Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Noddy, Sep 21, 2013.
Isn't that the only time "issues" are raised? The writers were employed to write good stories, Richard read the manuscripts to make sure they fitted with GR's ideals and didn't clash with canonical facts, and Paramount/Viacom read the manuscripts to ensure the reflected the paramters of the licensing deal. Somewhere in there, issues will be raised, no matter who's doing the jobs.
I know that one of the first things to niggle at Roddenberry was fans demanding to know why the movies weren't acknowledging enough/all concepts proposed by Franz Joseph in the "ST Technical Manual" and bridge blueprints. Joseph's licensing contract had permitted him to sub-license his designs to "Star Fleet Battles", which was way too warlike for GR's tastes, but there was no loophole in the contract to stop the stuff coming out, or insist that it be modified, although it did undergo some changes in the game's next incarnation.
Another early sticking point was a convention distributing fliers that proclaimed GoH novelist Diane Duane as "the creator of the Rihannsu". Diane Duane had no idea she'd be promoted that way, and only 2% of the viewing audience read the books anyway, but part of Roddenberry's and Paramount's roles was to ensure that the franchise remained recognizable (and the TV series and movies had only ever called the Romulans "Romulans", despite how logical and clever Duane's novels were).
And then came TNG, which coincided with the winding down of Filmation and a groundswell of new licenses, so a 1989 memo reclarified "what was canon", resulting in the removal of TAS elements from the list of things that could be used in other licensed tie-ins.
Sure, but these days the issues don't seem to be as severe. We don't hear as many horror stories about the people overlooking the books today as we seem to hear about Arnold. I know there were some problems with Indistinguishable from Magic, but even those problems didn't seem to be as major as what happened when Arnold was around.
But communication lines are totally different now and, for the most part, we never hear the juicy gossip about why proposals and manuscripts had to be overhauled, because these are matters usually kept confidential. It was many, many years before JM Dillard told fans what happened with "The Lost Years" saga.
Several authors (or friends of authors) took to printing the Star Trek Office's memos on Usenet and GEnie (I recall much outrage by fans on behalf of Jean Lorrah and AC Crispin and Brad Ferguson). Up until then, it was only fan guesswork and vague mentions in "Starlog" and "Locus" as to why books such as "Mr Spock's Guide to the Planet Vulcan" and "The War Virus" never made it into print. Suddenly, the authors were taking to the new mass communication media (electronic bulletin boards) of the day to complain.
PAD, among others, went to press over their problems. PAD vs RA anecdotes appeared regularly in PAD's column, "But I Digress...", in a comics newspaper. And reprinted in a trade paperback omnibus.
Majel Barrett went public about two attempts by Pocket to get "The God-Thing" up to scratch.
People also asked RA specific questions at conventions, and mostly his answers didn't name names, just general comments about things he had to read, things he had corrected, and why GR felt a fierce need to protect his creation. But it doesn't take too much digging to realise when someone is referring to "Q in Law".
Sure, but CBS Consumer Products don't usually tell us what changes they insisted upon. Not in Paula Block's day either. (We used to get juicy gossip from John Ordover and Marco Palmieri while at Pocket, but it always seemed quite carefully measured.) And we never hear from Ed at Pocket/Gallery.
But that doesn't mean all is harmonious in the creative world. It just doesn't pay, in the long run, to get angry in public. Proposals still get rejected. Books still get modified or cancelled or delayed. Deadlines still get broken.
I guess it just seems like all you ever hear about Richard Arnold is horror stories about how much of a nightmare he was to deal with, and you don't seem to hear stuff like that about anybody else since he left.
As I said, mostly these details are confidential. I recall fans trying to get info out of Marco Palmieri when Pocket turned down AC Crispin's long-delayed, third Zar novel, the first of a new trilogy. Certain fans had been beta readers, emails and PMs were flying thick and fast, Ms Crispin was disappointed, but the decisions for not publishing weren't for public consumption. And this was long after RA left Paramount.
Some would call the shelving of four novel sequels to the 2009 movie - all bought and paid for - "a horror story" x 4. But again, details are scant.
I dunno, people say some awful stuff about JJ, Orci & Kurtzman, Berman & Braga...
