The Past Decade of Trek Lit

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Mr Light, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As I understand it, Paramount is very restrictive of STAR TREK authors, having its lawyers sending notes on "do this/don't do that" with their stories. When a story is basically "writing itself" and you've got this kind of outside interference, I'm sure it accounts for at least some of the mediocre novels that have been out for a while, already ...
     
  2. trampledamage

    trampledamage Clone Moderator

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    :) Yes, it really is.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You're quite a few years behind the times there. First off, the company that owns Star Trek is named CBS Corporation now, not Paramount. Second, it's been many, many years since the studio licensing department has imposed such tight control over the tie-ins -- and it was never lawyers who were responsible for that. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, Gene Roddenberry's assistant Richard Arnold became infamous for the rigid restrictions and frequent interference he imposed on the novels, purportedly at Roddenberry's bidding. But Roddenberry died in 1991 and Arnold lost his job the very next day. It was a few more years before the novels began pushing the envelope again, but for about the past 15 years they've been free of pretty much any restrictions beyond the basic obligation of any tie-in work to remain consistent with the canon it's tying into. The folks at CBS have been very supportive and encouraging of our creativity.

    The only people in recent years who've been in any way restrictive toward Trek tie-ins have been the folks at Bad Robot, who prefer to maintain close control over the tie-ins to the new movie continuity. That is, of course, their prerogative. But it has no bearing on the tie-ins to the original continuity.
     
  4. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Most of the reviews, and comments from other readers that I've read seemed to be negative, but I liked them well enough.
     
  5. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    What Christopher said. The good folks at CBS are nowhere near as controlling as was suggested, providing you don't do something ridiculous and reveal that Chekov is secretly a werewolf or whatever.

    A peek behind-the-scenes: CBS's comments on my most recent book, due out in February, mostly amounted to "tone down Scotty's dialect" which, to be honest, I had probably gone a little overboard on. ("Aye, there's a wee lassie" and so forth.)

    Which was not exactly the work of a gaggle of lawyers--and probably a good call! :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  6. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    ^ Indeed. I received exactly nine notes from CBS regarding the manuscript for A Ceremony of Losses. All were relatively minor; I dealt with all of them in roughly 15 minutes and sent the revised manuscript back to my editor.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I got exactly three notes from CBS for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel, and they were all just fairly minor questions/suggestions about word choices -- only one of which actually led to a change in the text, since I was able to justify the other two. So really, the "outside interference" led to exactly one short line of dialogue being rephrased, which is nothing compared to the changes made in the normal revision process.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    More: By coincidence, I actually got back notes on another outline last night, which were very minor and, again, mostly along the lines of "don't get carried away" with this one thing.

    Which is fine. My instinct is always to milk every moment for maximum drama or humor, so I appreciate being told when to dial it down a notch. (Like an occasionally hammy actor who needs a director to rein them in sometimes.) It actually gives me the freedom to go nuts and not censor myself, since I know I can count on reliable feedback later down the road.

    In short, having another pair of qualified eyes weigh in on the outlines and manuscript is not some sort of oppressive, creativity-destroying restriction. It's a valuable part of the process . . . .
     
  9. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    He is then, and you are just not allowed to reveal it.

    I get it ;)
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Heck, I asked you for more revisions on your original novel! :)
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Yeah, and I probably should've listened to you more...
     
  12. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    To pile on a bit, I got a bunch of notes on the proposal for The Klingon Art of War, but most of them were of the "don't forget to do this or that when you write the manuscript" variety. And the final manuscript had no changes whatsoever -- and this was a project that was actually originally conceived by John Van Citters at CBS, the guy who does most of the approvals. :)
     
  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    You heard it here first: Always listen to your editors, kids. :)
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although just to be clear, that's not the way it usually works. Contrary to the widespread myth, it's usually the authors who come up with the ideas, or the editors who come up with the basic ideas and assign authors to flesh them out into full stories. The studio rarely initiates the projects. Generally, the licensing people serve more or less as informed beta readers who advise us on continuity, character consistency, and the like. Granted, they do have the authority to make their suggestions stick, but JVC and Paula Block tend to wield their authority very gently, and usually just point out issues and allow us to come up with our own solutions.
     
  15. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I can see that working for individual novels but how does it work if an author wants to start a novel series?

    Marco Palmieri conceived Myriad Universes, and KRAD was offered to start I.K.S. Gorkon after he developed the ship and crew in two stories. Seekers, instead, was the idea of David Mack, Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, correct?

    In general, who is responsible for starting a novel series?
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^As your examples illustrate, it depends on the series. Usually it's the editor who proposes something large-scale like that, but sometimes it's an author or authors who have the basic idea and get the editor on board.

    In either case, though, it's usually not the studio employees that come up with the ideas. The editors work for Pocket Books, the licensee.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Exactly. Depending on the project, there's a certain degree of back and forth between the editors and the authors, but I can't think of a case where I got a call to the effect that "CBS really wants a novel where Gary Seven fights the Borg. Can you get us an outline by Thursday?"

    Usually, it's more like "We need a TOS book for Fall 2014. You got any ideas?"
     
  18. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks for the insight!
     
  19. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I finished Book 2 of 3 for the Destiny Trilogy and it is great! It's epic and important and I love how it's basically a crossover between every existing Trek crew/character at once. It's great to see a final massive apocalyptic war with the Borg. I thought the Erika flashbacks took up way too much screentime, but I obviously understood throughout that she was going to be the means to ending the Borg War (no spoilers! I'm just assuming).

    I always felt that the non-Shaternverse novels never managed to achieve that sense of big screen movie epic-ness, but Destiny certainly has.
     
  20. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I'm on the last 100 pages of Destiny and it's quite excellent so far but we'll see what the ending is like... so I see that the next story is "Typhon Pact" and its many many books... is it one story or are they all stand alones? Is it any good?