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Old August 9 2009, 03:33 AM   #1
Dale
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Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

My take on Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise B - what I saw of him in the film ST: Generations - was a book-smart but naieve young captain promoted too early... and someone who was willingly playing along with the publicity surrounding the ship's launch... even mugging for the cameras a bit until things went sour and he became nervous and indecisive.

In his Crucible series, however, David R. George III portrays Harriman much more generously as seen through Kirk's eyes.

Do you think this was an intentional retcon of the character... an attempt to redeem him, or do you think my read of Alan Ruck's on-screen portrayal was wrong to begin with?

Also, note to David R. George III if he happens upon this thread: Amazon's Kindle store lists KRAD as the author of the McCoy and Spock books in the Crucible series. Kick some ass!

I'm a little more than halfway through the third book, BTW, and this series has been a WONDERFUL read. I found the McCoy book particularly moving.
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Old August 9 2009, 03:35 AM   #2
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post
My take on Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise B - what I saw of him in the film ST: Generations - was a book-smart but naieve young captain promoted too early... and someone who was willingly playing along with the publicity surrounding the ship's launch... even mugging for the cameras a bit until things went sour and he became nervous and indecisive.
You've got to start somewhere. Nobody is a perfect captain on their first mission (unless you're nuKirk ).

And as for Harriman "willingly playing along with the publicity"...What does that mean? That's all that mission was supposed to be. He basically *had* to play along.
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Old August 9 2009, 03:41 AM   #3
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post
My take on Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise B - what I saw of him in the film ST: Generations - was a book-smart but naieve young captain promoted too early... and someone who was willingly playing along with the publicity surrounding the ship's launch... even mugging for the cameras a bit until things went sour and he became nervous and indecisive.

In his Crucible series, however, David R. George III portrays Harriman much more generously as seen through Kirk's eyes.

Do you think this was an intentional retcon of the character... an attempt to redeem him, or do you think my read of Alan Ruck's on-screen portrayal was wrong to begin with?
First off, it was Peter David in The Captain's Daughter and "Shakedown" who redefined Harriman in this way; DRGIII was building on what PAD established. And DRG's portrayal of Harriman is featured primarily in The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins. I don't recall Harriman playing a very large role in Crucible, but I figure that's just following the lead of the earlier works.

Second, I don't think Harriman was naive. He was a little unsure of himself, but he was in a lousy situation. He made a number of smart, educated suggestions for solving the problem, many of which would've probably worked if the ship hadn't been inadequately equipped. He wasn't depending on his crew to come up with the ideas, he was an idea machine all by himself, and it's not his fault that circumstances put him in the middle of a crisis with an unfinished ship.
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Old August 9 2009, 03:48 AM   #4
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

^ And at least Harriman had the guts to openly ask Kirk for advice in front of the whole bridge crew. Without regard for his own ego.
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Old August 9 2009, 04:16 AM   #5
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Christopher wrote: View Post
First off, it was Peter David in The Captain's Daughter and "Shakedown" who redefined Harriman in this way; DRGIII was building on what PAD established. And DRG's portrayal of Harriman is featured primarily in The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins. I don't recall Harriman playing a very large role in Crucible, but I figure that's just following the lead of the earlier works.

Second, I don't think Harriman was naive. He was a little unsure of himself, but he was in a lousy situation. He made a number of smart, educated suggestions for solving the problem, many of which would've probably worked if the ship hadn't been inadequately equipped. He wasn't depending on his crew to come up with the ideas, he was an idea machine all by himself, and it's not his fault that circumstances put him in the middle of a crisis with an unfinished ship.
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^ And at least Harriman had the guts to openly ask Kirk for advice in front of the whole bridge crew. Without regard for his own ego.
I hadn't read the Peter David stuff or Lost Era. Harriman's time in the Crucible books is almost verbatim his scenes from the film, but Kirk's thoughts seem to put a different spin on him than I'd ever considered.

