Which Trek author is best at retconong stuff?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Drago-Kazov, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't there a scene in a TOS novel where Uhura (I think) is working on a piece of equipment behind her console and she mentions something about how it's easier to maintain equipment like that because it's not as "futuristic"?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it was Federation by the Reeves-Stevenses -- something to do with having it be easier for any crewman to do repairs on the fly than with more fancy-schmancy solid-state circuitry, and also something about being more robust against quantum-scale distortions at warp or some such thing. Although I could be conflating two different explanations from different books.

    Personally I don't think it's necessary to pretend that the Enterprise's tech really looked exactly the way it was portrayed in a 1960s TV show with limited budget and technology. Roddenberry himself tended to see TOS as merely an imperfect approximation of the "actual" future -- like when TMP came along and he told fans to accept that Klingons had always had ridges, and the series had just lacked the budget to show it.
     
  3. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Commodore Commodore

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    And yet Deep Space Nine showed that they had no ridges and that the Enterprise appeared exactly the way it was in TOS.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Yes, of course when they actually decided to reuse footage from a TOS episode with Klingons in it, they had to acknowledge the change then. But up until then, ST remained vague on the question of whether TOS Klingons had had ridges or not. When Kang, Kor, and Koloth showed up in "Blood Oath," nobody ever mentioned that they hadn't always looked the way they did. ST avoided the issue until "Trials and Tribble-ations" forced them to confront it.
     
  5. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Maybe the next time TOS is remastered for whatever video format comes next they'll add ridges to the Klingons and edit out the whole Klingon bit from Trials and Tribble-ations. Maybe make the Enterprise look more like the ST-09 one too. And make the crew look more like whoever is portraying them in the latest reboot in 2025.

    Or, we can just accept Trek as it's been presented and not let the little inconsistencies lead us into retcon land. Aren't the stories more important than the little details anyway?
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's exactly my point -- that the details are matters of artistic interpretation and it's the overall story that matters most. It shouldn't be necessary to tell a story justifying why futuristic 23rd-century technology looks like it was built with 1960s switches and dials, because it shouldn't be necessary to pretend that's actually, literally how it looks in-universe. (Heck, even TOS Remastered replaced the old-fashioned chronometer dials in "The Naked Time" with something less dated.) There are some continuity details or discrepancies that it's worthwhile to deal with in a story, if doing so can produce an interesting bit of storytelling, but there are some that just aren't worth making an issue out of and are just too niggly and petty to worry about.

    Roddenberry himself wasn't married to the exact details in the obsessive way some fans are, and didn't have a problem with changing them or rewriting the continuity. As I've said a couple of times in recent weeks, fans get attached to a particular form of a work because it's the only one they see, but to creators it's the endpoint of a long process of change and adjustment, and is often just the best approximation they could manage of what they imagined rather than a perfect realization of it. So creators tend to be far less attached to the details of a work than many fans are.
     
  7. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    However, you yourself have gotten caught up in the details and rewritten them in your stories or commented here how you'd change things. Neutronium for instance. There's no need to change it to simply a super-dense material that has a similar name to but is unrelated to the neutron star material. It is what it is. If you have to explain why the Iconian artifact didn't fall through the crust of the planet then come up with an explanation for that. I just see why it's considered necessary to alter what has been presented in the various episodes where neutronium is mentioned.

    Shall we next do away with the stellar core fragment from The Naked Now? Or explain that Kirk and Garrovick were using something other than an ounce of anti-matter that somehow tore away the atmosphere of Argus X and, in TOS-R, left a crater that looked to be the size of a small continent?

    DS9 brought up the two Klingon situation and that led to Enterprise trying to explain it in a Small Universe Syndrome story that not only had Humans responsible for the change but connected it to Khan via the Augments. Did we really need 4 hours of Trek devoted, at least in part, to explaining away something that didn't really need an explanation? Trek fans are smart people. We don't need everything spelled out for us.

    Maybe we need a novel devoted to explaining why Spock-Prime was knocked for a loop by the deaths of 400 Vulcans light-years away and yet Nu-Spock showed not a hint of a similar reaction when billions of Vulcans dies within just a few thousand miles of him. Or should we just accept each story on it's own merits and concentrate on getting better stories about the people? After all, they're what really matters, aren't they?
     
  8. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Which Trek author is best at retconning stuff?


    Has anyone considered this is what state-of-the-art 23rd century technology actually looks like? It isn't 1960s, it's 2260. It may look primitive to us 21st century people but maybe the design ethics of the future are just different. Starfleet equipment is built to be practical and good looking. This is what looks cool to 23rd century Starfleet.

    Remember, when a few years ago, people started running around with awful 80s, 70s and finally 60s styles? Male hairstyles never recovered from that even today.

    And remember how advanced everything from the 23C looked compared to the 22C in In A Mirror, Darkly.

    Furthermore, 25th century Starfleet is flying around in NX-class replicas and the centuries old D'kyr-class - they still have the old look but their technology is state-of-the-art. It's just old, venerated design.

