TOS 80's Novel Continuity Read Through

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Desert Kris, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    King Daniel Beyond
    That's how I took it, and what the plan was for Admiral Pike in Into Darkness before Khan attacked Starfleet HQ. Like a downgrade version of Commander Dax being called "Captain" when commanding the Defiant.
     
    Leto_II and Odo like this.
  2. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    Speaking for myself, in all the years I've been familiar with TMP, I've never picked up on that visual aspect. With TNG i only picked up on the significance of the number of pips because I was watching a new episode every week.

    With TMP there's been speculation that some authors didn't have regular access to the movie for reference and might have missed or not remembered key lines from the movie, like"My five years out there, dealing with the unknown" and "Two and a half years as chief of staff may have made me a little stale..." ect.

    I've often assumed like most people that Kirk accepted a demotion to captain in TMP, but the dialogue in Rule of Engagement suggested a fun alternative that I didn't consider, and wouldn't have known to dismiss because I never picked up on the visual cue on Kirk's uniform (just the fact that he wears two uniform variants from the one he wears in the early part of the film).
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Yes, I'm probably one of the main people who's pointed that out around here over the years.

    And yes, a lot of early authors had imperfect memories of continuity and got some details wrong. There were a number of different interpretations of the post-movie period that didn't mesh well with each other. And there were misrememberings of TOS elements too. Both Web of the Romulans and Double, Double purported to be immediately after first-season episodes ("Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" respectively), but had Chekov in them and referenced third-season events.
     
    Desert Kris likes this.
  4. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    Some of those idiosyncrasies can be fun, and produce some curious interpretations of the ST setting. For a long time the episodes of TOS didn't seem to have a progression, but the opportunity to watch them in production order was quite an eye opener for me to perceive TOS in a new light.

    I plan to keep an eye out for the rank insignia on Kirk's uniforms next time I watch TMP.
     
  5. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    Bloodthirst by JM Dillard

    Intro

    The track “Khan’s Pet’s” from The Wrath of Khan soundtrack seems like the right opening music for this story (and probably would have worked well for Demons, the earlier JM Dillard book, as well). Perfect for capturing the menace of the dark corners of the ST universe, even the dark places within the Enterprise herself. Also works for capturing the suspense and moments of emotional despair and desolation. Images of a darkened research lab fade and transition, and the title of Bloodthirst hovers over the transitioning imagery, colored just the wrong shade of red...

    A Gateway to the Past, Many Journeys Are Possible

    I found Bloodthirst to be pretty user friendly, but I got just a little bit more out of it for having read the previous JM Dillard novels, as well as Vonda McIntyre’s books. There’s a nice, brief acknowledgment of the Romulans as Rihannsu, so familiarity with books that develop that version of the culture was helpful yet non-essential.

    The Need of the One

    Bloodthirst is what I have approached as the final book of a JM Dillard’s trio of TOS novels before Dillard starts doing more high-profile projects, like The Lost Years, and a whole slew of novelizations I have fond memories of (TFF, TUC, Generations, and DS9’s first episode, The Emissary...and especially her awesome 400-page War of the Worlds book).

    Although I prefer my experience with her novelizations, Mindshadow was a winner for me. Demons was a real shock disappointment. Where does Bloodthirst place among these original works?

    In the middle, but much higher up in the middle. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Mindshadow, but it’s still very decent. There are still pacing problems, but it’s hard to articulate an example, it’s mainly and impression. There are logic problems, and that has to do with quarantine and security procedures that are too loose and subject to convenience of moving the story forward or keep things in a holding pattern (maybe that’s part of my perception of the pacing problems).

    I still had a lot of fun with this book, seeing Dillard flirt with the idea of a ST horror story again, but without going as full-on as Demons did. There are some wonderfully atmospheric and suspenseful moments, even though the brighter areas of the more familiar ST settings only corridor or turbolift ride away. This is a story that needs the Enterprise to have a dimly lit night-time shift, in order for the monsters to hide in the shadows.

    The monster is none other than Vampires. Or rather, not-vampires. They have all the characteristic traits and symptoms, which resemble real life medical conditions that are suggested as the origins for the vampire myths and legends. I don’t think I would have been in the mood for a ST vampire story, and that’s okay, because whatever the phenomenon is that happens here, it’s not-vampires. This was great; in my estimation this is one of those rare instances where the author and readers can have their cake and eat it. A reader can read it as a Star Trek-does-vampires story, or just take it as a normal ST story with something that looks like vampires but definitely isn’t.

