100th 5YM book from S&S

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by ryan123450, May 31, 2020.

  1. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Probably one of those times when we need to remember the 'opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of S&S, it's subsidiaries, or CBS and it's subsidiaries". :D

    I plan on reading some of the early Pocketbooks novels from the 1980s and like my Bantam novel reading it will be interesting to see how those early stories stack up with what we know now. And I'll be especially interested to read some of those novels where the time-frame is a bit vague. I'll be looking for little clues to see if that gives an indication on whether it was a 5YM story, intended to be post-TMP, or some indeterminate timeframe.

    Your theory though I thought was as good as any as to the intent. Without asking the authors themselves what their intent was we are just left to kind of theorizing. But unless one of the authors of those novels says "yes, the original intent was an extended 5YM" then it's just a theory.

    I sometimes wondered if the thought was about the Phase II TV series that never happened. Maybe some writer or writers thought that actually happened in universe. That the ship went on another 5YM after the first but before TMP and perhaps TMP was referring to the end of that 2nd 5YM. Maybe not exactly as intended for the series (for instance, Spock is still on the ship and there is no Xon or Lt. Ilia or Decker). But maybe the basic idea of a 2nd 5 YM between the end of the TV series and TMP.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it's more just a matter of assuming that the in-story interval between TOS and TMP was close to the real-life interval of 10 years. I don't think people back then were as familiar with "Phase II" as we are these days.
     
  3. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Well, there goes my theory. ;) . But it was just a stab in the dark.

    Probably, when it comes down to it, maybe it's just that at that time in Star Trek fiction people didn't obsess as much as to when a story took place. Maybe the authors at the time didn't even really think that much about when the story was during the crews mission (at least in the stories where the time-frame is more vague).
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, that was part of the charm of the older novels -- how much looser the continuity was, how much less was defined about the universe, so that authors were freer to build out from the relative handful of episodes and movies in their own distinctive, often idiosyncratic ways. There was no dogma about the "right" way to tell a Star Trek story, just unfettered imagination. Even the book continuity that emerged was extremely loose and inconsistent and never encompassed all the books that were coming out.
     
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  5. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    True, and I don't think at that point in time there was even debates about what was 'canon' and what wasn't (not to say there weren't other debates of course, even about continuity). I suppose the novels even back then had to respect what we now know as 'canon' but there was simply a lot less canon back then. All you had was the TV series, an animated series (before it was banished for a period of time) and maybe one to four movies depending on when the book was written. It was probably a great time to be an author of Star Trek novels because the sandbox had a lot less in it, freeing you up a lot more to do what you wanted.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not to the same heated extent, and not with the same obsessive fixation on that specific word, but there were debates over whether the animated series counted, and some fans didn't even want to count the third season.


    More or less, but there was a looser adherence to what was onscreen, more broad strokes than details -- partly because it wasn't as easy to get references or have recordings of the episodes right at hand. There was room to be flexible with interpretations, like how Planet of Judgment and The Galactic Whirlpool elaborated landing party procedures and Starfleet tech far beyond what was ever shown onscreen. It was also possible to be quite flexible about chronology, like how Web of the Romulans and Double, Double were both presented as taking place right after first-season episodes ("Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" respectively) but had Chekov onboard and (IIRC) referenced events from the third season.
     
  7. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I recall in Gerrold's "The World of Star Trek" he did have some criticisms of Star Trek, one in particular that sticks out in my mind is he had noted it would make more sense for them to have a contact team. Rather than having your captain and first officer go on first contacts. And in "The Galactic Whirlpool" he does just that, has a contact team led by Lt. Riley. Consistent with the TV series, he still has Kirk leading the charge against Captain Frost's forces, but a contact team is put in charge when Kirk has to stay on the ship. In a way Gerrold sort of straddled both sides. He incorporated things he thought should have been in Star Trek, yet, he still stayed pretty consistent with the TV show as presented.

    I also got the impression he was at least inspired by "The Making of Star Trek" in the sense he noted some things about the Enterprise that we never really saw in the show yet were noting in "The Making..." that the ship had.
     
