I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Because it's not about consistency. Like I said, it's just a label for the stories by the core creators as distinct from stories by other people.
     
  2. Idran

    Idran Commodore Commodore

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    Oh, I misunderstood. If someone asks that question then aren't they obviously using the fandom definition of canon? Using the "original" definition the question doesn't make any sense to ask in the first place.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^But people asking that question don't know it doesn't make sense. When they ask "Why can't the books be canon?" they're not talking about personal preference -- they're asking why the creators of the official work can't choose to acknowledge and stay consistent with the books. And the answer is that we've seen attempts to do just that, to keep ongoing series and their tie-ins consistent with each other (at least inasmuch as any canon is consistent), and they generally don't work out, with the books that were initially treated as canonical ending up getting superseded/ignored. We've seen that with the B5 novels, we're seeing it in recent years (and will be seeing it a lot more) with Star Wars, and we saw it with Jeri Taylor's Voyager novels Mosaic and Pathways. As I said, the only way to have the tie-ins really work as primary canon is if the core series isn't being made anymore and the creators are free to directly supervise the tie-ins.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    And even then that's only until the core series is revived as a new tv show or movie, or a new creative team takes over . . . .
     
  5. Idran

    Idran Commodore Commodore

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    They "don't know it doesn't make sense" because it does make sense, and that isn't what they're asking. You're misunderstanding the question they're asking if that's what you're taking from it. They're using the fandom definition of canon and not your definition; they're asking why a tie-in can't be included as official on the same level as the base material. They aren't asking about consistency because, as you said, canon material can be inconsistent as well.

    People outside fandoms use it that way too. Joss Whedon, for example, used the word with that definition describing the comic series "The Origin" despite no one from the show having worked on it:

    Now, I'm definitely not using this as an argument that books should or shouldn't be counted as canon; I don't care what the "official" word is either way there. What I'm arguing is that the new definition of canon is supplanting the old. Many franchises outside Star Trek don't use the old definition of canon. I'd say most creators nowadays outside Star Trek use the new definition of canon, even. And saying that anyone that uses the new definition of canon is wrong is akin to saying that ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong from a linguistic perspective.

    I mean, heck, the "original" definition only even came about because some Sherlock Holmes fans misunderstood a joke other fans were making about how the books should be included as part of the Bible.

    Edit: Just to clarify, when I talk about the new definition vs. the old definition for canon, I'm not saying what should or shouldn't count as canon; I just realized it could sound that way. I'm literally talking about what the word means, the old definition being "something created by the original creators" and the new being "something which in a given fictional universe is considered to have happened with regard to that fictional universe", which can be either by the creators of a given fictional universe (the so-called "official" canon, as little as that matters) or by an individual fan or fans of a given work, and unless otherwise modified (such as "personal canon", "headcanon", or the like) is usually taken to mean the former.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^You're making a very narrow set of assumptions about what "they" mean. There's no uniform "they" in fandom, not by a long shot. What you say may be true for some fans, but what I say is true of others. The whole reason canon is such a pervasive source of arguments is that there are about a million different beliefs about what it means, many of which are grounded in fundamental misconceptions about the creative process or the priorities and goals of producers and studios.
     
  7. Idran

    Idran Commodore Commodore

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    Okay, true, but you yourself seemed earlier to assume that anyone that uses the word canon intends your definition, and you've outright said that definitions other than that are simply wrong. That was where most of my own responses came from, that you were claiming that there was only the original definition of canon, and other usages were incorrect rather than alternate definitions.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^You're completely wrong about what my intentions are, and I'm sick of trying to clarify it. This has gotten to the point of splitting hairs with a microscope, and I'm sure we both have better things to do.
     
  9. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    My opinion on the canon debate, if anyone cares.

    Klingon from the back: WE DON'T!

    Canon is both important as well as almost entirely arbitrary. Take Castlevania, of all things, a sidescrolling series about a vampire hunting family which you wouldn't think would have a major issue with continuity. However, no less than two games were exiled from the series for a rather arbitrary reason (the protagonist was a woman) and the series has recently been rebooted as "Lords of Shadow."