    There’s another major element to the story as well, apart from the pseudo-horror. Bloodthirst gives us another example of a bad Admiral (I’m not going to use the portmanteau, it’s great, but I feel silly using it myself). I think, actually, that this is a case where the book suffered through no fault of it’s own, from the intrusion of real life concerns. Star Trek has always been great about providing social commentary, and softening the blow by having it distant enough from our real world. I cope with it fine while reading Diane Carey’s books, but even with distance given between reading Dreadnaught!, Battlestations!, and Bloodthirst, I was already getting tired of conspiracies in the upper ranks of leadership. Bloodthirst wasn’t the best reading experience because of timing: reading Bloodthirst at the end of December last year and into early January of this year, reading about people in positions of authority abusing their power to hurt people and endanger others, and neglecting or ignoring the dangers of a public health hazard, just felt too real. I enjoyed Bloodthirst, in a way. But in another sense, it was too disheartening thematically, and became escapism that was as much a prison as daily life. Maybe it would have been more fun if I had waited and read it a couple months later.

    Somewhere in the middle of the book is a chapter that leaves the Enterprise entirely, and focuses on a friendly Admiral who Kirk contacts asking to make inquiries. It was pretty fun following Quince Waverleigh through his day-that-goes-wrong, because I enjoyed trying to imagine the setting of Starfleet Command Central. I also accidentally may have spoiled myself with a visit to Memory Beta, which indicates that Waverleigh’s home is the place that eventually becomes Admiral Kirk’s home as seen in TWoK and TSFS movies. This may have been a spoiler for The Lost Years, but I really don’t feel much regret, I actually enjoyed the nostalgia of picturing Waverleigh in that place. Somewhat superficially, it made me like the character more, and made his eventual fate more impactful.

    One thing I don’t like in Star Trek stories is when security and quarantine measures are conveniently lax to slow down or accelerate a story; this is one of the weakest elements for me, regarding Bloodthirst. What’s worse is one of these quarantine-lazy scenes featuring the presence of an animal called a qefla, or Rigellian Rat, which is apparently the size of a cat! It is left in a quarantine area with a dangerous individual who should have been guarded all the time, and said character uses this cat-sized rat as a distraction to escape. Plus which, of all things, a rodent of unusual size? I don’t believe that exists.

    The Needs of the Many

    My past experience of JM Dillard writing has mostly been favorable, but reading her original fiction gave me a new view of how she writes relationships. I’m trying not to read to much into JM Dillard’s worldview, yet there’s a sense of relationships being unwholesome in her books, in Mindshadow, Demons, and Bloodthirst. I jokingly thought of Dr. Emma Saenz as a creepy or spooky, the way she contrives something of a romantic triangle that creates tension between Kirk and McCoy. Some of Anitra Lanter’s pranking antics felt like they were over-the-line inappropriate. Generally, between Mindshadow, Demons and Bloodthirst, there are innuendos and jokes that are not remotely subtle and made me wonder if I should give the books a pass on the grounds of them being written during the 1980’s.

    Bloodthirst was really morbid in a way that reminded me of the novelization for TSFS. There’s a stuttering start of a friendship between three security crewmembers; Jonathon, Lamia, and Lisa. I was left with the impression they bonded over melancholy and depression about the direction of their lives, and fighting against spiralling down into depression. Even after finishing the book and seeing their lives start to take hopeful turns, the melancholy throughout the book is the stronger impression (maybe because it took me longer to finish it that expected).

    I appreciated having read the previous Dillard novels for how it helped me understanding when and why Ingrit Tomson has moments of being more compassionate and understanding towards other characters than we usually expect of her.

    Another connection, as an 80’s novel continuity book, was a late-in-the-game moment in a single scene from Spock’s perspective, where he thinks of the Romulans as Rihannsu. Spock is also able to understands the language they speak because it derives from Old Vulcan. This could easily have been a quick alteration from an editor, I suppose; but it’s clever that it only happening in a scene as being viewed through Spock’s perspective. It’s a nice nod, regardless.

    One thing I almost forgot about is the presence of Snnanagfashtalli from Vonda McIntyre’s The Entropy Effect and Enterprise: The First Adventure. Those little mentions of her, scattered throughout, always got a smile. She’s almost on the edge of every scene, though, mainly just mentioned as having just turned a corner, or having been in the room after everyone (including her) has left. I’m glad she appeared here. What’s really funny/scary, is that I can spell her name without having to check the spelling now, as far as I can tell. I did double check Memory Beta, after typing it out, and didn’t need to make any changes!

    Final Thoughts

    Bloodthirst was really pretty fun, although flawed. I’m just sad that it suffered because real-world concerns took away from the fun of the fiction, but at least it only got dinged in the sense of being a slow read. I liked it fine, I can’t bring myself to hate it for the awful circumstances outside of the book.

