Sunday, June 23, 2013

paq'batlh: The Klingon Epic

It looks and feels like a cheap print on demand book. But it's the kind of thing that reminds me of what makes all of this fun.

paq'batlh: The Klingon Epic is a retelling of the classic tale of Kahless as an opera. You get English and Klingon text on facing pages. I'm no Klingon expert so I don't know if they got the story right or the Klingon text right, but Marc Okrand and other knowledgeable types were involved and there are footnote references to several TNG, DS9, and Voyager episodes as well as Michael Jan Friedman's Kahless novel, so I suspect they did their homework.

It's a fairly short work, telling in mythic style how Kahless became the legendary figure revered by the Klingons. I found it pretty enjoyable, and maybe the brevity helped. Anyway, anyone looking for something different in Treklit (and anyone who has the Klingon translations of Hamlet and Gilgamesh) should look into this. You can order this from the publisher or your local Amazon. If you're not sure yet, you can watch the video presentation at

The future is somewhat uncertain...

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep the Complete Starfleet Library site going. I'm more than sure that the current version will be going away some time later this year. I've started working on the replacement site at Nothing much visible yet, and what there is will change, but the goal is to have something that looks and works pretty much the same as the old site. Something that costs less money to maintain, has an easier address to remember, and doesn't require me to keep using an old html editor and an ftp program.

It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for.

Oops, wrong franchise. And it's not the end.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Star Trek books: my shopping list and comments

So I just search through Amazon looking to see if I missed anything and what I have to look forward to. There's a lot of reprints and repackages from IDW missing here, because I'm beyond tired of IDW's constant recycling.


Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation Vol. 2 by Scott Tipton, David Tipton and J.K. Woodward (Jan 11, 2013)
 Star Trek: The Original Series: Allegiance in Exile by David R. George III (Jan 29, 2013)


Trek in Texas: the 1970s Star Trek conventions by Gordon Bailey Jr. (Feb 9, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain by Tony Daniel (Feb 26, 2013)
Stuck on Star Trek by Joe Corroney (Feb 26, 2013)


Star Trek: The Next Generation: on Board the U.S.S. Enterprise by Michael Okuda (Mar 14, 2013)
 Star Trek: The Original Series: The Children of Kings by David Stern (Mar 16, 2013)
Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary by DK Publishing (Mar 18, 2013)
Star Trek and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History Series) by Nancy Reagin (Mar 18, 2013)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Stuff of Dreams by James Swallow (Mar 25, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Weight of Worlds by Greg Cox (Mar 26, 2013)


Star Trek: Light-Up Phaser (Mega Mini Kits) by Running Press (Apr 9, 2013)
Star Trek Vol. 4 by Mike Johnson, Stephen Molnar and Tim Bradstreet (Apr 10, 2013)
Star Trek Classic Quotes: A Little Seedling Book by Cider Mill Press (Apr 16, 2013)
How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler (Star Trek) by Ben Grossblatt and Alex Fine (Apr 23, 2013) Star Trek: Prima Official Game Guide (Prima Official Game Guides) by David Knight (Apr 23, 2013)  Treknology: Star Trek's Tech 300 Years Ahead of the Future by Justin McLachlan (Apr 23, 2013)
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Hive by Brannon Braga, Terry Matalas and Joe Corroney (Apr 24, 2013)
The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! by Angie Pedersen (Apr 30, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Folded World by Jeff Mariotte (Apr 30, 2013)


Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness by Mike Johnson and David Messina (May 15, 2013)
Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting by John Lohman (May 28, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Shocks of Adversity by William Leisner (May 28, 2013)


Star Trek FAQ 2.0: Everything Left to Know About The Next Generation, the Movies, and Beyond (Unofficial and Unauthorized... by Mark Clark (Jun 18, 2013)
Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures by Christopher L. Bennett (Jun 25, 2013)


Star Trek Volume 5 by Claudia Balboni, Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott (Jul 16, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: From History's Shadow by Dayton Ward (Jul 30, 2013)


Fan Phenomena: Star Trek (Intellect Books - Fan Phenomena) by Bruce E. Drushel (Aug 15, 2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust (Star Trek, the Next Generation) by David R. George III (Aug 27, 2013)


Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz by Juan Oritz (Sep 3, 2013)
Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series by Paula M. Block, Terry J. Erdmann and The Topps Company (Sep 10, 2013)
Star Trek: Light-Up Starship Enterprise by Chip Carter (Sep 24, 2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack (Sep 24, 2013)


