Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Dayton3, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. ClayinCA

    ClayinCA Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Indeed. I would argue that there's more character development for T'Lana (and that she's portrayed as more of a three-dimensional character overall) in her one short scene in Greater Than The Sum than in all of Before Dishonor. As for Leybenzon, I flat out couldn't stand him in any of his appearances. Didn't find him interesting, didn't find him understandable or relatable, and couldn't wait to see him go.

    Well, yeah, the characters didn't seem to like him very much. Me, I thought he was great. :)

    EEK! I forgot about him. Yeah, a total schmuck.
     
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    You forget that even the schmucky Bearclaw was cracked... by elderly Commander Thimon, an Andorian preparing for his retirement from active service. ["The Trouble with Bearclaw", #29, and "Maggie's World", #31, Star Trek Series I, DC Comics, 1986.]
     
  3. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Nobody would mind if we devoted the twelve paperback slots to SCE in lieu of the ebook slots, would they? ;)
     
  4. Technobuilder

    Technobuilder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I don't know about all 12, but I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up to it getting back on the schedule sooner rather than later no matter what format it's in.

    I'm just hoping that regardless of what format it's released in, SCE or COE or whatever will be back on the drawing board and have a release window before the last Collection is published. Not a fan of down time.
     
  5. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    ^ I'm not a fan of downtime, either, but I can say that we wouldn't even start thinking about it until we're much closer to the end of the eBook reprints than we are now...
     
  6. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Maybe if you started gearing up for another CoE trade now, it'd be ready for the next slot in 2010 once the last of the current crop has been released?

    Besides, I've ordered my Sony Reader now that it's available in the UK and my first eBook purchases will be the CoE!
     
  7. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    The next slot in 2010 is already tentatively claimed by What's Past, to be followed by at least two more CoE compilations. (Not to mention the highly anticipated Slings and Arrows omnibus.) KRAD wouldn't have to start worrying about getting new CoE material together until mid-2011 or so... and he wouldn't worry about it until Pocket said, "Here's a big fat check; now how about some more CoE material?"
     
  8. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Well, when I get my Sony Reader at the end of September I'll be buying up the entire SCE/CoE series to go on there.
     
  9. Technobuilder

    Technobuilder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character


    Again, as long as they're back in business before the last collection comes out, I'll be happy.

    I wonder if maybe some of the problems with Ebook releases led to problems with Ebook purchases. Maybe Pockets distro methods need some revision. Again, nothing against E-books, but when I've looked for them, it's never been as easy as I expected it to be.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like all of the out of print books should be available as E-books now and sold within some straightfoward iTunes like venue.
     
  10. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Going back to the original topic, Keith created the character of Councilor Molmaan, who was unlikeable for pretty obvious reasons...
     
  11. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I do read the eBooks with my Sony Reader PRS-505 and have yet to get to Security. I've been taking the SCE/CoE series slowly as I have no idea when we'll next get new ones. So as of today, I'll be finishing up #51 Lost Time.
     
  12. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    When you purchase the SCE/CoE series for your Sony, purchase the omnibus eBook editions when possible. It'll save you some money over the individual eBooks.
     
  13. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Was planning on doing it that way, thanks.
     
  14. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Trust me when I say, never underestimate the power of snark at another person's expense, especially when they're such a pretentious git with a neon-sign of a target on themselves like Tev. :devil:
     
  15. LutherSloan

    LutherSloan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I don't know, but Leybenzon was pretty unlikeable.
     
  16. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Let me nail a message board post to the church door and say that writers have been creating unlikeable characters since the very beginning of Star Trek. The test in writing isn't really whether a character is likeable, it's whether they're interesting.

    When characters are picture-perfect, kind, sweet, generous, sort their recyclables and are genteel to small animals, half the time a reader is bored to madness and the other half of the time just wants to throw up. There's usually nothing worse than a character who you're expected to like all the time.

    Sure, on Dyansty, Alexis Carrington (/Colby/Dexter/Carrington) was a capital bitch, but she was interesting. Krystal Carrington was a perfect angel, and yet she held your attention like a bottle of Ambien.

    The genius of Roddenberry's original Star Trek show was not only how well he knew this, but how well he executed it. What most fans never consider, even though somehow they instinctively know and understand it, is that many of their favorite characters really are inherently unlikeable.

    Kirk has his way with women across the galaxy, flaunts the rules whenever he feels like it, cheats on academy tests and and is even initially willing to tolerate genocide in revenge for his son's murder.

    Spock remains the veritable poster child for unlikeability, insensitive and aloof, virtually no interpersonal skills and a constant air of arrogance and superiority; he has, as the saying goes, a very high opinion of his opinion.

    McCoy, meanwhile, is an emotional, cranky old curmudgeon who is pretty much an outright racist, even right to someone's face. (We smile when he grumbles about that "damn green-blooded Vulcan"--but how endearing would it be if he instead were calling Nimoy a "damn hook-nosed Jew"? And yet, really, it's the same thing.)

