Peter David's Writing Style

O. Deus wrote:

[Peter] David doesn’t do nice stories. He’s the one writer assigned to doing R-Rated ST stories which is pretty much his function. If he didn’t keep shoving in the violence and sex and betrayals, readers might begin to notice that he’s no better a writer than any of the other franchise’s pens for hire.

Despite my repeated criticisms of New Frontier and Peter David’s apathetic writing in the New Frontier recent novels, I have to take issue with this.

“assigned to doing R-Rated ST stories…”?  Not true.  No Star Trek novel would, if filmed, rate an R-rating by the MPAA.  Most Trek novels would rate a PG; at worst, some would rate a PG-13.  The Star Trek novels don’t feature graphic violence or sex.  Even when the characters in New Frontier are engaging in sexual acts, they are described either as having happened or in such a way that little attention is drawn to them.  (I’m still in awe of the humorous sexual metaphors used in describing the Robin/Nik encounter in the simulation ride in Renaissance; funny and accurate.)

Admittedly, Peter David gets latitude because he’s the best-selling author in the Trek writing stable and because New Frontier is his series, no one else’s.  He has written some brilliant Star Trek books in the past–Imzadi, Q-Squared, A Rock and a Hard PlaceNew Frontier doesn’t represent his best work, however; only Once Burned approaches the heights of those previous books.  At best, New Frontier is diverting.  At worst, it’s dull.

Particularly with the Excalibur trilogy, his New Frontier writing is marred by sloppy plotting and poor characterization.  These are either stylistic quirks or evidence that PAD’s taken on too many writing assignments.  (Six novels in one year is a bit much.) But I don’t find his work gratuitously violent or sexually graphic.

Your mileage may vary, however.

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7545): Questions about next movie novelization

I imagine Simon didn’t notice that the defense of Diane Carey came from “fed up in Seattle,” and we know that Dave Galanter lives near Ms. Carey in Michigan.

(Of course, now I’m trying to think of who here lives in Seattle; must be a newbie or a lurker.)

That said, I stand behind everything I said on the subject of Diane Carey and novelizations. Ms. Carey usually writes three Trek novels a year, and of those three one is very good, one is mediocre, and one makes me want to run for the hills screaming just so I can get away from its vileness.

Remarkably, though, it hasn’t been her novelizations that have provoked that response in me. Ship of the Line might be one of the worst pieces of garbage Pocket has published since the days of yore when Marshak and Culbreath were regular fixtures of the Pocket schedule.

However, I did enjoy Fire Ship immensely, so what does that say?

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7521): Questions about next movie novelization

Truth to tell, Yavar, I consider the Generations novelization to be a mixed case. Parts of the book were well-developed; remember that the first third of the book is set in the 23rd century. We get the final day of Kirk’s command of the Enterprise, his final moments as the ship’s master and commander (and a nice echo to similar scenes in The Lost Years, and some indication of where Kirk went after he was mustered out of the service. What interested me the most (and something that Shatner picked up on in The Ashes of Eden) was the political situation between the Federation and Klingon Empire Dillard had used as the backdrop for Star Trek VI continued into the Generations novelization. Those Klingon border skirmishes from the VI novel were mentioned and given context in Generations.

However, the last two-thirds of the novel didn’t continue the trend. I thought the NextGen portion of the novel were nothing more than a dry-run for Dillard’s by-the-numbers approach of her succeeding novelizations. There wasn’t any sense of expansion in the NextGen portion of the story, just a rote recitation of the events of the film.

To be honest, I don’t know what Dillard could have done with the story.  Generations didn’t have the storytelling opportunities for expansion that the Classic Trek films did. Because of its disjointed structure, because there wasn’t a linear plot from the Enterprise-B to the Enterprise-D, building a backdrop to Generations as she did with Star Trek V and Star Trek VI wouldn’t have been easy to achieve.

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7519): Questions about next movie novelization

A friend of mine and I had a conversation on Star Trek: The Motion Picture about two years back. Knowing I was a reader of the Trek novels, he said: “Roddenberry didn’t write the novelization.  Alan Dean Foster did.”

