Monday, November 29, 2004

No more yesterdays...

Daniel Berry of booktrek is hosting a couple of author interviews, following on from his first one with Keith R.A. DeCandido not too long ago. First up are Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, who, like KRAD, are relative newcomers who have become authors of some distinction in the world of Star Trek fiction.

The one I'm looking forward to, though, is a later one with A.C. Crispin. Her first Star Trek novel, the 1983 book Yesterday's Son, took advantage of the first era of creative freedom in Star Trek fiction by giving Spock a son he never knew he had. It was a sequel to the original series episode "All Our Yesterdays." In that episode, time travel to an alien planet's past leads Spock to lose his control over his emotions, and he becomes involved with a woman named Zarabeth. In Crispin's novel, Zarabeth becomes pregnant with Spock's child, Zar. Much drama, excitement, and time travel ensue.

A major character's previously unknown son, especially under these circumstances, was something that many fans wanted to see more of, and in 1988 there was indeed a sequel, Time for Yesterday. Around that time, however, the books were coming under rigid new constraints from the Star Trek Office. The books were now supposed to be straightforward adventure stories with no continuity hooks between books and no major changes in characters' status. So, it seemed, the Zar saga ended there.

Or did it? Quoting from my own website:
Then, back in December, 1999, on the old Pocket Books Star Trek discussion board, she announced:
I'm putting the finishing touches on a proposal for a Star Trek trilogy that begins after the events in the sixth ST film, then takes Our Heroes (and a special guest star a few of you oldsters may remember) back to ancient Vulcan in the time of Surak.
On September 13, 2000, Crispin announced on Psi Phi that Paramount had approved the outline for the trilogy. On December 12, 2003, Bob Manojlovich posted (with her permission) an email from Crispin about the trilogy on Psi Phi. A couple of highlights from that email:
There will be three new books in the Star Trek "Yesterday Saga." Right now the working titles are Return to Yesterday, Yesterday's Vulcan, and Yesterday's Destiny.

The three new books will feature Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Zar going back in time to war-torn Vulcan during the time of Surak, which is also the time of the political/social/ethical schism that brought about the Romulans. Surak himself will be one of the main characters in the books. The characters go back in time to save modern-day Vulcan from being totally destroyed by the actions of a well-meaning, but fanatic, time traveler.
An article by Star Trek novel reviewer Michelle Erica Green, circa 2001, adds the following:
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Zar -- Spock's son with Zarabeth from "All Our Yesterdays" -- go back to the time of Surak, "because somebody has messed with Vulcan history and the planet Vulcan is dead. The first book is called Return To Yesterday. We'll get to see what Vulcan was like before logic. Dr. McCoy has a raging affair with a Vulcan. The idea of getting to see McCoy with pointed ears just cracks me up."
According to a December 2003 interview on, the trilogy was virtually finished. But on July 2, 2004, editor Marco Palmieri announced in a post on the TrekBBS, "Unfortunately, that project won't be going forward."
There hasn't been much said about the reason why the trilogy was cancelled, and it could be something that all concerned parties don't think is the business of anyone else.

But I'm curious, of course. Or nosy, if you prefer.

I just wonder if the Vulcan arc on Enterprise had something to do with it. Maybe we'll find out. I'm also curious as to whether Crispin has any plans to write anything else Trek-related. It's been ten years since her last Star Trek novel, and it's hard not to wonder what else she could come up with now that the novelists have so much more freedom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Disinherited? Death Count? Spartacus? It's all a blank...

Adding the back cover text of the Pocket Star Trek novels to my website has been a little more interesting than I expected. I've probably never even read most of those blurbs before, because I buy every Trek book and don't need to be sold on it. So I am constantly surprised by just how badly written so many of those back covers are (I'm up to the end of 1993 now). Clunky prose, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes... it really is surprising.

What's also surprising is looking at the front cover art and the back cover text and realizing I remember next to nothing about a lot of these books. I don't have a great memory anyway, but how is it I can remember so much about books I hated, whereas the complete oeuvres of some past Trek writers made no longterm impression at all?

It may also be that it's the time these books are from. The Richard Arnold Effect was some time away from ending, so the books were written under a heck of a lot of constraints. But I think it's the writers and editors to some extent, too. We're in a golden age right now for Star Trek novels. Sure, there are one or two writers whose best days seem to be behind them. But there are more strong, new writers than we've ever had before. The Deep Space Nine relaunch has not had a single stinker yet, despite (or maybe due to) being written largely by relative newcomers to the world of Trek novels. Five of the six Lost Era novels would have been among the best Trek novels of any year.

I just have to remember not to take this all for granted.


The Enterprise Vulcan trilogy is off to a good start. I watched the Friday and Sunday night showings, something I don't think I've done before with Enterprise. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens are off to a good start. I find myself hoping they'll have the time some day to write an Enterprise novel.

I'm not trying to find more TV series to watch, but Laura and I have watched the last few episodes of Corner Gas and we're hooked. It's a sitcom, yes, but there's no laugh track, no annoying kids, and a nice sense of place. And it's not deliberately dumb and trashy the way Trailer Park Boys is.

Happy 41st Doctor Who Anniversary, everyone!

Tomorrow night, PBS is showing the final episode of Regency House Party, which has been pretty entertaining. (Though they should have shown us more of Kim Newman's visit to the house.)

