Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by J.M. Dillard (1989)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Damian, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    In the Q Continuum trilogy the Great Barrier, like the Galactic Barrier, was created by the Q to contain 'the One,' just as the Galactic Barrier was created to keep the malevolent entity 'O' out.
     
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  2. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Are you the one doing the 80s novel continuity read-through? I suggested not skipping the Star Trek V novelization there because of its Lost Years links. :)
     
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  3. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    I have a fondness for the author's earlier novelizations, and I really enjoy her prose. Having read some of her original ST novels, I want to root for her, but it kind of depends on how her books go with The Lost Years and forward.

    I'm left with the impression that she's a high standard for novelizations, with a great prose style and a very welcome tendency to expand the material she adapts in very agreeable ways (for my liking). The "Golden Age" of her work is novelizations for The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, DS9 The Emissary, and her 400 page novelization of the War of the Worlds first episode/TV movie debut. I would group the Generations movie in there to a certain extent.

    But after those heady highs, really liking the First Contact movie leads to the first major pause. Partly it's personal preference, but because I like First Contact so much, it's a crushing disappointment that Dillard's novelization isn't a 400 page or even 300 page adaptation. The ambition seems to drop off. The follow up novelizations of Insurrection and Nemesis (regardless of my feelings about the movies) sort of confirms TNG movie novelizations as a turning point. I keep wondering, "What happened there...?"

    Having read Mindshadow, Demons, and Bloodthirst, I still love her prose, and am hopeful about The Lost Years. But I kind of felt like those original novels suggest to me that Dillard does better when she has a story already laid out for her extensively, which gives her a good anchor for some very enjoyable potential expansion of the material. My impression of her original fiction is that she has a good idea, and maybe a couple of scenes that are meant to happen throughout a book, and a given book will sort of drift in the direction of the scenes she wanted to make sure ended up in the story. At some points her original fiction will develop slowly, as if marking time; and at other moments her novels will accelerate forward when it seems like she's found the path to a scene that she did want to include (or she's closing in on a conclusion).

    I have heard of a certain stigma attached to working on a novelization, which is really too bad. Because Dillard really seems to have had a gift for doing quality and quantity with the novelizations she worked on, up to a point. I would be sad if the stigma of that kind of work was a factor in TNG movie novelizations being such thin works, but those last 2-3 novelizations are a great disappointment after showing the scope of what she could do with War of the Worlds. Why did she give The Final Frontier a such a generous adaptation, in the face of it's disappointing reception? And then neglect TNG movies?

    It's a shame that novelizations come with a certain amount of literary elitism, because Dillard showed a greater strength as a writer through her work in that realm, stronger than her original fiction (Although despite my criticism, there's still plenty to like in her original fiction). Thinking about her work for WotW, TFF and TUC, I wish she had been given a project like Alan Dean Foster had for the Star Trek animated series, asked to expand single episodes into full-length novels. I think a project like that would have worked well with her writing talents.
     
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  4. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    Yes! I'm so glad to have that information, to enrich the reading experience. Much appreciated, I'm super grateful for your insight.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it may have been studio pressure. Studios in recent decades have gotten much stricter about novelizations and don't like seeing them depart much from the movie scripts. It doesn't make much sense, but it's the way things are these days.
     
  6. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, I noticed that myself. I really liked the novelization for Star Trek VI and First Contact as well as TFF. But the ones for the other 3 TNG films were pretty close to the films IIRC outside of some additional background information.

    The ones for Star Trek (2009) and STID were pretty good as well, but even they were pretty close to the films.

    I'm trying to recall but the ones Vonda McIntyre did for Star Trek II, III and IV seemed to really go off 'script'--outside the overall plot of the films.

    It still bugs me they never did one for Beyond. I feel like my movie novelization collection is missing something. But I guess that boat has sailed and we'll probably never see one at this point.
     
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  7. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I did like the backstory for Cochrane in the First Contact novelization, that he was bipolar, and had had an implant that delivered his medication in a calibrated way (sort of like an insulin pump, I suppose), but he hadn't been able to keep it supplied after the war, so all his drinking was self-medicating. Though in a somewhat too-clean ending, Crusher just quietly cured his condition permanently with 24th century know-how right before the Enterprise left.

    Which, comes to think of it, reminds me of a critique I read not too long ago about Dillard's TUC novelization, which suggested she wasn't willing to accept the story element of the main characters' attitudes towards the Klingons at face value, and made excuses and rationalizations for it in a fashion I'm tempted to describe as Carey-esque.

    IIRC, it was "0," not "O."
     
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  8. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The War of the Worlds novelization! I have fond memories of that -- and memories of the disappointment I felt that no ongoing novel series followed. :)

    I may still have the tin badge that Waldenbooks gave away with the novelization somewhere at home.