I thought about it, filed that factoid away, and eventually decided that no, Alan Dead Foster did not write the ST:TMP novelization. I’ve read a lot of Foster’s work, and ST:TMP doesn’t feel like his work. Hell, it doesn’t even feel like his Star Trek Logs.

For all I know, though, it could have been ghost-written.

But if Roddenberry did write it, it’s a shame that he ignored it in later years. I liked the partial version of 21st century history he gave. I liked the drained Mediterranean Sea.

It’s different. That’s all there is to it.

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7517): Questions about next movie novelization

I’m guessing J.M. Dillard will be writing the novelization of Star Trek X. Doesn’t have to be, but I’d very much prefer it not be written by Diane “The Seven-Day Wonder” Carey. Leave her to the episode novelizations where readers don’t expect quality.

I wouldn’t mind, though, if someone other than Dillard wrote the next film novelization. I think her novelizations started off well, with her novelizations of V and VI really making the most of the material by fleshing out the background events. Especially on V where she portrayed the critical history of the Spock/Sybok relationship, something I wish other novelists had picked up on. (I’ve mentally edited Sybok’s presence into Vulcan’s Forge, so all is right with the world.)

Her NextGen film novelizations, though, have been by-the-numbers with little beyond what we saw on screen. Maybe that’s a virtue, maybe not.  With her Classic Trek novelizations Dillard gave us insight into the characters and what they were doing in the periods before the film we didn’t get to see. In her NextGen novelizations there isn’t that kind of development. Instead, the story happens, and that’s all there is.

Perhaps I’m asking for too much. It’s just a novelization after all. You don’t expect art (or in Diane Carey’s case, time) from them.

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7437): Ro and the Maquis

Baerbel wrote:


The Bajorans and the Maquis had two things in common, they were victims of the Cardassians and they feel betrayed by Starfleet – the Maquis because of this agreement Starfleet made with Cardassia and the Bajorans because Starfleet did absolutely nothing to help except voicing their outrage now and again. From “Ensign Ro” I deduct that even giving humanitarian aid to Bajoran refugees rarely happened. I am sure that many Bajorans worked with the Maquis. These were in essence Ro`s people.


A couple of points. First, the agreement was between the Federation and the Cardassians; Starfleet was merely enforcing the DMZ on the Federation side. (Remember, the Federation is the government, Starfleet is her military.)

Second, what could Starfleet (or the Federation) have done for the Bajora during the Occupation? (Yes, I just used the older term “Bajora” instead of “Bajoran” because I like it.) Anything the Federation did could be considered Prime Directive contamination, or the Cardassians might disallow any Federation intervention. In modern terms, that would be like attempting to give Tibet aid and assistance in contravention of China’s barbaric policies toward Tibet. China’s not going to allow us to do anything in Tibet that would interrupt their control, so neither would the Cardassians allow the Federation to do anything with the Bajora that might weaken their hand.

Picard might not care for this situation, but what can he do? His hands are tied, if not through Prime Directive concerns than very certainly by Federation mandate and foreign policy. Disrupting internal Cardassian affairs wouldn’t have a positive outlook; if anything, it would bring the Federation and the Cardassian Union closer to the brink of a second war.

Picard knows and understands the policy and its reason. Ro’s second-guessing of the policy and her ultimate break with Starfleet, though possibly well-intentioned, isn’t justified. She had her duties to Starfleet, duties she ignored.

The Psi Phi Project: Vulcan's Fury, give me a novel!

Vulcan’s Fury, the lost computer game from Interplay, deserves to exist in some form. Ever since I heard of it, I wanted to experience this story in some fashion. The story of the Sundering of the Vulcan people, that’s gripping stuff. And that it was written by none other than D.C. Fontana, that was another coolness factor.

The game is gone, never to return. Technologies change, adventure games have gone out of style.

But books are timeless. The story might have a solid core. D.C. Fontana I’ve heard believes it’s a strong story, strong enough to support a novel. I would welcome a novel based on Secret of Vulcan’s Fury.

So, Marco, how about it? You’ve put Pocket on the map where computer game novels are made. This one’s up your alley; not only is it Star Trek (and Classic Trek at that), it’s also derived from a computer game.

I want this story. I imagine a lot of others out there do as well.

Do I have to agitate for a letter campaign?