Therin, let me stop you there. If you're trying to suggest that Richard Arnold's treatment of authors was identical to the way it works today and the only difference is that we don't air the dirty laundry today, then you are absolutely, profoundly wrong. See KRAD's comments in post #36:
And it's not only a matter of what gets publicized. As I said, the sorts of things Arnold forced on the licensees, like taking books away from authors and having them pseudonymously rewritten by other, uncredited authors, are just not done in prose writing. At no time has Paula Block or John Van Citters ever requested any such thing from the authors. Yes, there have been one or two occasions where a book has been cancelled or reassigned, such as Fearful Symmetry, but that was a mutual choice between the original author and the editor (Marco), not something imposed by the studio, and there was no attempt to conceal the change in authorship or give one person credit for another person's work.
When Paula or John have issues with what we write, they work with us to resolve them. They address their concerns and trust the editors and authors to figure out their own solutions, and they're open to compromise. What's more, they impose immensely fewer restrictions on our creativity than Arnold did. The elaborate novel continuity we have today would never have existed under Arnold's regime.
How was it a horror story? We got paid. We did the jobs we were contracted for and were rightly compensated for them. Our rights as authors were respected. Sure, the work didn't get published, but that was the publisher's prerogative since it was work-for-hire, and there was no untoward interference with the writing process itself. It was a disappointment, but it was not abusive.
And -- here's the thing -- it was exceptional. It was not routine the way Arnold's treatment of authors was during his tenure.
A totally spurious comparison, since that's just about people's opinion toward their work, not about their treatment of the people they work with.
It's one thing to defend Arnold by pointing out the good he did alongside the mistakes he made. But you're getting dangerously close to claiming that he did nothing wrong at all, that his approach was no different from Paula's or John's, and that's grossly revisionist history.
I just want to apologize for setting this off. I made the first comment without putting to much thought into it, and I really didn't mean to start this huge debate. Sorry.
This is a gross mischaracterization of what happened in 1989 with the Animated Series.
Filmation wasn't "winding down." Filmation was in bankruptcy. And the Animated Series was, due to the way bankruptcy law is written, held as one of Filmation's assets. Paramount held the copyright, but they couldn't touch it because it was tied up in the bankruptcy. Putting the Animated Series and its concepts off-limits was the easiest way of keeping the licensees away from the Filmation bankruptcy.
I'm going to speculate here, but I'd imagine the cancelation of the trilogy stemmed from two factors. One, the trilogy was several years' overdue. Two, Ordover had departed Pocket earlier and Marco was cleaning up his outstanding projects. Put those together -- very late, and a project that Marco didn't originate -- and you get a reason to pull the plug.
I have the trilogy outline and the first book (and the only one of the three she finished so far as I know). The trilogy had potential. The first book didn't grip me.
That's not what I meant at all. Where do I suggest it's "identical"?
I knew I shoulda just shut up.
There is no input from the Roddenberry Estate, nor the long-defunct Star Trek Office - not since September 1991. That assistance/interference died with Roddenberry. What has not changed is the overseeing of the manuscripts by Paramount/Viacom/CBS Consumer Products, and the impression fans get is that that communication is usually quite cordial.
I didn't think I was ever suggesting that Richard Arnold's treatment of authors was anything like Paramount/Viacom/CBS Consumer Products' treatment of the authors.
No one can read PAD's "But I Digress..." without realising there was plenty rotten in Denmark. Do I have to make a list of my personal complaints about RA's decisions every time I mention his name?
I receive plenty of PM hate mail for daring to say in public I knew him as a friend as it is.
Richard did that? Or was that the Pocket editor-of-the-day's solution to resolving a stalemate with the Star Trek Office?
I wasn't about to declare it was "bankruptcy" unless I knew for sure. I'd always heard it phrased as "winding down".
It was my understanding that Filmation was divided into chunks and sold off. Some of it was sold off to Hallmark at some point, IIRC. Andy Mangels' recent book on Filmation goes into other details.
