Continuity

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by David Weller, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. Damian

    Damian Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    I like Diane Carey's stories. I'm reading her Captain's Table book now for Captain Janeway. Her books are written quite a bit different from other authors. I see her background reflected in her books, but being that I have very little familiarity with it personally, I always find the details in her book a bit hard to follow at points. I find that I have to re-read paragraphs because I suddenly realize I missed something important or something I didn't quite understand. I don't intend that as a criticism, and I don't mind the different style so much. But it ends up taking me twice as long to get through her books. As a comparison I read the last DS9 Gamma book in about 2 weeks. I've been reading Carey's Captain's Table for 2 weeks and am only about halfway through it. Her stories are always very good, so I don't think twice about reading them, but I have to make sure I stay focused when reading it.
     
  2. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2005
    I mean that she's big on the age of sail, which was very much an all male environment on ships. Of course modern day sailing would be much more diverse.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Yes, I know that's what you mean -- you were quite clear. What you were saying was easy to understand, but it's also easy to disprove by considering additional facts, because a woman who actually served on sailing ships would obviously not feel she had to exclude women from a story to give it an authentic nautical feel. Especially not a story that was as clearly personal to her as Ship of the Line was. It's contradictory to look at a book she wrote from such a deeply personal place and assume she felt a need to exclude people like herself from it.
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    And, in "Battlestations!", Kirk takes the young female Piper out on his sailing ship.

    "Fire Ship" is an excellent Janeway novel! Couldn't put it down! It is set between her two major hairstyles and explains the loss of the "bun of steel".
     
  5. borgboy

    borgboy Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2005
    I may be wrong, but my feeling was that she was trying to recreate an Age of Sail atmosphere, which is decidedly all male. Whatever her motivation, she did create a very male cast.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    And I've explained why I think you are wrong. For Diane Carey, the romance of sailing ships wasn't part of some abstract dead past -- it was part of her own real-life experience for many years. And Ship of the Line was by far the most personal Trek novel she ever wrote when it came to her sailing experience. It was a tribute to her own lost ship and crew. Even when I first read it, I could tell how personal it was for her just from the dedication at the front and the poem at the end, and from the tone of the narrative. A lot of her books had been steeped in a maritime flavor, but none more than this one. That's why I wondered if the Bozeman characters were based on her own crewmates from the Alexandria. But I suppose she would've used Picard and Bateson as the surrogates for her own feelings about the loss of her ship. So if she was the only woman on that crew, that could explain why all the other characters she created were men.
     
  7. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    (@Christopher and I are both from Cincinnati.) When I went to college halfway through Enterprise and got cable, I was amazed at how good the show looked. I had no idea how much the special effects on Star Trek had improved since the early Voyager years.

    Channel 25's signal quality was poor there was a rumor it was run out of a guy's basement (I remember my mom telling me this as truth). The rumor was so pervasive it was addressed on the channel's web site directly.
     
  8. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    I think you're dismissing this a little strongly, @Christopher. Carey was definitely leaning into the Age of Sail thing-- the book is named after a Horatio Hornblower novel after all! (My copy is in storage, but aren't the chapter epigraphs all from Hornblower novels?) It's perfectly possible for Carey to be pulling from her own contemporary experiences and historical nostalgia. Nostalgia for the Age of Sail underpins a lot of her Trek fiction-- we shouldn't forget her contribution to Enterprise Logs!

    Also surely Carey's most nautical book is Ancient Blood, where Alexander completes a Klingon ritual by hanging out on an eighteenth-century sailing ship. For you know, reasons.

    EDIT: Just remembered that Bateson's first officer is named Bush, who was Hornblower's first officer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
    Idran, TheAlmanac and borgboy like this.
  9. Ensign_Rowan_McGrath

    Ensign_Rowan_McGrath Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2017
    Location:
    Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
    My interpretation is that Diane Carey likely thought no one would think to note the female characters on screen as closely as we did.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Granted, but as I said, this is clearly her most personal book. I just don't see how "There shouldn't be any women on a sailing ship" and "I want to pay tribute to the sailing ship that I (a woman) served on for many years" are ideas that can coexist in the same head at the same time. There's obviously a lot of Hornblower influence in the book, but I'm not convinced that's the explanation for the all-male bridge crew specifically.

    That's why I wonder if the crew was inspired by her real-life shipmates, an exercise in Tuckerization, as it's called. If that crew happened to be overwhelmingly male aside from Carey, then it wouldn't be that she was consciously trying to exclude women as a class, just that the characters ended up that way because of who she was basing them on.


    Overall, no, because the nautical stuff is a holodeck subplot in a book that's mainly about Worf infiltrating a "planetary crime network." I'm not talking about the literal inclusion of sailing ships, I'm talking about how pervaded the book is with the nautical spirit and mindset, even if portrayed metaphorically through starships in space. In that respect, I'd say Carey's most nautical books are Ship of the Line, Fire Ship, and The Great Starship Race. (Heck, Ancient Blood doesn't even have Ship in the title! ;) )
     
    iarann and Markonian like this.
  11. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Well, I sometimes have trouble understanding how Star Trek and Carey's well-known hard-Libertarian mindset (to the point of putting a hard-libertarian comment into a Vulcan's mouth) can coexist in the same head at the same time.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Besides, Ship of the Line is hardly Carey's only Hornblower-influenced, nautical-themed book, but the other ones do have female characters in the crews -- notably Piper, of course, and Janeway in Fire Ship. That's what's so odd about SotL's Bozeman crew. What could've motivated her there that wasn't a factor in the other books?
     
    borgboy likes this.
  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    I do suspect some Tuckerization, but I still think you're overstating the mutual exclusivity of these things. "I am going to pay tribute to my (male) shipmates" and "I am going to heavily homage the (almost exclusively male) Hornblower novels" are equally plausible factors.