    The Dimensions of Creation Make Our Future Choices Limitless

    Technically, I’m just slightly further along. I’ve already read The IDIC Epidemic, with the review/reflection waiting to be written, only held up by the writing of this reflection. I almost skipped this commentary about Bloodthirst in order to write out my thoughts for The IDIC Epidemic. What’s really interesting is comparing how well I was able to get through each of these books, given that they are both about health crisis. A few months in between, and the distribution of a vaccine for the real-world health crisis makes all the difference in the world to how I approached each book. I felt a weight on me, picking up Bloodthirst. With The IDIC Epidemic, I picked it up without thinking about it, and as I was about to open it only then realized, “Oh, yeah, this one is about a plague, too; even more so than Bloodthirst.” I was much less hesitant with IDIC Epidemic.

    Right now, I’m looking at either the novelization of The Voyage Home, or How Much For Just the Planet? I’m excited that Time For Yesterday is so close now.
     
    TheAlmanac, Stevil2001 and jaime like this.
  6. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    I re-read Bloodthirst recently I enjoyed this book and the horror movie story vibe with the Vampire villian . I still have J.M. Dillards Star Trek Tos books and read them again recently Demons and The Lost years.
     
    Desert Kris likes this.
  7. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    I've always enjoyed JM Dillard's writing, so I've always been looking forward to when it's one of her books that comes up as the next to be read. She's definitely great at writing creepy stuff, and good at building suspense without drawing it out too much, which is great for me since I get restless if build-up goes on for too long. The horror emphasis of her writing career is a surprise to me, since my strongest impression of her in my early years is her work doing some phenomenal novelizations.

    How did you like Mindshadow? And how do you rank Bloodthirst, Demons, Mindshadow, and The Lost Years?
     
  8. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    TrekReport recently posted an interview with her on their Twitter page its a good interview where she talks about her Star Trek novels from the 1980s and 1990s.One of my favorite books she wrote is Mind Shadow that's the first novel of hers I read .I liked the stuff about Romulans in that book and Vulcans society too. Kirk and Crew Finding the Romulans base on the planet where Spock gets hurt and unraveling the mystery throughout the book And Spock struggling to get his memories back after his accident And McCoy also has an important role in the story too.I give Mind shadow :bolian::bolian::bolian::bolian::bolian: Demons :bolian::bolian::bolian: BloodThirst:techman::techman::techman::techman: and The Lost Years :bolian::bolian::bolian::bolian::bolian: And Recovery:techman::techman::techman::techman::techman: I like all the books alot I like the character story arcs continued in these novels.And the events from previous books moving things forward and leading to Star Trek The Motion picture.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  9. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    There actually are real rats about that size in Africa, and they even domesticated them and some are used to sniff out landmines.
     
  10. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
  11. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Oh, yeah.....:brickwall:
     
    Desert Kris likes this.
  12. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    Look at it this way, you gave me the perfect set up to follow through on it! :beer:
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  13. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    The IDIC Epidemic by Jean Lorrah

    Intro

    The subdued Spock theme from The Wrath of Khan soundtrack plays over the image of the IDIC symbol. The title The IDIC Epidemic appears over the symbol...and then both the lettering of the title and the symbol start to be covered by a spreading, unhealthy looking discoloration, before fading to black.

    A Gateway to the Past; Many Journeys are Possible

    The IDIC Epidemic follows on very closely from the events of The Vulcan Academy Murders. I think it’s much more satisfying to experience IDIC after having read Academy Murders, the returning characters and situations mean more to a reader than they would if someone just started with IDIC.

    Readers who like John Ford’s depiction of Klingon culture would probably get the most out of reading The Final Reflection, Dwellers in the Crucible, and this one, The IDIC Epidemic. Although I don’t have the impression that anything from Dwellers is picked up on for IDIC.

    The Need of the One

    The IDIC Epidemic is the second of two Star Trek novels about a health crisis that the Enterprise crew find themselves dealing with. I never set out planning to read them in the middle of a real-life plague, to say nothing of them being the ones waiting in the reading pile in such close proximity to each other; but neither did I avoid them. Nevertheless some of my enjoyment of Bloodthirst and IDIC was impacted by real-world events, and my own personal changing circumstances. Through no fault of either book, IDIC was a happier reading experience than Bloodthirst because things were looking a little more more hopeful in the World, and improved by the opportunity to get vaccinated.

    It was fun revisiting Jean Lorrah’s version of Star Trek, with her warmer, more friendly Vulcans. I laughed as the book reminded me of how she has her Vulcans as pragmatic, eager, helpful match-makers.

    Many characters from The Vulcan Academy Murders return in IDIC, and their presence is very welcome...except for the obnoxious Followers of T’Vet. I can’t imagine The Followers having any good will from a reader who already knew them from Academy Murders, and aside from maybe one small offer to make themselves useful (It’s A Faaaake!!!), they only exist in this book to be an aggravation. This would be okay with a follow-through of some kind of comeuppance that actually satisfied. The problem is that some of the trouble they cause is pretty quickly minimized, and the comeuppance is dealt with “off-screen” with a couple lines of rushed exposition.

