Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Brendan Moody, Jan 21, 2009.
"Oh starless night of boundless black..."
Woo hoo. UPS just delivered my copy.
Can't wait to read it.
Obtained a copy yesterday. Had to ask for them to search the back, but it was there.
Trudging my way through the MU anthology now (pretty dull to be honest), but I think I might read The Children of Hurin next. I need to build up another to-read pile.
But is that really relevant to the story itself? Most works of fiction contain references to events from the characters' past, even if they're standalones or series premieres. "The Cage" referred back to the recent Rigel VII battle, "Encounter at Farpoint" referred back to Riker & Troi's history, "Emissary" referred back to the death of Jennifer Sisko, "Caretaker" referred back to Tom Paris's criminal career, etc. In those cases, the viewer didn't wonder "Is this based on some earlier story?" And it wouldn't have mattered if it had been. If you're reading a Trek novel and constantly pulling yourself out of the story to wonder if each reference to the past is an allusion to some earlier novel, then you're creating unnecessary distractions for yourself. That's something to be curious about afterward, but it isn't important to know while you're reading. All that matters is whether its significance to this particular story is clear.
I'm not sure that blaming the readers is the way to go here. Surely the writers of Trek fiction are at least as much at fault (to the extent that it's worth talking in terms of blame and fault about something as trivial as this). It's true that most works of fiction contain such back-references, but most works of fiction aren't part of the current Star Trek fiction's continuity, which so delights in fanwank that most of the time back-references are to some other work. Filling books with such continuity nods creates an environment where people are inevitably going to be expecting and looking for them all the time, and wondering if they've missed something when a bit of it doesn't look familiar. It may not be what authors want to have happen, but it's something they've earned nonetheless.
Well, speaking as a fellow reader, references like that, even if I don't recognize them, never bother me in the least. So they've earned my reaction, too.
I got mine yesterday, and in less that 8 hours I am almost finished with it....
I need a mega trek book that is like 4000 pages or something to keep me going for a week or two at a time...
Who said there was any "blame" or "fault" here? I'm just making a suggestion.
True, but as I said, if you're thinking about that external stuff while you're reading the story, then you're not as immersed in the story as you should be. I don't care whose "fault" that is, because finding fault is addressing the wrong end of the problem. What matters is how you solve the problem. And I'm suggesting that the solution is to avoid letting the metatextual mindset get in the way while you're reading, to just let yourself experience the story as it unfolds, and save the continuity analysis for later.
To be fair, there's a difference between laying down a character's history in a TV pilot (or in his/her first novel appearance), and dropping a similar reference for a character who has appeared in a couple score of previous stories.
Now, of course, ASD is a bit of special case, since we've skipped four years in the lives of Ezri Dax, as well as the crews of the Gorkon and da Vinci. There are no doubt many stories that happened, including the reasons for Klag's promotion and David Gold's final decision to resign, and it really should be expected that there will be little hints to events from this mini-Lost Era.
I'm not sure that's entirely true -- that most of the back-references are to some other work, assuming by that you mean some other novel or short story (or comic book). In fact, I suspect (though I haven't sat and counted) that most of the references are to episodes and movies. And that sort of referencing is inevitable when you're tying into a series as sprawling as Star Trek, and that's not the fault of the novelists. Several times I've had readers e-mailing me asking what book X happened in that I referred to, and I had to tell them that it didn't, that was from an episode of one of the five TV shows.
I'm not sure what my point is, so instead I'll ask this question: is referring to other works of tie-in fiction inherently worse than referring to the TV episodes and movies being tied into?
Ah, yes, the inevitable "Well, some of us like it" response to any criticism of the fiction, as though that wasn't obvious.
Edit: well, that makes me sound a right jack@$$, eh? Sorry, Sci. What I meant to get across was that I wasn't suggesting all people are or should be bothered by such references. And that I despair of having to clarify this every time I make a negative comment about something, but that's the Internet for you, really.
I don't really think it's "worse," not least because I don't think either one is exactly bad. Not to my taste in some instances, but not bad. It's just that I think occasional reactions like Thrawn's are bound to happen when such references become common. An occupational hazard rather than a flaw, let's say.
One more thing. I don't necessarily agree with this:
Some referencing, yes, but not to as great a depth as is reached by some of the novels. The references to "Friday's Child" in ASD, for instance, aren't inevitable; they're the result of a choice to use a familiar planet and then explain how it's familiar. I don't dislike that: in fact, ASD uses Capella IV so thoughtfully that I welcome it. But it's not exactly inevitable all the same.
Thanks, and you're right, "inevitable" was probably the wrong word to use. But only some of the Capella IV backstory was from "Friday's Child." Some of it -- Akaar's overthrow and exile -- is from the fiction.
