Do continuity errors/contradictions in TrekLit bother you?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by King Daniel Beyond, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    England
    I was reading the trekmovie.com article about the forthcoming Star Trek: Refugees novel (the first novel set in the STXI universe, by ADF).

    Someone asked if the new universe novels would be considered ‘canon’ Trek, and if a new era of Stuff-Fitting-Together was about to begin. Bob Orci said he has “no idea what the book will be”, which led to a mini outpouring of woe and predictions that Star Trek XII: The Re-Wrath of Khan will invalidate it with a throwaway contradictory line.

    What I want to know is: Do all the contradictions in TrekLit (and TV/film Trek too, I guess) really bother anyone? Has anyone’s reading actually been ruined because Novel A said so-and-so about Kirk (or whatever) and Novel/Film/Episode B said otherwise?

    Did the fact that Federation and First Contact are totally incompatible really ruin either for anyone? The various George Kirks? Early Federation history and tech vs, the entire Enterprise series? John M. Ford’s Klingons? Kirk’s knowledge of Vampires? The new, huge Enterprise in STXI? The Romulans and the Rihannsu? The Animated Series being ignored repeatedly? None of these bothered me – in fact I get a kick out of nit-picking (the casual fans nit-picking, not the creepy obsessive kind. I sometimes wonder if some scary canon freaks might arrange a book-burning one day…)

    The worst I’ve experienced is a (very) mild annoyance over a contradiction, and that was because it was a modern book (where references are allowed) and the contradiction made Spock look like a dick (it was that he hadn’t spoken to Scotty since the latter’s resurrection). My annoyance lasted about 120 seconds and didn’t ruin the book at all.

    Anyone else?
     
  2. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Contradictions- nope. If it's a good Trek book/comic/movie, then it's a good Trek book/comic/movie. End of.

    Errors? Maybe, for a couple of seconds, but that's about it.
     
  3. neogothboy74

    neogothboy74 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
    Yes. If I read a Trek book, and then a later movie or episode contradicts the story I've read (or has contradicted the book before I've read it) the story is ruined for me. That's why I found it hard to take the fiction seriously when the shows were still running. It's just the way my brain works. And I don't keep those books. They hold no interest for me. The same is true for books that don't fit in with the majority of continuity points of the current crop of novels (which for me, started with the DS9 Relaunch, which got me reading Trek again); if it's not part of that continuity (like the Shatner-verse for example) it doesn't interest me. Or that's been the case so far. But that's just me, and it doesn't bother me that there are fans who enjoy different things.

    For me...this relatively new era of continuity between different books is like the golden age of Trek. I love it. And I'm sure I'll enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Sorry, I just find that strange. By the same token, shouldn't all of Star Trek be "ruined" for you because it contradicts real life? I mean, the Eugenics Wars never happened in the 1990s. There was no book called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties published in 1992. There's no Earth-Saturn probe commanded by Shaun Geoffrey Christopher slated to arrive at Saturn this year. There are no DY-class sleeper ships shuttling between Earth and Mars. And on a more fundamental level, physics and biology simply do not work the way they're portrayed in Trek. If contradictions ruin a story for you, then you should've given up on all of Trek by now. Conversely, if you're able to keep enjoying it as a work of fiction despite its irreconcilable contradictions with the world you actually live in, then why can't you enjoy a work of Trek fiction that's inconsistent with another work of Trek fiction? Why can't you just treat it as an imaginary tale to be enjoyed rather than a work of "history" that has to get the "facts" right?
     
  5. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2002
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON Canada
    It depends. If a TV episode or movie happens to contradict what happened in a book, that's a minor annoyance. As long as the book and the movie/episode are both good stories, I can live with it. For a lot of practical reasons, filmed Trek takes precedence.

    The Crucible trilogy disregards a lot of stuff established in other books, but that was intentional, and for a reason I can buy into. The stories were more than good enough to make up for the contradictions.

    And yet.

    It does bother me that PAD's characterizations of the new TNG characters were so different from KRAD's. In an ideal world, the editor would have made sure that the characterizations were more consistent. Maybe there just wasn't time, I don't know, but it did bother me.