    As enjoyable as IDIC is, a major problem is there are so many characters and situations up in the air that are not dealt with evenly. We have the regular characters (Kirk, Spock, ect), we have returning characters (Daniel, Sorel, T’Mir, Sendet), and we have a generous amount of new characters (Korsal and his family, T’Pina, and many others). To Lorrah’s credit, she is very good about gradually unveiling new characters a little bit at a time (just like in TVAM), but it was noticeable when, say, Daniel and T’Mir’s newly established relationship from the last book gets a little neglected, after they were one of the highlights of the previous story. I would have like a little more exploration of T’Pina and her adoptive Mother. At least one new character, Korsal, gets mostly great attention...but in the later part of the novel he kind of gets sidelined and left out of his own story. It was very disappointing seeing him stonewalled in his efforts to prompt an emergency response to a dam, and then have him left out of the response to the aftermath of no-one listening to him!

    The thing is, Lorrah did such a great job of getting me invested in Korsal and the circumstances of his life. I loved this guy! A Klingon scientist, kind of an outcast from the Empire, yet he does carry something of a warrior’s spirit that he channels in pragmatic, constructive and productive ways. I love how he isn’t depressed about his standing in his own society, and has thrived in a multi-cultural environment. The catch is, by doing such a good job of making me like him, it made it more noticeable when the Enterprise crew don’t pay attention to his warnings, and then discourage him from participating in the rescue efforts of the flood that results from not heeding his warning. It reflects badly on the Enterprise crew for not attending to a preventable safety issue, and in a meta-way it reflects badly on them keeping Korsal out of his own story. The dam and the flood are part of Korsal’s story, their outcome “belong” to him, in a way. But it’s hard to blame the Enterprise crew, when it seems clear that this is a contrivance of the author; Lorrah might as well have carved it into stone that “The Dam will break! The flood will happen, there’s no stopping it!” I understand that this is to drive the tension of “Will Korsal get the message across to everyone in time?” If it had to be a contrived situation that maintained tension, fair enough; I just wish a little more thought had been put into it, so that the Enterprise crew don’t come off badly for having neglected a major safety concern like that.

    Talking of the flood, I thought it made for a great large-scale action set-piece. It felt a little off-topic from the plague which was the centerpiece of the story, though. There’s some nice scenes and imagery as this disaster occurs. Like many other aspects of The IDIC Epidemic, it unfolds a little inconsistently, dragging on just a little bit more than I would have liked, and then much to my shock a page and a half transitions into the winding down scenes after a majority of the clean-up is already done “off screen”. I liked the tension of having a character who suddenly becomes important to the process of inoculating against the epidemic getting lost in the chaos of the flooding, and the urgency of her survival during the search and rescue efforts. But the problem of plot contrivances rears its ugly head again, as she isn’t a priority evacuee. In the middle of the flood, patients are evacuated from a hospital, and randomly sent off in ground vehicles or flying vehicles. Maybe it’s down to panic planning, but it’s frustrating that air cars aren’t prioritized for their advantage of being able to fly over the flood waters. What kind of organizers would send a person who is key to saving so many lives away in a ground car in the middle of a flood? Keeping that person safe means saving more lives after the situation is stabilized!

    I really appreciate that The IDIC Epidemic had a better approach to the quarantine and isolation efforts, compared to the shoddy quarantine measures seen in Bloodthirst. I hate to ding Bloodthirst, but it was so much more satisfying to see The IDIC Epidemic taking the public health issue more seriously. To be fair, both novels have their contrived moments, and I know that Bloodthirst was more focused on having vampires-that-are-not-vampires and a high-command conspiracy; IDIC is about dealing with an epidemic (except when it is dealing with a flood).

    Even though I complain about the book being overstuffed with characters, I did like having Sarek and Amanda present, as well. Between this book and Academy Murders, Lorrah left me with the impression that Sarek and Amanda have just as good potential as an adventuring couple in the Star Trek setting as the familiar Enterprise crew. The anecdote Sarek relates of having to engage in single combat, in a diplomatic context, for Amanda; and seeing Sarek actively involved in rescue operations reminds me of how dynamic Mark Leonard’s presence is in Journey to Babel (I grew up with the robe-wearing Sarek with an abundance of gravitas in the movies TSFS and TVH, and only saw Journey much, much later). The downside of having them in the book is that for the most of the story they are there as characters to worry about, languishing in the entrapment of quarantine. It was a relief to have Sarek get out of that, and team up with Spock to do some rescuing. Amanda gets left out, though.

