I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by JackSparrowJive, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's no more obfuscatory than a mathematician referring to something as "normal" when they mean "perpendicular to", or "following a Gaussian distribution". Both situations cause initial problems in subculture/layman interactions, yes, but the solution is to code-switch, not to criticize the subculture for doing what language does all the time. This is how it always works.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It's not about vocabulary. There is so much unnecessary arguing and vitriol about canon based on misunderstandings of how it works, and it's that bitterness and negativity and confusion that are the real problem. I'd have no problem with a shift in definitions if it had a constructive impact or a neutral one, but that's not what I see here. I just lament seeing so many people being angry or frustrated when they don't have to be. It's not about what words they use, it's about the myths they embrace regarding the nature and process of canon, myths that cause all that needless frustration.
     
  3. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    But what about the people that use canon (by the fandom-jargon definition, which I'll be intending throughout this post) without any anger or frustration? That use canon to mean continuity and don't care when something is out of canon? Most of the fractuous behavior towards canon (in the fandom sense) that you're describing is from the old fandoms when the word was first transitioning over; Star Trek, Star Wars, DC/Marvel, the pre-Internet fandoms largely. It's continued to cause fractuousness in those largely through inertia more than anything. But look at the Avengers fandom, the Buffyverse fandom, Supernatural, Sherlock, Hannibal, the list goes on. Most all modern-origin fandoms talk about canon in the same way as the old guard fandoms, but I've rarely seen anyone worry about something being canon or not the way people do for Trek. The most recent fandoms use canon to mean continuity, yes, but they don't then also embrace canon as the only thing that matters or ignore the worthwhile aspects of non-canon things or fret about what's canon and what isn't. The only time they ever raise the question is when they want to know if a given thing happened in the context of a new story or not.

    The anger and frustration you're worried about? It might still happen in some fandoms, but an increasingly vanishing minority. And it's likely in part because of the definition shift, though likely a very small part. I mean, canon=continuity doesn't even really entirely describe how it's used anymore, what with discussion of headcanon and all, people considering tie-in works or even fanworks as on equal footing to them in their own conception of a given fictional universe and all. Describing what "really" happened in a given person's mental construction of the universe. For me, for example, nearly the entire modern novelverse is in canon, while for someone else, it isn't. In the most recently-developed fandoms, canon is far more akin to Grant Morrison's original conception of Hypertime, how each story can pick and choose whatever subset they want amongst all the previous stories for what happened and what didn't, even in a shared universe. Something not contradicting previous continuity, not writing out something that happened before, but rather merely providing a different collection of past events to build from.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    It still matters to some fans, even outside Trek. It doesn't matter if it's WAREHOUSE 13, THE 4400, UNDERWORLD, or whatever; whenever I do a tie-in book, I can count on getting a few urgent queries from people who really want to know if the books are "canon" or not.

    This doesn't seem to be such a big deal on the mainstream side of things. Nobody has ever asked me if my CSI or ALIAS books are canon! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  5. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh, I'm not saying it doesn't happen any more, it certainly does. I just think that, from what I've seen at least, it happens less now than it once used to. Though granted I'm still looking from the fan side of things rather than the production side.

    Just to keep the theme with my last post, though, and out of my own curiosity, I would ask; have you ever similarly gotten any people saying that your works are canon to them? (Outside this thread, at least, since I've already said as much myself. :P ) That is, that they consider it as real as the original source material, or something along those lines? And even if not, how would you take that, if I can ask?

    And I know you meant it lightheartedly, but honestly that is an interesting observation too. I wonder if it's perhaps because mainstream shows like that don't precisely have a fandom in the same sense? It's less subculture and more just culture? Although BBT is the most popular show on TV right now and it still has something of a fandom alongside (if a good deal out of proportion to its size as compared to other works).
     
  6. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Sort of how Trek fans habitually misuse the word "remaster," which has to do with preserving an original work, not the adding of new content (the exact opposite of what the word means).
     
  7. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    When you put it that way, it makes the obsession over continuity seem even more silly. When you end up wasting neurons trying to keep track of the "real" fiction vs. the "fake" fiction, it's probably time to find a new hobby. Contrary to what Trek fans want to believe, both canon and non-canon Trek stories are equally fiction. There are no separate levels of fake-ness. Neither is more real than the other.
    And if you happened to mention to them they're non-canon, they probably wouldn't even know what you were talking about.
     
  8. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I've seen the discourse between fans of other fictional universes that have been very much along the lines of what Star Trek fans talk about.

