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Old March 12 2012, 02:23 AM   #1
Janos
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Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

I admittedly prefer TNG era Trek novel series particularly the DS9 relaunch and New Frontier, and era-transcending series like DTI, but I am intrigued by TOS era franchises like the defunct Challenger series & the now ending Vanguard (although I haven't read either). As an aside, I have picked up a few recent TOS era books like Cast No Shadow & Rings of Time (and they're on to-read pile once I get caught up on DS9 & Destiny/DS9-related TP novels). So, I'm not anti-TOS. I also like books that fill in Trek history like the Lost Era, so I'm not an agist per se in terms of TOS.

I was curious what the strength / appeal of Challenger & Vanguard were? I may pick up a few of the novels.

And, getting macro now, whether its more of a challenge sales-wise to create new series in the TOS era that don't feature the any of the original Enterprise Crew? I believe there have been a few Excelsior books, and a series was teased, but never delivered. Is it more likely a TNG era new series / franchise, e.g. Titan, will be more successful due to TNG era series being more "recently" on TV than books spinning out of a 1960s sci-fi classic like TOS?
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Old March 12 2012, 08:07 AM   #2
cal888
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

Janos wrote: View Post
I admittedly prefer TNG era Trek novel series particularly the DS9 relaunch and New Frontier, and era-transcending series like DTI, but I am intrigued by TOS era franchises like the defunct Challenger series & the now ending Vanguard (although I haven't read either). As an aside, I have picked up a few recent TOS era books like Cast No Shadow & Rings of Time (and they're on to-read pile once I get caught up on DS9 & Destiny/DS9-related TP novels). So, I'm not anti-TOS. I also like books that fill in Trek history like the Lost Era, so I'm not an agist per se in terms of TOS.

I was curious what the strength / appeal of Challenger & Vanguard were? I may pick up a few of the novels.

And, getting macro now, whether its more of a challenge sales-wise to create new series in the TOS era that don't feature the any of the original Enterprise Crew? I believe there have been a few Excelsior books, and a series was teased, but never delivered. Is it more likely a TNG era new series / franchise, e.g. Titan, will be more successful due to TNG era series being more "recently" on TV than books spinning out of a 1960s sci-fi classic like TOS?
I'm not a TOS fan so kinda in your shoes.

Vanguard is really, really worth checking out. You'll find yourself ordering the following books before you finish Harbinger.

New Earth / Challenger? Eh. Very libertarian (yet also ironically extremely military), very 18th century nautical, and ends on a cliff hanger. Interesting concept for sure, but the execution is lacking. Two books really pissed me off, but I suppose in a thought provoking way.

And Excelsior... The Excelsior novel Forged in Fire has an interesting enough concept, but has a very mediocre execution. Way too long, way too much Klingonese, and took me two months to trudge through until I finally finished it.
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Old March 12 2012, 10:49 AM   #3
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

Janos wrote: View Post
I was curious what the strength / appeal of Challenger & Vanguard were? I may pick up a few of the novels.

And, getting macro now, whether its more of a challenge sales-wise to create new series in the TOS era that don't feature the any of the original Enterprise Crew?
I haven't read Challenger, but Vanguard has been superb. As I already said in the Vanguard finale thread, it has started to open out the TOS era (on a smaller scale) the way that TNG, DS9, Destiny, The Typhon Pact etc. gives a bigger picture of the TNG era and after. Just because it's the end of Vanguard, this expansion shouldn't come to an end.

It would be good to see an ongoing companion series to the TOS novels. It need not always be the same cast, but could feature amongst others, the Vanguard survivors, the TOS crew and supporting characters, one or two Enterprise survivors (T'Pol and...), earlier versions of the movie era characters etc. etc.

I'd like the TOS to be as richly developed as the later Trek universe has become...
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Old March 12 2012, 12:23 PM   #4
Sho
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

Regarding Vanguard I suggest reading this recent thread.
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Old March 12 2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

I was curious what the strength / appeal of Challenger&Vanguard were? I may pick up a few of the novels.
Interesting concept for sure, but the execution is lacking. Two [Challenger] books really pissed me off, but I suppose in a thought provoking way.
Goes with having a diverse bunch of writers working on a relatively tight schedule without much coordination or "story bible" guidance, I guess. It's almost inevitable that you end up hating two books in the series, although which two you will pick is more difficult to predict.

There's something for everybody, that much can be safely said. Diane Carey does, well, Diane Carey, with Kirk worship, incompetent Starfleet, might-makes-right and some truly delicious pirate stuff, arrrrrhh! LA Graf do their usual Sulu-Chekov-Uhura-as-main-heroes thing, with lots of gruff and gore and injustice and full justification for Chekov's eternal pessimism, and with comeuppance for the baddies in the end. Jerry Oltion does hard scifi, good McCoy/Scotty dialogue, and interesting guest stars. And IMHO DW Smith just fumbles along, with his co-writers Carey and Rusch contributing all the readable bits. But others might end up hating Oltion, or Carey, or the Graf, all of whom stand out from the general feel of the story in their own ways.

In comparison, Vanguard is the work of fewer people, with a better understanding of what the primus motor author Mack wants. Its one major weakness is the need to recap the events of the previous books in every new volume, making the reading experience really tedious if you want to gorge yourself on all of them in a row. Plus, there are cute references to the general TOS continuity, including the TV show, various novels, and even old role-playing games, but sometimes these fail to add to the story and merely consume pages.