Spock and the Calvinists

Calvinist: I’m saved!  I’m one of the Elect!

Spock: How many elect are there?

Calvinist: One-hundred forty-four thousand.

Spock: An intriguing number.  A question.  How many of these Elect come from this time?

Calvinist: What?  I don’t understand.

Spock: Christianity as a faith is two thousand years old.  A rough calculation would show that some twenty billion human beings have lived in the past two thousand years.  Logic would clearly dictate that the numbers of the Elect would be spread across the past two thousand years, let alone all of time, assuming that it is the whim of the Almighty and not religious fervor that determines one’s status as Elect.

Calvinist: What does this have to do with anything?

Spock: Simple probability theory.  As a matter of percentages, one’s status as a member of Elect would be highly unlikely.  One might have a better chance of being hit with a meteor than to be selected as one of the Elect.  This all depends, of course, upon the initial assumptions one makes.

Calvinist: How so?

Spock: Alter any of the fundamental assumptions, and the probability changes.  As our base humanity, are we counting from the origins of the human species three million years ago, or merely from the dawn of the Christian era?  Are only those subscribing to the Christian faith to be counted as part of our base set, or all all persons to be counted?  Neither of these are unreasonable questions; the first because it speaks to the question of predestination, implying that one’s status in the afterlife is irrespective of one’s religious faith as Christianity has existed as a part of human existence for only the smallest of times.  The second question speaks to where Christianity falls within the scope of human belief.  There are systems of belief older than Christianity and with more adherents; are we to assume that these persons, secure in their systems of belief, are following an incorrect path?

Calvinist: Of course they’re following the wrong path.

Spock: How do you know this?

Calvinist: Because it’s self-evident.

Spock: It is not self-evident to me.

And we could go on and on and on and on….

Sulu novels

John Ordover wrote:

The letter writing campaign failed, if you recall.  Yes “a portion” of fandom is interested in the continuing adventures of Captain Sulu – but not a big enough portion.:)

True, the letter writing campaign for a Captain Sulu novel generated approximately 750 letters.  You’d said one thousand letters in one month was the bare minimum you required.  However, those 750 letters were also three times what you said at the time you were expecting to receive.

Second, given that the Sulu novel letter campaign had zero publicity or media coverage, unlike the Sulu television show campaign, the fact that the Sulu base was energized to that extent in that time shows latent demand.

Third, you show that you do listen to the fans.  Many of us said there was demand for Sulu, and we produced 750 letters to that proposition.  Of course, the 250 letters that never materialized give you ammunition that says, “Sulu no big deal.”

Fourth, those wanting a Sulu novel now know that the cause is not hopeless.  It’s just getting that base energized.

Sulu is a niche idea; you’ve said that yourself, John.  Sulu doesn’t appeal to the broadest segment of fans in the way that the other series do.  But neither does SCE, for instance.  Neither does Captain Proton.  Or Starfleet: Year One.  Ideas that don’t appear to be the marketing slam dunks but which are pursued anyway.

Because they are worthwhile to do.

Honestly, I’d rather buy a Sulu eBook than an SCE eBook.  It’s not that I dislike SCE, because I don’t.  But the end of the 24th century is a known quantity.  The end of the 23rd century isn’t.  The Classic Trek era is inherently more interesting to me, though I concede that to other fans it’s dreadfully dull.

I admit we’re never likely to see another Sulu novel under your watch.  Whether by editorial design or marketing design.  That doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Sulu would demand no less.

The Psi Phi Project: Re(7080): The BBS

From Bob:


If George W. Bush was a
Star Trek character, who would he be?


0, from the Q-Continuum trilogy. Wants to take over the world and bring his psychotic friends to the party.


Al Gore?


Q, from the same trilogy. He means well, tries hard, but comes up short.


Ralph Nader?


Quinn, from Voyager‘s “Death Wish.” He wants to shake things up, but doesn’t have the willpower or strength to do it.


Pat Buchanan?


Q2, from “Deja Q” and Q-in-Law. He wants to play with the big boys, but he doesn’t have much enthusiasm for it either.

So, you’re heard it here first, people. American politics is just like the Q-Continuum, a whole lot of nonsense that doesn’t go anywhere but can make things unpleasant along the way.