And speaking of the Regency era... I'm reading that book The Blighted Cliffs now, and it's turning out to be more of a murder mystery than a nautical adventure. It's also played less for lusty laughs than the marketing would suggest. I'm quite enjoying it, and I'll read more. I doubt I can say the same for the comparatively cliched Kydd books by Julian Stockwin.

(Now playing: R.E.M., "The Worst Joke Ever," Around the Sun.)

Monday, November 15, 2004


One of the neat things about having FreeFind searches on my website is that FreeFind automatically emails me a weekly summary of searches. On the one hand, it's a little depressing. There really aren't many searches being done, which may suggest that the site still isn't getting a lot of hits. (It's been ages since I checked the Well's server stats for the site.)

But it's interesting to see what does get searched. Last Thursday, someone searched for throgs. As it happens, they would indeed have found something, to my surprise. From the blurb for Nan Clark's World's Greatest Star Trek Quiz:

"Fantastic facts and fabulous fun in a fascinating format!"

Mary Moussot, Throgs Neck, New York
But why, I wonder, was someone searching for throgs?

There's also some people doomed to disappointment through misspellings ("startrek orgainial sereis" just isn't going to find you anything). I'm also starting to think I should put a little info on the calendars on the site, because at least a couple of people have searched for "calendar," sometimes with more specific calendars in mind.

And one or two people searched for At the Final Frontier. The searches were eleven minutes apart, one in quotes and one not, so it may have been two people. They didn't find anything that time, but they will when this blog entry gets indexed.

And here's what they'll find out.

Two or three years ago a few of the regulars on a couple of Trek books boards invented the legendary lost episode, "Requiem for a Martian," the TOS episode so awful and off-concept that it was aired once and never again shown anywhere in any form. That led to the invention of the book that spills the beans on the whole thing, At the Final Frontier, originally said to be the work of Gene C. Fontana. Here's a version of someone's cover art that I altered just a little for a post on the TrekBBS last week:

cover of At the Final Frontier

It was never anything less than preposterous, but for a little while it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly enough, some people didn't get that it was obviously a put-on. That, in turn, led to some people who knew it was a joke getting peeved by the joke every time it came up again, because there were always some new people who were unaware of the history of the joke and fell for it. (For the record, I don't recall having had any part in creating any of it or propagating it much. As entertaining as I found it all, I didn't want to put deliberate misinformation on my website, even as a joke, though one or two people suggested I do so.)

I have to say, it was never my favourite Star Trek hoax. That honour would go to the Star Trek radio series of the 1940s, as described in a rec.arts.startrek.current post by Amy West, citing Michael Marek. Looking at it again for the first time in eleven years, I don't find it as amusing as I did then. But at the time it just tickled me pink.

We all seem to love the idea that there's some missing chapter to our favourite pop culture phenomena. Whether it's newly discovered deleted scenes from a classic movie, or a just-found reel-to-reel tape with early recordings by a famous musician, or an unpublished manuscript found in a collection of old letters by a legendary novelist, we get excited at the chance to see an old favourite in a new light and wonder about what might have been. See, for example, Lewis Shiner's novel Glimpses, in which the main character is able to get albums that were never recorded in our world because the artists died or the bands broke up. Heck, I had the same idea for a short story well before that book was published, but I suspect every obsessive music fan has. In my never-actually-written story, the protagonist would have been able to get new albums by Joy Division from a world in which Ian Curtis didn't commit suicide and New Order never came into being. Shiner's book is about 1960s rock that doesn't mean quite as much to me (the Beatles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix).

So that's why these little hoaxes are appealing. Add to that the thrill of hidden knowledge, of finding out something that most people don't know, and the occasional little hoax, however humourously intended, is inevitable.

(Now playing: Anthony Braxton and the Fred Simmons Trio, "What's New," 9 Standards (Quartet) 1993.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Time to Read Something Else

Finished! In retrospect, reading all nine novels of the A Time To... series in a row was not the best idea I've ever had. The writers included enough little reminders and recaps that reading them as they came out wouldn't have caused any problems for my poor memory.

But now that I'm done, I can say that it was worth reading. I think I envy KRAD. There were scenes toward the end of the last book, as the characters prepared for the Riker/Troi nuptials, that must have been a lot of fun to write; I certainly enjoyed reading them. The reunion of characters soon to go off on their own ways really captured the best of the cast of TNG. Over the last few years, I've forgotten just how important those characters were and how much they used to mean to me. TNG lasted about two seasons too long and produced some mediocre movies, and then DS9 and B5 came along and kicked my ass, and I forgot about those great Saturday evenings at 7 watching TNG.

KRAD brought all that back. I'm as keen to read the post-Nemesis novels (TNG, Titan, and Articles of the Federation) now as I am to read the next chapter of the DS9 relaunch. Who'd'a' thunk it?

As for what I'm going to start reading tonight... well, it won't be anything Star Trek-related. Jake Arnott, maybe. Or possibly Aldershot 1945. Maybe Brigadier Gerard. Or I could succumb to the influence of Laura's brand new favourite TV series, Regency House Party, and read a Georgette Heyer. Decisions, decisions...

(Now playing: Prince, "Temptation," Around the World in a Day.)