    It bothers me that there's one minute of canonical screen time for Captain Bateson, establishing that he has at least two female bridge officers and is not in the middle of a crisis, and Diane Carey's Ship of the Line ignores that. She just has to be consistent with a tiny little bit of filmed Trek, it's all she's got to build on, and she ignores it, presenting Bateson and his all-male crew frantically fleeing a Klingon attack. But there are plenty of other reasons I dislike that book.

    So... it depends. It doesn't necessarily ruin a book for me, but it can annoy me.
     
  6. The Laughing Vulcan

    The Laughing Vulcan Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    At The Laughing Vulcan's party...
    I would have given up at the beginning if I let something like common sense dictate what I read. You don't even need continuity and canon to do your head in. Simple maths will do it.

    The Original Series :- A five year mission... 3 live action TV seasons, 1 animated series...

    Something like eighty to a hundred novels set in that five year mission.

    Even with time dilation that doesn't work out, especially with books like Prime Directive, and eps like This Side of Paradise, which take up several months of narrative each.
     
  7. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I like the rest of your post too, but it was too long to quote.

    I definitely agree with your sentiments here. Especially if I'm reading old novels, contradictions with more current canon or novel continuity don't bother me at all. I love Strangers In The Sky, Federation, etc. But I do feel it's the job of an author & editor to make sure their book is consistent with what's come so far, and so if a book contradicts something in a prior book within that series or does something like you mentioned with Ship Of The Line, that will annoy me.

    But even still, continuity errors aren't always irritating. I love that Sariel Rager happened to show up and be given two entirely different career paths in Titan: Taking Wing and TNG: Death In Winter. For whatever reason, I find that funny, not annoying.

    But the bouncing around of characterizations in the TNG-R itself was incredibly frustrating, and I'm so happy that seems to be over.
     
  8. Marie1

    Marie1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Location:
    Alpha Centauri
    Not really.
    Authors are human, they make mistakes, there is a ton of material out there.

    Spelling mistakes bug me, but I'm ridiculous about finding them, and again, editors etc. are only human too.
     
  9. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    The only time I recall being really annoyed was when DC Comics and Pocket Books, who had been happily cross-pollinating little tidbits for some time, put out conflicting "first mission" stories simultaneously for the 20th anniversary. "All Those Years Ago..." (TOS Annual #1) and "Enterprise: The First Adventure" (giant novel #1) clashed in numerous ways, and both would have been so much more fun had they gelled as regards which crew had come from Pike's command and which members were the new arrivals.

    From then on, I let those types of quibbles challenge me. Probably I was inspired by the "Star Trek Mysteries... Solved!" articles in the "Best of Trek" books.

    Best reverse death: Garrovick, who'd been killed off in "Home is the Hunter", a post-TMP story, and was the cause of Kirk's depression in that book, was miraculously still alive in the post-ST V novel, "In the Name of Honor". A cause for celebration.

    So, do errors/contradictions bother me? Only when it concerns some aspect of ST that I'm a stickler for. For example, I never care if the stardate or warp factor is wrong; I rarely even notice if they are!
     
  10. LightningStorm

    LightningStorm The Borg King Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas City
    For me, it all depends.

    If the contradictions are within a group of works that are clearly supposed to be in continuity with each other, then yes that annoys the hell out of me and will greatly impact my ability to enjoy the story regardless of how good the rest of the story may be. For example: Things apart of a series like the DS9-R, Voy-R, TNG-R etc if those books start contradicting each other that's a problem. Like Steve Roby, I found Before Dishonor's contradictions of Q&A most egregious.

    Then let's not get into contradictions within the same book. If a shuttlecraft was destroyed on page 5 then was seen flying around on page 200 without some sort of time jump or other good explanation I'd have a problem with that.

    As for things not specifically set in the same continuity (even if in the same universe) I don't have much issue with that sort of contradiction. All one needs to do is apply the "Myriad Universes" concept. So Federation still *ahem* "happened" as did First Contact, they just occurred in different Universes -- er um, Quantum Realities. :techman:
     
  11. AN_D_K

    AN_D_K Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    I think it does help that a ST book matters in a grander scheme of things these days.

    The books are always going to get messed around by the films and series. I don't doubt that one day the current line isn't going to get completely screwed up because it now has more freedom and TV execs won't be reading them.