    I've come across so many fans on this forum and the Star Wars forums taking pride in either of these fictional universes managing to have "One definitive reality" and watched subsequent despair at the coming of a Canon Doomsday Machine in the shape of J.J. Abrams.

    Doctor Who fans have been given perfect justification for accepting all the books and audio stories that were produced between the old and the new show as being relevant with an explanation that a Time War may have done funny things with the main character's personal timeline. Despite such generosity on the part of one of the TV show's producers, there are still fans who bend over backwards needlessly to diminish or change the perception how much the novels and audios should be considered to count. One author suggested that such practices as derisively calling these works "Fan Fiction" is a form of censorship-bullying.

    I personally am okay with fans considering supplimentary works of fiction however they want to, and even arguing it good-naturedly. I don't care much for elitistism that dismisses things out of hand. I myself have loved DW, ST and SW novels, and been fine with the TV stories and movies that have subsequently overwritten them. I experienced them both, so they both matter to me, despite being contradictory. It's no different to me than the existence of alternative re-telling the stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, or Superman.

    I was going to give the ST ongoing a try, but it's early issues were too close to the original episodes. What really puts me off is a contradiction between different medium: the ST Ongoing comic doesn't match up with things like Kirk saying he hasn't lost anyone, but these are not justification for dropping the comic, whereas details like these are part of the justification for scrapping the publication of the original novels that were written for the J.J. Abrams continuity? Lame. I would like to read those books, which seem more interesting than the comic.
     
  9. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Which is why Bart Simpson is always running into Itchy, Commander Shepard teams up with Blasto, and Jack O'Neill ran a mission with Colonel Danning. :p

    To be fair, all of those are pre-Internet fandoms that happened to carry into the modern day. I was referring largely to post-Internet fandoms. Even in those cases, I haven't seen as much of that sort of attitude from those that came in with Abrams' Trek or New Who. Something to keep in mind, also, is that there's a big difference between worrying about what counts and asking what counts.
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Part of it may be just that the fans of the mainstream stuff are less interactive--or may just pay less attention to the tie-in books. In general, I get a lot less mail (as in practically none) about my mainstream books than for the sf/fantasy/horror stuff.

    We'll see how things go where LEVERAGE is concerned . . ..
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Even though The Clone Wars has been contradicting prior works for years -- notably the preceding Clone Wars "microseries" and the novels by that author who wrote about Mandalore a lot. Not to mention that a lot of the earlier books/comics that got grandfathered into the Expanded Universe had contradictions that had to be ignored or retconned away to allow the pretense that they "really happened" -- like the early Marvel annual with a flashback to a joint mission undertaken by three Jedi: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Luke's father.

    For that matter, I gather that Dark Horse has recently begun publishing a comic set in between the films of the original trilogy, and I have the impression it's not bothering to stay consistent with the original Marvel comic.


    Although, of course, the original series had an enormously loose continuity long before there was a Time War -- for instance, presenting three separate, incompatible versions of the fall of Atlantis. They never really bothered much with consistency on that show. What really provided a retroactive justification in the new series, more than the Time War, was the Cracks in Time storyline in Moffat's first season, which explicitly established that history could be rewritten and the events of past episodes (including some of the cataclysmic events in Russell T. Davies's episodes) erased from the universe's memory altogether.


    Absolutely. They're all just stories meant to entertain. What a lot of people misunderstand is that the reason canon creators don't generally acknowledge tie-in works isn't because of some sort of elitist hierarchy or exclusionism (except sometimes, as with Richard Arnold), but just because it's not practical. They're busy concentrating on creating their own works, and so even when they try to keep supplemental works consistent, like with the early B5 novels or the Abramsverse comics, it generally doesn't quite work out. (I wouldn't be surprised if there were even some inconsistencies between the Defiance TV series and MMORPG, even with the close coordination that's built into them from the ground up.) It's not that the other stories are inferior or unworthy, just that it's harder for the core creators to maintain consistency in works they aren't as directly responsible for.


    That doesn't last long -- pretty much just the first four issues/two storylines. Since then, it's been a mix of far more radical retellings ("Operation: Annihilate" and "The Return of the Archons") and original stories that have minor plot or thematic resonances with TOS episodes.


    That's a common misunderstanding. The books weren't abandoned because of continuity issues. It's just that nobody really knew why they were abandoned and a lot of fans speculated that was the reason, and that speculation got repeated enough times that people started assuming it was true. But really, if it had been a continuity question, it could've been resolved relatively easily. I've never really learned or figured out what the whole reason was, but I think it was for other, more behind-the-scenes-ish business reasons.
     