    More examples: 26C Starfleet was a visual callback to the 23C in the abortive Star Trek: Final Frontier series and the 29C mirrored 24C design guidelines.

    Huh? If we Trekkies didn't need everything spelled out, why would we even have a thread about retconning? Personally, I love to see inconsistencies explained and the ENT double feature killed one of the most glaring. Part of the flavour of having an ongoing continuity is that problems get explained away sooner or later.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  9. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes.

    Well, I don't NEED it, but I prefer 'in universe' explanations where possible, and so do many others.

    Season 4 is the only season of Enterprise I really liked, and all the continuity stuff was a big part of that...
     
  10. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    But why is an explanation even necessary or required or desirable? Trek should be about new ideas. New life, new civilizations and all that. Devoting a large chunk of a season to naval gazing over a simple change of make-up is missing the point of Star Trek. As Gene Roddenberry said, a policeman in a cop drama doesn't stop to explain how his service revolver works.

    Kor Was a Klingon, Worf was a Klingon. No more explanation is needed.

    The novels are free of the budgetary limitations of a TV series and yet people still want to go back to the same old trough for another drink. If you're going to beting back an old element, tell us something new, don't just try to explain away a costuming change.

    The Final Reflection dealt with this issue by showing us HOW the differences affected the Klingons, not just trying to tie it all up on one big, small universe bow. It didn't go into excruciating detail trying to get it all to fit with other parts of canon. That brings us to the pint where pretty much every big event we've heard of involves a ship Named Enterprise or a crew that had their own TV show. That was the one failing of Vanguard. It reduced a fascinating new crew to background players in their own series by making the events of TOS the big story. Almost everything the ended up doing was putting pieces in place for JTK and his crew to play with sometime down the line.
     
  11. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I couldn't disagree more. Vanguard was all about Vanguard and fitted a little TOS in brilliantly. This is imho a blueprint for how to do it...
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The mistake is in approaching it as a blanket argument -- asking whether such explanations as a general category are worthwhile. That's a specious question. They're worthwhile if there's a good story that can be built around such an explanation, but they're not worthwhile if it's just gratuitous continuity porn. It's a case-by-case sort of thing. It isn't valid to claim it's always right or always wrong.

    I'm known for doing a lot of such continuity explanations in my own work, but I generally try to make sure there's a real story purpose, that it contributes something to the tale I'm telling or reveals something about a character. There have been cases where I've put a continuity fix in a book and then decided to cut it out because it didn't serve the story and was just gratuitous fanboyism. And one or two cases where I've put the same continuity fix in a later book because it was relevant there. I don't think I've always succeeded at avoiding gratuitous ones, but I do try to approach it case by case and only do it when there's a valid reason.
     
  13. Spike730

    Spike730 Captain Captain

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    Care to give an example?
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't remember any specific ones at the moment.
     
  15. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Vanguard was about the set-up got Genesis, the advanced med tech seen in later series, the establishment of Nimbus III, the background of Gorkon among others. It told it's own stories but usually with a background of Trek to come in the background. The crew of Vanguard even needed the Enterprise to save them at the end. I didn't mind the cameo by the Enterprise in the first volume. It was much in the same spirit of DS9 and Voyager that had a cameo in their first episode. However, the Enterprise didn't show up to save Voyager at the end.

    Just because something is set in the same continuity doesn't mean that you have to always tie things together. That leads to Small Universe Syndrome. As Uhura once said "It's a big galaxy Mr. Scott."

    Trek doesn't need "fixing" It needs fresh, new stories that expand the shared universe rather than looking inward.
     
  16. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    But wouldn't a new story that explains things, like the Augments Ent. arc and Vanguard, still be expanding the universe? Personally I'm more interested in stories that build off of preexisting stuff than stories that are completely stand alone. I thought they way the people behind Vanguard managed to tell a compelling new story, but still tie it into events from TOS and it's movies was pretty amazing.
     
  17. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Don't get me wrong. I also thought Vanguard was amazing. However, I found that it did too much tying to TOS. Pick one element and build on that. DS9 took the Cardassian/Bajor situation that had been set up on TNG and told a great story that didn't rely on tons of crossovers and prior TNG story lines. They certainly used the occasional element from prior series and even did a crossover episode but they were very much the exception rather than the rule. By the end, Vanguard felt like it was mostly set-up to me. But the ride to the end had many, many excellent stories. At it's height it was the best Trek series, bar none.
     
  18. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC the ties to TOS were kind of the point to the whole series. I believe that the creators of Vanguard said in interviews that the whole idea behind the series was to explore what was going on at the same time as TOS, and to provide new background and perspectives on what we saw in it.
     
  19. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    No. Star Trek: Vanguard was about institutional corruption, guilt, sin, redemption, forgiveness, heritage, oppression, espionage, inter-cultural conflict, the subjective nature of aggression, the forging of community in spite of hinderance, and the nature of the national security state.

    It happened to feature the set-up for Project Genesis and the origins of 24th Century technology, but those elements were minor and can hardly be said to have dominated the narrative.