Time for an update on the happenings in the world of Trek Literature. This week, we have an update on author Peter David’s recovery from a stroke, some further information on the forthcoming mini-series “The Fall”, an interview with author Christopher L. Bennett concerning his forthcoming Rise of the Federation novel and his original novel “Only Superhuman”, and a chance to win a copy of David Mack’s new novel, “The Body Electric”.
PETER DAVID UPDATE
Long-time Trek author Peter David suffered a stroke at the end of December while vacationing with his family in Florida. David continues to recover in Florida, but has been given some tentative idea about a date for returning home to Long Island. He continues to make progress, and his family has begun looking for outpatient therapy options back home. Information on how to support David is avaliable at his website, www.peterdavid.net. All of us at TrekMovie.com wish Peter and his family the very best during his recovery.
DAVID MACK SHARES SOME MORE NEWS ON “THE FALL”
David Mack filled in readers on some of what to expect in his installment of the forthcoming “The Fall” miniseries, currently running under the title “A Ceremony of Losses”. The novel will mainly focus on Julian Bashir (aboard the new DS9) and Ezri Dax (commanding the starship Aventine), and is described as a ‘political-medical-military thriller’. His entire post can be found at this link.
“THE BODY ELECTRIC” GIVEAWAY
Speaking of David Mack, TrekMovie.com and Pocket Books want to offer you a chance to win a copy of his latest novel, “The Body Electric”. This novel, the conclusion of the Cold Equations trilogy, can be read as a standalone adventure, so don’t be discouraged from entering if you haven’t read the previous two novels. To enter, simply share a comment below with the title of your favorite David Mack work. A winner will be chosen on Wednesday, January 30th.
UPDATE: Winner chosen for giveaway!
Congratulations to Josh W. of Columbus, Ohio, who electrified us (pun intended) with his comment:
“I thoroughly enjoyed Zero Sum Game because it showed just what Dax is capable of as a captain. He really made her kinda awesome.”
Awesome indeed, Josh, awesome indeed!
INTERVIEW: Christopher L. Bennett
Recently, author Christopher L. Bennet took some time to share perspective on his forthcoming early Federation novel, as well as his new original novel, “Only Superhuman”.
TrekMovie: Christopher, your new Rise of the Federation novel has been announced, and has generated a lot of excitement over the past few months. What, for you, is the most intriguing aspect of chronicling this aspect of Trek lore?
Christopher L. Bennett: The opportunity to delve into a period of Trek history that’s almost never been examined before. I’ve always been drawn to the unexplored gaps that gave me a lot of room for storytelling and creativity—the period right after Star Trek: The Motion Picture which I’ve explored in Ex Machina, Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again, and Forgotten History, the years between Picard’s commands of the Stargazer and Enterprise in The Buried Age, that sort of thing. And this is one of the biggest unexplored gaps of all. We know very little about the early years of the Federation from canonical Trek, and it’s barely been touched on in Trek literature (except in the serial novel Starfleet: Year One which was subsequently superseded by Enterprise, and a brief glimpse in the recent novel Indistinguishable from Magic), so creatively it’s wide open.
TM: Was this story a pitch you made to Pocket Books, or were you approached to tell this story?
CLB: My first suggestion to Pocket, actually, was for a series exploring the period between first contact with the Vulcans and the beginning of Enterprise. My editor wisely recognized that such a series would have too little appeal—too few familiar characters and elements—and suggested the post-Romulan War period, the early days of the Federation, instead. I was hesitant at first, but the more I thought about it, the more intriguing it became. Also, I was wary of taking on the Enterprise characters and situations, but when I rewatched the series in preparation for this, I discovered it was a much more satisfying viewing experience than I’d remembered. The first time through, my perceptions of the show were filtered through my expectations and preconceptions about the era, but this time I was able to approach the series on its own terms and found plenty to like, and plenty of ideas that I felt were worth exploring in more depth.
TM: Though this story will run, at least at the moment, under the Star Trek: Enterprise banner, the story really goes far beyond the crew of the now-decommissioned standard bearer of Starfleet, right?
CLB: For now, my brief is to tell the story from the perspective of the familiar characters from Enterprise. However, previous ENT novels have broadened their perspective to feature recurring ENT characters like Shran, Soval, and the like in major roles, as well as including other canon characters known to be active in that period, such as Tobin Dax. I’m taking a similar approach, including some canon characters that have been in earlier ENT novels and some that haven’t, as well as creating some original characters. So I’m trying to have a broad scope that ties into the full Trek universe while still keeping it anchored in the Enterprise world.
TM: What kind of intriguing characters are we going to meet along the way?
CLB: My focus is largely on two main starship crews, which include a mix of familiar and new characters and move some of the familiar cast into new roles and responsibilities. Hopefully the new characters I’ve created are interesting and fun, and a couple will hopefully defy stereotypes in interesting ways. (Imagine a Tellarite communications officer.) There are also characters representing various branches of the Federation government, which at this stage wasn’t structured quite the same way as its 24th-century incarnation as portrayed in the book Articles of the Federation. If you’ve ever wondered what a Federation commissioner was (a title used a couple of times in the original series), you’ll find out here. There are also some surprise appearances by characters and species whose names will please the Trek trivia buffs, though in such a way that readers who don’t recognize the names will hopefully still be satisfied by their roles in the story.