    I love how the book ends, with the Enterprise crew in the process of a twenty-day inoculation job. It’s kind of weird, too. Kirk declares that he’s sick of orbiting the sick colony, and it’s about time they broke orbit. So he calls Scotty up to make sure the engines are ready for warp, because they are leaving immediately...in twenty days! Hurry, Scotty, it’ll be really soon!

    The Needs of the Many

    The odd things is, this is a book that I was somewhat reluctant to include on my list. I wondered if The Vulcan Academy Murders was all I needed. TVAM was very much a standalone, separate from other books without picking up and developing ideas from other authors. I was really surprised by how much Jean Lorrah makes IDIC inclusive of material from other authors.

    The Romulans aren’t emphasized as Rihannsu, but there is something of a cultural consistency with Vonda McIntyre’s elaboration of Saavik’s backstory: the Romulans are phenomenally cruel to children and their parents, if the parents are political adversaries or out of political favor. One has to wonder if the Romulan culture of McIntyre and Lorrah eventually pay a terrible price for their cruel practices.

    The real payoff for including IDIC in my reading is seeing the return of John Ford’s Klingon culture. Anyone who reads this collection of books in even a vaguely publication order might be surprised to find that Ford’s Klingons aren’t really followed up on very much. Dwellers in the Crucible is one of the few exceptions rather than the rule. The order I’ve read the books in isn’t strictly publication order, but for some reason Vonda McIntyre’s Klingon cultural ideas seemed to become more prominent in my mind, from TSFS novelization and Enterprise: The First Adventure, and a passing inclusion in Battlestations! that includes both Ford and McIntyre’s Klingon culture ideas.

    It was nice to have a book that makes use of Ford’s ideas, through the thoughts of Korsal, a Klingon who seems to view himself as an extremely atypical Klingon. It’s something of a curiosity that much of Korsal’s inner thoughts about the Ford-shaped Klingon Empire with it’s Game and Komerex ambitions, those thoughts are usually going on while he is in domestic situations with his family, or engaged in scientific or engineering tasks.

    The Final Reflection doesn’t say anything about Imperial Klingons and another race that were non-Imperial but still considered Klingon, as far as I can recall. I got the impression that Krenn was a Klingon with ridges on his forehead. I assumed that Korsal was a forehead-ridged Klingon, but a passage near the end of the book threw out that visualization (it’s a bit irritating to have information late in the game that “corrects” a reader’s mind’s-eye image), by having Kirk reflect on being familiar with the idea of a core race of Imperial Klingons staying somewhat reclusive at the center of the Empire, and reflecting on memories of seeing old photographs of Klingons during early relations between the Federation and the Empire. I think the actual text says holographs, but there was something appealing about the imagery of old black and white photographs of obscure images that leave a viewer wondering, “Did I see what I think I saw?” It was also fun seeing the book play up the Imperial Klingons as somewhat elusive, hidden, and enigmatic. It enhanced the mystery of the division between Klingons that look more human, and Klingons who are more alien in their appearance. I enjoyed the mystery of it.

    Final Thoughts

    I had a lot of fun with this, despite the knocks I mention above. The plot contrivances, and the uneven character development because of the book having so many characters and situations were problems I could not ignore, but they didn’t detract from the book having good, worthwhile moments. And I finished the book with a strong affection for the character of Korsal, who I really enjoyed reading about.

    The Dimensions of Creation Make Our Future Choices Limitless

    As I mentioned a couple times, it was great to be able to read this while there was a sense of hope building in the real world, even though things aren’t over yet. I almost feel like I could tackle Stephen King’s door-stopper novel, The Stand, which kicks off with a global plague...but I don’t want to tempt fate.

    In the long-term, given how much I liked Korsal, I’m contemplating another novel that I’ve heard features a Klingon character that challenges our usual expectations in A Flag Full of Stars. But that’s much farther along down the road.

    Also down the road is Jean Lorrah’s TNG novels. I kind of read Metamorphosis, but I think it will be more satisfying to read Survivors before doing a proper read of Metamorphosis. This is it for her TOS output, as far as I can tell.

    It kind of feels like there’s been a lot of wrapping up at this point, in a way. With books like The IDIC Epidemic, Bloodthirst, and Battlestations; and How Much for Just the Planet? and Time For Yesterday up next, the end is coming for a lot of authors’ numbered novel contributions. They are either done with TOS, or done with Star Trek novels altogether, or moving on to special projects like novelizations, giant novels, or the hard cover specials.
     
    jaime likes this.
  14. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    The Trilogy—The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home (Part I)

    Having recently finished Vonda McIntyre’s novelization of the fourth ST movie, TVH, I’ve also now finished the novelizations of the three ST movies that get grouped together as a trilogy. This also sees me at the end of McIntyre’s contributions to this version of the ST litverse.

