Literate Trek Novels

^I figure it's just the old myth that only "original" creation is worthwhile and working on an idea that somebody else worked on first is inferior. Which is ridiculous, since every work of creativity is inspired by earlier works, or a response to them in some way. We all build on the work of others, even in our original work.

But you're right, it is an odd double standard to dismiss novelists who work in a franchise universe but not apply the same stigma to writing staffers or freelancers writing for the same franchise on TV. Although another of the pervasive elitist stereotypes out there is that TV writing is inferior to literary writing -- which is ridiculous, since some of the finest writers alive today, like Aaron Sorkin, work in television.
I would back him up on that assumption 100%.

Well, if you're going to back him, let's see what you've got. Don't be distracted by the words "prejudice" and "elitist". Those will just put you on the defensive.

To prove that all spin-off lit is inferior to all non-spin-off lit, you'll need to find the worst non-spin-off and compare it to the best spin-off. Frankly, I don't think you can. :)

So let's see you do that. Or else, just concede, because your debate opponent is very skilled and will make mincemeat out of you, especially if you let him get you on the defensive.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned this, but Laurell K. Hamilton wrote Nightshade back in 1992, which was just reprinted in 2010. I realize that it's not the best book (all through out the book I found that Worf felt like a horse pulling at the reigns and he was not being reigned in properly) in the Trek franchise, but Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the top authors in Science Fantasy right now with her vampire novels.

But, two novels that I think you could easily read and get a good sense of the characters and the way the stories are suppose to work, where both written by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch, are The Escape (1995) and By The Book (2001). I first read both books when, with Voyager I had only seen one or two episodes, and with Enterprise, zero episodes, and I was able to go in and come away feeling as though I had read a complete story and there were no plot threads let dangling, and the characters were well defined (even though in both cases both books were the inaugral books of their respective series, following the pilot novelizations).
Literature is the preserved written artifacts of a culture. One of my favorite examples is Moby Dick. Melville wrote within the Nautical Tales genre that was popular in the 19th century. Moby Dick basically examines the entire whaling industry of the day. It was not a hit. But in the early twentieth century, long after he died, the novel caught on. It was a new world. After the inventions of the dynamo and the combustion engine, it was all about oil and electricity. So, you see, the culture that existed for the writing of Moby Dck was almost gone. It was becoming legend. People had distance and could step back and see what written artifacts exemplified this disappearing culture. And that is why Moby Dick changed from being a genre novel into Literature, with a capital L. If you think about ancient Greece you can follow this logic and know why Homer is Literature. It is intrinsic to the culture. Our desire to remember inclines us to cling to these written artifacts.

From my point of view you can not claim that any current writing is Literature, or literary. (I know he said literate, but I am assuming that's a malapropism.) Our culture is still on-going. We do not have the mental distance to stand back and assess the written artifacts of our culture and correctly state which ones deserve to be preserved. We can only guess what future generations will choose.

Also remember that drama is literature, and the drama of our culture will face the same reaper as the novels. The Star Trek franchise includes drama that may or may not be chosen to represent our culture by future generations. It depends on them, really, not on us. The generations in the future of Sappho decided to destroy her work. They burned it in front of the Library of Alexandria. All we have are scraps. That could happen to Trek, too. We do not control that.

But I really hope that future generations decide to keep Trek as they have kept Gilbert & Sullivan or Italian opera. I hope they still have two-dimensional displays and occasionally watch episodes, and I hope they will continue to read and maybe even have Trek Lit courses for an easy A in community colleges. But until they do, none of it is Literature.

Finally, if the original post meant to ask for literary Trek novels, I don't really know if we can agree on a meaning for that phrase. If you set out to write in a literary manner, you will always fail. The only writing that can come of someone trying to be literary is imitation. It's a paradox, too, that you can't intentionally avoid imitation to be "creative". So the good ones write the book they want to read and say to heck with all that jibber-jabber. If that's the question I can only say, thank goodness, no. I don't believe any of the Trek writers set out to be literary. That would be awfully boring.

But if you meant to ask, "Are they well-edited?", the answer is yes. I don't notice many spelling errors or sentences that fall apart. One or two times in a book I will have to re-read a sentence but that's because of the modern American tendency to avoid excessive use of commas. This happens in everything nowadays anyway, so older readers just have to get over wanting more commas. But the editing is fine; these folk are professionals.

That said, the real reason we read these books is because we like the characters and can't get enough of them. If you're looking for literature it's over in 811, in the big room over there.
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Q-Squared is one of my favorite older books. It's been years since I read it, so I can't say how well it would hold up now, but it's just a lot of fun.

I am finishing it up now, and I can tell you it doesn't really hold up. It's written like fan fiction and somewhat poorly at that. It has been disappointing. But the concept is really neat, which is what drew me to it in the first place. As far as I know, it's the only official (though non-canonical) source linking Q and Trelane. (If I'm wrong, let me know so I can go out and get another book!)
I much preferred Jeffrey Deaver's Bond novel, even though Faulkes is regarded by critics as a literary heavyweight and Deaver as 'merely' a popular author.

I think that's such a spurious distinction, between "literary" and "popular" fiction. Generally it's the more popular stuff that endures through the ages. In Shakespeare's time, plays were popular entertainment, the TV of the era, and it was his sonnets and epic poems that were considered his serious literary accomplishments, but today who remembers Venus and Adonais or A Lover's Complaint? And Arthur Conan Doyle hated that his lowbrow Sherlock Holmes stories got all the attention while his classy literary work was overlooked, but it's Holmes that's endured through the generations. I think it's because the stuff that satisfies the elites of a given place and time is tailored to their ideals and expectations and thus doesn't translate so well to other generations and cultures, while the more popular stuff has more universal appeal.

So I think all that literary-vs.-popular stuff is just a form of elitism, an attempt to subdivide people into approved and disapproved cliques. It's got nothing to do with what's actually well-written or fulfilling. "Literary" is just another subgenre.

yes. this.

i can't abide snobbery and that's largely what this false distinction supports.

I find most "literary" novels pretentious in the extreme and the reason given for their failure to be widely popular is always chalked up to some defect in the larger readership rather than in the author's inability to engage.

I'll add Dickens and Twain to Christopher's list. There are stacks more.

Time and public opinion defines what constitutes literature and, therefore, what is or is not "literary." Not the author's or publisher's intent.