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Old June 30 2013, 12:37 PM   #31
Sci
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

BillJ wrote: View Post
I don't mind change, but I also miss "in-series" books and don't understand why we can't get a mix of the two instead of only relaunch books.
Relayer1 wrote: View Post
I don't like the TOS 5 year mission stuff either. Getting something as good as Shocks of Adversity is rare, and I'd have traded that for another relaunch novel.
The impression I get is that for TNG/DSN/VOY/ENT/etc, post-series continuations are the books that sell the best, and that for TOS, Five-Year Mission books are the ones that sell the best -- and that between them all, TOS books set during the Five-Year Mission sell better than any others and help keep the Trek line in general afloat.

So, heck, I don't mind putting up with six successful TOS novels where the Enterprise meets a planet-of-the-week if they help subsidize a DSN or TNG Relaunch novel later on.
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Old June 30 2013, 03:01 PM   #32
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Δ Agreed - whatever keeps the line viable is good !
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Old June 30 2013, 03:27 PM   #33
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
It depends - if it is done for story driven dramatic purposes there will be a point. There will be a plot with structure that utilises it.

It can also be done more in a 'reflecting real life' way, unexpected, senseless, pointless and with no structured story point. Which is not to say that there will not be story opportunities and developments spun off from it.
Exactly. The problem with demanding that there be a "point" to every character's death is that death is frequently pointless and random. It's hypocritical and dishonest for a story to kill off faceless redshirts casually while never letting the audience lose anyone they care about unless there's some "meaning" to make them feel better about it. Every one of those redshirts was a very important person in somebody's story, important to their families and friends and loved ones.

That's why I admired what TNG did with Tasha Yar's death. She was killed off just as randomly as any redshirt, but for once they approached it honestly, let us feel the painful consequences -- the doctor's fierce, futile struggle to save her (infinitely better and truer to life than a two-second sensor wave and "He's dead, Jim"), the grieving of her crewmates, the struggle to move on with their duties despite the loss, their bitterness toward her killer, the tearful and cathartic memorial. Presumably the same thing happens offscreen when any redshirt dies, but for once ST was honest enough to let us live through it rather than sweeping it under the rug and having the bridge crew joking and laughing twenty-five minutes later. That's the meaning. That's the point. That no death is unimportant, that every life matters and every loss affects people whether there's some important plot purpose served or not.

(Which is why I deeply hate it that "Yesterday's Enterprise" denigrated Tasha's death as "pointless" and replaced it with a more cliched, juvenile fantasy of a "heroic" death. It's an insult to every rescue worker or firefighter or police officer who dies in the attempt to save lives. It's never meaningless or pointless to give one's life trying to help others, even if you fail to do so. Armus's act of killing Tasha had no meaning, but Tasha's choice to put her life at risk for others was a profoundly meaningful thing.)
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Old June 30 2013, 08:45 PM   #34
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

BillJ wrote: View Post
I don't mind change, but I also miss "in-series" books and don't understand why we can't get a mix of the two instead of only relaunch books.
Agreed.

And as far as "changing the status quo" goes. I don't mind the occassional story that does this, but it should be the exception, not the rule.
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Old June 30 2013, 10:23 PM   #35
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Exactly. The problem with demanding that there be a "point" to every character's death is that death is frequently pointless and random. It's hypocritical and dishonest for a story to kill off faceless redshirts casually while never letting the audience lose anyone they care about unless there's some "meaning" to make them feel better about it. Every one of those redshirts was a very important person in somebody's story, important to their families and friends and loved ones.

That's why I admired what TNG did with Tasha Yar's death. She was killed off just as randomly as any redshirt, but for once they approached it honestly, let us feel the painful consequences -- the doctor's fierce, futile struggle to save her (infinitely better and truer to life than a two-second sensor wave and "He's dead, Jim"), the grieving of her crewmates, the struggle to move on with their duties despite the loss, their bitterness toward her killer, the tearful and cathartic memorial. Presumably the same thing happens offscreen when any redshirt dies, but for once ST was honest enough to let us live through it rather than sweeping it under the rug and having the bridge crew joking and laughing twenty-five minutes later. That's the meaning. That's the point. That no death is unimportant, that every life matters and every loss affects people whether there's some important plot purpose served or not.