    Actually, aren't most of Carey's original concepts pretty male-heavy? Piper's supporting cast is all men except for Merete AndrusTaurus, the April crew has only one woman (the captain's wife!), and wasn't there just one woman in the Challenger cast? Going from one woman to no women isn't much of change.
     
    JonnyQuest037 and borgboy like this.
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I guess it's a question of the specific phrasing. What bugged me was the suggestion that she consciously, deliberately chose to erase the female characters from the Bozeman crew because of some perception that there shouldn't be any in a nautical/Hornblowerish book. It seems more likely that it was just something that happened unconsciously, that the absence of women was an oversight rather than a specific goal.

    Sure, the all-male bridge crew conflicts with "Cause and Effect," but so does the depiction of the Typhon Expanse as a settled, routinely patrolled part of Federation space near the Klingon border, when the episode explicitly describes it four times (or one time over and over again) as uncharted space. And doesn't she also invert the order of "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Chain of Command"? So clearly her research was imperfect. She may not even have noticed there were women on the Bozeman bridge. Heck, I didn't notice the discrepancy when I first read the novel.
     
  15. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    Maybe Carey was thinking that those women were just men who cross-dressed.
     
  16. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Now, don't get me wrong, I love Diane Carey's stuff, at least the good stuff, like the Piper novels that manage to demonstrate that "good" and "Mary-Sue" can go together (at least if you're willing to turn the subgenre on its ear, and you have the chops to pull it off), and like the Captain April stuff, but ye vish, Sarda spouting lines that fly right in the face of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
     
    TheAlmanac likes this.
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I still say the Piper novels aren't in the Mary Sue genre, they're in the "Lower Decks" genre. They were the first attempt to tell a Star Trek story from the perspective of junior officers on the Enterprise rather than the TV leads, as well as the first attempt to do one in the first person. A Mary Sue is a nominal guest character who overshadows the characters who should be the leads, because the leads are written out of character to weaken them. But in the Piper novels, Piper, Sarda, Scanner, and Merete are the lead characters and Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. are the supporting characters. And yet Kirk, Spock, etc. are consistently five steps ahead of Piper and her hapless gang. If anything, Kirk is the Mary Sue in Piper's story. (Although Piper does take on some Sue-ish qualities in the sequel, with how quickly she ends up in Kirk's inner circle, as well as playing a key role in exposing a second galactic conspiracy in as many months.)

    Generally, though, the term "Mary Sue" is misunderstood. It wasn't meant to refer to any story that focused on an impressive guest character -- after all, guest-centric storytelling was commonplace in '60s and '70s TV, and TOS did its share of episodes that centered heavily on the guests (e.g. "Where No Man," "Mudd's Women," "Charlie X," etc.). Mary Sue stories are examples of that approach done badly, where the guest characters are just authorial self-insertions that aren't really good or interesting enough to drive a story and are made impressive only by diminishing the surrounding characters. So, yes, absolutely there are good guest-centric stories, but I don't agree that they should be called Mary Sue stories. Especially since far too many people these days just use it as a sexist label for any prominent female character. That usage has tainted it to the point that it should probably be abandoned altogether.
     
    Jinn likes this.
  18. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I would argue that (1) "Mary-Sue" and "Lower Decks" are not mutually exclusive (and one could argue that the former is even a proper subset of the latter), and that (2) the key characteristic of a Mary-Sue is not generally poor writing or generally poor storytelling, but rather blatant, obvious-ad-absurdum, author-insertion.

    Sure, we see Kirk waiting for Piper, and asking (did he do so in so many words?) "what took you so long," but we also see her making the Kobayashi Maru scenario fight itself, and we see her escaping confinement to quarters by MacGyvering the fire alarm with a curling iron. And as if the author insertion weren't blatant enough, Piper serves as Carey's mouthpiece for expounding hard-Libertarian ideas. What makes the Piper books good Mary-Sues is that they subvert and parody the Mary-Sue genre.
     
    TheAlmanac and borgboy like this.
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No, I don't think so, not in this case. Again, a Mary Sue is a guest character, but Piper and her team were the lead characters of those particular novels. That's what people don't get. The Piper novels were sort of like the first novel-original spinoff, books focusing on a different set of main characters than the TV cast, like New Frontier, Corps of Engineers, Titan, DTI, etc. It's just that, since they were the first of their breed, they were still set aboard Kirk's Enterprise and had the TOS cast as major supporting characters. They were an attempt to do something very new, something that hadn't been done before, and it's doing them a disservice to lump them into the stock category of "Mary Sue." Yes, there's an element of author insertion to them, and yes, that also happens to be a factor in "Mary Sue" stories, but focusing on that one aspect just blinds people to all the rest. Which is why mistaking pat, hackneyed labels for meaningful critical analysis is so foolhardy. Labels, at best, are just the first, most simplistic step in trying to understand something more complex, but too many people mistake labeling for the end of the process instead of the beginning.
     
  20. Damian

    Damian Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Battlestations was the very first original Star Trek novel I read. I had just become a Trekkie. Someone bought me the book and I loved it. I made sure to get Dreadnought next and I've been reading Trek novels ever since, though I had to take a break while I was in college.