    I think I've mentioned before that, at the time, I really hoped that Paramount would do some sort of TNG/War of the Worlds crossover event.

    She wasn't alone in feeling that way. Even the cast had issues with their portrayal in the film. Shatner's talked about how he insisted on reaction shots that indicated that "Let them die" wasn't really what he meant, then was surprised that Nick Meyer didn't use them. I dimly recall Nichols also expressed some reservations with some of her dialogue.
     
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes. It was contradictory for the crew to be all chummy with the Klingons at the end of TFF and then all "Let them die, we hate them" in TUC. Dillard just came up with a justification for that random reversal by revealing that the Klingons had committed a recent atrocity against a Federation colony or something (in which Carol Marcus had been injured, explaining Kirk's uncharacteristic bigotry).

    Really, the criticism should be directed at the movie and how out of character the crew was there.
     
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  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    In my Q trilogy, the barrier is created by the Q Continuum to keep The One confined. No connection to the Cytherians in those books, simply because that never occurred to me.
     
  11. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, that was one of the problems when you decide to largely ignore the predecessor film.

    I always felt in TUC some ambivalence might be justified. The Klingons were mortal enemies of the Federation for over a century so I can understand some cautiousness. But the outright hatred seemed really out of character for most of the crew.

    The only one I can see some continuity with TFF was with Captain Kirk. Even in TFF he made it clear he did not like Klingons. He set that aside temporarily in the end of TFF, but it was clear in the film he did not like them saying at the start when he said "the feelings mutual" about not liking the Klingons, and then referring them to "you Klingon bastards" near the end. TUC takes place several years later and I can see that anger and dislike festering over the years and getting worse by the time of TUC. Sometimes that kind of hatred eats away at us. In a way that's what makes his little speech at the end of TUC about restoring his son's faith more meaningful. He let go of that hatred that had been building. So Kirk's reaction was the only one that I can see some continuity with TFF. Of the rest of the crew only Spock seemed like he was supposed to be. The rest of the crew should have been cautious, but hopeful.

    There is one area in TFF novelization that I can see maybe foreshadowing TUC is at the end of the novel when Korrd, Talbot and Dar agree to return to Nimbus III to work for the original goals of that planet and try to work toward galactic peace. At least in that respect you could maybe see the very beginnings of what would culminate with the Khitomer Conference in TUC (though obviously a coincidence since Dillard couldn't obviously know that would be in the next film, but it seems to work).

    That was one thing I liked about the novelization to TUC though. I thought TUC was a better film overall than TFF, but there were still a lot of plot holes and issues, and the novelization for that film I thought did a pretty good job addressing at least some of those issues. I know some fans put TUC as one of their favorites, for me I always had it as a middle of the road Star Trek film. It had its good points but there were some issues I have a hard time getting past (like the ridiculous scene where Uhura is looking at books for Klingon translations---I mean, seriously---even assuming they couldn't use the UT for whatever reason, you'd think the computer could provide the translation and she could just read it from there, ugh!).
     
  12. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

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    I wondered if that was the alternative. It's a pity that accessibility of movies and television through home media diminishes the novelization from it's very useful old role. I myself am not immune, favoring original fiction and just re-watching an actual movie rather than read a novelization. And it's a real tragedy because Dillard did some great work in that area; I think if she had a project like what Alan Dean Foster had with Star Trek TAS, she would have been capable of expansion innovations where Foster didn't vary much.

    My dream scenario would have been three or four additional monster novelizations along the lines of what Dillard did with the first book. Given how wonky WotW transitions from Season 1 to Season 2, I think she could have done something astounding with an expansion of "The Second Wave" episode; as much page count as she needed with the episode as a framework anchor, to transition and reconcile the discontinuities. It would have been a masterpiece! Then maybe an adaptation that joins the character of Quin from "The Prodigal Son" with the second Season's "Defector" (which I think was inspired by the existence of Quin, so make it one story). Another adaptation to merge the baby from "Unto Us a Child is Born" with the first alien youth born on Earth in "Loving the Alien". And one final volume for "The Obelisk" to conclude the series. I would encourage a generous page count if a story merits it, and let Dillard take the kind of liberties she did with "The Resurrection" novelization. It could effectively be a short book series with it's own version of the continuity. Can you tell I'm really fond of my copy of the WotW: The Resurrection novelization?
     
  13. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed, and eventually it was this very question which helped to drive our very own @Dayton Ward to write his first-ever solo Trek-novel (TOS #97: In the Name of Honor), which helped to provide what is now perhaps the definitive examination of this discrepancy between TFF and TUC, and probably more successfully than what J.M. Dillard did in the TUC novelization.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021