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

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Old March 25 2013, 08:34 AM   #1
Mage
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Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

A few weeks ago I got a deal on some older Treklit. Five of the Shatner novels, the four Day Of Honor novels, The Badlands series, the four Dominion War novels, and some other stuff.

Now, I haven't read it all mind you, but sofar.... I'm not very impressed with a lot of these novels compared to what we've been seeing the last few years.

I started Treklit with the DS9 Relaunch, and New Frontier. Had a break for a few years, then came back and started reading Destiny and almost everything since plus a few novels before Destiny. And I truly feel that the quality of new Treklit is far higher then that from say the 90's. The writing is better, characters from the show feel like characters from the show and new, original characters are fleshed out a lot better. Plots seem more original, and the overal feel is more daring. It feels, with a lot of the older novels, everything is back the way it should be at the end. Now, I get that, since a lot of those novels were set while shows and movies staring TNG, DS9 and VOY were still being made. But it does make reading those novels a lot less interesting to me.
Being able to think 'outside the shows' like that has really improved Treklit for me.
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Old March 25 2013, 10:23 AM   #2
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Old vs. new? They've both had their share of hits and misses.
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Old March 25 2013, 10:33 AM   #3
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Having been reading Treklit off and on for around thirty years, I have to say it is way better now. Not only is the quality of writing generally higher, the simple fact that you don't have to leave everything just as you found it these days has given the writers much more scope. There will always be hits and misses (more so with the episodic TOS novels in my experience) but the current state of Treklit has me enthused whereas I had really drifted away from the 'old' novels.
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Old March 25 2013, 11:08 AM   #4
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

BillJ wrote: View Post
Old vs. new? They've both had their share of hits and misses.
Ofcourse, but personally, I find less misses these days compared to what I've read from the older novels.
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Old March 25 2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Your idea of "old" is my idea of "middle-era" - or at least those mid-to-late-90's ones are. The 70's Bantams are an aquired taste, but I enjoy them.

IMO the "good old" Trek novels come from the 80's and early 90's - Strangers From the Sky, Final Frontier, Dreadnought, Yesterday's Son, Time for Yesterday, the first two Rihannsu novels, Spock's World, The Entropy Effect, Enterprise: The First Adventure, Chain of Attack, The Final Nexus, Memory Prime, Uhura's Song, Crossroad, The Lost Years... all fantastic reads, IMO. My fondest Trek lit memories, although I do love the current post-series 24th century books too.

IMO the Shatnerverse books are just the same kind of action-heavy adventures as the recent Cold Equations trilogy. Although I must admit I have yet to re-read them (I have all the others cited above), so they may have aged poorly.
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Old March 25 2013, 12:39 PM   #6
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

I definitely think that with Pocket cranking out fewer books that we are seeing the quality over quantity now. I've read some books from the late 80's and early 90's that should have never been published. Not to say that there aren't good novels from that era. I still love Duane's stuff as well as Peter David's work before New Frontier.
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Old March 25 2013, 01:22 PM   #7
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Today's TrekLit is obviously of higher quality and tighter continuity than back in the 90s, since there are less authors and less books being published. But that 90s era Trek Lit is way easier to get into, because there isn't a sprawling, almost Marvel/DC scale continuity that's hinted at in almost every book. If there's anything that puts people off reading, it's the feeling/knowledge that you need to read tons of other stuff to understand who is who and what's going on.
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Old March 25 2013, 01:30 PM   #8
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

I understand why people get that feeling, but I also think the authors do a pretty great job of making each book capable of being someone's first. In particular, the big trilogies - Destiny, Cold Equations - could stand alone really easily.
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Old March 25 2013, 02:07 PM   #9
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

For me personally, there were more good books a year back then than there are now, but then there were a lot more books per year back then anyway...

As for original characters, Diane Duane & Peter David wrote fantastic original characters. PAD in particular wrote some of my favourite original characters, and fleshed out numerous bit characters from the tv series. Calhoun, Janos, McHenry, Burgoyne, Kebron, and so on. These days I can think of Ree, some of the Voy Relaunch and some of the Vanguard characters that I like. Ent-e, Aventine & most titan regulars I don't particularly care about.

So not seeing much of a difference there. Also, most of the books you listed were rubbish anyway - some of the shatner ones were good(the earliest ones like eden and return), but all the day of honour books I can remember were rubbish(although the tng one had an interesting moral point to it at least), the original dominion war books were rubbish, and I don't even remember badlands.