    Does that mean the two exiled games are less good? No. Does that mean that the previous series "didn't happen"? No, because the previous series is fiction just like the current series is. It's fiction so it doesn't matter what happened.

    However, it does.

    If we become invested in characters, we like to know that their our investment of time (as well as money) is worth it. It may be a purely emotional response but saying, "this story doesn't count" undermines its importance in the grand scheme of things. It's a statement the events aren't considered important by the developers of the program to include and, on some level, may just be a cash cow.

    Which, many times, they are.

    Over in Star Trek's archnemesis' forum, Star Wars, the fans are currently dealing with their two decades-old novelverse being rendered noncanonical. It's about 5,000 years of history starting from the origins of the Sith and Jedi's war to a century past ROTJ with Luke Skywalker's drug-addicted antihero grandson who dabbles in piracy as well as bounty-hunting. Oh and the Sith rule the galaxy again.

    The Walt Disney Corporation have stated they don't want any of this stuff in "their" continuation of Star Wars. Frankly, I don't blame them. Still, it's a question to fans, "What does this mean for our hobby?" Well, to me, not much. It's a complete entity of itself. Just like if they ever return to the main Trekverse with a Post-dominion War series the novelverse is still going to be as awesome as it was.

    (Not that I think that's going to happen)

    Infinite worlds, my friend, and each is as valid as what people say is the "real" one.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    See, I don't understand that attitude. It's worth it if you enjoy the story. Its importance is in its entertainment value, not in how well it fits with other stories. The Dark Knight isn't consistent with the continuity of Batman: The Animated Series, and neither is consistent with the comics, but that doesn't mean they're worth less. It just means they're a distinct take on the characters and concepts.

    Not everything has to be part of a "grand scheme." Not everything is significant only because of what comes later. Countless great stories are entirely self-contained. There's no sequel to Hamlet. There's no Son of Citizen Kane. Someone did write a sequel to Casablanca and it was a travesty. Sometimes the value of a story is entirely in the story itself.

    And it's a mistake to interpret it as saying that non-canonical stories "aren't important." As I keep stressing, canon is not a value judgment, just a classification. Canon doesn't disregard tie-ins because they aren't important, but because they can't be directly supervised in detail by the creators at the same time they're focused on the main work, and so it's not really feasible.
     
  11. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    For me, the issue is the preservation of character and changes. The Dark Knight Trilogy is different from Batman the Animated series but they're internally self-consistent. They tell stories with beginning, middles, and ends. All of them end with their own variations of Bruce Wayne's final days as well.

    Batman: The Animated Series ends with Batman Beyond and this means Bruce Wayne ended up a lonely, old, and broken man divorced from his family until his genetically engineered illegitimate son appearanced. Knowing this was his character arc is, perhaps, important to fans.

    Superman Returns illustrates, to me, how canon can go terribly wrong too. If you're one of the three people who liked Superman 3 (such as myself) or Superman 4 (ditto), it's the director saying that he doesn't think your stories "count" which is mildly insulting but I'll get over it, I'm a big boy. However, it also takes Superman in a wildly different direction from what fans are comfortable with. I.e. Superman dead-beat dad.

    If not for the Reboot of Superman, we might have been forced to see Superman Returns as the basis for the characters' future. Yes, it's silly, but some people got really upset by the fact that "movie" Cyclops was killed summarily in the X-men films since that's his ending. The fact comic cyclops is fine doesn't change this because they're separate characters.

    Canon says "what is the official version of this story."

    (FYI - this is kind of funny since I more or less agree with you that works are value in and of themselves)

    I agree, however, you're right that official means little since an officially licensed sequel to Casablanca means zilch since the people which made that movie great aren't involved.
     
  12. Tommunist

    Tommunist Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't try to let the little things bug me; but why is Superman referred to as a "dead beat dad?" He didn't know he had a son until he came back six years later. And once he did, what implies that he won't be involved with the son, at least as much as Lois feels is comfortable? She asks him if he'll be "around" and he says he will. "Dead beat dad" implies not owning up to your responsibilities as a father, financial and otherwise. The insult doesn't fit, so we must accquit!