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  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    I believe it was discussed in letterzines of the day. I did not subscribe to any, but we had snippets put into our Trek newsletters. I certainly saw commentary about "second five year mission" as those novels were coming out.

    Indeed. Some fans even try to insist that Constitution vessels only ever did 5YMs. ;)

    Yes. Some of that is covered in "Best of Trek" articles and letters. Some fans declaring anything they didn't like (eg crested Klingons in TNG, Spock and McCoy leaving Starfleet, Kirk accepting promotion, the new Enterprise) as "proof that this is an alternate universe.

    The "What is Canon?" debate was a hot topic in early-Internet Newsgroups, but the "canon" term really went crazy when Richard Arnold explained his stance in his regular column for the "Star Trek Communicator", IIRC.

    Yes. The chapter "Whither Star Trek?" (Maybe even more in the rejigged edition?) And most of those comments were then addressed the first draft of TNG's Writers' Guide, which Gerrold wrote.

    Check out the pro-zine, "USS Enterprise Officers' Manual" by Geoffrey Mandel, who was part of that group of fan writers turning pro. A crew list includes Spock, Decker, Ilia, Xon (as Spock's assistant?), Arex, M'Ress and DiFalco.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, the idea existed in fandom, which is where I got it from, but that doesn't mean it's what the novelists intended. There's no actual mention of a "second 5-year mission" in the books themselves, to the best of my recollection. Nothing in the Duane books or Corona or the others is inconsistent with there just being a single open-ended tour lasting somewhere close to a decade, with various upgrades and partial refits along the way, of course.


    Or that all Starfleet ships did. Either way, it's incredibly lazy thinking. We only have evidence that one ship had one 5-year mission, which is not enough to prove a pattern. If anything, the fact that Icheb made a point of calling it a 5-year mission implies that's more likely an exception than a rule, since he'd have no reason to specify it if it were the universal standard. And logically, starship missions would have many different durations depending on their specific purpose.

    Of course, now Kelvin and Discovery have verified that other 5YMs existed before/aside from the one seen in TOS. But I accounted for that in my books long ago by establishing that 5 years was the recommended maximum tour duration for a Constitution-class ship before coming in for a full overhaul and refit. That way it isn't arbitrary, and it's flexible, since it's a recommended standard rather than an absolute stricture.


    Yes. I feel it was Arnold more than anyone else (and also the Star Wars tie-in publishers to an extent) who was responsible for infecting fandom with the notion that canon is some official seal of approval and validation that has to be formally handed down from on high, rather than simply a descriptive nickname for the complete original body of work as distinct from pastiches by outside creators. And Arnold was certainly responsible for propagating the gatekeeper approach to canon, the idea that it's a value judgment and anything outside it is unclean and heretical.
     
  10. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I had used to think of the 5YM as a unique exploration program Starfleet initiated in the early to mid 2260s. It's not explicit but I generally think of episodes like "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" as being pre-5YM. I still remember Michael Jan Friedman's 3rd "My Brother's Keeper" novel being explicit--noting after the events of WNMHGB, but before "The Corbomite Maneuver" that the Enterprise was returning to Earth to receive a refit (to explain the set design changes) prior to beginning it's 5 YM. I think that novel also explained the ship was being redesigned to accommodate almost twice the number of people (to explain how it only had 200+ people in "The Cage" and then over 400+ by the time of the 5YM). "The Captain's Oath" I recall kind of infers that if you want to read it that way.

    Prior to "The Corbomite Maneuver" I used to just assume the ships were out on missions for indeterminate periods before returning to a base. Maybe a year, two, or three. I don't really care for how much the 5YM has now proliferated to other eras. I don't even really care for the idea of a post-TMP 5YM. I used to think of that as just a non-predetermined mission time frame. Christopher touched on that a bit with "The Higher Frontier" with Kirk wanting to keep the Enterprise out longer and not wanting to return to Earth quite yet.