As for his suggestions: perhaps they were smart, but they were "book smart" but naieve, and both Kirk and Harriman's crew members, if you go back and watch the scene, kind of gave him the rolleyes as he made his suggestions. Then there's the whole taking-the-ship-out-not-entirely-ready thing. He could've put up a fight about that. IMHO the only thing he did right was to turn to Kirk for advice. Then he was ready to abandon the captain's chair to Kirk until Kirk stopped him.

So while it wasn't George III who retconned the character, I definitely think he's been rehabillitated in print. On film, he was a bit of a goofball.
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Old August 9 2009, 04:21 AM   #6
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post
Then there's the whole taking-the-ship-out-not-entirely-ready thing. He could've put up a fight about that.
Oh, no, there's no way he'd dare do that. At this point he doesn't have the clout. He should realize how damn lucky he was to even get the Enterprise in the first place. He wasn't about to risk that.

(Just like the time in the 2007 ALDS when Joba Chamberlain was pitching and he was pretty much attacked on the mound by a swarm of midges. A more veteran pitcher might have asked for a break in the game, but Joba had just made the Yankees *at age 22* and he knew his place - he was a rookie, no way would he make waves. Even though with all those bugs around his head there's no way he could be expected to pitch at full strength)

Besides, as I said, the mission was only supposed to be a press tour of the solar system. They really didn't need a full crew for that.
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Old August 9 2009, 04:31 AM   #7
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

I'll have to check out the PAD and Lost Era stuff... but I'll say this: if Harriman has indeed been rehabilitated the way his Crucible scenes suggest, it's a shame.

I think a fascinating series of adventures could've been written about the E-B, its naieve, bumbling, untested, promoted-and-posted-for-political-reasons (such as pleasing Admiral "Blackjack" Harriman) captain, and it's crack, best-of-the-best crew who back him up, compensate for him and finally train him up into a captain worthy of the name Enterprise.
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Old August 9 2009, 05:21 AM   #8
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post
I'll have to check out the PAD and Lost Era stuff... but I'll say this: if Harriman has indeed been rehabilitated the way his Crucible scenes suggest, it's a shame.

I think a fascinating series of adventures could've been written about the E-B, its naieve, bumbling, untested, promoted-and-posted-for-political-reasons (such as pleasing Admiral "Blackjack" Harriman) captain, and it's crack, best-of-the-best crew who back him up, compensate for him and finally train him up into a captain worthy of the name Enterprise.
I suspect you might enjoy The Captain's Daughter by Peter David.
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Old August 9 2009, 05:47 AM   #9
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

^^^ Noted and purchased. Kindle is a boon to authors, methinks, thanks to impulse buys!
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Old August 9 2009, 07:04 AM   #10
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Personally I very much like the Harriman of the novels.
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Old August 9 2009, 07:11 AM   #11
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

nx1701g wrote: View Post
Personally I very much like the Harriman of the novels.
Same here. It makes sense that he should be competent, it's the freaking ENTERPRISE. At the time it must have been one of the most prestigious postings possible. Should only be available to either very senior Captains, or someone with an incredible history.
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Old August 9 2009, 07:24 AM   #12
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

((shrug)) A Starfleet filled with nothing but superheroes is a tad boring, is all I'm saying. An inadequate Harriman needing to be shepherded along by his crew would've been something interesting and new, IMHO.

Think about it... he's promoted and posted based on politics, based on the clout of his father the admiral, and on his very first time out he kills Captain Kirk. Think of the stigma. The humiliation. Since his dad's a powerful admiral, they can't just sideline him, so he remains in command of the flagship of the fleet and the only hope he has is the fact that his crew is the best of the best... so they shepherd him and cover for him and slowly but surely turn him into the kind of captain the Enterprise deserves, all the while trying to live up to and preserve the legacy of their noble namesake.

To me, that's just fraught with drama and comic potential.

