Filling in gaps with the novels

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by darth_ender, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, it always kind of bugged me that all the Pike stories gravitated around that period rather than exploring the subsequent decade-plus of Pike's captaincy. Legacy and Burning Dreams are the only books I know of that delved into those later years, but only piecemeal. Early Voyages managed to move somewhat beyond "The Cage," but was cancelled too soon to get very far.
     
  2. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, the 1989-96 DC Comics run was pretty great, and David's (and Weinstein's) work on those stories set aboard the Enterprise-A really helped fill in the wait between the movies.

    Interestingly, if you read his novel The Rift (set in 2287, concurrent with the second year of Kirk's command of the Ent-A and those comics), there is an "Ensign Tooch" who makes an appearance in the story as a transporter chief aboard the starship.

    This character was originally written in the manuscript as Ensign Sara Tuchinsky, a frequent recurring character in the DC Comics stories, but was reportedly changed at the order of Paramount (i.e., Richard Arnold, likely as not), who at the time decreed that the novels and comics could not cross over characters and events, but David still managed to keep her in the narrative as "Ensign Tooch."

    (...At least, in my mind, she's still Tuchinsky whenever I re-read that book.)

    Years later, Howard Weinstein finally managed to include her aboard the Enterprise-A in the novella Mere Anarchy: The Blood-Dimmed Tide (set around two years prior to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). Guess maybe Paramount's attitude had changed considerably by that point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  3. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  4. darth_ender

    darth_ender Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I didn't include an Enterprise-A portion of my list, and I should. There is a lot of interesting stuff there, and it hadn't even occurred to me when putiting together my book wishlist. After all, as far as we see, that vessel gets almost no love, no attention. They just commission it, it goes through the Great Barrier, and they're ready to decommission it right away. It'd be nice to see it run on a few adventures too.
     
  5. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which lends credence to the idea that it wasn't a brand new ship when it was launched as the Enterprise-A.
     
  6. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not a prob, and I agree with you 100 percent that among all of the "hero" starships Enterprise (i.e., those with more than one episode or feature film dedicated to their exploits), the NCC-1701-A is strangely underrepresented when it comes to non-filmic storytelling, particularly in the prose area.

    When you look at the novels published by Pocket Books from 1987 to the present, there are only two taking place entirely aboard the Enterprise-A between Star Trek IV and VI (Probe and Dayton Ward's In the Name of Honor), while virtually all the others only feature the starship in a partial capacity (as one narrative thread among two or three such threads).

    You'd think that more authors would've been eager to pick up the reins after the rather-intense events of The Wrath of Khan/Search for Spock/The Voyage Home trilogy (Spock dead then resurrected, Kirk's son murdered, the original Enterprise destroyed, Earth threatened, Kirk demoted, and to top it all off, a brand-new starship commissioned and given to the crew), but evidently there was less motivation to do this than one might initially think.

    Most of the TOS novel-series of those decades still ended up focusing upon either the original five-year-mission television era, or upon the 12 years between TMP and TWoK. Granted, there were some very compelling, character-driven stories to be told during that latter period (Ex Machina, Spock's World, Time For Yesterday), but it was DC Comics who picked up the slack almost immediately after the release of Star Trek IV, and who started chronicling the voyages of the new USS Enterprise practically as soon as the film entered theaters (by publication standards).

    Strictly from a marketing standpoint, one would think that the novel-buying audience (and especially casual novel-buyers, who only pay attention to the movies, and who might pick up a ST novel at the grocery store if the movie-crew was on the cover) would've been more interested in tales occurring aboard Captain Kirk's brand-new command, but peculiarly this was never followed through upon.

    Also, one wonders why DC Comics decided to move ahead with furthering this era while Pocket Books did not -- perhaps due to company-specific licensing agreements with Paramount? Or likelier, simply differences in editorial direction and priorities?

    While we know from the lettercolumns that they were attempting to work with Harve Bennett and the movie studio in not stepping on the toes of the next feature film (as had occurred twice before), was this a factor in Pocket's decision to largely abstain from dealing with this time period?

