Friday, January 13, 2006

2005: The year in Star Trek books

Enterprise cancelled, no movie in the works, Pocket's schedule cut back, almost shut down, the fan club and Star Trek Communicator magazine out of business... not a great year for Star Trek.

For the books in particular, it was a year with some very good books and promising developments -- but also a year of considerably fewer books. Checker and Titan published five collections reprinting old Star Trek comics. Pocket published one nonfiction book, a vanity press published a collection of random smatterings of Trek-related material, and there were some new publications from the Star Fleet Battles game, which for a number of reasons aren't really covered by my site. (For one thing, a lot of their output isn't really in book form.) As for the novels... it was very much a good news, bad news year.

Bad news first. Here's the new Pocket fiction book by series breakdown for the last few years, counting Shatnerverse books as TOS:
                            2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
The Original Series 3 10 4* 4 3
The Next Generation 8 7* 5* 9 1
Deep Space Nine 4 5* 5 1 3
Voyager 3 1 2 2 3
Enterprise 1 3 3 1 0
New Frontier 2 0 3 1 0
S.C.E. 0 2 2 2 1
Stargazer 0 2 2 2 0
Lost Era 0 0 5 1 0
IKS Gorkon 0 0 2 0 1
Titan 0 0 0 0 2
Vanguard 0 0 0 0 1
miscellaneous/crossover 4 5 1 3 4
---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Total 25 35 34 26 19

*includes a new omnibus of previously published novels

That's a significant reduction.

On the other hand... 2005 brought the first two Titan novels, the first Vanguard novel, the first Voyager fiction not written by Christie Golden since 2002, a strong debut from Christopher L. Bennett revisiting the TMP era, and Keith RA DeCandido's Articles of the Federation. Two of the Deep Space Nine books were essentially four novels in two volumes. There's no shortage of quality, and many of the books are getting longer. The cutback may well result in a stronger line of books.

Pocket continues to draw on the excellent talent base they've discovered over the last few years, adding a few new writers, and bringing back a writer whose last previous Trek novel appeared in print a decade ago. There seems to be a commitment to continue experimenting and keeping things fresh rather than rely on the tried and true. Trek fiction is in good hands.

Still, with so few books being published now, doing the website is really not taking up much of my time. It's hard to get excited about it these days.

Looking forward, there are some things to get excited about in 2006. Jeff Ayers's book on Star Trek fiction and the BenBella essay collection, for a start, not to mention new installments in some of the novel series. Some intriguing developments on the ebook side of things. The 40th anniversary of Star Trek. Still, 2006 will probably be another year with around 30 books total. On the fiction side, we're still doing a lot better than we were in the 1980s. But I'd love to see more nonfiction. A good episode guide/making of book for Enterprise, for a start.

(Now playing: Sussan Deyhim, "Hamcho Farhad," Madman of God.)


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