(Which is why I deeply hate it that "Yesterday's Enterprise" denigrated Tasha's death as "pointless" and replaced it with a more cliched, juvenile fantasy of a "heroic" death. It's an insult to every rescue worker or firefighter or police officer who dies in the attempt to save lives. It's never meaningless or pointless to give one's life trying to help others, even if you fail to do so. Armus's act of killing Tasha had no meaning, but Tasha's choice to put her life at risk for others was a profoundly meaningful thing.)
It is one of the unfortunate facts of life that death is, almost universally, neither dignified or meaningful. Even those fortunate few who live to a ripe old age are often stripped of their dignity before death and those who die in wartime are very rarely allowed the luxury of heroic sacrifice. Instead, it is simply a tragedy they are taken from their loved ones and those they care about.

However, from a Doylist perspective, Star Trek is a work of entertainment first and foremost. In real life, Captain Spock would have perished in the generator onboard the Enterprise and never had the chance to form the Romulan Reunification Movement or visit San Fransisco. Commander Data would remain merely a backup on B4's hard drive. Harry Kim, O'Brien, and all too many other characters we know and love would simply have perished.

We cheat, however, because we love our characters. Sherlock Holmes didn't die at the bottom of Reichenberg Falls, Captain Kirk gets revived by the Borg (Shatnerverse alone, I know), Optimus Prime returns from battling Megatron, and so on because we can do that. With the stroke of a pen, Kathryn Janeway is once more commanding Voyager. This isn't bad, IMHO.

So yeah, I'm okay with keeping our favorite characters safe.

(Your point is well-received, Christopher, I'm simply venting because I've lost a lot of characters I really loved in Expanded Universes--from Mara Jade to virtually the entire cast of the previous DCU)
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Old June 30 2013, 11:00 PM   #36
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
However, from a Doylist perspective, Star Trek is a work of entertainment first and foremost.
Yes, but what we want from entertainment is emotional impact. We want it to make us feel, and that includes experiencing negative emotions like fear and sadness and anger in a safe, fictional context. If the only characters who die are villains whose demise we're encouraged to enjoy or spear-carriers whose deaths are just incidental plot points, then we're cheated of the opportunity to experience the emotions and drama and powerful storytelling that can come from witnessing characters dealing with death and loss. The scene of Crusher struggling and failing to save Tasha is immensely powerful, one of the most effective dramatic moments in the entire series. That makes it far more entertaining than just seeing some redshirted extra we have no investment in get vaporized and then move on to Kirk making out with a spacebabe. Sometimes entertainment makes you cry. That's part of what we want from it. We want the full gamut of emotions, as long as they're in the controlled, safe conditions of fiction. That's why tragedy has been popular for thousands of years.

Really, we're talking about two different things. I'm not talking about whether or not characters should be resurrected. That's a separate conversation altogether. I'm objecting to the notion that death in fiction is only acceptable if it has some uplifting "meaning" or "purpose" to make us feel okay about it. Sometimes what we want from fiction is to be shown things that we don't feel okay about, things that we can get upset by along with the characters. And often what we want are stories that challenge cliches and easy conventions, like the cliche of a "meaningful" heroic death.


Superman's death may have been epic and it would have been awesome to keep him dead in terms of "storytelling significance" but we'd have been denied all future stories of Kal-El from Krypton.
Superman's death is a poor example, since it was pointless on a more metatextual level. It wasn't about conveying a thematic point, it was just about making a grab for cash and headlines. And it was executed in the laziest, stupidest way possible by just having some big walking plot device with no motivation show up and randomly pummel Superman to death. It was nothing more than a gimmick, so I'm certainly not going to defend it as something that shouldn't have been reversed.

