Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.
I’m sure that the similarities probably end there.
I'm currently re-reading the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack. Still my favorite trek lit of all time.
I finished reading Camelot 3000: The Deluxe Edition (2008) by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland.
Originally released in individual comic book issues from DC Comics as Camelot 3000 #1-12 (December 1982-April 1985). Writer: Mike W. Barr. Penciller: Brian Bolland. Inkers: Bruce Patterson, Terry Austin, and Dick Giordano. Colorist: Tatjana Wood. Letterer: John Costanza. "Continuing Legends Chronicled by Sir Thomas Mallory."
Camelot 3000 was a big deal when it came out. It was DC's first "maxi-series" (a year-long--well, it was intended to run for only one year--twelve-issue long limited run series three times as long as DC's four-issue "mini-series" up to that point). It was also DC's first series distributed exclusively to the "direct market", not available on newsstands and in drug stores, etc. Instead, it was sold only in comic book stores. DC had done a few single issue direct market only releases prior to this (the first being an all reprints "Superboy Spectacular" one-shot giveaway in 1980) but this was the first DC monthly series testing the idea of releasing to the direct market exclusively. (Marvel Comics got their first, though, with monthly direct market only titles like Dazzler and Ka-Zar the Savage in 1981.)
Releasing Camelot 3000 direct market only also allowed it to be released without the Comics Code and to allow the material to push the boundaries of what would probably not be allowable in a standard newsstand title. (The beautiful villainess of the story, who I will talk about in a bit, is basically naked throughout the series aside from a cape and a tiny backless two-piece bikini.)
This was also the first regularly monthly work by British artist, Brian Bolland, on an American comic book title. Bolland got his start in the U.K. comics scene and worked in that area for most of the 1970s—including being an early regular artist on the “Judge Dredd” series and drawing the first three "Judge Death" stories in 1979-1980.
Discovered by DC in 1979, Bolland did a few covers and fill-in stories for various DC titles in 1980-1981. Bolland's art in Camelot 3000 is beautiful and really established in the U.S. as a popular artist. Unfortunately, he also proved to not be a fast enough artist to keep up with a monthly schedule and as a result Camelot 3000 suffered from several delays over the course of its twelve issue run (and is largely remembered for these delays as much as for how good a series it was): there were three-month delays between issues five and six, eight and nine, and nine and ten, four months between ten and eleven, and an incredible nine-month delay between issues eleven and twelve.
Reading the entire story now in a collected edition like the 2008 "Deluxe Edition" hardcover (like I did) or in the 1988 or 2013 trade paperback editions (or digitally via comiXology/Amazon or the DC Infinite digital comics service), none of that really matters, of course. But at the time it was originally coming out in the 1980s it was a major issue to comics retailers, the late shipping issues. And it was a sign of things to come as late shipping issues would become quite frequent in the "hot artist" dominated late 1980s and 1990s.
However, back to Camelot 3000. According to Barr, he had the basic story idea (which he was calling "Pendragon") in college. The basic gist is that according to the legend of King Arthur, he didn't actually die but instead "slumbers" until one day that he would return, when his beloved England is in its most desperate hour (or some such). Well, Barr's twist is that Camelot 3000 is basically a sequel to the Arthur legend as in Barr's tale Arthur does indeed awaken (is discovered and his tomb opened) in the year 3000, right as the entire Earth is being invaded by vicious lizard like aliens.
Reuniting with Merlin (who is basically eternal) and awakening the memories of Queen Guinevere, Launcelot, and his other knights of the round table who have all been reincarnated in the bodies present day men and women (one of the knights, Sir Tristan, reincarnated in the body of a woman, much to his consternation).
Behind the alien invasion is Arthur's half-sister, sorceress Morgan le Fey. Arthur must lead his queen and knights against the forces of Morgan le Fey, her trickery and magicks as well as the alien troops subjugating this wildly futuristic world that Arthur now finds himself in. Regardless, Arthur is still a charismatic leader, able to create hope to a population that had seen all as lost just prior to his sudden return.
I'm not going to go into any other plot specifics here, but just say that it's still holds up today as a fun science fiction/fantasy tale. And Bolland's art is still what really sets this series apart.
There are, of course, some moments where the age of the material creeps in. Bits of dialogue, character motivations, and even caricature like political figures based on real life 1980s politicians as is typical of many comics that came out in the era of Ronald Reagan and the last decade of the U.S.-Soviet Union "cold war". (Oh, and yes, one of the political figures seen in the story is the Soviet Union premier, Barr of course having no idea in 1982 that the Soviet Union would crumble and be no more as of 1991.)
A recurring plot element is that of Tristan hating his new life in a woman's body and trying to find whatever magical method possible to become a man again (first seeking out Merlin, who rejects his plea, and then even considering betraying Arthur to le Fey when the sorceress approaches her promising to do as Tristan wishes). This plot point was pretty ground breaking at the time in the early 1980s when it first came out, an early story dealing with what is now recognized as "gender identity". However, I'm sure that Barr would write Tristan a bit differently today than he did back then if he was writing the tale today, both in some of Tristan's thoughts and statements when decrying his situation and also perhaps in not doing it in every single issue. When Camelot 3000 was being written and coming out, the notion that comics would start to be collected in trade paperbacks and hardback books to be sold in book stores after the original release of the single issues was not something Barr could have foreseen yet. As a result, Tristan's constant emoting does become a bit repetitive and tiresome after a bit.