    Jeez, if Lois wants back child support, I'm sure he'll pay!
    I just hated that term when people used it to complain about the movie!
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, sure, then I don't see the problem. A canon is internally self-consistent too, for the most part, and its tie-ins constitute side or spinoff continuities (if they have continuities rather than being strictly standalone). With Trek, for instance, we've got the '80s novel continuity (loose as it was), the DC comics continuity, the Malibu and Marvel comics continuities, the modern Pocket novelverse, and ST Online, as well as the various standalones. Each is more or less internally consistent; they just differ from one another.

    And like I said, not every story has to be about change and ongoing consequences. Standalones are just as valid. Indeed, ideally every story should be completely fulfilling in and of itself. If a story depends on what happens in other, later stories to be of any worth, then that means it isn't really a complete story, just a fragment of one. Too many writers use serial storytelling as an excuse to be lazy and never tell a complete story, just using cliffhangers and twists as a substitute for satisfactory resolutions, raising question after question to obscure the fact that they have no answers in mind.


    Again, it's only insulting if you make the mistake of seeing canon as a value judgment. Choosing to take your own story in a different direction from someone else's is not an insult, it's just a choice to exercise creative freedom. Look at the Crucible trilogy. David R. George III chose to write a TOS trilogy that acknowledged only TOS and TAS themselves, not anything from the novel continuity. That wasn't a dismissal of the novelverse's worth, just a decision to tell a story that went in another direction.

    Sure, in the case of Superman, Singer made the decision to disregard those movies because he and others didn't like them. But there's no reason you should take that personally. Other people's likes and dislikes don't cast any aspersions on your own. If the story matters to you, if you found it satisfying, that's all that should matter.


    In a sense, but what I've been trying to get across for some time is that it's not some formal declaration on a certificate somewhere. Canon is just a word we use to refer to the work done by the primary creators. It's really more a term of literary/film criticism, of analysis and categorization done by outsiders evaluating the work. Yes, sometimes the creators or their proxies choose to make statements about what should be regarded as part of the canon, as Roddenberry or Lucasfilm have done. But that's the exception, not the rule. And it's generally done more to clarify things for the audience than to create some categorization that would otherwise not have existed. Remember, the first people to use the word "canon" in reference to a fictional work were fans and critics of Sherlock Holmes. There were enough pastiches and fanfics of Holmes done by authors other than Doyle that it became necessary to distinguish between Doyle's own Holmes fiction, which they nicknamed the canon by analogy with church usage, and Holmes fiction by others.

    What the core creators produce simply is the canon. That's not something that has to be officially declared or designated, it's just the word we have come to use for that particular thing. And I've explained why it's difficult and generally impractical for the core creators to maintain perfect consistency with other creators' work when they're too busy with their own to directly supervise it. Canon vs. non-canon is not about passing judgment or establishing a hierarchy of worth, it's just about the practical realities of series creation. Separate creators' works are, by their nature, separate. And since different creators have different ways of interpreting a work, their approaches may not entirely mesh with the canonical approach. That's not wrong, since exploring variations on a theme is a basic part of creativity. But it does mean that different versions might not be compatible, that it might not be feasible to treat them all as a uniform continuity. Again, not a rejection, just a difference.
     
  14. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Let's be honest, as soon as Disney announced their plans to do more Star Wars movies, it should have been obvious right away that all the EU stood a chance of being flushed. Sure, it's kind of crappy that over twenty years worth of continuity will be summarily ignored, but it was unrealistic for Disney to expect any filmmaker to uphold a continuity which very little of the General Audience is going to be familiar with. In a worse-case scenario, the EU can just become some sort of alternate reality.

    But Superman never made any money. ;)
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It continues to surprise me that fans are reacting as if that's never happened before. It happened just a few years ago when The Clone Wars contradicted Karen Traviss's Mandalore novels. And it happened years before then, when the prequel trilogy contradicted what earlier EU novels had asserted about the events and chronology of the Clone Wars. So really, why is anyone still surprised by this?

    Really, I've felt all along that Lucasfilm's licensing department misled its audience by using the word "canon" to describe the EU novels/comics. They were making a promise that it was unrealistic to expect they could keep.
     
