Literate Trek Novels

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Twain, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Premium Member

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    Crucible: McCoy was fantastic, no question about it. However, I was less impressed with the other two. Crucible: Spock was all right but by the time I got to Kirk it just seemed like an attempt to have a trilogy for the sake of having a trilogy.
     
  2. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was reading Brian W. Aldiss's Trillion Year Spree last night, and he cited a 1966 review of Bram Stoker's novels which seem vaguely relevant to this conversation:

    The trouble, it is usually said, is that whatever his gifts as an inventor of spine-chilling situations, he does not "write well". The phrase is used, generally, as though its meaning were self-evident. But any such assumption would be optimistic. It is a sign, perhaps, as much as anything, that we remain slaves of the intentional fallacy in literature, pathetically ready to accept writers according to their ambitions rather than their achievements. We will suppose, for instance, that George Moore must in some mysterious way be a better writer than Bram Stoker, even if Stoker is still read and Moore on the whole is not, because Moore spent a lot of time and energy carrying out on about his dedication to high art while Stoker churned out bestsellers in the spare moments of an otherwise busy life. Moore, in his later books, writes with extreme care and self-conscious artistry, but the result is unreadable; Stoker, whatever else may be said of him, is still intensely readable. So which, in the final analysis, writes better?
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    How could I forget David R. George III's Crucible: McCoy - Provenance of Shadows? A wonderful, brilliant look at the lives of Dr. McCoy -- both the one he led in TOS, and the one he led in the alternate timeline of "The City on the Edge of Forever." Brilliant, introspective book that casts the entirety of TOS in a new light.
     
  4. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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  5. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think I've noticed anyone mention Margaret Wander Bonanno's Burning Dreams, the novel about Christopher Pike's life. I thought this novel had real literary merit, and it reminded me greatly of Heinlein's early work.
     
  6. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    I wonder if Hollow Men by Una McCormack, with its wonderful London scenes, fits the remit of this article on the "London novel"? Certainly it felt like the author was alluding to much 'London' and British literature in her novel...

    [I wasn't sure where to put this, but here seemed appropriate since it is a literary article. ]
     
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I don't really separate non-tie-ins and tie ins when it comes to quality. To me a book is a book, and as long as I find the contents entertaining I'm happy.
    So, I'm just going to list a few of my favorites. There are a lot more that I've enjoyed just as much as the ones in this list, but they are the first to come to mind when I think of my favorites.
    The Destiny trilogy by David Mack
    DS9 Mission Gamma: Twilight (this one is part of a fairly complex ongoing arc, so I honestly don't know how understandable it is by itself)
    A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal by David Mack, and A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith R.A. Decandido
    DS9: The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack.
    The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III
    The Lost Era: The Art of The Impossible by Keith R.A. DeCandio
    Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions (These two are the beginnng and end of an arc, so it could be a little confusing if you only read these two) by David Mack
    Titan: Orion's Hounds by Christopher L. Bennett
    TNG: Q- Squared by Peter David
    The entire Vanguard series by David Mack, Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri
    Voyager: Full Circle, Unworthy, and Children of the Storm by Kirsten Beyer
     
  8. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    When I think of favorites these books come to mind:
    Grounded by David Bischoff
    The Murdered Sun by Chistie Golden
    Echoes by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and (sorry I'm drawing a blank)
    Vendetta by Peter David
    Capture The Flag by John Vornholt
    Death of a Neutron Star by Eric (drawing a blank again)
    Millennium (trilogy) by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
    Spectre
    Dark Victory
    Preserver
    The Return by William Shatner
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nina Kiriki Hoffman.


    Eric Kotani, the pseudonym that astrophysicist Yoji Kondo uses for his fiction writing.
     
  10. dstyer

    dstyer Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    While I agree with Sci's list, about half of them take place as part of an over-arching storyline that might be difficult for a new reader to jump in with. What about books that are stand-alones but still are well thought out, well written, and (most important for me personally) make a person feel like they're watching an excellent episode of the TV Series?
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Not really. The only novels that are serialized to a meaningful degree are the Typhon Pact ones -- and they literally form a single story among themselves.

    The rest are either standalone, or have sequels that you don't need to read.

    For the record, the publishing order of the Typhon Pact books in my list is probably the best order in which to read them, and the order is as follows:
    • Zero Sum Game
    • Rough Beasts of Empire
    • Plagues of Night
    • Raise the Dawn
    I disagree. A novel is a novel -- it should not make you feel like you're watching an episode of TV. Part of the point of a truly sophisticated novel is to take advantage of the strengths that prose provides which cannot be had in television or other media.

    Just like part of the point of a truly good episode of television is to take advantage of the strengths TV provides which you can't find in prose or in other media.
     
  12. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    ^Exactly. That's one of the things I love about the books so much, they are able to give us stuff we couldn't get on TV.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Right. The purpose of Trek novels is not to copy the episodes, but to complement them by exploring the Trek universe and characters in ways that TV can't but prose can.
     