    Here we go, with a look at the novelizations of three installments of Paramount Pictures’ Supreme Space Adventure!

    Intro

    The theme is the opening credits to TSFS, a nice majestic epic track from James Horner. The imagery for the intro is somewhat like the ending credits for TVH, with all the crew of the Enterprise featuring in line with their opening credit order, but they are images that Boris Vallejo might have painted based on production stills for the movies, that might have ended up as cover art for the novels.

    A Gateway to the Past; Many Journeys Are Possible

    I remember when I was much younger, I would occasionally check out the movie novelizations from the local library. I read most of the material in TSFS and TVH, but would often skip the extra scenes that were added into the adaptations. For me, I was very much using the novelizations as a form of home video, before it became a much more effortless and established thing. So I knew there were differences between the movies and the novel adaptations...and I didn’t like those differences. I wanted the books to be an accurate re-visitation of a movie I had enjoyed. If someone told me back then that some of the events that the author references outside the scope of the movies’ stories were from McIntyre’s original fiction, I think I would have disliked the adaptations even more. Without the internet as a guide, I was baffled by references and backstory that I had no way of knowing were they originated from. I wasn’t reading every Star Trek novel, then and even now.

    When I was younger I found McIntyre’s prose a bit difficult to translate into a visual in my head. The movies helped me understand what McIntyre was rendering into prose, but I think I was a slow learner. I might have found The Entropy Effect impenetrable, and unfathomable if I had tried it at an earlier age. I definitely remember finding Enterprise: The First Adventure intimidating with it’s page count, and the density of the text on each page absolutely terrifying. I was never going to be able to read those books at the young age I was at while enjoying the Star Trek movies being released through the 1980’s. Enterprise TFA would have been a no-go, and I think I remember family members checking out a copy of The Entropy Effect; if I ever tried it, I didn’t get very far. The legacy of McIntyre’s writing leaving me feeling intimidated extends as far as me never getting around to reading McIntyr’s Star Wars book, The Crystal Star; even though I bought every SW book that came out around the time it was released.

    In a way, there has been an aspect of conquering my fear, reading through McIntyre’s works. A child’s fear, that followed me into adulthood. A certain amount of understanding helped make the books highly accessible and comprehensible, nowadays. There were the occasional sentence or paragraph that were overly verbose, and some descriptions of things that I found frustratingly vague; so I feel that this partially vindicates the instincts of my younger self.

    The basics for understanding the extra references and added scenes in the movie novelizations come from the original series, and McIntyre’s original novels, The Entropy Effect and Enterprise: The First Adventure. Although other authors drew from McIntyre’s work, she doesn’t reference other authors’ ST novels.

    Approach Control, This is Enterprise

    This time around, with the novelizations among other books which I targeted as an alternative continuity, I was happy to read the novelizations as they are, extra scenes and all; and embrace their differences. I read the books as the 80’s novel continuity’s version of the events of TwoK, TSFS, and TVH. I also read them with an eye on how they function as adaptations, and how each individual novel works as a novel, with the changes and extra scenes as part of the overall story.

    This Time We’ve Paid For the Party

    Anyone who has read the books and seen the movies know how the different versions compare to each other. There are scenes that effectively carries over continuity between each movie’s story, where the movies end up dropping some elements. The inclusion of Carol Marcus in TSFS is very welcome, up to a point; but becomes a mixed blessing by the end of the trilogy. Her absence from TSFS movie was easy for me to miss, but the novelization highlights a sense that she is conspicuously absent from TSFS. She overstays her welcome by the time of TVH, unfortunately. J.M. Dillard does well with her novelization of TFF by not fighting the trajectory of the movies, mentioning Carol but not actually featuring the character in a scene within TFF novelization.

    It’s a little hard to do more than go with impressions, since its already been a couple years since reading TWoK and TSFS. TVH is obviously fresh in mind. I’m left with an impression of melancholy as a pervading emotion, starting with Kirk’s depression about getting older and facing the sins of the past in TWoK; that gloomy atmosphere becomes nearly oppressive in TSFS because of the grieving for fallen comrades.

    Don’t get me wrong, the books are good adaptations, but the weight of negatively inflected nostalgia and morbidity takes all the fun out of TWoK novel. TWoK has it’s share of rough play, and sometimes I like that edge. I know it’s also not a good idea to glorify violence and cruelty, which ST often messages against. But to focus too much on the violence and cruelty is to neglect that the overall presentation of the second film as a movie of dynamic storytelling, high adventure, and a sense of danger that makes the story exciting. McIntyre’s novelization emphasizes the lives that are lost defending Genesis, and that’s a good thing, making a point of what a tragedy it is. However, call me a weakling, but I object to how far the novelization goes with it’s emphasis. The level of horror and gore, while effective, takes away the fun and joy of seeing Kirk and Spock and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise at their best in a high-stakes adventure. A torture scene showing characters who are red-shirts effectively humanizes them, and makes Khan more frightening, but it makes Khan unlikeable to an uncomfortable level. The lengthy scenes on the Regula Lab where the Genesis project is born also cut into the pacing of the overall story being adaptated.

