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

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Old March 2 2014, 08:39 PM   #1
DigificWriter
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[Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

... on how to talk to people who have the mentality that tie-in fiction is only important if it 'counts'?

In light of the Star Wars EU being de-canonized, I've been going back and forth with a number of people who believe that its contents now have no relevance or importance and that they've wasted their time and money investing in stories that 'no longer matter'.

I'm officially at a loss as to how to talk to these people, and was hoping that some of the authors here could offer their professional opinions and insight on the subject.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:07 PM   #2
Thrawn
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

Well they have a point. To a certain extent, for example, it's frustrating to read Indistinguishable From Magic then have Geordi's marriage not exist in the next novel. Especially if you invest in that character development and really like the outcome, to have it disappear is annoying.

Or if you really want to know what happens next, but can't anymore, because that story has ceased, right? The EU being decanonized is perhaps roughly equivalent to a beloved TV show being cancelled. I loved the TV show Carnivale, but several friends didn't want to watch it because it didn't have an ending. Seems valid to me!

On the other hand, stories are all fictional, and if you like them who cares if they "count". That's probably your best argument. But it doesn't help someone who likes the stories they read and wants those stories to continue.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:21 PM   #3
Elias Vaughn
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

You could always enjoy the stories on their own merits and not care if other people won't do the same for whatever reason.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:24 PM   #4
DigificWriter
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

Thrawn wrote: View Post
Well they have a point. To a certain extent, for example, it's frustrating to read Indistinguishable From Magic then have Geordi's marriage not exist in the next novel. Especially if you invest in that character development and really like the outcome, to have it disappear is annoying.

Or if you really want to know what happens next, but can't anymore, because that story has ceased, right? The EU being decanonized is perhaps roughly equivalent to a beloved TV show being cancelled. I loved the TV show Carnivale, but several friends didn't want to watch it because it didn't have an ending. Seems valid to me!

On the other hand, stories are all fictional, and if you like them who cares if they "count". That's probably your best argument. But it doesn't help someone who likes the stories they read and wants those stories to continue.
The argument I've been most recently encountering is 'why should I waste time and money reading stories that don't count?'.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:37 PM   #5
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

Why waste time and money reading any fiction then?
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Old March 2 2014, 09:44 PM   #6
DigificWriter
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

^ That's what I want to know.

The idea that the EU suddenly has no value whatsoever simply because it is no longer considered Canon is embodied in that question, and is a mentality I find completely baffling... hence my asking for advice and insight on how to counter it without being dismissive.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:52 PM   #7
Thrawn
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

No, I understand what you're asking, I just think there's only one real counterargument here, which is:

"All fiction isn't real. There aren't degrees of unreality.

The Star Wars EU was ignored when the prequels were made; the Republic Commando series was cancelled when the animated series was made; nothing new is happening here - it has never 'counted'. While we're at it, George Lucas remade whole scenes from the original trilogy, too. I guess that stuff didn't 'count' either. In general, any author of any fictional universe is free to always have a better idea that countermands an earlier one; there's a reason 'retcon' is a term we all know these days. Happens to every universe all the time.

So: who cares? You wouldn't skip a novel that took place in 1776 because it didn't actually affect the events of 1776. They're worth reading because they're good stories."

Perhaps it would help to suggest they treat the EU as an extended piece of fiction published in-universe. I mean, there are so many novels in such a long sequence that the EU rivals any other long-running novel series ever made. There's enough material there to treat it like its own standalone entity, regardless of new movies or any other stories at all. So treat it like its own thing. The Star Wars Novel Universe. There's more storytelling time spent in that universe than in the Star Wars Cinematic Universe. Why does one have to supercede the other for YOU just because its creators said it does for THEM?

For Trek it's a much easier argument; there is no other continuation, so this might as well be the "real" one. But even if it isn't, who cares? It's an enormous, complex, fantastic set of interrelated stories. Read it for the enjoyment of the storytelling. It's all fiction anyway.
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Old March 2 2014, 09:59 PM   #8
DigificWriter
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

^ Thank you for that, Thrawn. I've been saying something similar re: things not changing, but keep getting the 'the de-canonization of the EU suddenly makes all the time and money I wasted investing it wasted' argument or the 'why should I waste my time and money on stories that don't count' argument in response.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:17 PM   #9
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

When they say their investment was wasted, ask them what ultimate goal they thought they were striving for that hasn't already been fulfilled. It's not like something was going to happen at some point in the future that would provide a final payoff for their investment and that has now been prevented from happening. The reward for their investment was their enjoyment of the books while they read them. So as long as they enjoyed the experience of reading, their investment was not wasted.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:25 PM   #10
DigificWriter
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

