Star Trek Books: Discuss

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Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:53 pm

I had a long, long hurdle over Star Trek novels. Yes, I had the Blish books as a kid, but despite my encompassing love of all things Trek, I never really got into the books. It wasn't anything to do with embarassment; I happily buy Trek toys to this day, and I've been spotted in line at Value Village with a framed Worf poster. No, it was just something about expectations of suck.

That has changed. Over the past few months, since I started doing the Starbase 66 podcast, I have been reading Trek novels. Not just any old one; some look really poopy. But I've found a few that I've enjoyed.

This week's book is The Valiant, by Michael Jan Friedman. The cover features a young Picard (with hair, although that was later de-canonized in Nemesis, if I'm not mistaken). It's all about a USS Stargazer mission to the galactic barrier, a sort of sequel to the TOS pilot Where No Man Has Gone Before. Many of the characters Friedman introduced in his earlier novel Reunion are back: Picard's Stargazer shipmates like Gilaad Ben Zoma, the twins, Dr. Carter Greyhorse and Pug Joseph. Fun characters, and a nifty crew.

This is not an overly ambitious novel. It's like an episode of a Trek series: fast, uncomplicated, and interesting, with appropriate mini-cliffhangers right where the commercials should be. I burned through it in a little over an hour. I liked it mostly because it's the story of a slice of Trek history we don't know much about, and a look at young Picard. Friedman captures him perfectly; as you read the adventures of young Commander Picard, you see the foundations of the man the character would become. It works.

I'll talk about more Trek novels here as I read them ... and I'd like to hear other people's takes.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Jakob on Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:10 pm

You know, the books are a huge hurdle for me. I've never read one. Partly because I've read Splinter of the Mind's Eye and it seemed like pretty much fanfic and that made me wary of spin-off fiction en masse. I've seen crates upon crates of Trek books in Mandi's basement though. I might have to delve.
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Crates upon crates.

Post  Mandi on Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:15 pm

The crates are certainly upon crates, but they don't ALL have ST books in them. I swear.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  cohnee on Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:46 pm

I have problems with some Star Trek books. Particularly the ones William Shatner "wrote". There's just something a little sad about somebody making up adventures for a character they once played. It wouldn't so much if he wrote Star Trek stories about other charaters, but they're all 'Captain Kirk in the 24th Century' as far as I can see.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  mediasaurusrex on Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:10 pm

I did a mild stumble-hurdle over the Star Trek photonovels when I was a kid. It was great. But that was before the entire series was released on VHS.

Woah. The 80s was a different hurdle altogether, man. afro
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:41 pm

I remember those photonovels. My school library had a few of them, all held together with tape (the thick paper stock and crap binding meant they fell apart easily). Photonovels were cool.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Admin on Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:44 pm

What were these photonovels of which you speak? I may have had Star Wars in that form. Were they novel shaped or bigger?
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:46 pm

They were pocket books with stills from the episodes, captioned like comics, with word balloons. Black and white, if I recall correctly. You can read more about them here.http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.seymour1/ukbookguide/USASeries/StarTrek/starTrek-Fotonovels.html
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  mediasaurusrex on Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:08 pm

Paperback sized.

Yeah, I have the TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES and a different one (sans cover) where he fights the Gorn. I know you know what I am talking about when I say Gorn-fight, because it is the wackest fight ever filmed and shopped as a real fight to mankind.

Here it is, in all of its wack glory:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBnflnDArlk
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:11 am

The Gorn fight is Star Trek's greatest fromage moment. I always wondered why the Gorn wore a funky tie-dyed miniskirt. Those Gorns!
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  kumarhk on Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:28 am

Seeing as I've only seen one season of Star Trek: The Original Series, I don't feel I have the right to get to the books yet.

I have read a lot of Star Wars books, though. And I mean a LOT.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Mandi on Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:44 am

My Trek books are all TNG. I think I have around 20 or 30. My bro used a stack of them to hold up his broken bed frame a few years back, so some of them are effed, but I can't seem to let them go.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  kumarhk on Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:57 am

Mandi wrote:My Trek books are all TNG. I think I have around 20 or 30. My bro used a stack of them to hold up his broken bed frame a few years back, so some of them are effed, but I can't seem to let them go.
I understand the feeling. I still have all my Famous Fives and Five Find-Outers. And all the Noddy books, but those are in some cellar in Southern India.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:01 pm

Hey, I had all the Famous Fives when I was a kid. We had a wall of Enid Blytons at my grandmother's house. There was also a British TV series that played here in the late 70s. Good stories. Kids today need that kind of wholesome fun, not all this sorcery and witchery and stuff Laughing Laughing
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Marius on Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:34 pm

Many yarins ago I used to read Star Trek novels. They were some of the best, and worst books ever. Then my ability to enjoy them knowing that they didn't 'really' happen dwindled and now I just can't bring myself to pick one up.(how twisted is that?)
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Jakob on Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:41 pm

Marius wrote:Then my ability to enjoy them knowing that they didn't 'really' happen dwindled and now I just can't bring myself to pick one up.(how twisted is that?)