  12. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Though he is talking specifically about the Time War, this idea was brought forth quite well by Paul Cornell back in 2007, and basically describes exactly what you're saying.

     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^The part of that I like is the reference to "the game of 'if it happened.'" That's basically the essence of tie-in writing as well as the effort of fitting tie-ins and canon together: it's a game, a fun creative exercise. People who worry about the "realness" or validity or authority of it, who use it to try to define hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion, are missing the quality of play that underlies it all. It's all just about exploring possibilities and testing ideas.

    Heck, I've never felt there had to be a single "right" answer to what was acceptable as part of the "reality" or not. I've been putting together interpretations of Trek continuity and chronology for maybe 3/4 of my life at this point, and I've never felt that my version was the "right way" that anyone else had to follow; it's just my own creative exercise based on my own preferences and standards, and I assume any other person's would be different. What's more, I have little problem with changing my own chronology in light of new information; I've done so dozens of times over the years, sometimes in response to new canonical information or new books coming along, sometimes just because I reconsidered something and changed my mind. I know there will never be a final, right answer, and I don't really want there to be, since I enjoy the creative exercise of exploring different possibilities. That's what fiction is ultimately about -- not unshakeable truth, but exploring possibilities.
     
  14. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think we basically agree in the end, then, since everything you said is near exactly what I was trying to get across, just in slightly different language. Just with the additional bit that a lot of the time when someone in fandom is talking about the canonicity of something, about if something is in canon or not (in the fandom sense), they're basically doing that same sort of play. There's no stress intended behind questions like that a lot of the time, they're just doing that in a different manner but with the same intentions. Weighing out the default perspective, finding the starting point to start building their personal canon from.

    I think in the end this was one of those "two different positions that aren't actually different after all, merely miscommunicated" situations, since you all but plucked my intended meaning right out from my head in that post. :p
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Sure, if that's all it is, that's fine. But the problem is when people think of canon as something that some authority is imposing on them, or on the creators, and make a fuss about how unfair it is that they're being oppressed by this completely imaginary authority. Or when they embrace the idea of being controlled by that authority and refuse to let themselves read or enjoy any story that isn't part of the canon. All I'm trying to point out is that canon is not a value judgment or an arbiter of worth, not a basis for condemnation and exclusion, simply a classification.
     
  16. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, I'd agree with that too; although like I said, I hardly ever see anyone take it to that level anymore, especially in post-Internet fandoms. Most fans nowadays in those don't care about canon beyond just as a starting point, beyond just wanting to know where something falls. But any fans that are still doing that? Yeah, they're being ridiculous.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't know. Seems I still hear these reactions fairly often:

    "I don't bother with the books because they're not canon."

    "Why can't the books be canon?"
     
  18. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

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    Same here. In fact, I would say I hear it more often than I ever did pre-Internet.

    I also hear this conversation quite often:

    Fan #1: But what about this inconsistency/plot hole in Episode #45?

    Fan #2: That was explained in the novel The Enterprise Syndrome by Sherman Grant.

    Fan #1: The books aren't canon, so that doesn't count.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And I'm pleased that now I have a good answer to the latter question. As we've seen with the Abramsverse comics and the early B5 novels among others, even when the effort is made to keep tie-ins consistent with canon, it doesn't really succeed, because the creators of the core work just can't maintain close control over tie-ins while they're simultaneously concentrating on the core work.


    Except that's actually true. All we tie-in authors can do is offer suggestions for how the plot hole might be resolved. There's nothing stopping the canon, or another tie-in author, from offering a different explanation.

    Although it's not as if canons don't sometimes offer contradictory explanations themselves. Comic Book Resources has a regular column called "Abandoned an' Forsaked" that's all about the many times that a comic-book storyline has been retconned or reinterpreted or deliberately contradicted. One author reveals that Polaris is really Magneto's daughter, a later author reveals that it was a hoax and they aren't related, and a later author reveals that the hoax revelation was itself a hoax and she really is his daughter. One author says that Nick Fury is definitely dead and there's no chance it was just a Life Model Decoy that died, then a later author reveals that they were tricked by a more advanced model of LMD and Fury really is alive. So really, even canonical explanations aren't always carved in stone.
     
  20. Idran

    Idran Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That seems a little self-contradictory yourself, though. If canon can contradict itself freely, which I entirely agree with, then why would contradictions be a reason to say that something can't be classified as canon? :p

    (I'm not claiming a position on tie-ins being put at the level of canon myself here, I'm just pointing it out.)