The Great Star Trek Pocket Novel Reread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by CaptainSarine, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I'm not sure why you'd class those characters as Mary Sues. Remember: It wasn't unusual in '60s or '70s television to build an episode around a featured guest star, so just having someone come in and be the focus of attention for one installment doesn't make them a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is a character who steals the spotlight without deserving to -- a character, usually a wish-fulfillment surrogate for the author, who is described as being a totally awesome and wonderful person who upstages and is adored by all the main characters, yet who has no actual qualities making them worthy of such admiration either by the characters or by the readers. Bonus Mary Sue points if the main characters all end up acting totally out of character in response to the featured guest. Schaeffer was a textbook Mary Sue in every respect -- she was this incredibly admired class of super-agent that had never been mentioned before, everyone fell in love with her and acted out of character, and she was supposed to be the toughest, smartest woman around, yet she melted when Kirk flirted with her in condescending baby talk that would've gotten him a trip to sickbay if she'd actually been the tough, liberated woman she was alleged to be.

    I guess I can kind of see how Flynn and Hunter would qualify. Flynn was a new character added to the main cast and given an important role as a member of the group, and Hunter did kind of fit the "more awesome than the heroes" model. But they were both reasonably well-drawn characters who were actually interesting and worthwhile. And honestly, given that the TOS cast was overwhelmingly male, it's not surprising that so many authors in the '70s and '80s would try to balance that somewhat by adding a new prominent woman (and Phase II intended to do the same by adding Ilia, by the way). As long as the character in question is actually engaging, I don't have a problem with it.

    As for Jean Czerny, I don't remember that book too well, but I don't see it. As I recall, she engaged mainly with Kang, and served as a viewpoint character for a journey into Klingon culture. I guess she did end up being widely admired and impressive to the Klingons or some such thing, but it wouldn't have been much of a story if she hadn't caught the interest of the Klingon characters to a sufficient degree that she could get to know them and be a participant in their lives. Maybe not a Mary Sue so much as an analogue for Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves or Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai -- the "one of us" who gets immersed in the exotic foreign culture and serves as our viewpoint figure in it.
     
  2. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Where do you stand on LCDR Piper from the Dreadnought! and Battlestations! novels by Diane Carey. Mary Sue?
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not really. Those books were basically an attempt to do a "Lower Decks"-style spinoff focusing on a younger cast who paralleled the main characters. It wasn't having a guest character come in and overshadow the heroes; it was an experiment in telling a Star Trek story from a different perspective than we were used to, to show how Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were perceived by their crew. In a way, you could say that Dreadnought! is to TOS as the Young Justice TV series is to the Justice League.

    It was also, I suppose, somewhat in the style of a Heinlein juvenile novel, a coming-of-age story for a young hero with a lot to learn. Piper, Sarda, Merete, and Scanner are the young surrogates of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scott, and they have to learn how to function as an effective team following their elders' example, yet Piper is two or three steps behind Kirk every step of the way, and while she and her friends are wrestling with their own problems which are often the result of their own mistakes, Kirk and his command crew are doing their usual thing largely off-camera, orchestrating their own master plan that Piper and her friends get caught up with and are ultimately able to contribute to.

    At least, that's where Dreadnought! is concerned. I do think that Battlestations! drifts into Mary Sue territory, by having Piper swiftly promoted in rank, welcomed into Kirk's inner circle of friends, and playing a pivotal role in saving the Federation from a heinous internal conspiracy for the second time in as many months.
     
  4. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

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    Wow, some amazing discussions going on here. Having read Entropy Effect, I tend to agree with Christopher ie Hunter and Flynn - they served a purpose in the story and had interesting and fleshed out story lines interacting with the other characters. It was nice seeing them referenced again in McIntyre's Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock novelisations.

    Hopefully I'll have another review up by tomorrow.
     
  5. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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  6. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    Finished reading the three bantam books that Christopher recommended.

    I enjoyed both Planet of Judgment & World Without End, especially the prep that any sane person would do before exploring the unknown. Found it interesting that both Haldeman's books had the ent crew going for a sort of "one way trip". I felt World Without End had the more compelling aliens and was more fun in general.

    Spock Must Die! I found rather odd when it came to the mechanism for the main draw in the novel, what happened to spock. Other then that I quite liked it, the length & nature of the self imposed mission was fun, as was the eventual ending, as a kind of what if.
     
  7. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    Just finished The Klingon Gambit and Vendetta.
     
  8. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've been reading some of the older Tos and Ds9 novels .I've read the lost years miniseries the Invasion miniseries.I like alot of the older novels better than alot of the Typhon pact stories.I miss the starship crews exploring new planets and space exploration.
     
  9. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

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    Since I've fallen behind in updating on this thread, here is a quick wrap-up of what I have read so far.

    Firstly, I've decided to read in a more random order than I had originally planned, so have used a randomiser to jumble up the books. So don't be surprised to find later books mingled in with older here.

    Star Trek TOS: The Entropy Effect

    An interesting time travel novel, centering mainly on Spock and set during the original five year mission, The Entropy Effect was written by Vonda McIntyre. It introduced a number of secondary characters who would then appear and/or be mentioned in some of her later books, notably in her novelisations of Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock. The novel was well written, the characters instantly recognizable (except for Scotty), and it was intriguing to watch Spock and McCoy slowly figure out what was really going on and how to stop it. Recommended.

    Star Trek TOS: The Klingon Gambit

    Akin to The Naked Time and its sequel, this novel sees the crew of the Enterprise travel to a world which begins to affect how they act. In fact, it affects them so much that they are all pretty much unrecognizable. Only Kirk continues to act as we would expect him, for the most past, although he comes across as weak willed in some passages. I didn’t enjoy this very much, it wasn’t well written and the characterization of the crew left a lot to be desired. Not recommended.