Yes, but my point was that this bankruptcy was not explained to Trek fans at the time. Bob Greenberger briefly discussed the Star Trek Office's request to remove Arex and M'ress in DC Comics' lettercol of TOS Series II, issue #1. Richard Arnold used to tell conventions, re the 1989 memo, that "TAS does not crossover with the film series", and I believe he also used that quote in his column of "The Communicator" (magazine of the Official Fan Club). They could have said, "the use and rights of TAS are constrained by Filmation's bankruptcy", but nobody did.
Fans of DC Comics' use of Filmation elements wanted answers, but we were simply told it was no longer to be. (Some of us would have understood "bankruptcy", but it wasn't being said.)
Yes, TAS belonged to Paramount, and it was clarified as such after the Filmation dust settled. But TAS was originally a co-production of Filmation, Norway Corp (Roddenberry's company) and NBC Children's Television, and I don't think it was entirely sure, in 1989, exactly where the rights would rest.
I recall the other sticking point re TAS in the lead up to the 1989 memo was Larry Niven's period of regret in lending the kzinti to TAS, because "Star Fleet Battles" had used them in their war game, and the associated metal miniatures company, Heritage, had produced semi-licensed figures of kzinti aliens and ships. He was trying to negotiate a licensed "Ringworld" RPG.
There was also the Pocket novel, "TNG: The Captains' Honor". When first advertised, it was to have featured the kzinti, not the M'doc. I recall reading the blurb on UseNet and GEnie, and was surprised Pocket was doing such a story, then not surprised when the book featured the M'doc. Both were described as a felinoid race that had once ruled a large portion of what is now Federation space.
But I knew I shoulda just shut up.
That was my speculation also, but I wasn't game to even attempt to speculate about the situation in public. It always gets me into trouble.
We are in agreement.
I doubt an editor would've done that. It's the way someone accustomed to the culture of screenwriting would've handled things, since in Hollywood it's common for writers to be taken off of scripts and new ones assigned without necessarily being credited. But it's unprecedented in the prose industry, so it's hard to imagine that a Pocket editor would suggest any such thing.
Maybe they couldn't have said that. When there are ongoing contractual or legal negotiations, it's often not permitted to discuss them publicly until after they're resolved. There is a lot of confidentiality in business.
Unprecedented in the world of licensed tie-ins?
Which is what I was trying to say before. If Allyn now has insider information that's different. I was attempting to present the situation as I understood it, as a fan.
Years after the fact, we learn that the 1989 memo from the Star Trek Office coincided with Filmation going out of business. In 1989, it was simply, "TAS does not crossover with the movies."
I corresponded via e-mail with Ann after the project was terminated. She was devastated that it was dumped so suddenly.
Thanks to the wonder of Yahoo mail, I found her email to me (dated Nov. 26th, 2004): "I wrote the first book, and the editors at Pocket said it was no good, so they rejected it. I'm sorry, it was not my decision and it just about broke my heart. Pocket has made it clear they will never again publish anything I might submit, and they are being very cold to me."
She sent me the draft, which is about 52,000 words (pretty short compared to what Pocket was publishing in 2003-2004.) I liked it; I once described it as "Star Trek on Darkover," and since I like both, it was right up my alley.
In addition to Allyn's speculation, I think it may simply be that the Star Trek market was contracting, and Pocket didn't see convenient slots for the books on the upcoming schedule -- especially books that were already years overdue, only 1 of 3 was even drafted, and that draft was about 40% shorter than contracted for.
Pure speculation, of course.
I hope it's OK to quote Crispin's email, seeing as how she won't get any more chances to tell her side of the story.
I don't have any insider information. The difference between now and 1989 is that, to that time, there hadn't been many media companies that had gone through bankruptcy and creators found themselves legally enjoined from their creations because of bankruptcy law. Now that it's more commonplace, especially in the comics industry, the circumstances of bankruptcy and what it means for creations caught in bankruptcy is better known.
I agree, Ian, that as a fan, at the time, your take was not unreasonable. In the fuller accounting of time, however, we know better.
I just wanted to point out that Bob Greenberger said the same thing in the first lettercol for DC Comics Star Trek Vol 2.
I see. So web browsers scroll up these days do they?
I dunno. If you use the "up" arrow they do.
I guess you didn't read the whole thread?
Nah. Kinda skipped about.
Separate names with a comma.