TM: What in-universe influences are in your mind as you visually craft the look of the Rise of the Federation time period?
CLB: Mainly I’m sticking pretty close to the designs that existed in Enterprise, which I think were extremely well-done; but I’m showing the beginnings of an evolutionary process toward what we see in later eras. I’ve come up with a design for the first Federation Starfleet uniform that includes influences from a lot of subsequent designs, though it’s mainly an intermediate step between ENT-era and TOS pilot-era uniforms, and includes some subtle influences from other Federation member species’ costume designs.
TM: In early December, David A. Goodman’s Federation: The First 150 Years will be hitting shelves. In his work, the Federation in general, and Starfleet in particular, come across – at times — as being rather small and insignificant in the era after the formation of the UFP. In broad strokes, does Rise of the Federation share this view, or is a more robust Starfleet and comprehensive Federation a part of your vision?
CLB: I haven’t read that book yet, so I can’t really say what the similarities or differences are. Just going from your description, I think I’m taking a different view. The Federation is still small in the number of its members at the time my book is set, but its founding worlds have just triumphed over the Romulans, and that gives them some “street cred” going in, a perception that they’re a force to be reckoned with—a reputation that comes with its own problems. Yet it’s still a fairly new, tenuous union and that leaves it vulnerable. It’s an experiment that hasn’t yet proven its success, and there are bound to be those who are rooting for it to fail—or actively trying to sabotage it. Moreover, there are disagreements within the Federation about just what its identity and priorities should be, which is why the book is subtitled A Choice of Futures.
TM: With this project being set in the prime universe, are you finding any challenges balancing the visual, organizational, and narrative feel of the Federation that ultimately produced the USS Kelvin with the same aspects of a Federation that, within 12 years would launch the Constitution class Enterprise we know from The Original Series?
CLB: Well, this book is set generations before any of that, in 2162-3, so it’s not an issue that has any bearing on what I’m doing. I’m dealing more with the emergence of the basic Starfleet ship design and why its overall configuration follows the precedent of Earth ships instead of Vulcan or Andorian. And so far I’m only dealing with ship classes already established as existing (or potentially existing) in the ENT era.
But just addressing the question in the abstract: I see the design differences between TOS and the 2009 movie, or the apparent discrepancies in technological advancement between TOS and ENT, as simply variations in intepretation, like the different interpretations two actors bring to the same character’s personality or that two comic-book artists bring to a character’s appearance. It’s not necessarily an in-universe difference that needs to be addressed in the text—just a difference in how the universe is rendered by its portrayers. Roddenberry himself saw TOS as only an approximation of the future he imagined, since he had to make so many compromises due to lack of funds and resources, network censorship, and the like. (When fans asked why the Klingons’ appearance was different in the first movie, he said they’d always been that way, but the series hadn’t had the budget to show it.)
TM: Where is Rise of the Federation at now in the writing process?
CLB: I’ve just turned in the first draft. Next come the revisions as needed, and the book will be out in July.
TM: Recently you’ve been pretty busy; you have an original novel out now, don’t you?
CLB: Yes, my first original (and first hardcover) novel, Only Superhuman, came out in October from Tor Books.
TM: Only Superhuman is very personal to you, isn’t it?
CLB: Naturally, any project you conceived and developed yourself is more personally meaningful than a tie-in, no matter how big a fan you are of the property. And it’s a book I’ve been working on for more than half my life, on and off. It’s not meant as a profound statement or anything; I always intended it to be more of a fun, pulpy adventure that didn’t take itself too seriously, though handled in a plausible way and with some worthwhile ideas alongside the action. But I’ve put so much work into it over the years, gotten to know the characters so well, that yes, it is pretty close to my heart.
TM: Through the history of your story concept, you vacillated between super-hero and hard sci-fi. As realized, Only Superhuman is both. Is this a difficult line to walk as a writer?
CLB: I should clarify that it was always meant to be hard science fiction, since that’s pretty much what I do. It’s always been based on exploring the kinds of transhuman abilities that bionics, genetics, and other technology could plausibly give us, and the ramifications of their existence. What changed from the original concept was how much to embrace the tropes of superhero fiction—the nicknames, the costumes, the flamboyance of it all. At first I downplayed those in an attempt at greater plausibility, and made the book’s protagonists, the Troubleshooters, more like federal agents. But then I realized that there was already a lot of other SF out there about transhuman agents and operatives, and I needed a distinctive hook to stand out from the pack. Embracing those colorful superhero tropes rather than retreating from them, building a credible basis for their existence and exploring their ramifications, let me build a much richer and fresher world.
TM: The reception for the novel has been very warm, with Library Journal selecting it as the SF/Fantasy Debut of the Month for October. Does this mean that the adventures of Emerald Blair are only just beginning?
CLB: I can only hope. I think it’s a little early to say how positive the overall response has been or how well it’s selling. We might not know until the paperback comes out next fall.
TM: Any other news you’d like to share with our readers?
CLB: In February, an audiobook edition of Only Superhuman will be released from a company called GraphicAudio, which does fully dramatized, full-cast adaptations.