    I was mostly okay with the rampant depression the saturates the novelization for TSFS. Thematically its appropriate, in keeping with the feeling of characters grieving, and having to pick themselves up and take action, almost as an act of fighting the depression that seems to overlay the entire universe being depicted in TSFS book. It doesn’t work against the energy of the movie’s story.

    McIntyre carries over some of the depression and melancholy into the early part of TVH; which is a weird experience when comparing to the consistent tone of movie. This results in McIntyre keeping her books consistent, but it makes it seem like she’s fighting against the humor in the script for the fourth movie. Fortunately she gets into the groove enough to jettison Carol Marcus after one early appearance, and is wise enough to know that the light tone of the movie’s script asks for her to mitigate the damage left in the aftermath of the Traveler (as she calls the whale-probe in her book).

    I was glad to read all the extra scenes that McIntyre added to the movies' storylines, but it comes at a cost.
     
  15. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    The Trilogy—The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home (Part II)

    Your Use of Language Has Altered

    I read a review somewhere that gives McIntyre credit for having a hard task of adapting the light-hearted tone of TVH into prose form. She seems to get the point that there’s an emphasis on humor, and so she brings some of her own type of humor to the story, but I don’t know that it gels well. McIntyre’s humor is the kind that gets a mild snort, or a vague, wry smile; not necessarily laugh out loud moments. Enterprise: TFA caught me by surprise as an introduction to her type of long-burn humor, it took me a little time to pick up on the weird awkward humor of the vaudville show going off the rails at the end of E:TFA. Or Spock and other crew members swapping meat and vegetarian meals because the Enterprise food machines are getting orders backwards. It was helpful to read E: TFA before TVH, because that book gave me the strongest impression of what kind of humor is McIntyre’s style.

    TVH novelization has a long-burn joke about how Uhura and Chekov’s activities on the street asking for nuclear vessels connect to their infiltration of the aircraft carrier Enterprise. A poor, long suffering FBI worker keeps getting calls from an insufferable paranoid conspiracy crank who happens to stumble on the real deal just once in the form of Uhura and Chekov. The FBI guy is cool enough in the movie (“Go ahead, stun me”), but McIntyre makes him a nameless agent who is tired and exasperated. Why does this guy have no name, and a tease that he might be mysterious, while the crank that calls him and aggravates him gets a name and initially a higher word count dwelling inside his head?

    Another running joke that just fizzles out is how Gillian gets Kirk’s name backwards. It disrupts certain scenes that are more serious and dramatic between her and Kirk...and then McIntyre gets bored of it and drops it in an unnatural way, after dragging it on for way too long.

    Can We Hold Speed?

    So it took me all this writing to come to the beginnings of an assessment, maybe an unfair one, that I don’t think McIntyre gets the tone quite right for her novelizations of the movies. The pacing is off, too; with the early half of the stories taking longer to get going in the novels. There are those moments in the movie where I feel the story really starts to take off, and in all three cases it’s really surprising to see how far along through the page count each of these moments are reached. The moments include the first encounter between the Reliant and Enterprise, the sequence where the Enterprise is stolen out of Spacedock, and when the crew time travel to 20th Century Earth. Those major highlights shouldn’t be so far into each books page count.

    A real standout moment where story momentum is just killed is after the Enterprise is stolen, and other story threads are ratcheting up the tension (Grissom destroyed, Uhura escapes to the Vulcan embassy, Saavik and David marooned and hunted), all of a sudden we get a scene where Carol Marcus visits the childhood home of Vance and Del. In the middle of intergalactic intrigue, we are yanked out of that into a realistic, domestic scene with a lot of drama and pathos. It’s a great scene, but I can’t for the life of me understand why McIntyre positions it where she does in the book. Side-by-side with Scotty returning Peter Preston’s body to his family, it would work great. But after all the Earth-side plotlines have run their course, and it’s time to leave it behind, that scene is jarringly out of place, interrupting the story’s transitioning escape velocity.