I'm probably more a TOS fan than the OP is, but I still dare recommend reading all of Vanguard, to be enjoyed on its own artistic merits rather than as an expansion of TOS. Challenger I'd recommend to be read in part only - every past book is hinted at in the later ones anyway, and IMHO both the second and fifth books are best left as such hints only.

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Old March 12 2012, 02:15 PM   #6
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

Janos wrote: View Post
I admittedly prefer TNG era Trek novel series particularly the DS9 relaunch and New Frontier, and era-transcending series like DTI, but I am intrigued by TOS era franchises like the defunct Challenger series & the now ending Vanguard (although I haven't read either). As an aside, I have picked up a few recent TOS era books like Cast No Shadow & Rings of Time (and they're on to-read pile once I get caught up on DS9 & Destiny/DS9-related TP novels). So, I'm not anti-TOS. I also like books that fill in Trek history like the Lost Era, so I'm not an agist per se in terms of TOS.

I was curious what the strength / appeal of Challenger & Vanguard were? I may pick up a few of the novels.
Been ages since I read them, but I remember disliking the challenger books. Sadly I can't remember exactly why I disliked them since it's been so long, so I'm not much help there I'm afraid.

Vanguard is a pretty good series. It's biggest strength is probably how well written the individual characters are.

I'd also recommend the Errand of Vengance/Fury series as well. It does feature the enterprise crew, but for the most part it focuses on the below deck security forces, and I felt it to be a fantastic series - loved how smoothly the action scenes flowed.

Janos wrote: View Post
And, getting macro now, whether its more of a challenge sales-wise to create new series in the TOS era that don't feature the any of the original Enterprise Crew? I believe there have been a few Excelsior books, and a series was teased, but never delivered. Is it more likely a TNG era new series / franchise, e.g. Titan, will be more successful due to TNG era series being more "recently" on TV than books spinning out of a 1960s sci-fi classic like TOS?
It's easier with TNG I guess because it's kind of an "unwritten future", I suppose authors can bring in canon characters(which I assume makes green lighting easier) with a lot less hassle then they'd be able to with TOS, where quite a bit is set in stone. I try to forget the events of Nemesis as much as possible, but I think the idea of beardy getting his own ship comes from there?
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Old March 12 2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

zarkon wrote: View Post
I try to forget the events of Nemesis as much as possible, but I think the idea of beardy getting his own ship comes from there?
Yes, along with its name, Titan.
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Old March 12 2012, 04:35 PM   #8
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

I seem to recall the Challenger books being rather repetitive, but I don't really remember that much else about them, which usually isn't a good sign.
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Old March 12 2012, 04:51 PM   #9
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

i only read New Earth #1 and thought it was shite so i never bothered with the rest.

Vanguard on the other hand is made of pure win.
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Old March 12 2012, 05:11 PM   #10
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

New Earth was pretty interesting in that it filled the gap between TMP and whenever Chekov went off to the Reliant, plus it showed off different aspects of the universe that weren't really seen all that often (Federation citizens that wanted to get free of some of the shackles imposed by it, Kirk and company dealing with things they never would have dealt with back during TOS, and the whole paradigm set up in Challenger - keeping the peace with a ship that's been cobbled together and crew that's equally as diverse). There were a few novels that weren't all that great; it's been a while since I've read the novels, but IIRC I considered Thin Air to be one of the weaker entries.
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Old March 12 2012, 05:21 PM   #11
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

I don't consider New Earth an Challenger to be equivalent, but they are linked. The first real Challenger book is the last New Earth book. Only one Challenger book (the Gateways crossover) was written after that.
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Old March 12 2012, 05:32 PM   #12
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

I agree -- there wasn't really a Challenger series as such. There was the New Earth miniseries, whose final volume was a "backdoor pilot" for a Challenger series, and Gateways included one Challenger novel/novella combo which was sort of a "second pilot" -- or maybe more of a "special," if we're going in TV terms, kinda like how '70s shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man and The Incredible Hulk often had two or more TV movies made before being turned into weekly series.
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Old March 12 2012, 08:03 PM   #13
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

...OTOH, the series "flopped" for rather non-TV-like reasons: the concept as such might have "sold", but it was the work of one author only, and she wasn't interested in continuing.

Has anybody ever returned to the Challenger concept in the form of cutesy references and cameos, the way other miniseries are often name-dropped in modern novels? Has there ever been a Belle Terre reference, a visit by a Chesapeake class starship, or a mention of a character looking at a picture of Jonathan Archer and mistaking him for Nick Keller or vice versa?

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Old March 12 2012, 08:51 PM   #14
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

In S.C.E.: The Future Begins, we gave Scotty a Blood administrative assistant. As far as I know there have been no other references.

Which is a shame, because I loved 50% of New Earth and all of Chainmail. Bring back Shucorion!
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Old March 16 2012, 11:58 PM   #15
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Re: Challenger, Vanguard, Excelsior & TOS era novel'n

Steve Mollmann wrote: View Post
because I loved 50% of New Earth and all of Chainmail.
Agree. The whole cast of "New Earth: Challenger"/"Gateways: Chainmail" was great.
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