    This has something of a modern-day counterpart, with Bad Robot's decision to cancel the publication of already-written Abramsverse novels set between ST09 and STID (as I understand it from Christopher and others), but I've long wondered why Pocket and possibly Paramount went in a very unexpected direction post-1986, as well.
     
  7. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    Well we know that the A is in service for at least 3 years, since Sulu mentions at the beginning of 6 being in command of Excelsior for 3 years, so Starfleet did allow for the A to have a few adventures between 5 and 6.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I doubt it was any kind of top-down company policy. Usually it's the authors who come up with the ideas for novels. These days we have various story arcs that the editors propose and coordinate, but it's still largely up to the authors to work out the specifics, and of course back then there were no such overall arcs. So if we didn't see a lot of movie-era books, it's because the novelists weren't as interested in pursuing that period.

    I think it's just a function of the difference between the novel and comic formats. Comics are a monthly serial narrative whose readers are accustomed to seeing them tell a continuing, forward-moving story that progresses with the times. Within that context, any story that's set in an earlier period feels like a flashback, an interruption of the overall narrative. But novels are more discrete and self-contained units, so there's not as much of a sense of forward progression, and thus it's more natural for them to jump around in time.

    And maybe Pocket's authors and editor didn't feel a need to develop the E-A era because DC was already doing so. It would've been redundant for them both to do the same kind of stories.
     
  9. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Enterprise-A definitely saw quite a few years' worth of adventures under the command of Captain Kirk -- eight years' worth, to be precise, and lots of significant events happened during those years, including some fairly major first contact situations, several planetary wars and interventions, etc.

    Indeed, many of the stories told in both DC Comics runs eclipse Star Trek V in sheer scope, for example; one is missing out on a major chunk of the careers of Kirk and his officers if one skips over these stories.

    (Going from The Final Frontier to The Undiscovered Country as a viewer, it's pretty clear that many intervening years and events have taken place between the two films -- Kirk becoming a cynical, grudging participant in the peace conference; the bridge and structural refits of the Enterprise-A, etc. -- and both the comics and the novels serve as excellent "bridging" structures in this sense, particularly In the Name of Honor.)

    You bring up a very interesting point concerning the perception of events, too -- going strictly from the movies themselves, to a purely-casual viewer, it seems from certain dialogue-cues that the ship launched in 2286, and then went straight to the Great Barrier following a brief shore leave period at the beginning of Star Trek V.

    It's actually onscreen dialogue in the TNG episode "Evolution" which canonically places the events of The Final Frontier in 2287, at least nine months (and possibly longer) after the launch seen at the end of Star Trek IV; the Okuda Chronology reflects this, too.

    Could be, but I've personally always had trouble buying into that theory, since we know that the starship had a reasonably-lengthy service record under Captain Kirk (at least as long as the Enterprise-D's history), but also because the notion that the Ent-A was another ship recommissioned and renamed only comes from a couple of anecdotal comments made by Roddenberry after the release of Star Trek IV, while other official sources establish the Ent-A as a new-build vessel (the former USS Atlantis in the FASA Star Trek IV Sourcebook; the former USS Ti-Ho in Shane Johnson's Guide to the Enterprise).

    It's pretty obvious that the decision to decommission the Enterprise-A at the end of The Undiscovered Country was a somewhat arbitrary, contrived creative decision on the part of the screenwriters to enhance the drama and the poignancy of the "classic" crew's final onscreen moments (when it could have VERY easily been repaired in drydock, as subsequent novels would, in fact, do), similar to the decision to "kill" the Enterprise-D in Generations (audience-fatigue with the old design).

    Granted, most long-serving starships tend to have histories spanning decades, not a portion of one, which could still rule in the other direction, but at least as a personal taste-thing I've always tended to go with either FASA or Shane Johnson's interpretations.
     
