Sunday, March 30, 2008

CreateSpace: Trek vanity press books brought to you by

There are a number of interesting Star Trek-related books (and a fair amount of unreadable fanfic) available through the self-publishing website, but they've got competition now: CreateSpace, an Amazon company. So far I've spotted three publications.

The only one listed on the Complete Starfleet Library website is yet another original series episode guide with synopses and commentary. What makes this one different? It's written by Philip K. Dick's widow, Tessa Dick. Otherwise, I think it's safe to say it doesn't really add anything new.

There are also two fanfic books: lulu veteran Austin Torney has a hundred-page book, STAR TREK - The Death Wave: A War with the Klingons Bridges the Old to the New Generation. The blurb describes it as "An original screenplay/novelette that answers the question of how the warlike Klingons of Captain Kirk's era came to their end and were replaced by the somewhat friendlier Klingons of the new generation; however, this story does not dwell much upon the Klingons, but upon Kirk's forced retirement at age 65 and his return from it through a war for the galaxy in which he must become the ultimate chess master."

Michael P. Burkhardt has a 204-page novel, Star Cruisers: "Pirates have now made the bold move of capturing the Paramount space cruiser on a promotional tour and kidnap the passengers, including superstar Jennifer Barns and top executives. Then, Omni-con 3 is attacked by the same pirate craft whose better-armed villains are held off by security till the colonists to secure themselves in emergency shelters. The colonists can only send a weak message and pray - unlikely as it is - someone will hear them, as the pirates plunder the colony. The Enterprise, flagship of the Federation Starfleet is in a position to understand the SOS coming from Omni-con 3, and goes charging to the rescue. Now Starfleet may have a pirate craft, the location of their leader's base may soon be disclosed. Will their operatives at Starfleet be able to keep them one step ahead? If the pirates can't acquire the ore they need, how will they mollify their backers? Can the two scruffy visitors to the mysterious leader really access the ore need without Starfleet knowing?" Unfortunately, not only is Burkhardts's blurb poorly written, there's a "Search inside the book" option. The first couple of pages are so full of basic errors (tense changes, misspellings, grammatical errors, no sign of any understanding of paragraphs, etc) that I just can't imagine anyone literate enjoying the book.

There are really good fanfic writers out there, but they don't seem to be using Lulu or CreateSpace. (Well, Lulu writer Michael Garcia appears to be a few cuts above the competition, based on the first page of his latest.) Maybe they're too smart to call attention to themselves by selling fanfic on Amazon, after the Lori Jareo incident...


At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just wanting to comment about the book, Star Cruisers by Michael P. Burkhardt.
I would like to know if Steve had read the book, or if he was basing his opion solely on a few flawed paragraphs. I read the book, and while I think it could have been writen better. the story line was very interesting.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Steve said...

No, I didn't read the whole book. The story may wll have been interesting, but I couldn't get past the writing. In addition to the occasional grammatical error, it also just wasn't written as a novel. It reads like a hastily written episode transcript. There's a lot of repetitive description. "He turned to her and said," "She looked at him and said," that kind of thing. That's the sort of thing that readers usually take for granted; it's usually when they're not looking at each other that the writer would mention it. For example, "I don't love you," he said, not looking her in the eye. His eyes cast down, he didn't see the murderous hatred in her face when he said, "I think I was the one who killed your dog."

The constant use of present tense is also a danger sign. Some literary writers use it for a certain effect, but Star Trek novels don't. In this case it marks the author as an amateur.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Pike said...

Perhaps you should take another look at Star Cruisers. You described it as a book of 204 pages, but I can assure you that Star Cruisers is only 152 pages long. You may have seen a pre-publish copy that was listed by mistake. I believe the errors have now been corrected. It does look like it was originally written as a screenplay, but then I’ve read many acceptable Star Trek novels that read the same way.


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