Or referring to an original backstory element that's not from any earlier work? You can't tell any story without establishing some amount of backstory, without explaining things about the past of the characters or the world that contribute to what's going on within the story itself. And as far as characters within the story are concerned, there's absolutely no difference between an event that happened in a broadcast episode or published novel and an event that was never chronicled for the audience. So as I see it, there shouldn't be any real difference between a reference to an episode, film, or book and a reference to a newly-created event from the characters' past. It's all just part of building backstory. The distinction doesn't exist to the characters within the universe, so it shouldn't inform the storytelling.
That's why I always try to mix episode/novel references with newly created backstory, to help give the sense that the shows and books are just glimpses into a larger universe, parts of the whole. And so that it works as worldbuilding and character-building rather than just fannish recapping.
Hey, I'll definitely plead guilty to hysteria - not being able to get KRAD's latest book is absolutely something to get hysterical over, in my book (horrible, inexcusable pun intended). Seems a bit misleading of the Borders website, though - you'd think there could be another option, or another way to convey the information that the book isn't out yet.
Fanwank? I never delighted in fanwa....oh, hell, I'm usually so much better at this poker face thing. Okay, I never delighted in fanwank that wasn't requested by the editor, howzat?
And, for the record, when KRAD still had time to run his stuff through our writer's group, we all took great pleasure in knocking the fanwank down a peg or ten. In other words, you should have seen the drafts WE saw.
I always did my level best to make every story (except perhaps for "Q"uandary) a jumping-on point. And if I had something that was reference before, like Corsi's axe, I tried to give a minimal backstory so the reader wouldn't feel like they had to go back to read a story to get the scene I was writing. I hate reading a "wait a minute, did I miss something" scene. The last thing I want to do is write it.
And I'm exceedingly conscious of that right now, what with writing a novel that runs concurrently with three seasons of a TV show.
Fair enough. My only motivation in posting the above was simply to illustrate that there are divergent opinions on this issue, and that for every person who gets irritated by an abundance of continuity references, there's someone else such as me who doesn't mind them, and for every person like me who doesn't mind them, there's someone else who LOVES them. The point being, of course, that they'll never satisfy everyone.
Christopher, I think you're being a little intentionally dense on this one. I wasn't concentrating on the metatextual part of the story, I was using the references that I caught to add depth to motivation, etc, within the story. That's why they're there, after all - to refer to earlier events that then inform the events we're seeing in the book. And, in almost every single case I can recall, including in KRAD's own previous very continuity-heavy works (AOTF, Q&A) I have very much enjoyed this approach. I even read or re-read about 20 books before I hit Destiny, just to make sure I'd be able to appreciate it as the galaxy-spanning epic I was assuming it'd be.
I am the kind of fan who argues FOR continuity, since it enhances the work so much in so many ways. Destiny, again, is the perfect example - it wouldn't have had the impact it did if we hadn't seen the Klingons, the particular characters that died on each world, Voyager, Excalibur, Bacco's administration, etc. It was a substantially better work for all of its "fanwank".
ASD, to me, seemed like it crossed the line a bit, though, from references that informed the story to "I bet you all are curious about what's happened to (insert species or character here), so I'll spend 3 pages updating you, even though it's not particularly relevant". And there is something to be said for that, since this is so far in the future of SCE and Klingon Empire, etc. I understand the appeal. But it's not quite the same thing as "just enjoy the story and wait and figure out the continuity after you're done reading"...which, in many cases, I did anyway (Dax & Derro - I asked after I finished the novel).
I love KRAD, and think Articles is one of the four or five best Trek books I've ever read. But in this particular case, I think the continuity references were often for their own sake rather than for the sake of the story. It made me feel as though I was missing something, even when I wasn't. Which is not because I wasn't "just letting myself experience the story as it unfolds". This is, in fact, the first time I've had this complaint with a book, Christopher; it's not like I'm angered by backstory.
Let me pose this question, if I may: Do you think it would have worked better for you had KRAD forgotten Stevens and used an entirely new SCE crew in ASD, without a mention of the da Vinci? Or if the Klingon skirmishes had been with an unknown ship, without reference to Klag or the Gorkon?
Actually no, but I think that having captains Leskit and Toq coming into the room would've been plenty to let us know they'd been promoted, without having long backstory of how they got there taking up time for anyone who didn't know who Leskit and Toq were. The people who were interested would've gotten it, the people who weren't would've just seen two names.
And as for the SCE crew, it seemed like the only way in which Stevens's backstory was at all important to the story was in the fact of the magic paint, which it seems to me could've been gotten pretty quickly without the backstory dump there, too.
Separate names with a comma.