I am not trying to take away from what's been done with Harriman... I haven't even read much of it yet. I'm just saying that the idea I've laid out above intrigues me and I think they missed a really clever trick - and something really fresh and new in Trek lit - in not having gone this route.
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Old August 9 2009, 10:23 AM   #13
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post

My take on Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise B - what I saw of him in the film ST: Generations - was a book-smart but naieve young captain promoted too early... and someone who was willingly playing along with the publicity surrounding the ship's launch... even mugging for the cameras a bit until things went sour and he became nervous and indecisive.
...
Do you think this was an intentional retcon of the character... an attempt to redeem him, or do you think my read of Alan Ruck's on-screen portrayal was wrong to begin with?
Well, Dale, I had a slightly different take on the Captain Harriman the audience saw in Generations, but the distinction may be one without a difference. I viewed Harriman not as naïve, nor as mugging for the media, but as a man simply not demonstrating much ability in the new position--starship captain--to which he had just been promoted.

Dale wrote: View Post

In his Crucible series, however, David R. George III portrays Harriman much more generously as seen through Kirk's eyes.
This is true, but I do not consider it a retcon of the character, but rather a fleshing out of Harriman. In The Captain's Daughter, Harriman was more or less portrayed as an able captain who'd simply had some bad luck during that first, media-laden mission. When I was offered the opportunity to pen an entire novel about him, it became immediately necessary for me to understand the character fully. That required me to do more than merely portray Harriman as competent, but also to explain why he did not appear to be so in Generations. Since you haven't read Serpents Among the Ruins, I won't detail precisely how I did this, but suffice it to say that I did not excuse or explain away his behavior during his time on the bridge of the Enterprise-B with Kirk; instead, I developed a personal history and various motivations for Harriman that contributed to his behavior in Generations.

Dale wrote: View Post

I'm a little more than halfway through the third book, BTW, and this series has been a WONDERFUL read. I found the McCoy book particularly moving.
Thanks very much for the kind words. I always enjoy learning that I've satisfied a reader.
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Old August 9 2009, 01:36 PM   #14
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

Dale wrote: View Post
Think about it... he's promoted and posted based on politics, based on the clout of his father the admiral, and on his very first time out he kills Captain Kirk.
Now, that's hardly fair. For one thing, if anyone deserves the blame, it's the inept Starfleet planners who not only let this ship go out of drydock without basic equipment, but for whatever reason yet again left the space around Sol System so empty that there was only one ill-equipped starship in range to address a crisis. (Maybe the rest of the fleet was on maneuvers in the Laurentian system?)

For another, it devalues Jim Kirk's own choice to put himself in the thick of things yet again. Harriman was willing to go down to the deflector room himself, but it was Kirk who insisted on taking that job. His (apparent) demise should be seen as the result of his own heroism, and it's disrespectful to his memory to paint him as a victim of someone else's actions.

Think of the stigma. The humiliation. Since his dad's a powerful admiral, they can't just sideline him, so he remains in command of the flagship of the fleet and the only hope he has is the fact that his crew is the best of the best... so they shepherd him and cover for him and slowly but surely turn him into the kind of captain the Enterprise deserves, all the while trying to live up to and preserve the legacy of their noble namesake.

To me, that's just fraught with drama and comic potential.
Maybe in some other show, or a Trek series about some other ship, but we're talking about a captain of the Enterprise here. There are some things you just don't mess with.
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Old August 10 2009, 04:36 PM   #15
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Re: Harriman retconned in David R. George III's Crucible series?

[QUOTE=Mr. Laser Beam;3278763]
Dale wrote: View Post

You've got to start somewhere. Nobody is a perfect captain on their first mission (unless you're nuKirk ).
1) NuKirk was only the acting captain.

2) Technically Harriman was the perfect captain on his first acting captain mission i.e. the Serpents Among The Ruins flashback where he defeated and captured a Romulan battleship with a damaged Oberth class ship aka the shot it once it blows up Federation starship class.
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