Star Trek: The Stardate Collection, Volume 1 by John Byrne, Patrick Zircher, Greg Adams and Josep Maria Beroy (Oct 1, 2013)
Star Trek: The Newspaper Strip, Vol. 2 by Ron Harris, Padraic Shigetani, Bob Myers and Ernie Colon (Oct 8, 2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack (Oct 29, 2013)


Star Trek Volume 6: After Darkness (Nov 26, 2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow (Nov 26, 2013)


Star Trek: The Next Generation: Home Again by Una McCormack (Dec 1, 2014)
Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward (Dec 31, 2013)

Looking at the year, there's not a lot of interesting unauthorized stuff. There's not a lot of variety in the Pocket novels. Most of what's left is gimmicky stuff for casual fans: quotes, crafts, etc. The most productive company, when you include what I left out of this list, is probably IDW, and I'm at the point where I don't care if they lose or give up the licence to do Trek comics because I'm so completely uninterested in what they're doing. Retelling original series episodes with the new crew, with random changes that half the time don't have much to do with the changes to the timeline, doesn't feel like a viable long term plan, But IDW is happy enough with that, and with "official" prequel and sequel comics for the movies that get contradicted almost instantly. And don't get me started on the fans who think those comics are canon.

As for the novels, while they're often as good as ever on a novel-by-novel basis, I don't like having half a year dedicated to standalone original series novels and half a year devoted to the ever-more tangled and depressing post-TV continuity. I can't help but find it all frustrating compared to a few years back, when we had more than just a novel per month (plus an ebook or two a year) and when we had multiple discrete series with different styles and sensibilities. I also liked it a lot more when editors, writers, and fans hung out in places like TrekBBS, and we had more of a sense of who was running the book program and where they were heading.

Meanwhile, how has the success of the JJ Abrams movies affected the book line? Not much. There's no novels based on the new continuity except novelizations and a handful of YA Starfleet Academy novels.

We've had two big stories about the books this year. One was that they're a big success story, with lots of new publishers being licenced to produce new books -- but those are resulting in things like the TNG quote book. Meanwhile, we also heard, if less officially, that Abrams thought he was getting full control of the Trek franchise, not realizing it's split between CBS and Paramount, that he wanted to stop TOS stuff from being produced, etc etc. While I would have liked a world in which there are new continuity novels and a new TV series, I don't want it coming from Abrams and his crew, who do not fundamentally understand Star Trek. Let them play with Star Wars and let's find someone who wants Star Trek to be less stupid and action-packed than Transformers movies. What's Ira Steven Behr doing these days, I wonder...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Star Trek Into Dumbness

Laura and I saw Star Trek Into Darkness a couple of weeks ago. We had a pretty good time, too -- the cast is likeable, the special effects are great, the story moves quickly, and there's plenty of action. Plus Benedict Cumberbatch. It's entertaining eye candy.

But the first.

It's entertaining, bu damn, this movie is stupid. It's stupid in terms of the things that happen in it, and it's stupid in outside the box ways, too. It's stupid in inside-the-movie stuff like parking your ship underwater. It's stupid in trying to recreate the emotional impact of Star Trek II with a bunch of noobs we barely care about yet. As for plot holes... they've been covered in enough detail all over the web by now, and I don't have the energy or patience to enumerate all of them here.Let's just say that I'm not eager to read the novelization. The movie at least has some good performances and visuals. The novel has Alan Dean Foster's prose. Not really a great incentive for moving it to the top of the TBR pile.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a big dumb film full of dumb, simple mischaracterizations. It's Star Trek by and for people who don't know or care about pre-2009 Star Trek while thinking that it's faithful to the original. It's nowhere to go for all the things I ever loved about Star Trek over the years.

But the second. Star Trek Into Darkness is bad Star Trek, but... so are most of the previous Star Trek movies. With a couple of possible exceptions, they all tried much too hard to be big skiffy spectacles with lots of action. They warped the characters, they had plot holes, they learned the wrong lessons from The Wrath of Khan (it's about the characters, not the villain). Even the ones generally agreed to be the best -- Wrath of Khan, First Contact -- don't hold up under close scrutiny. You can tear apart pretty much every Trek movie ever made without much effort.

The best we can hope for from most Star Trek movies is that they don't make us yell "oh, come ON" until after they're over. And that they do well enough to keep Star Trek as a brand alive. But the best place to rediscover what made Star Trek the phenomenon it was for so long isn't a movie theatre. It's in the individual episodes of the original series, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine. TV Trek is the heart and brain of Star Trek. (And the books are what keeps them alive.)