New to trek literature please help - where to begin

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by moriluk, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. moriluk

    moriluk Ensign Red Shirt

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    I have seen everything at least once, and all tv shows at least twice (finishing up my second run through of DS9 right now about 1/3 of the way through season 7).

    I wish to start reading novels. I am only interested in cannon material for now (though I do enjoy the cartoon series from the 70's). Alternate timelines are fine though (which by definition could be considered cannon since it is an alternate timeline - as long as there is some explantion for why it is alternate). Or are they all considered non-cannon? What is the official stance from the franchise on the novels, are some endorsed and some merely allowed?

    Where do I begin? Is there a specific order I should read these books (like with teh Asimov foundation universe, best is recommended to read in the order of publication rather than chronological order as prequals were meant to be prequals)?

    Is there a list of books that count as cannon vs a list of books that are non-cannon? If they (or some) are truly stand alones, are there some that are noticeably superior to others (or 'essential')? Are some authors better than others?


    Please help. Where do I begin?? Are there any that could be considered 'classsics'?

    I am interested in all time periods. Particularly the Borg interest me, and anything to do with artificial intelligence (like the doctor on Voyager).
     
  2. Silver47

    Silver47 Cadet Newbie

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  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The word "canon" refers only to onscreen material produced by the owners of the Star Trek franchise (formerly Paramount, now CBS). The novels and comics are licensed tie-ins, all authorized and approved by Paramount/CBS, and they're all obligated to stay consistent with the canon as it stands at the time of publication; but later canon is under no obligation to acknowledge the tie-ins, and thus older books are often contradicted. This is the way most tie-ins work.

    However, the books published after the end of their respective series are not as likely to be contradicted, and since there's been no new screen content in the main continuity since 2005, the more recent books are mostly still consistent. But no, they're not canonical. Other tie-ins like the comics and the Star Trek Online game have their own separate versions of post-series events. There have been Trek tie-ins for over 40 years and they've never followed a single uniform continuity (beyond staying consistent with canon as it stood at the time). That variety of interpretations is part of what makes Trek tie-ins interesting.

    After all, none of it is real anyway; the canon is just another bunch of made-up stories. There's no reason stories outside of the canon can't be just as entertaining.
     
  4. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Commodore Commodore

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    Welcome to the board moriluk! We are a very nice and knowledgeable bunch around here and should be able to answer any questions you have. But before getting into specifics I would also advise you to read through the FAQ and at least the beginning of the "Charting the Novel-verse" thread. Both are pinned to the top of the forum. This will give a basic amount of knowledge about Star Trek books, and then maybe we can help you fill in some specifics. Also check out the Lit-verse Reading Order Flowchart here: http://www.thetrekcollective.com/p/trek-lit-reading-order.html
     
  5. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Regarding "canon", I think what you're really concerned about is "continuity", you want the books to matter, and the vast majority of novels published since 2001 have been in one large continuity. There are occasional gaffes, much like the TV shows, but the novels do all hang together, refer to each other, and explore consequences of each other's storylines.

    It's an amazing universe, more unified than the TV shows could ever have been, and (for my money) often grander in ambition and more successful in execution. In particular Star Trek: Vanguard, set on a space station during TOS, and Star Trek: Destiny, a recent (2008) crossover trilogy that finally has the Borg invade en masse.

    The flowchart that ryan linked you to is also in my signature; another boarder, 8of5, and I put a lot of work into it, but it shouldn't intimidate you. Almost anywhere on that entire flowchart is a good place to jump in, and then explore earlier works or later works following arrows in either direction.

    Aside from Vanguard or Destiny, a couple common starting points are at the beginning of the DS9 relaunch (which is fabulous and a great interconnected storyline) or, if you're less interested in reading so many different novels, the "A Time To..." series provides a jumping on point to the more interconnected post-Nemesis continuity. Most people recommend skipping the first 6, though, as they're fairly unimportant and not really up to par. Starting with A Time To Kill is where I'd recommend jumping into the post-Nemesis storyline.

    One thing the flowchart doesn't have is recommendations for quality, but almost everything on there is up to the standards of the TV show or higher, in my opinion. The first 4 Voyager relaunch novels are generally agreed to be weaker, I mentioned that the first 6 A Time To... novels aren't up to the same high stakes as the later 3 and everything that flows from there, and the Stargazer series is fairly shallow. New Frontier, over on the right, is an idiosyncratic take on Trek that reads a bit more like a comic book, with ridiculous occurrences and over-the-top characters, and isn't for everyone (though I loved it). Everything else on there has my recommendation. Just pick what interests you and dig in.

    And keep posting questions. A lot of the authors will post here and the community in general is really helpful!
     
  6. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Besides the Pocket books, there are also the Bantam and Ballantine books that were written in the 70's and early 80's. While the Bantam books tend to be in their own loose continuity (and don't refer to he Animated Trek due to, from what I understand were licensing restriction), just beware that these books were written prior to the release of Star Trek The Motion Picture. I might even call these the "Advanced" Trek novels (kind of like In a video game where you have Easy, Medium, Advance) at this point because their continuity with the canon material was based on the original 79 episodes. And I'd probably extend that "Advanced" rating to all the books published upto 1989.
     
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    ^I don't think any of those are in print anymore though, so if you want them you'd probably have to find them used online or at a used book store.
     
  8. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    I jumped into trek lit with the Destiny series by David Mack. It involves the Borg and it is action packed. Since then I have gone back and read a few post Nemisis TNG books to get the build up to Destiny. If you want to read about the Borg the build up to Destiny could be a great place to start.
     
  9. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Canon is basically what Christopher said above.