    Star Trek TOS: The Covenant of the Crown

    Set in between TMP and WOK, The Covenant of the Crown has hints of a fantasy quest novel to it, dropping the characters of Spock and McCoy into the middle of a coming-of-age adventure to recover a lost crown. Tied in with this was the search for a spy aboard the Enterprise as Captain Kirk tries to make up for what he feels was a mistake made when he was a young Lieutenant. This novel was great, working on numerous levels. Recommended.

    Anyone else read any of these three? What did you think?

    In the next couple of days, I’ll post some mini-reviews of the next three books I read:
    The Wrath of Khan novelization
    Yesterday’s Son
    The Search for Spock novelization
     
  10. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have fond memories of The Covenant of the Crown. Howie Weinstein is underrated.
     
  11. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    I finished Covenant just two days ago!

    Already talked about my dislike for TEE. Actually turned out I had never read The Klingon Gambit(which I guess must have had its blurb written well in advance since it was rather dissimilar from the book). I enjoyed the idea of it - the whole andorian/city bit was very clever, and mccoy cracked me up, but Kirk was terribly written given what the orb was supposed to have done to him.

    Covenant of the Crown was fairly fun, but could probably have done with being a bigger book - there were certainly the ideas for one, so it ended up feeling slightly rushed to me, but other then that it was very good.

    Heh, and here's me having just bought(and with great reluctance given how bad Triangle is) "The Prometheus Design".

    Won't be able to chime in with the novelisations, but I do have Yesterday's Son.
     
  12. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    Wrath of Khan and Search For Spock were both good in novel form!
     
  13. craig keith

    craig keith Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I Highly recommend that you read Kirsten Bayers voyager re-launch series. In a fashion it goes back to exploring and meeting new races and planets. Even if you dont like voyager these should defenty be read ... ooo and most of titans novels as well.
     
  14. Lt. Zanne

    Lt. Zanne Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Prometheus Design is terrible. I only have it to complete the collection. It is not a trek story and they do not write the characters faithfully. It's just a crazy ride with a lot of prepositions in the descriptive passages that I hardly knew what was going on. Good luck! Yesterdays Son - loved it! Also too the sequel - Time For Yesterday (my first trek book) I enjoy Crispin's ST stories very much.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think The Prometheus Design deserves some credit for attempting to tackle some big philosophical and sociological questions, even if it didn't really do much more than pose them and talk about them without really coming to any sort of resolution.
     
  16. indianatrekker26

    indianatrekker26 Captain Captain

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    i had just started up my own reading of all the TOS books about a month ago, Captain Sarine. I've been reading them in publication order. I just finished "Yesterday's Son." Loved what was there, just wish it had more meat to the story. But then, I have yet to read "Time for Yesterday." I'm holding off on reading Star Trek 2 and 3, until i get to 4. Then i'm gonna read all 3 as one big trilogy. I just started "Mutiny on the Enterprise" last night. Gotta say, it's starting off better than Vardeman's last TOS novel, "The Klingon Gambit."
     
  17. Lt. Zanne

    Lt. Zanne Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Mutiny on the Enterprise was good, I thought. Interesting ideas. I agree Yesterdays Son was a bit short, and felt like more could've been explored and explained. Time for Yesterday focuses more on Zar and Spock, Kirk, and McCoy in his world. I hope that's not a spoiler. It's a longer novel, and well written.
     
  18. Lt. Zanne

    Lt. Zanne Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Well, it was difficult for me to really understand what they were trying to say. Also too, when I pick up a Trek book, I want to read a Trek book and I do realize how subjective that statement is. If the characters were more convincing, that might help, but the writing style is a bit convoluted for me and so not enjoyable. There is a lot of sexual overtone and I always get the impression of two school girls thinking up crazy fantastic adventures that they happen to use ST characters for and whenever they can, they make sure someone is naked. I know a certain amount of sexy is part of ST, but the novels written by these ladies, are just not for me. But yes, I did buy all three, and I did read all three... (shrug)what can I say?
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, yeah, I agree that the Marshak-Culbreath books were very... self-indulgent in a lot of ways. But at least they occasionally tried to put their history, psychology, and philosophy degrees to use and work some ideas into their books along with all the fannish indulgence. The Fate of the Phoenix, their second novel for Bantam, deserves credit for being the first Trek novel to challenge the ethics of the Prime Directive, although, again, it doesn't really embrace the issue, just introduces it, talks about it for a bit, and then moves on to other stuff.

    And they did four novels, not three -- The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate... for Bantam, The Prometheus Design and Triangle for Pocket. Plus they edited the two Star Trek: The New Voyages anthologies for Bantam, contributing two stories to the second ("Surprise!," co-written with Nichelle Nichols, and "The Procrustean Petard"), and I've heard it alleged that they significantly rewrote the other stories in those anthologies.
     
  20. Lt. Zanne

    Lt. Zanne Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    oh that's right - four novels. I forgot there were 2 Phoenix books. I read those back to back and it blurred alittle for me. I have read those anthologies too. I'm not sure I believe the stories were re-written as they really do have different flavors, but The "Procrusten Petard" read very true to their ST style. And "Surprise!" actually surprised me! It was comical more than I expected. Perhaps this lighter side was cut out of the series more often than not? Uhura's character would have been fun to see if she were a bit sassier. When I read it, I felt the 1960s coming thru, if that makes sense...I did not experience the 1960s and so I am always curious to see those little details that show what that time was like.To see the future as envisioned by the past is interesting and insightful.