  10. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That last notion is the same direction I was kinda leaning in, too -- we know that there was at least one major all-licensee "catch-all" summit meeting after TNG finished its first season, and perhaps it was decided there that DC would tackle the Enterprise-A years, while Pocket would continue developing TOS television-era and post-TMP-era storylines.

    It would make sense to not oversaturate the marketplace TOO much with multiple creative takes on the same time period, and with potentially-contradictory storylines, which seemed to be more the rule than the exception back in those days (despite the efforts of some creators to maintain a unified, consistent continuity).

    Strictly from an emotional and characterization standpoint, you'd think that there would be far more grist to mill as an author writing these characters coming in the aftermath of the then-recent feature films, as opposed to the TV series era -- the "reset-button" principle was in full effect at that point for those latter stories, and any development was (by necessity) quite limited for the TV-era crew.

    Contrast this with the movie era, with its large, concentrated bursts of character development across two hours or so every two or three years (lacking the luxury of 26 episodes a year), and it was now a very different situation. Suddenly, the characters had no choice but to evolve, and quickly, which I think could have sometimes been better reflected in the novels of the time (and, to be fair, some actually did do this effectively).

    Again, though, if you were a writer at that time working for Pocket and/or DC Comics, you were also looking down the barrel of Paramount Pictures, who weren't necessarily inclined to allow MASSIVE amounts of character-development in their intra-movie licensed storytelling, which proved to be a stumbling block once or twice for certain authors. It was a fine line to walk, but more often than not, they succeeded.


    An interesting side-note to all this:

    I recently re-read the novel Sarek (after probably 17 years), and noticed that A.C. Crispin went with the dating-assumption that only three years passed between the Whale Probe crisis and the Khitomer conference -- there are dialogue references all over the novel to this ("But Kruge dying at the Genesis Planet happened over three years ago!"), yet in one or two spots (Captain's Log entries, from what I remember), the correct figure of eight years is actually used.

    I'm guessing that perhaps one of the Pocket editors (or Crispin herself) caught this in time to correct the log-entries per the official Okuda Chronology, but the in-dialogue references to "three years" somehow went unfixed in the final galleys.

    Either way, I got a chuckle out of this.
     
  11. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Since it has to be speculation, I agree it's up to personal taste, but to me it seems that 8 years is an unreasonably short life span for a starship. Especially considering the 1701 was in service for 40 years before it was up for decommissioning, and (if I'm remembering right from the Technical Manual) a Galaxy class ship was expected to be in service for about a century.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although Harve Bennett has subsequently said that he intended there to be a 6-month shakedown cruise between TVH and TFF.


    Umm, the only thing I can find in "Evolution" that might be what you're thinking of is Data's line "There has not been a systems-wide technological failure on a starship in 79 years," which comes out to early 2287 give or take. But at most, that only demonstrates that TFF can't be any later than 2287. The line doesn't preclude it being earlier -- since there are other starships besides the Enterprise.


    But there's no way they could've built a brand-new ship during the trial and had it ready to go shortly afterward. So either it was a ship already in service before the trial or a ship already under construction before the trial but not launched until afterward. Either way, it would've undergone a name change/assignment to Enterprise rather late in the game. (Although I think a lot of ships are only given names at the time of commissioning -- not sure, though.)


    Well, actually, it was stated at the start of the movie that it was the crew that was slated to "stand down" in three months, and at the end Uhura just said that "we" were "to be decommissioned." After which Kirk's log entry said "This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew." So I don't think TUC explicitly stated that the ship itself would be decommissioned. That line implies that they were at least allowing for the possibility that the ship could continue under a new crew. It wasn't until Generations that it became unambiguously clear that the ship itself had been mothballed and replaced with a new Enterprise.


    No. Definitely not. That's what I'm trying to tell you: the creative process in the novels is not "top down" like so many fans seem to mistakenly believe. They don't tell us what to write. We come up with the ideas, individually. That's what they hire us for. Why would they spend money to hire creative people and then not let us do the creating?