    All I can add to that is to say that some elements of the novels do work their way into canon - the space station in TOS-R "The Ultimate Computer" is based on the Vanguard station designed for the novels. The version of George Kirk seen in the last movie was based on the one in Diane Carey's novels Final Frontier (a casualty of Star Trek: Enterprise continuity-wise, but a fantastic read nonetheless) and Best Destiny. Uhura and Sulu's first names appeared in novels long before the movies used them. They're nice little nods for longtime readers.

    Since there won't be any new episodes or movies set in the TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY continuity, the novels have been free to do pretty much whatever they want. The results have been extremely impressive, IMO.

    That the director of Star Trek Online recently commented in a podcast that he couldn't believe the novels have been allowed to do the things they have should give you an idea how big some of the things that have happened are:)
    Publication order is probably best.
    I'd say the hit/miss ratio is about the same as that of the episodes. So yes, there are many classics! (and occasional stinkers)
    For artifical intelligence, I recommend Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang. It requires no prior Trek lit knowledge to read. David Mack's recent Cold Equations trilogy is a belated sequel to it.

    As for the Borg, David Mack's Destiny trilogy is the ultimate Borg story. It will blow your mind.
     
  10. dansigal

    dansigal Captain Captain

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    Moriluk, I started what you are starting now about a year ago, its quite the daunting task. Like you, I was interested only in "cannon" which as Chris describes doesn't exist in the literary verse, but continuity does, starting essentially with the Deep Space Nine relaunch. That's where I started, I read all of those first. Chronologically going from there I read the first 4 books of the Voyager relaunch, and now I'm into the "Time To" series, which is a nine book series about the TNG crew before the events of Nemesis. That leads into a post-Nemesis TNG relaunch, a Titan series, and crossover series like Destiny and Typhon Pact. I've gone through about 24 books in 15 months and I probably have twice that to go to catch up, but its been a TON of fun, and I would highly recommend it if you want a big long term reading project. I would check out the chart and some of the links already referred to for the specifics on the books.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    A couple of problems with that statement. One, only the name George for Kirk's father was really following the books' lead; Carey's George Kirk was a redheaded security chief with a rather different personality from the character in the movie. And in Carey's version, Jim Kirk had a strained relationship with his father, while the movie established that Prime-universe Kirk had gotten along quite well with his.

    And two, it was actually Vonda N. McIntyre in Enterprise: The First Adventure who originally coined the names George and Winona for Kirk's parents, a precedent Carey subsequently followed; so McIntyre, not Carey, is the one you should credit.

    And yes, I know the screenwriters have said in interviews that they read and liked Carey's novels. But the fact is that the George Kirk in the movie has nothing specific in common with Carey's version of the character besides the name and the fact that he was in Starfleet. Just because they read the books doesn't mean they copied them.
     
  12. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Who said they copied them? King Daniel said in his post that they based George Kirk on the books he mentioned...more likely they were inspired by those books, while creating their version of Kirk's father.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Mainly I'm concerned about giving credit where it's due. KD's statement implies that Diane Carey created the character of George Kirk Sr., but she did not. Vonda N. McIntyre created the character, and Carey fleshed him out in one way while the filmmakers fleshed him out in another. Acknowledging only Carey is denying McIntyre the credit she deserves, and that is unfair as well as simply untrue.
     
  14. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ah I see...okay. I thought there was a different issue here.

    To the original poster of the thread...welcome! As to where you should begin, I don't think there is a specific answer to that. I know that one of my first books that I read in Trek Lit was the novelization for "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". I followed that up with Peter David's "Imzadi". I think it really just depends on what facet of Trek you are interested in.
     
  15. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I did say "based on the one in Diane Carey's novels" - not that they imported him.

    My source is Bob Orci himself. When the first issue of Countdown to Darkness was released, I asked him on Trekmovie:
    to which he replied:
    http://trekmovie.com/2013/01/22/trekink-review-of-countdown-to-darkness-1/

    Not the most in-depth reply ever, but enough I think to justify what I said and how I said it.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Even so, you keep forgetting to acknowledge Vonda McIntyre as the actual creator of the character! There seems to be this common misconception (one that Orci may be just as guilty of) that Carey was the creator of the character because she was the one who wrote two novels centered around him, but the FACT is that McIntyre introduced the character in E:TFA. She also named Winona Kirk in that same book and gave Hikaru Sulu his first name in The Entropy Effect, so she deserves a lot of credit that she is inexplicably denied.
     
  17. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    While yes, Vonda McIntyre did introduce the character and deserves credit for it, how much did she establish about George Kirk? It's been quite a while since I read E:TFA, but I only recall him being mentioned in passing as a deceased Starfleet officer. Were the versions of the character in E:TFA and FF supposed to be the same, or did Carey take the name and create her own version, like Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens did with George Joseph Kirk in Collision Course?
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's really splitting hairs. McIntyre introduced the characters and Carey drew on that precedent -- just as several subsequent novelists have followed what McIntyre introduced in E:TFA about the name of McCoy's wife (Jocelyn) and the history of their divorce, and just as every subsequent tie-in has built on what McIntyre established about Saavik's backstory in her TWOK novelization. McIntyre established a great deal of what's generally accepted to be true about Trek characters, and some of it has become canonical. I don't see why you're so resistant to acknowledging that influence.
     
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I believe a number of those older books have been released as ebooks, not to mention that used bookstores tend to have quite a few copies of the books from the pre-1990's era than books from 1990 onwards.
     
  20. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not resistant at all. No question Vonda McIntyre originated a lot of Trek lore, including the idea that George Kirk was a Starfleet officer. But the idea of him being first officer of a starship began with Carey - and the earliest versions of the Star Trek story supposedly began with Robert April and George Kirk on the Enterprise - an idea right out of Final Frontier.
     

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