  16. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Clone Wars references the prequels broke were generally fixable. And The Clone Wars wasn't very good - I quit watching long before they introduced their version of Mandalore, so the books are all I have. ;)

    I don't think it's so much "surprised" as "disappointed". I can understand why they don't want to be beholden to the details, but adhering to at least the broad strokes would've been nice, leaving open the possibility of fixing things to match.

    (I know that Lucasfilm started going in their story direction before J.J. Abrams was hired, but the fact that his Star Trek reboot didn't jettison the old continuity almost makes it worse.)
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    A lot of discontinuities are fixable, but that doesn't change the fact that they chose not to be bound by what earlier books had established.


    But we're not talking about one person's subjective experience, we're talking about the awareness of the fanbase as a whole. The fact is that it ran for five years and made a significant impact on Star Wars canon, that it's come to be very well regarded by a large segment of the fanbase (you missed a lot of improvement by giving up early, though you also missed a lot of not-so-improved stuff), and that its overwriting of the novels' version of Mandalore was a prominent event that got a lot of publicity in fandom. Granted, an animated TV series wouldn't get as much publicity as a new live-action movie, due to our society's lingering, very stupid prejudices against animation as a medium (TCW was generally far more intelligent and sophisticated than the prequel films, and certainly a damn sight better acted), but that doesn't change the fact that fans who assume that EU continuity has never been overwritten before are drawing an erroneous conclusion out of ignorance.



    Well, who's to say they won't? The prequels and TCW have drawn on EU characters, worlds, and concepts when it suited them -- the name Coruscant, characters like Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos -- and overwritten EU continuity when it interfered with their plans. Presumably the same will be true here. It makes no more sense to assume that everything will be thrown out completely than it does to assume that everything will be slavishly adhered to. Naturally the needs of the new films themselves will take priority. If it serves the films to use an idea from the EU, it will be used. If it serves the films to ignore an idea from the EU, it will be ignored. That is the way it has pretty much always worked, both in SW and beyond.

    Not only is Abrams a much bigger SW fan than he was an ST fan, but his ST movies do draw on ideas from the novels. The names of Kirk's parents were introduced by Vonda McIntyre, while Uhura's first name was coined by William Rotsler and adopted by many novel and comic authors. Uhura's portrayal as an expert linguist is an approach the novels have often taken. And the film's version of Kirk's maturation arguably owes something to Diane Carey's in Best Destiny (which screenwriters Kurtzman & Orci have cited as one of their favorites).

    I think a lot of people are jumping to the conclusion that just because Abrams and his collaborators chose to create an alternate timeline for ST, that means their goal is to throw continuity out the window for SW. That's a completely illogical assumption, because the situations are entirely different. In the case of ST, the goal was to go back to the familiar TOS characters, since they'd always been the most popular and were the best option for successfully drawing in a new audience, and tell new, updated stories about them. The best approach to suit that particular goal was to start a distinct continuity, one that wouldn't be limited by all we knew about the future of Kirk and his crew. They didn't arbitrarily "throw out" past continuity because they were big meanies who wanted to trample on our childhoods; they made the choice that best served the needs of the particular assignment they'd taken on. But this is a different situation, a straight-up sequel set a generation after prior canon films. Sure, they're likely to take its own path and not be restricted by the novels' and comics' ideas about that era, but that doesn't mean they'll just arbitrarily reject everything out of sheer cussedness. They may well choose to incorporate or pay tribute to certain characters or ideas from the EU, insofar as they're able to do in the context of the story they choose to tell.
     
  18. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    To be fair, George Lucas always maintained that Star Wars' EU was "not canon" with the films but it was an alternate universe. It's just it became problematic when he created his canonical animated series and started contradicting stuff while cherry picking what he liked.

    Like he owned it or something.

    But yes, I more or less agree with Christopher, canon exists in an ever state of flux and the only real arbitrator is you, the reader.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Heck, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which was the very first original SW novel, was pretty much rendered non-canonical by The Empire Strikes Back--and that was way back in 1980!

    And I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the "Star Wars Holiday Special" is not treated as "canon" these days . . . or the talking green bunny from Marvel's STAR WARS comics. :)
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Although some characters and ideas from the Holiday Special have been used in later canonical and EU works, e.g. Boba Fett, Kashyyyk, Chewie's family, and Life Day.