One difference I do see sadly is that characterisation of Kirk, McCoy & Spock is generally far worse these days then it used to be. No idea why that is.
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Old March 25 2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

I'm always puzzled by the assumption that just because continuity exists among different works, it makes each individual story incomprehensible on its own. I mean, every story draws on elements from beyond its own limits -- on the characters' pasts and relationships, on the nature and history of the world they inhabit, etc. My go-to example is "The Cage" -- it's the very first Star Trek story ever told, but the whole plot depends on what came before it, on the deadly mission to Rigel that the crew is recovering from and that's prompted Pike to re-examine his life. The viewer seeing it for the first time would have no prior knowledge of the Rigel mission or of the city of Mojave or of the slave trade on the Orion planets, yet that doesn't harm the story because what you need to know is right there in the story. Same with the second pilot -- we've never met Gary Mitchell before, nor have we met Kirk before at that point (if watching in production order), but a story whose drama is built around the pre-existing friendship between Kirk and Mitchell is still easy enough to understand. The references to their experiences at the Academy, Dimorus, etc. don't throw you out of the story or make you afraid you've missed something. Sure, in the case of the books, it's different because the option exists for actually seeing those earlier stories being referenced. But aside from that, it's not much different within the text itself. Just referencing something beyond a story doesn't make the story impossible to comprehend, because all stories do that to some degree.
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Old March 25 2013, 02:13 PM   #11
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Yeah. I read Time For Yesterday before reading Yesterday's Son and before I first watched "All Our Yesterdays". Still enjoyed the hell out of it...
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Old March 25 2013, 02:18 PM   #12
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

^Time for Yesterday could actually be a good starting point for the '80s continuity, since it's the one book that references the most other books from that era, and lists their authors in the acknowledgments.
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Old March 25 2013, 02:29 PM   #13
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

Mage wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
Old vs. new? They've both had their share of hits and misses.
Ofcourse, but personally, I find less misses these days compared to what I've read from the older novels.
I agreed, the quality of Trek lit over the last ten years has been awesome. I have been reading 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 2000's stuff, off and on. But I have not enjoyed those books as much so far. I'll keep loking though. I am always looking to read a great ST story no matter the era it was produced. Though I will have to admit that the Vanguard series sets the standard for all future Trek works, IMHO.
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Old March 25 2013, 03:58 PM   #14
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

While I really love what's been going on with the Trek-lit books post-Nemesis, there are quite a few gems from the 1980s and 1990s. King Daniel posted some classics above, and I'd also like to mention The Final Reflection, How Much for Just the Planet?, Dragon's Honor, the McIntyre novelizations of The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home, The Wounded Sky, Crisis on Centaurus, Doctor's Orders, Q-in-Law, Fallen Heroes, and The Captain's Daughter as being some older Trek-lit works that are worth reading, all published before 1997.

I do think the Trek-lit line suffered from about 1993 through 2005 from too many books published per year, but that's not to say there weren't some gems published during that period. I also think it's helped that the authors are perhaps not so bound as they once were with regards to the various series and characters, since there are no TV or film works in the foreseeable future for the "Prime Universe", which allows for major changes for established characters - you couldn't do much of that in the 1990s with TNG, DS9, and VOY all on TV during that period.
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Old March 25 2013, 10:16 PM   #15
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Re: Old Treklit vs. new Treklit.

I just want to ditto what Christoper said. I've never understood why some people feel they need to be on the ground floor of something like a TV show or other fictional franchise. I find more than half the fun when I start something that's been going on for a while is going back and seeing how it started after I'm already familiar with the story and characters.

I started reading each TOS book when it came out from about #55 Renegade to #84 Assignment: Eternity, I also went back and read most of the older ones Wounded Sky and Final Reflection being my favorites. To me at that point (I thought it was mostly me since I went from 12 to 19 during that stretch) I thought they had lost a step and had other interests. I came back for the DS9 relaunch but missed out on some of the later ones. I'm back full time now because of Titan and the Destiny-Typhon Pact megaseries. I'm having fun going back and reading some of the stuff I missed that was important for some of the characters I've been following of late. The best example is Christine Vale, I had no idea who she was before Titan but now I'm reading the A Time To... series and getting her back story has been fun. I guess I would be in the crowd that Trek books took a hit in quality in the late 90s but have come back.
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