    Besides, DC had already been doing movie-era comics for over five years at that point, and Pocket had been doing books in multiple eras for even longer. So why would they have needed some special "summit" to "decide" to do what they'd already been doing all along?

    Keep in mind that all the people who were writing DC's Trek comics regularly at the time in question -- Peter David and Howard Weinstein on TOS, Michael Jan Friedman on TNG -- were also regular Trek novelists at the time. So it was all one community of authors, novels and comics alike. They didn't need some higher authority to impose coordination; they were already colleagues and probably acquaintances. So any coordination that did happen would've been on the individual author level, a matter of personal choice. Like the sort of stuff the novelists do today. There was no editorial dictate for Dayton Ward to write a book (From History's Shadow) that tied into both Greg Cox's Gary Seven books and my own DTI books; Dayton did that because he wanted to, because he was familiar with our work and wanted to connect to it. And I'm not going to my editor and pitching novels about Voyager's return to the Delta Quadrant because I know Kirsten Beyer already has that well in hand.


    Or it could be much, much simpler than that. It could just be that a lot of the writers straight up didn't like TFF and thus weren't interested in exploring that period. That's probably part of the reason why there's been so little post-TMP fiction over the years. Most authors are drawn to the more popular parts of the franchise: TOS itself, TWOK, TVH, and TUC. So a lot of authors have gravitated to those periods -- there's a ton of TOS books, most of the post-TMP stuff gravitates toward the period shortly before TWOK, and there's a disproportionate number of post-TUC followups. Sure, the E-A era is nominally post-TVH, but the influence of TFF probably sours it for a lot of people. It's only the occasional writer who's motivated to fill in those less popular areas -- Dayton with TFF, myself with TMP, that sort of thing. We'd probably see a lot more E-A novels if TFF had been a more popular movie. That strikes me as the simplest and most likely explanation.
     
  13. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This makes sense -- Scotty gives a "shakedown cruise report" in TFF, but some people I've spoken to seemed to think that ST V takes places just days after ST IV (Kirk gets command of a brand-new starship and then immediately goes on shore leave?). Although some type of massive systems failure taking place mere hours or days afterwards might explain such a thing, it's also equally unlikely.


    True, although it's pretty obvious that the writer(s) of the episode intended it to be a direct reference for casual viewers to the NCC-1701-A's systems failure in the (then-) most recent movie (having released just two or three months before the episode premiered).

    What kinda annoys me about the TV dialogue reference is that it automatically assumes that (A) Starfleet's overall strength is exceedingly small, and (B) that, as you mention, there hasn't been ANOTHER starship besides the two Enterprises that has experienced a major malfunction over the past eight decades? On the various TV shows before and since, such malfunctions hit seemingly every other week, but suddenly Starfleet enjoys a massive 80-year holiday period of perfect operational efficiency?

    (And across presumably hundreds of major fleet ships over the better part of a century, no less?)


    This was something Shane Johnson's guide went into, IIRC -- the USS Ti-Ho had been undergoing its deep-space trials for weeks leading up to the Whalesong crisis when it became stuck in Earth Spacedock upon its return, along with the rest of the fleet there.

    The implication from the movie is that more weeks and maybe even months go by between the HMS Bounty's return with the whales and the re-launching of the Enteprise-A, possibly between the final ocean-scene and the trial sequence. Starfleet would've needed at least that much time to repaint the hull (whether new-build or recommissioned) to reflect the new service registry, etc.


    Good point, and that's an interesting way to look at the ending, there -- hadn't quite considered it in that light (that the crew, not the ship, would be "decommissioned"). Although Diane Carey did include that final bit at the very end of Best Destiny with President Ra-ghoratreii announcing to Kirk's crew that the decision to mothball the starship had been "reversed," along with a reprieve for the entire Constitution class itself.

    Still, again, that works for me, and subsequent novels (except for a couple, including The Fearful Summons) used that little proclamation to keep the Ent-A in service a little while longer until it was certain that the Ent-B would soon be debuting.