    This makes it seem like I didn’t like the books at all, but I definitely did. I liked how they conjured different visuals and performances of the dialogue in my mind’s eye. Freed from the constraints of what the movies could do, I took the opportunity to let play out an extensive alternative in the form of Saavik. Although Robin Curtis’s Saavik was the portrayal I was more familiar with (TSFS was the first ST movie I got on VHS), I eventually saw Kirstie Alley’s performance and it made me understand why that is the more celebrated version. I’ve never disliked the Robin Curtis version, even in the long shadow cast by Alley. The Volume 1 DC Comic series partly inspired me, since they seemed to stick with Alley’s Saavik even in issues set after the events of TSFS. So, I imagined Saavik as Kirstie Alley while reading the novelizations of TSFS and TVH. It helps, too, that McIntyre’s writing of the character seemed to keep with the spirit of Alley’s version. The illusion worked well with scenes that McIntyre adds into the novelizations, but I would sometimes forget and get lazy during scenes that are in the movies. On one or two occasions, I deliberately went back and re-read a scene a second time after reminding myself to bring the Kirstie Alley version back into the mind’s eye. Maybe that will seem like trying too hard in the practice of simply reading a book, but I still enjoyed playing out the experiment in my mind.

    Final Thoughts

    The Vonda McIntyre’s novelizations of TWoK, TSFS, and TVH work great if you want to imagine how the events of the movies might play out very similarly, with slight differences, in a parallel universe, or an alternate continuity. McIntyre is very generous in concocting extra scenes and extra story threads woven into familiar scenes we think we know well. Not all of these extras fit well with making the novels a coherent work, in some cases changing the tone of the story and in other ways intruding on the narrative flow.

    As far as an overview of McIntyre’s work, I’m left with a feeling of curiosity about what it would be like to peak into a parallel universe where McIntyre didn’t get waylaid by writing projects such as the movie novelizations or a prestige assignment like Enterprise: TFA, and wrote original ST novels in the vein of The Entropy Effect. I’m not dissatisfied by the work that we have, mostly. There are flashes of innovation in the novelizations that make me want to see more of McIntyre’s version of ST, and also the sense that it would be nice to see her have more opportunity to write about the characters she is interested in. What would a Sulu-centric novel by her be like, and would it be enough to get it out of her system? A spin-off Captain Hunter of the Aerfen, which would have worked great during a time when books like The Final Reflection and Dreadnaught! Were being written. Or maybe, a concept that is a total cheat, that couldn’t exist in any universe, my joke about a slice-of-life novel focusing on Del March and Vance Madison, long before the Genesis project. My challenge for McIntyre would be: “By all means, let it be melancholy if you must...make a nod to but don’t be morbid about the characters’ inevitable fate!”

    The novelizations benefit from having read The Entropy Effect and Enterprise: TFA in their proper publication order in between. In my opinion McIntyre does her best work with her first three books, The Entropy Effect, TWoK and TSFS. It’s too bad that she was rushed to get Enterprise: TFA and TVH done, and unfortunately that shows in aspects of her last two books, but knowing that helped me to not judge too harshly, and enjoy the aspects of her writing and storytelling that still carries through in her final contributions to ST.

    The Dimensions of Creation Make Our Future Choices Limitless

    What happens next is the same as my last entry, for The IDIC Epidemic. I took this detour to wrap up the movie trilogy, which helpfully kept the same author for three movies that are closely linked. Next up will be How Much For Just the Planet? Followed by Time For Yesterday.
     
    TheAlmanac likes this.
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    She has written a fair number of original original novels that are entirely her own creations. If you want an overview of her work outside of novelizations, that seems like the place to go.
     
    Desert Kris likes this.
  17. Desert Kris

    Desert Kris Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Location:
    Desert City
    It's been on my mind to try one or more of her Starfarers novel. I'm also curious about The Moon and The Sun; perhaps the movie adaptation The King's Daughter will be an encouragement.
     
  18. seigezunt

    seigezunt Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    Kobayashi Saru's Fried Ganglia Shack
    Thank you for doing this. This thread sent me down a rabbit hole of related threads dealing with the beloved pre-Arnold era. There are a number of these that were my preferred head canon for a long time, and some that remain. It was a particular magical time for fandom, and for fans of my generation a nostalgic reminder of when all we had were the TOS reruns and a move or two. No slight against TWOK, but it's nice to think of the adventures that continued from the end of TMP into the then unknown.
     
    TheAlmanac and Desert Kris like this.
  19. seigezunt

    seigezunt Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    Kobayashi Saru's Fried Ganglia Shack
    this thread is also making me realize that some of these early novels I've only consumed as audiobooks, and those early audiobooks cut out a LOT to fit 90 minutes. I will need to go back and actually read some of them.
     
    Desert Kris likes this.
  20. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2000
    Location:
    South Pennsyltucky
    I read The Moon and the Sun when it came out... so, close to twenty-five years ago now. I have the general feeling of having enjoyed it.

    I have very little interest in the film -- it's been sitting on the shelf for years now, and that's not usually a good sign.
     
    Desert Kris likes this.