There's no absolute rule to these things. Superman coming back from the dead, even if his death had been done well, is something I could accept. I mean, he's Superman. It's not that hard to believe that he could recover from a state that a human couldn't recover from. And he's a mythic figure, an aspirational symbol as much as a character. One doesn't demand realism there. But the problem is that comics resort to the death-and-resurrection ploy far too routinely these days, to the point that no character death carries any real impact because you know it's temporary. Resurrection stories shouldn't be forbidden, but it's a mistake to overuse them.

The other reason Superman is a bad analogy is because, again, he's a figure of fantasy and myth. Star Trek is ideally more naturalistic and believable. Roddenberry always wanted it to be as plausible as he could make it, even if he didn't always succeed and even if many of his successors haven't bothered. So fanciful tropes like resurrection should be used judiciously, so as not to undermine the credibility of the universe too badly.


Her death in Yesterday's Enterprise was less about having a "heroic death" for me, also, than simply trying to take a chance on life--which we should all do when faced with the certainty of death IMHO.
That's all well and good, except they literally had Alt-Tasha say on camera that her other self's death was "senseless." After having Guinan say that it was "empty" and "without purpose." I've explained why I think that's profoundly insulting to the many, many heroic people in real life who've given their lives in the attempt to save others.


The fact she ends up becoming a sex slave to a Romulan makes me ill, actually, and is actually WORSE than her Red Shirt death.
Indeed. That's just one of the many things I hate about the whole Sela gimmick.


But getting back to my point, we can't bring the dead back to life in RL.

We can't warp travel either.
Ahh, but the latter may not be true forever. NASA's already doing proof-of-concept experiments in spacetime warping on a small scale.


So yeah, I'm okay with keeping our favorite characters safe.
Uncle Ben is a great character, but nobody thinks he should be brought back. And I've heard it persuasively argued that bringing Barry Allen back from the dead not only cheapened his great moment of sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths but undermined the characters such as Wally West who've been shaped by his legacy. As with everything else, it's not a uniform rule. There's no sense in saying that this or any other trope should be approached the same way across the board. There are cases where it works to bring a character back from the dead, and there are cases where it's a cheap gimmick and a lazy exercise in nostalgia. And, just to be fair, there are cases where having a major character die arbitrarily is deeply moving and powerful and intelligent storytelling, and there are cases where it's just a cheap gimmick too.

But really, what I object to is the double standard, the implausibility of having "our favorite characters" exempt from death's sting while redshirts and spear-carriers are out of luck. Why, in-universe, should there be this overwhelming statistical bias in favor of the characters we know and like getting resurrected? If we'd at least occasionally see Ensign Whoozit or Third Pedestrian From Left getting magically brought back to life, if it were something that could happen to anyone, then it wouldn't be so contrived when it kept happening to a certain starship's command crew or to the members of the superhero community.
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Old July 1 2013, 12:21 AM   #37
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Well, I'd argue but you've persuaded me.

Well said.
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Old July 11 2013, 05:11 PM   #38
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

As a die-hard fan, I love seeing the Trek characters grow beyond their TV/film roles, and the universe evolve. It's far more enjoyable than endless disposable "planet of the week" stories.

But I do fear (well, "fear" is perhaps a strong word for it ) Trek lit alienating new fans - I can imagine a casual fan, picking up a post-series novel and, saying "this isn't TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT!"
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Old July 11 2013, 06:14 PM   #39
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
But I do fear (well, "fear" is perhaps a strong word for it ) Trek lit alienating new fans - I can imagine a casual fan, picking up a post-series novel and, saying "this isn't TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT!"
I think that's a fairly valid concern considering the turn Trek lit took with Destiny. Right up until the "A Time to..." books, almost everything felt like a logical progression from the end of DS9 and Voyager, then it felt like the Trek lit authors got a bit too enthusiastic about shaking up the status quo (especially with David Mack providing more detonations than Star Trek into Darkness). It says a lot when Trek lit has more in common with the Star Wars EU than the canon material in terms of tone and general content.
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Old July 11 2013, 06:51 PM   #40
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Δ I don't think that's the case - Treklit is still instantly identifiable, even if new readers do realise that there have been some changes. I don't see that it has a lot to do with Star Wars...
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Old July 11 2013, 11:55 PM   #41
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Yeah, I really don't see the similarities to the SWEU, either.
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Old July 12 2013, 06:58 AM   #42
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