To borrow a term from Star Wars, "expanded universe" is a hurdle for me. And I think it boils down to the notion I've been developing that fandoms can really only really exist in their original medium. Star Trek works as a TV series, Batman as a comicbook, Transformers as a saturday morning commercial for toys. But when ST and SW move into the book format (and I argue Trek in to movie format) they loose something that made them what they are. I love Trek for the stories it tells and the ideas, but I also love watching Nimoy and Patrick Stewart. Reading about Spock and Picard doesn't do it for me in the same way. The same as reading about Han or Luke doesn't. It's not the right fit. The same as I never felt Batman worked on screen as well as on the page (not counting Adam West).
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Marius on Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:51 pm

I think you may be on to something there, Jakob. I had never thought to question whether I was more into the characters, or the personification of the characters as portrayed by the actors. Although I do disagree about most of the Star Trek movies. And there are notable exceptions to the medium jumping problem: Iron Man, X-Men 1 and 2, The Hunt for Red October, and yes, even Jurassic Park to name a few.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  kumarhk on Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:19 pm

To be honest, I think Star Wars works better as prose than film ...
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Jakob on Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:58 pm

Marius wrote:I think you may be on to something there, Jakob. I had never thought to question whether I was more into the characters, or the personification of the characters as portrayed by the actors. Although I do disagree about most of the Star Trek movies. And there are notable exceptions to the medium jumping problem: Iron Man, X-Men 1 and 2, The Hunt for Red October, and yes, even Jurassic Park to name a few.

I would agree with you excpetions there. Any rule needs a few exceptions I'd say. I'd throw Bladerunner in there too. And a handful of others. But I'd rather watch an episode of Trek TV over the movies, most days. Even Khan.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Jakob on Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:00 pm

kumarhk wrote:To be honest, I think Star Wars works better as prose than film ...

If you mean Star Wars including movies other than ANH, then yes. But I was only talking, as I always do when talking Star Wars, about ANH (and maybe ESB).

I was originally going to make a snide comment like, "In that case, I'm not sure you actually like Star Wars." But then I remembered, I'm not longer sure I like Star Wars.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  cohnee on Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:58 am

I tend to treat Expanded Universe books of any series as sort of geeky pulp novels. Cheap, quick and inconsequential but generally a fun read. You can easily burn through one in day, and there some well written ones out there (Peter David's books are quite good, when he doesn't get too comic booky).

I've quite a few that don't make any sense in terms of their setting with the series, but do work quite well as a standalone pulp scfi novel. In particular I remember reading one, which is a story about Captain Janeway being separated from her crew somehow and believing them to be dead. She's picked by some kind old tech (for her at least) spaceship and works her way up through the crew. Doesn't fit into the series at all, but just by itself it's quite a good read.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Fire_Ship
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Mandi on Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:29 am

I agree, of the TNG books I have read they were mostly fun quick reads. I quite loved the Peter David ones, but I think that's because he's the author that was getting closest to the fanfiction I didn't know about yet. He filled a void in my life.

There were a few of them that I remember being pretty good. These were usually ones that involved an extended away mission on some alien planet.

I think my favourite was Masks. The crew somehow got split up on an alien planet where everyone wears masks and that's how you can tell their status. If I remember correctly, it's very Picardy.

Dammit, I'm totally gonna have to visit those damn milk crates in the basement now.



Oh god, the cover is such a cheese fest.
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Marius on Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:27 pm

So does Picard order Riker to wear the bejewelled gimp mask, or is it the other way around? scratch
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  Jakob on Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:43 pm

"Earthman named Picard, you must learn to wear bejewelled gimp mask, or the bejewelled gimp mask will wear you."
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Re: Star Trek Books: Discuss

Post  weathereye on Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:36 pm

Not really what I had in mind when I started this thread, but ... when in Rome.

Another very good Star Trek novel is Prime Directive, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. It might actually be my favourite. It's the story of how the original five-year mission ended -- and ended really badly -- and how the scattered, disgraced crew found its way back together in time for Star Trek: TMP. Note that the Reeves-Stevenses are (a) co-writers of some of the Shatner books and (b) Canadian.
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