Regardless, Camelot 3000 is a wonderful series that I missed the first time it came out (at age ten I'd just started buying comic books and was all into superheroes and tv/movie tie-in titles like Star Trek, "V", Star Wars, and Indiana Jones). Despite hearing how good it was, it took me thirty years to get around to reading it finally. I recommend others who enjoy comics (especially fantasy or just plain adventure stories) to give it a try in one of the various print or digital versions available. I gave it four out of five stars on GoodReads.
Addendum: Something else I forgot to mention is that I believe this was the first series DC ever published on the heavier and brighter “Baxter” paper (which made the colors a lot brighter than on the traditional newsprint). This was why the cover price was $1.00 (and starting with issue #7, $1.25) while most standard length DC and Marvel comics were $0.60. DC would expand on their deluxe Baxter paper titles in the following years with brand new Legion of Super-Heroes, New Teen Titans, and The Outsiders titles on the higher quality paper.
Thanks to @Greg Cox mentioning it, I've finally started the Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. I'm only a bit into it yet, but so far, it's very entertaining.
Just finished "The Tiddlywink Warriors," in The Sound and the Furry. A Hoka version of the French Foreign Legion.
Star Trek Picard Second Self By Una McCormack
I'm now one chapter into DG's Starhunt. And I'm definitely noticing elements that appear lifted from ST. Like a circular bridge, with the commanding officer on duty in the center. And use of the word "warp" in reference to FTL travel (albeit measured much differently).
No accusations of plagiarism here; just of homage and inspiration.
And I'll note that DG, in his introduction, said in so many words where to stop, if you want the original Yesterday's Children ending.
It's no secret that Gerrold based the novel on a rejected Trek outline. But "warp" or "space warp" as a term for FTL drive goes back to the 1930s. It was already a standard term long before ST adopted it. And it's ultimately derived from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, in which mass warps space-time.
My edition doesn't have that. Originally, the expanded edition was published under the original title; it was only changed to Starhunt in later editions. I have the expanded version under the original title, with an introduction by Diane Duane.
(I suspect that Gerrold changed the title because he finally realized that Yesterday's Children had absolutely nothing to do with the novel. He'd conceived it for the Trek pitch about a generation ship, the story he later wrote as Star Trek: The Galactic Whirlpool, but the novel YC ended up going in a completely different direction, so the title no longer fit at all. Starhunt, while a bit garish, actually has some relation to the plot of the book.)
Unsinkable by Dan James A story that takes place on the Titanic that's been really intriguing so far.
Now about a quarter of the way into Starhunt. Not exactly nice people.
Thanks for posting your review of this series. I've been exploring Arthurian works ever since I saw the movie The Green Knight late last year. Gradually making my way through Le Morte D'Arthur at a very relaxed pace. IIRC Dorsey Armstrong, the lecturer for the King Arthur Great Courses that I found on youtube included the Camelot 3000 series as an example of modern Arthurian storytelling. It's been on my radar to look into eventually.
Chieftains by Bob Forrest-Webb.
Been meaning to check it out for a while.
CAMELOT 3000 cries out to be made into a movie or TV series.
That sounds amazing! Ok, I caved...it's on my radar for very soon now.
Camelot 3000, like Squadron Supreme, is a 80s comics classic that gets completely overshadowed by Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. They deserve much more praise than they get, and I’m always excited to see that people are rediscovering them.
i had started Picard: Second Self by Una McCormack, but i just had a hard time getting into it.
So i grabbed TOS: The Rings of Time by Greg Cox, and i haven't been able to put it down. I'm loving it so far. I think i was just in the mood for some classic TOS storytelling.
Personally, my Arthurian work of choice would have to be T. H. White's The Once and Future King. Including the fifth book, The Book of Merlyn.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm now halfway through both The Sound and the Furry and Starhunt. Which is to say, in the former, it looks like I'm through all the Hoka short stories, and about to begin the Hoka novellas, and in the latter, they've lost the bogie, and failed to sneak up to it.
The BBC Radio 4 adaptation of about ten years ago with Paul Ready as Arthur and David Warner as Merlyn was a delight. The final episode absolutely wrecked me.
White's book -- considering all five parts as a single work -- is a sublime piece of writing on its own, though one should be familiar with the broad outlines of Malory's version of Arthur's story because, and I mean no disrespect to White here, his work is a series of footnotes to Malory, which his own text makes clear as he tells the reader at points to go read Malory. Malory is situated somewhere between medieval romance and true novel -- I think of it as a proto-novel -- and White takes the bones of a few key elements and puts the flesh of a modern novel on Malory's skeleton. Malory recites the events, White gives a few of those events character and color.
I recently bought John Matthews' The Great Book of King Arthur, which takes the extant medieval stories Malory didn't include in Morte and fashions them into a kind of alternate Morte. I haven't had a chance to start it yet, sadly.
Just got my Digital Supplement for issue 4 of STAR TREK EXPLORER. Looking forward to reading the other story in the supplement: "The Disavowed" by Chris Cooper, which is apparently a TNG story focussing on Riker.
Comment on one uniform detail that DG seemed to be belaboring in Starhunt:
We're men in tights.
We roam around the quadrant looking for fights!
Separate names with a comma.