bullethead wrote: View Post
Right up until the "A Time to..." books, almost everything felt like a logical progression from the end of DS9 and Voyager, then it felt like the Trek lit authors got a bit too enthusiastic about shaking up the status quo (especially with David Mack providing more detonations than Star Trek into Darkness).
I'm at a loss as to imagine what in post-A Time to... isn't a logical progression from the ends of DSN, VOY, and TNG.

It's a logical progression that the Enterprise-E would have new staff to replace those lost at the end of NEM.

It's a logical progression to see the adventures of the USS Titan established in NEM.

It's a logical progression to see Voyager return to the Delta Quadrant as an exploratory force.

What, exactly, is so implausible a progression?

It says a lot when Trek lit has more in common with the Star Wars EU than the canon material in terms of tone and general content.
I really have no idea what you're talking about here. The Star Wars E.U. is essentially one giant exercise in either telling the same basic story over and over again (rise of an evil empire controlled by the Sith, the Jedi beat them back and establish a good democracy again), or in re-writing the Star Wars canon so it's not complete shit (e.g., the novels set between the P.T. and the novelizations).

The Star Trek E.U. is neither of these things.
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Old July 12 2013, 01:25 PM   #43
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Well, TrekLit did have its share of plot-hole-spackling (Lost Era, to some extent Christopher's Rise of the Federation, etc). Those were all great stories in their own right, and Trek I think did a better job at using strange apparent contradictions in canon to lead to good stories rather than just creating stories for the sole purpose of fixing them, but at a certain level the motivation was pretty similar.

I agree with you about telling the same basic story over and over again, though. That's what ultimately drove me away. Philosophically, I simply disagree with how the Star Wars EU has developed; some things are cyclical in history, but the world also progresses. Star Wars, by this point, has painted a portrait of a universe in which, functionally, nothing has changed in 5,000 years except the durations of the spaces between the repeats of the same goddamn war.

And, like, just think of how many random innocent people the Skywalker family specifically has ended up causing to die. If I were the new galactic leader, whatever the title happens to be most recently, I'd strongly consider exiling or banning the Jedi myself. They're obviously far more trouble than they're worth! Great if they're on your side, but odds are at least one of them is going to go evil and destroy a few entire planets before the rest of them stop him/her. How is that worthwhile?

The universe just doesn't make sense anymore.
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Old July 12 2013, 02:14 PM   #44
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

Thrawn wrote: View Post
[...] If I were the new galactic leader, whatever the title happens to be most recently, I'd strongly consider exiling or banning the Jedi myself.
Chief of State Daala actually tried to do this. It... didn't work out well for her.

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Old July 12 2013, 02:35 PM   #45
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Re: Changing the status quo - Good or Bad?

It's pretty subjective.

To take the recent examples - Data & Janeway. I felt Data was brought back well & Janeway was not. However even if Data had been brought back poorly, I would have generally been in favour of it, and even if Janeway had been brought back fantastically I wouldn't have cared for it and would have stopped reading Voyager books. Because I felt Data should have come back because Nemesis was a trainwreck and he shouldn't have died there, and I felt Janeway was a horrible character (Tuvix, Endgame, etc) and was happy with the events that transpired in Before Dishonour.

Also, frigging lol at the garbage that Star Wars has become. I greatly miss the pre-yuuzhan vong era when Zahn & Stackpole were writing. Who knew that the dark force that Palpatine and Thrawn were preparing for was 15 years of horrible books.
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