I posted Thrawn's thoughts, and got the following response:
JediKnight75 wrote:
I'm referring to within their fictional universe. So of course I'd read a novel written in 1776 even if it didn't affect the events of that year. But I wouldn't buy a Star Wars book set in 30 ABY that doesn't really affect the events of 30 ABY. Also, there is a difference between a retcon and a reboot. Retcons change an aspect of a story not the story in its entirety. So after TCW, Republic Commando was still canon, outside of certain aspect. Also, the series wasn't cancelled by the publisher, but due to the author's decision. If she had wanted to, she could have finished the series. With George Lucas changing scenes, nothing major was changed. Then with the prequels, the EU was allowed to work with the continuity problems and find a way to keep everything canon. The characters and events remained. In the case of a reboot, not a single plot point or character development from the stories will remain, except maybe a few ideas, but the essence of the stories will no longer count. Thus, what we are hearing may happen is fundamentally different than anything that has happened within the Star Wars universe.
How would you guys respond?
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Old March 2 2014, 10:30 PM   #11
JD
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

I've never understood the mentality you guys are discussing here. As long as a story is good, I really don't care about the continuity/canonacity. I'm reading TNG: Dark Mirror right now, and I'm loving it, even if it does kind of contradict the DS9+ version of the MU. I also plan on reading Federation, and already read both Strangers from the Sky, and Spock's World. I just want to read an enjoyable story, the continuity/consistency is just a plus.
One of the things I loved about the Myriad Universe stories, was that it gave the authors the opportunity to contradict canon, and take things in their own directions.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:41 PM   #12
DigificWriter
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

I also just received this response, which I'd also like advice in responding to:
blackmyron wrote:
Jango_Fett21 wrote:
All fiction isn't real. There aren't degrees of unreality.
On the contrary, people tend to prefer stories where they have suspension of belief and often have the distressing tendency to want to have more stories with the same characters, places, settings, etc. Forget the books and comics - isn't that exactly what the CWAS, and Rebels, and the PT are? This is why we have story universes. Universes populated with one-dimensional characters and two-dimensional buildings tend to not be good stories. It's the illusion of a sense of history, or a filled-in map - depth to the setting.

Jango_Fett21 wrote:
So: who cares?
If you haven't figured that out yet, maybe the Lit boards aren't the best place to be.

Jango_Fett21 wrote:
You wouldn't skip a novel that took place in 1776 because it didn't actually affect the events of 1776. They're worth reading because they're good stories.
If a novel "set" in 1776 AD didn't reference current events, or the past, or have anything to do with setting, or was poorly researched that it displayed a number of historical anachonisms due to lazy (or no) research, I would skip it, yes. I don't need a bunch of historical cameos or whatever, but if you can't be bothered to use the setting correctly what exactly was the point in using it at all? Because that's not a good story.

"Affecting the events" is a red herring, as well as your odd implication that all historical fiction should be equivalent the Star Wars EU.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:43 PM   #13
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

Pretty much agree with what JD wrote.

I don't really get why obviously so many people were fooled by the bullshit marketing of the EU books being some kind of canon. I always felt it was extremely dishonest to say the books were canon, when pretty much all Lucas said IIRC that they are "real" as long as he doesn't choose to contradict them, which pretty much is the same status ST books have, only that with ST everyone was honest enough to not pretend that this status was somehow special.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:55 PM   #14
Thrawn
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

Shrug.

https://xkcd.com/386/

It's a valid point of view. Like when people got pissed about Dallas's 9th season all being a dream.

I imagine it feels somewhat like building a tower, a tower that could continue to be built indefinitely without any defined endpoint, but nonetheless a tower with some serious time and energy in it, and then having that tower knocked down unexpectedly.

I don't agree with that perspective; I agree with Christopher's point. But I can see how someone would feel that way.
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Old March 2 2014, 10:56 PM   #15
Jedi Ben
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Re: [Off-Topic] Seeking advice and insight...

A large part of this is to do with marketing.

For instance, Trek books were not - and never have been, to the best of my knowledge - sold as the official continuation of anything. It was stated up-front that they were not, no matter how carefully they may be put together or executed.

In contrast, following the unexpected success of Heir to the Empire, Bantam and LFL kicked off a programme of books that did declare that!

Now, you can argue that for the best part of a decade that claim has been undermined by Lucas and LFL - by the fact of things like the Clone Wars cartoon, but in contrast to the clear honesty of Trek's marketing, Wars has opted for a perpetual haze and it's that, now, that's coming back to bite 'em in the arse.

Strange as it may sound, if anything I've found Trek, over the last 15 years, to exhibit greater care and attention to detail in its many "unofficial" books than Wars! Certainly in terms of overall health and sustanability, I'd rank Pocket Books Trek line as way ahead of Wars, which has had a sustained self-cannibalism tendency for the last 15 years!

What it comes down to in effect is, to invoke a famous relevant one-liner: "Altering the deal"! Books were marketed as X, now they're being declared Y - that's what people are hacked off with. (It's a bigger version of what happened with DC Comics' big New 52 reboot, although Wars doesn't seem to have learnt the lesson from that that, if you're going to reboot, at least allow the old version to shut up shop gracefully.)

Am I likely to buy much in the way of Wars EU 2.0? Probably not, much as I didn't buy much of the New 52 in protest at the way it shut down previous stories - which is the only real protest I, as a consumer, have, vote with the wallet. Although, in all honesty it would not be the sole reason for ceasing my involvement with SW, as it's been in decline for quite some time.
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