    I say this not to kick up a hornet's nest of controversy, but to point out that we like these characters not for their virtues, but for their virtues in spite of their flaws. And the characters clearly feel that way about each other.

    Kirk is a man of action, trusting his first instincts and rarely questioning his judgment afterward--just about the opposite of Spock's studied, calculated, introspective Vulcanism. And yet, it's entirely believable that they're best friends. The same is true of Spock and McCoy's constant and yet totally affectionate insult-trading and one-upmanship.

    It's okay for us to like these characters, because, very obviously, they like each other. But it's McCoy's grumbling that we find likeable, not the fact that he's dedicated his life to waving around a lipstick tricorder to make people feel better. It's Spock's unassailable logic that we find interesting, not the fact that he's respectful to his mother and father.

    In fact, it's almost fair to say that we like their flaws more than we do the type of things that normally make a person "likeable".
     
  17. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    ^ I'm afraid I almost completely disagree with you. What I like about the characters seems to be what you brush aside as 'picture-perfect.'

    Kirk didn't cheat on the test because he was dishonest, but because he believed the scenario was fundamentally flawed - the test wasn't accurate or fair. He broke the rules out of principle (as he would regularly in his career). He clearly, in-scene, didn't believe his own words against the Klingons, though he found it doubtful he'd ever forgive them as a culture (not, necessarily, as a race - everybody's human in his point of view, as he said to Spock in the same film). And I seem to recall a statistical analysis of Kirk's romantic escapades with those of the other captains (and several of the TOS principle cast members) in which he was the least apparently sexually active of them, and which demonstrated that most of the circumstances in which he interacted romantically were on behalf of ship and crew. (Edith Keeler, Miramanee (amnesiac), the lab technician he almost married (Carol Marcus, probably), and Ruth were the exceptions, as I remember - light, perhaps, for a person of thirty-seven. No wonder Kirk was regarded as such a straight arrow by Mitchell.)

    McCoy's irascibility was the thing I most disliked about him. Nonetheless, he was certainly not racist. Had he not ultimately been a close friend on Spcok, I'm certain he'd never have said the things he did (I had several not-especially-close friends in high school who used ethnist terms as terms of endearment amongst themselves, and in reference to themselves, but who would never have accepted those terms in any context in which they were actually meant). What I liked most about McCoy was his kind heart. He cared - about life, about persons - perhaps more than anyone else we've ever seen on Star Trek.

    And Spock . . . I suppose he can be credited with being mostly logical and mostly very reliable during the Original Series, but I never liked him on the show. It wasn't until he mellowed (and, paradoxically, acutally became more logical) during the films that I enjoyed the character. So, I suppose you're right that' he's unlikable. On TOS, I like Spock's respect for his parents, but not his inability to see how weakly-founded his purportedly logical positions actually are.

    Simply (and probably about all I should have written), I do like them for their virtues in spite of their flaws.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    No, he really doesn't. Although contrary to the myth of Kirk as a Lothario, many of the instances where he demonstrated romantic interest in a woman were actually ruses to coldly manipulate them for the sake of his mission (Andrea, Lenore, Sylvia, Shahna, Kelinda, Miranda Jones). You could call that unlikeable.

    Aside from occasionally showing a flexible interpretation of the Prime Directive, the only times he ever overtly disobeyed direct orders while in his right mind were in "Amok Time" and The Search for Spock. The real Kirk, the Kirk of TOS, was a dedicated military man whose sense of duty overrode everything else in his life. The only times he defied or bent his orders were when he believed they were overridden in turn by a higher duty.

    Kirk questioned his judgments all the time, often agonizing over decisions before acting (see "Balance of Terror" and "The Immunity Syndrome" for examples). And he often reconsidered his initial impulses. His initial reaction as a soldier was to kill the Horta, to kill the Gorn, to kill Kang's Klingons, to destroy beings that appeared to be threats. But when faced with the opportunity, he reconsidered, reined in his impulses, and took a more thoughtful route. He was the last man who'd blindly follow his first instincts -- he was always questioning himself. That was what made him a good captain, yet it was also one of his most interesting flaws, because it led him to constantly torture himself.
     
  19. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    You mean flouts, not flaunts, but you're overstating the case, just as Christopher points out you're overstating the womanizing. Genocide is also over the top. If you're referring to his "Let them die" line, there are two main points you're glossing over: first, he's not proposing attacking anyone, he's proposing not helping them. Genocide is active, not passive. Second, the Klingons have other worlds and other resources, and the loss of Praxis, or even of the homeworld, would hardly eliminate all Klingons.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Although you'd never know it from the script of ST VI, which pretty much seemed to be assuming that the Klingon Empire was a single planet.