    I phrased that incorrectly -- I wasn't implying that Pocket or Paramount were pre-dictating storylines to authors to go off and write on their own; I know that you and other writers submit your own personal proposals to them, not the other way around. Was typing that in a rush, and I got sloppy with my wording, there.

    In that post, I was merely recalling something Peter David once recounted in one of his CBG columns about there being a licensee "summit meeting" at Paramount, similar to what Lucasfilm used to do for Star Wars, in the summer of 1989 (right after TNG finished its first season), where the entire licensing arrangement was significantly redefined -- like most, I have no hard information as to the exact nature of what was said by whom and where at the meeting, including whatever decisions/agreements were made between Pocket and Paramount, apart from a few generally-known facts.

    Pocket had certainly no small experience in multiple-era storytelling (expanded even further by the addition of the TNG era), but in previous posts I bring up the possibility you mentioned that the authors of the time simply weren't as interested in telling post-TVH movie-period stories as they were in TOS television-period ones. I get what you're saying, and all that; I think I got misunderstood a bit, there, is all, which is fine (and was my fault...apologies for that).


    Same here. Had similar thoughts myself occasionally, that Star Trek V was the catalyst for a backlash/reaction against pitching further stories set in that post-Voyage Home era (it wasn't exactly a favorite of mine for some years afterward, either), and it's something that makes sense.

    While the DC Comics runs both covered the time period pretty adequately, they were also pre-established and up-and-running (1989 reboot notwithstanding), and presumably had enough sales success to justify a continuation in working in the immediate post-TFF period, despite the lukewarm reception the movie itself had recently gotten.

    It was due in no small part to the talents of the writers involved (David, Weinstein) that the era was kept as relatively vital as it was, creatively-speaking, during a time when fans were calling into question the very possibility of there even being a sixth feature film, period.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I wouldn't say it's obvious, since it never occurred to me, but I guess you have a point.


    Data didn't say there hadn't been any major malfunctions in 79 years. He said specifically that there hadn't been a "systems-wide technological failure," which would mean something affecting all ship systems at once, and implicitly something that was a breakdown from within -- a failure of the technology itself -- rather than something induced by external causes. (At the time he said it, they hadn't yet determined that the nanites were the cause of the malfunctions.)

    I mean, we had seen the Enterprise itself suffer system breakdowns and disruptions in earlier episodes, as well as other ships like the Yamato. So Data wasn't saying there'd been no prior malfunctions -- there's no way that's a valid reading of the line. He was referring to a specific category of massive, systemic failure.


    Plus they were just continuing in the usual pattern of tie-in comics, which was to stay current with the latest movie. Marvel's 1980 comic was set after TMP, DC's comic started after TWOK and moved on past TSFS and TVH, so it was only natural that Volume 2 would pick up after the latest movie. The only reason it didn't jump forward past TUC when that movie came out is because that movie was so overtly the swan song.

    And note that it wasn't until sometime after the comic no longer had to keep current with the latest movie that it shifted its focus to the 5-year mission era.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Indeed, the drawback to setting novels after TFF is that you might actually have to watch TFF . . . :)

    Seriously, as Christopher was saying, it would be a mistake to assume that there was much top-down "show-running" going on back in those days. Certainly, no editor at Pocket ever told me to stay away from the Enterprise-A. The conversations were usually more like: "We need a Voyager novel for next fall. Got any ideas?"

    As for licensing summits, I don't know how Star Wars works, but I attended a couple of such summits for Farscape and, honestly, they were mostly about sales and marketing: ad exchanges, cross-promotions, combined sales campaigns, that kind of thing. I don't recall us discussing plot lines at all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  16. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I won't watch it if you don't !
     
  17. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I think VI states it implicitly, since just the way Uhura acts to the decommission order with her pause there, it sounds like she was just expecting it to be a regular order to report to base, at which point Kirk and crew would stand down and retire. And I don't think she needs to repeat Starfleet's order of "...where the crew shall stand down and the Enterprise shall be decommissioned." And I think Kirk picks up on that very clearly without having to relisten to the orders.