Dax...... there is a story about each Dax host.

There would be a lot more to say, but I want to allow someone else to speak.
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Old March 28 2015, 07:48 PM   #12
Greg Cox
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

Honestly, it also depends on the novel, some of which are more rooted in old continuity than others.

In general, I tend to assume that my readers know the basics, i.e. I don't need to explain how the transporters work or what the Federation is or that Spock has pointed ears, but I don't assume that every reader has memorized every episode of every Star Trek series.

So if I bring back an old character like Gary Seven or Lenore Karidian, I'll make sure to explain who they are and what their story is, just so the book will be more accessible to the casual reader.
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Old March 30 2015, 01:19 PM   #13
Nathan
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I always thought it would be tough for the new reader to get into Trek Lit with all the books out there. There is a used book store I go too that has an extensive selection of the old stuff and the new stuff I ususally can get within a month of two of someone trading it in.

When I get nostalgic, I finger through the older books (numbered books), and usually think either, "What a great read this was!!" to "Yeah, I can see when I was 15 it appealed to teen-age boys, this stuff is garbage."
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Old March 30 2015, 01:45 PM   #14
tomswift2002
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

Enterprise I would recommend sticking to the novels for as the novels have done a much better job telling the story, overall, than the TV series (of course there have been a few hiccups in the novels, but at least they were able to recover).

But for the other series, basically any book from before 2003 (2001 in DS9's case) is a stand-alone novel, so you pick it up, any information from previous episodes that is relevant is shared, but the story is contained in the one book. With DS9, to get caught up on the later seasons, you might want to read "The Search" and the Dominion War Books 2 & 4 by Diane Carey as those novelized about 10 episodes into 3 books that setups a major story arc that runs from about mid-way through Season 2 to the end of Season 7.
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Old March 30 2015, 04:46 PM   #15
Enterpriserules
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Re: Are the novels accessible for people brand new to Star Trek?

I recommend just pick what you like about Star Trek and there will be a book for you, so series, character or alien race, there will be a book about that. You can also get inspiration from Literary Treks. We talk about the books and the comics as well as interview the authors about their books. It's a lot of fun. Has helped me get deeper into the Trek lit universe.
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