    But while this new freedom from the TV and movies lasts I'd like to see the continuing adventures stay tight. Repercussions from one book will roll over into the others. More interesting stuff can happen without having to worry about a reset button.

    As far as old ST goes at the moment, these books are the only thing surviving and as such the universe it is creating needs to be treat with more respect and long-distance thought than it needed to in the past now it has less fear of new movies.

    I'm very impressed with the way this has been done over the past few years. If it all gets wiped from 'canon' then I don't think we will be too disappointed because it's solid enough on its own now.
     
  12. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Of course, the Temporal Cold War is your one-size-fits-all answer to inconsistencies
     
  13. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2001
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    The only thing I've ever been bothered by was the Dominion War / Avatar inconsistency with Ro. It just seemed like a big slap in the face.
     
  14. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm far, far more annoyed by internet whining about continuity errors than the errors themselves. ;)

    I think Ian made a good point further up: it is really, really cool when the novels and the comics, or the different authors share characters and other elements, and create the illusion of this big, perfectly integrated tapestry... so much so that it just amplifies those instances when, either by mistake or intent, flaws appear in the fabric.

    And unfortunately, shit like that is going to happen. Sorry, but the authors and editors are only human.
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    So I take it that you can't bring yourself to watch film or TV adaptations of comic book superheroes, since those are always contradicted by the canonical source material (i.e., the comic books)?
     
  16. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Location:
    In the future's past
    Characters like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, The X-Men, Iron Man, etc. have all had retcons in the comics at some point or other, so to say that their movies violate the canon established in comic book form, would be in error. Most comic book heores who have been around long enough to have a fan base big enough to support a movie, don't have one "true" canon. Comic fans know that the movies are their own thing, and the comics are their own thing. Superman's origin has been told at least three or four times since John Byrne's Man of Steel origin miniseries from 1986, and it's never been quite the same as the original one was. I can't even count the amount of different Zorro movies Bruce Wayne seemed to see with his parents on that fateful night when they were whacked, not to mention the identity of the shooter has changed a few times...;).
     
  17. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Of course.

    Really, it's a testament to the ability and passion of the current set of authors that there have been so few, because most of the recent fiction has actually been incredibly good at staying consistent.

    Still, just because it's inevitably going to happen sometimes doesn't mean we can't wish it didn't :)
     
  18. Jbarney

    Jbarney Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Location:
    Between 2273-2278
    Have to say the errors are annoying and fun at the same time. Trying to rationalize everything is something that I tried to do for years, but recently I'm more in the mold of accepting when errors or continuity issues pop up and promoting the "Parallels" viewpoint. If something contradicts something else, it happened in a different reality, which is fine by me. Trying to find all of the discontinuities and counting all of the different trek realities out there would be really cool.

    The example that comes to mind for me was the death of Gul Madred by one writer and then the use of Madred in chronologically later story by a different writer. I just don't see why stuff like that has to happen.

    If works that deviate from others books are promoted and marketed as a different timeline/reality thats fine, but I always hope and expect everything to fit.

    It all doesn't fit, though......so "Parallels" serves as a good foundation for any mistakes/continuity issues/problems that come up.
     
  19. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Location:
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    I'm not bothered by them unless the book is so poor there are no other legs left to hold it up. I have not encountered a book that bad recently though I did give up on a Shatnerverse book once . . .

    Usually good pacing and enough well turned phrases and spot-on characterizations are enough to allow me to overlook minutia like continuity. Hearesy you say? I just don't care if the writing is strong enough and the story is compelling enough.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    No it wouldn't. I mean, Star Trek has featured a retcon or it in its history -- anti-matter destroying the universe in "The Alternate Factor" and then being the thing they routinely use to travel FTL in the rest of the Trekverse, for instance, or McCoy claiming that Vulcans were conquered by Humans in "The Conscience of the King." And yet that doesn't mean that Trek lacks a canonical continuity.

    Those characters have a canonical continuity -- it's whatever the continuity is in the current comics. Period. Any adaptation of the comics that does not adhere to the canonical continuity is therefore a contradiction from the canon, and didn't happen in the canon.