    But the 5YM has gotten a bit out of hand. Now every show that takes place in the 23rd century wants to use it as some Holy Grail. I think I liked it better when it was a 2260's program Starfleet had run, maybe as a program to experiment with long term exploration programs.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, Star Trek Into Darkness does establish that it's a new program as of 2259 in the Kelvin timeline. So there's that, at least.

    And DSC does at least imply that it's specific to the Enterprise or to Constitution class ships, since there's no mention of Discovery or Shenzhou or any other ship having a 5-year mission profile.
     
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  12. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    My point being that several of the novelists were active participants in those early letter zines. Definitely AC Crispin, Jean Lorrah, MS Murdock, Barbara Hambly, Sonni Cooper and, I am sure, Diane Duane as well? Marshak & Culbreath and Della Van Hise in other circles.
     
  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What other show set in the 23rd century has used a five-year mission?

    I suspect a lot of fandom thinking about five-year missions was influenced by the Okuda Chronology, which posited that the Enterprise had a five-year mission under April and two under Pike (the idea of two under Pike drawing on Spock's statement that he'd served under Pike for around eleven years). That certainly makes them seem standard for the Enterprise, at least.
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, but that's still conjecture, not hard evidence. A possibility is not a proven fact.


    Discovery referenced it in connection with Pike's Enterprise. It was explained at the start of season 2 that the Enterprise was uninvolved in the Klingon War because it had been out on the frontier conducting its 5-year mission.


    That assumption was around long before the Okudachron. References to Constitution-class ships having 5-year missions as a standard date back at least to the 1979 Spaceflight Chronology. IIRC, the fanzine article collection The Best of Trek 6 from 1983 reprinted a fan chronology (based largely on the SFC) that mentioned Pike having two 5YMs on the Enterprise.
     
  15. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I don't have a problem really with other Constitution class vessels having 5 year missions around the time the Enterprise has theirs. If it's a program Starfleet was trying out it makes sense they'd use it on more than one ship.

    The bigger issue I tend to have is the assumption that every Constitution class ship had 5YM's over and over again over a period of decades. It could simply be a program they tried in the 2260s with some of their ships. By the time of TNG exploration missions were for indeterminate periods, probably by then even lasting more than 5 years. And I always figured going backwards that they'd be less than 5 years--I mean, why does there have to be a set time frame at all outside the 2260s?

    That's sort of how "My Brother's Keeper: Enterprise" approached it and you could probably make a similar assumption with "The Captain's Oath" (though Christopher doesn't come out and say it--that's sort of the gist I got). Basically Kirk was in command of the Enterprise for maybe up to a year before the 5YM started (give or take). I believe "Strangers from the Sky" indicated something similar IIRC.

    I kind of prefer to think of it as something Starfleet did for a period of time sort of as a way to experiment with extended missions and it's effect on the ship and crew. Otherwise it makes less sense as a semi-permanent program. Usually you'd think they'd send a ship to explore an area which takes as long as it takes until they are either done or they have to return for either crew replacements or upgrades.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's why I interpreted it as the recommended maximum time between refits, rather than some strict, arbitrary parameter. What matters isn't the specific duration of the mission; what matters is its nature, an open-ended patrol/survey tour that keeps a ship on the frontier on a continuing basis, available for military incidents or distress calls or colony relief as needed, and free to conduct general exploration the rest of the time. It's about maintaining a Starfleet presence on the frontier, and the large, multipurpose Constitution-class vessels are the type best suited for that kind of open-ended, flexible mission profile, so you just keep them out in the field as long as they can reasonably sustain it, which for that class of starship is recommended to be five years.
     
  17. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, I agree with what you are saying. It just seems some people assume that 5YMs were some fixed concept that happened over and over again and with multiple ships. I was never sure why so many people obsessed over the need for the "5 Year Mission" as a fixed plot point for the 23rd century.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Because they heard the phrase in the title narration every time they watched an episode, and it got driven into their minds.
     
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  19. Spockskin

    Spockskin Commodore Premium Member

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    If there is about two weeks average between adventures, then five years = 260 weeks or 130 potential adventures. We have room for another 30. :techman:
     
  20. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    By that math we're already over capacity by almost 50. You have to account for the TV episodes too!