What Books Are "Canon"?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Stevil2001, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Janeway's Girl

    Janeway's Girl Commodore Commodore

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  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Bingo. Which is why "canon" isn't worthy losing sleep over.
     
  3. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Marge: Hmmm. Should the Simpsons get a horse?
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  4. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Soft canon in Trek is about as useful as a soft cannon in the bedroom.


    (Apologies. Couldn't resist.)
     
  5. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Animated Series was definitely an on screen thing, but in the 80's Roddenberry said it wasn't canon, but since Roddenberry died, TAS has come to be considered canon once again by Paramount and CBS.
     
  6. vegaslover62

    vegaslover62 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    I simply choose to ignore "canon" and enjoy what I read, no matter how much they contradict each other.

    Especially since what is "canon" seems to vary from person to person, and every time somebody states their opinion on a message board, it causes a flame war.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Except, again, anyone who thinks canon is a matter of personal opinion doesn't know what the word means. It just means the original, core body of work as opposed to everything else. Arguing over whether a tie-in is part of canon is like arguing over whether Europa is part of Jupiter. It objectively is not; it's bound to the central entity but outside of it.

    Unless, of course, that tie-in is created by the makers of the canon themselves, because canon just means that which is created by the original authors or the showrunners of the source material. Which is how there can be such things as Mosaic for VGR or the post-series Buffy and Serenity comics or the canonical Avatar: The Last Airbender comics -- because they're written by or with the direct participation and oversight of the canon creators.
     
  8. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    ^^And in the case of the Buffy and Serenity comics, it also helps the original on-screen adventures of those two franchises are done, thereby eliminating the chance of them ever being contradicted.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, yes. As I've said before, the only way canonical tie-ins can really work is if the original series is over and done with, so that the creators are free to supervise/co-write the tie-ins directly. J. Michael Straczynski wanted the Dell Babylon 5 novels to be canonical and tried to oversee them, but he was just too busy with the show to give them the necessary attention, and errors and inconsistencies crept in to the point that the only two books in the series that ended up counting were those written by the people closest to JMS, including the one by his own wife. It wasn't until after the series ended that he was able to directly outline and supervise the Del Rey series and do truly canonical books. Similarly, the Buffy and Angel comics done during the series were non-canonical and only those done after, with Whedon directly supervising, were canonical.
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Although if and when a new Buffy or Angel TV show or movie came to pass, those comics would be "de-canonized" so fast your head would spin--because nobody in their right mind would expect the TV audience to have kept up to speed with the comics.

    As I've written before, "canon" is a fannish obsession that has little practical meaning in the real world. In all the years I've been writing and editing tie-in books, I'm not sure I've ever discussed "canon" with any publisher, editor, or studio. The word "canon" appears in no publishing contract or licensing agreement I have ever seen, nor is it ever a topic of discussion or negotiation when it comes to actually developing book projects. (Heck, I suspect most licensors would look at me funny if I tried to haggle over the "canonicity" of a tie-in book.)

    In the real world, it's a non-issue.
     
  11. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Same here. A story's a story no matter where it comes from. Some are better than others, but at the end of the day, only the studio decides what's cannon.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Again, though, the same is true of "primary" canon -- it can be overwritten too. See Bobby Ewing on Dallas, or all the other series that just pretend old canon never happened. Stories are works of invention, and that means they are intrinsically capable of reinvention. The biggest misunderstanding of canon is that it's some kind of guarantee that nothing will ever be changed.


    Nobody decides, because canon is just a description of something that happens automatically. The stories told by the creator of the series, or by the creator's officially designated successors, are the canon by definition, not by declaration.

    As Greg said, canon is a non-issue to studios, because what they create is automatically canon. They absolutely do not devote a moment's thought to "deciding" whether to call something canon, because it doesn't matter to them. Sure, Lucasfilm and others have made assertions about what is canon, but those assertions are for the fans' benefit, and they apply only to tie-in material, since the original work itself simply is the canon.

    "Canon" is a word that fandom invented (or rather, appropriated from religion) to refer to an original creation (specifically Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories) and differentiate it from pastiches and fan fiction created by other people. It's a label for critical analysis and classification. A studio or a series creator doesn't "decide" that their creation is canon any more than a bear decides to be a mammal. The label "mammal" is simply a word that observers invented in order to describe the bear and classify it as distinct from other categories of creature. And the label "canon" is simply a word that fans and critics use to describe an original work from the creators of a franchise and classify it as distinct from other categories of fiction within that franchise (i.e. tie-ins and fan fiction). The only time it even remotely becomes a matter for debate is when the creators deign to extend the label to tie-ins. And any such usage is going to be somewhat artificial.
     
  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Also studios and/or filmmakers can retroactively decanonize, like Bryan Singer did with Superman III and IV. Or at least, just ignore them.
     
  14. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly, but in the late 80s, Richard Arnold (for GR) specifically said that "canon" was live action, onscreen, and produced via Desilu/Paramount, thus eliminating Filmation's TAS and even the live action footage that was created (on original movie sets) for licensed tie-in video board games, Universal Studios' "A Star Trek Adventure" attraction, computer games and the Klingon and Borg 4-D rides at the "Star Trek Experience". This stance was repeated in many issues of the Official Fan Club Magazine, eventually named "The Communicator".

    Until Roddenberry's passing in September 1991, when it all became moot again.
     
  15. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC, The spin-off series, "Knott's Landing", part of which Pam Ewing had dreamed during the lost season of "Dallas", never addressed Bobby's return!
     
  16. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Roddenberry and Arnold also said that parts of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country were also not canon.
     
  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    Certain elements introduced in books have since become canonical. There were a few select images from the Franz Joseph Schnaubelt deck plans, and ship names and numbers from his Technical Manual, that made it on-screen in TMP, for example, and Sulu's first name was established in novels before it was ever given on-screen.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, sure, a canon can draw ideas from anywhere. An idea can migrate from tie-ins to canon. But that doesn't change what canon and tie-ins are, it just means they've cross-pollinated.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    And yet that has never been treated as any sort of "official" policy.

    In reality, there is no Dept. of Canon that issues official statements and rulings. There's just whatever the people currently in charge want to acknowledge--or ignore. :)
     
  20. Destructor

    Destructor Commodore Commodore

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    If TrekBBS put in an auto-script that prevented any post with the word 'canon' in it from being published... would the BBS suddenly implode on itself, dragging the universe with it? Hard to say, reader. Hard to say.