  14. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    I would back him up on that assumption 100%. The overwhelming majority of tie-in fiction is inferior to "original" fiction, pretty much by definition.

    John M Ford's book The Final Reflection gets a lot of love on these forums. In my opinion, it stands out as the only Trek novel* that can stand with good "original" science fiction. And one of the most striking things about that book is how different it is from other Trek books. It does not use the standard TOS setting and characters, except as a framing device. Its main story examines a whole different culture and that culture's encounter with humans. In one stroke it avoids the generic weakness that limits tie-in fiction, when compared to original sf. And at the same time it zeroes in on a traditional strength of sf, the encounter between alien cultures and values. It takes its place among other great "alien encounter" novels in sf history: maybe not quite LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness, but not two or three shelves below it either.

    Other Star Trek books remain "tie-in" novels. Fun for Star Trek fans, not much to offer non-fans.


    _____________________________________
    * "only Trek novel" -- Obviously I mean, "only one that I've read." I've read fewer than 30, maybe fewer than 20, and only TOS (+ TAS "logs"); so theoretically there are dozens of Star Trek tie-ins I've missed, that are peers of the best original sf novels. I freely acknowledge that theoretical possibility; but I find the odds pretty slim.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    It sounds to me like you have not read enough to know what you're talking about.
     
  16. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    His Supergirl series is under-appreciated. It was pretty daring, and terrifically well structured.

    Tossed aside like chaff when DC decided they wanted to bring back the old, standard, powerful SG. Yet another sad moment in a litany of them, from decades of being a fan of corporately-owned pop art.
     
  17. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    Great points.

    The mention of Peter David a few posts before, puts me in mind of another possible background for a good tie-in writer. Mr David was an established comic book writer for some years before becoming a go-to Trek auther in the early-to-mid-90s. A comic book writer works on titles and characters owned by the company; he works witin the established setting. A great comic book writer develops a feel for how to inject originality into the series, and where he has to keep the stakes in the ground. Mr David moved from title to title – X-factor, Specatcular Spider-man, Hulk, etc – which meant that he re-learned "the rules" for each title. That's great on-the-job training for a tie-in writer.
    (I have huge respect for his work in comics.)

    That, plus Mr David's talent and professionalism, plus his obvious fandom: seems like a good recipe for a Trek-novel writer.

    Having said all the above, in fact I have not read any of his Trek books. I've had one TNG book sitting around the house forever, possibly Strike Zone, but have never cracked it open. But I assume his Trek books are pretty good ones.



    Christopher, I've interacted with you in the music thread, and read several of your other posts with interest. You are clearly a guy who thinks carefully about stuff. Please accept my assurances that a few posts above, where I basically impled that all tie-ins are crap, I did not have your novels in mind.

    Actually, I haven't read a ST novel in several years, but reading your posts has kindled a small curiousity in me, to sample one of yours. :wtf: Not a temptation I expected to encounter.
     
  18. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    Astrophysicist and Aikido & Judo instructor, Yoji Kondo! I have been thrown around by Dr Kondo. It was like 25 years ago, and I didn't know who I was dealing with until I saw the Heinlein Requiem book a couple years later. A missed opportunity!
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's total BS, no better than any other form of prejudice or stereotyping. The overwhelming majority of original fiction is inferior too. For every brilliant writer of original fiction, there are numerous hacks churning out "original" works that are just as forgettable and disposable as the worst tie-in work. It's Sturgeon's Law: 90 percent of everything is crud. (A law Sturgeon coined specifically when people criticized him for writing Star Trek episodes because they ignorantly thought television was worse than prose.) If you define the quality of original fiction based on its best works and the quality of tie-in fiction based on the mass of mediocrity, then you're cooking the books to fit your preconceived bias. It's unfair and self-deluding. The mass of material in any genre is going to be mediocre or worse, but there's greatness in every genre too, and you won't find it if you don't believe it's there.

    Heck, what do you think are the most widely read works of original fiction? Romance novels generally outsell other genres by a good margin, and few would expect those to be great literature, nor do most of their readers probably want them to be. Mystery novels are quite popular too, and I'm sure that for every brilliant mystery there are countless derivative, formulaic, obvious ones. There's always a market for junk food. Originality is certainly no guarantor of quality or intelligence.


    And that prejudiced assumption is blinding you to what's actually there. Prejudice is inferior to original thinking, pretty much by definition.


    I don't accept your assurances, because they're hypocritical, not to mention insulting to a lot of my colleagues and friends.
     
  20. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    With regard to esteem I've always been puzzled that tie-in fiction writers get a worse rap than the TV writers do, when penning a novel is hardly any easier than writing an episode, and the episode writers had to work within franchise constraints just the same. Especially given how modern Trek Lit doesn't suffer the reboot syndrome any more (or at least no more so than the shows themselves did), I fail to see how one activity is less artistically noble than the other.