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 Place. New 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.

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