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Feature: Star Trek

The Continuing Mission…

The characters of four officers assessed in four new books

While Star Trek’s on-screen future is on hold, or awaiting big-screen news, it remains alive and well in print…

There seems to be an odd balance to matters. When Star Trek is triumphing on-screen, its print incarnation has often become lacklustre. But when it’s off-screen, or wallowing in predictable plots, the book version suddenly turns phasers to max.

And as the 40th anniversary of Star Trek’s first transmission dawns, that’s where we stand. For the first time in almost 20 years, there isn’t a television series in production and the next movie remains a subject for excited speculation, just as it was during the 1970s. It might reinvent the entire franchise, it might reveal Spock and Kirk’s first meeting, it might crash a shuttle crew of interconnected Starfleet officers on an isolated island inexplicably terrorized by albino Klingon targs. We don’t know. But in the meantime, printed Trek is taking the established series, and some print-only creations, and filling them with new life.

Much of it is happening under the guidance of editor Marco Palmieri, though when asked to explain who’s responsible for what, Palmieri makes it clear that, “To call me the ‘overall editor’ is probably misleading, but it’s true that I’m currently responsible for most of the Star Trek fiction being published, in particular Deep Space Nine, Titan, Vanguard, some original series, some Voyager, and the occasional project falling outside those series.”

If you’ve restricted your Trek to moving pictures, two of those names will be unfamiliar. And if a couple of on-screen names are missing, that’s because the editorial team also includes Margaret Clark and author Keith RA DeCandido. “Margaret is developing the editorial direction for Enterprise fiction set after the TV series, and Next Generation fiction set beyond Nemesis,” Palmieri adds. “Keith stewards Corps of Engineers and occasionally offers editorial assistance on other projects.”

Titan, Vanguard and Corps of Engineers (formerly SCE: Starfleet Corps of Engineers) are, along with New Frontier, ongoing Star Trek book series featuring new crews (though there’s usually a few familiar single episode characters in the mix) scattered throughout Trek history. New Frontier was the first of these, launched in 1997 under the aegis of former book editor John Ordover. “John started a number of initiatives during his tenure,” comments Palmieri, “most notably the successful launch of New Frontier, Pocket’s first ongoing Star Trek fiction series that centred on original characters and situations.” Written entirely by the somewhat acclaimed comics (and comic) writer Peter David, New Frontier relateson the missions of the USS Excalibur, assigned to sound out the dangers and possibilities created by the collapse of an empire on the Federation’s borders (think Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union), and populated by an eccentric mix of characters who’ve led one reviewer to call the ship a ‘madhouse with warp drive’. It became a major success, paving the way for more ongoing events in Trek fiction, particularly once some of the onscreen series had left the air. Indeed, Palmieri admits that the fun starts once there aren’t new episodes in production, and the book writers and editors have the entire ‘toy box’ to play with, with no obligation to put everything back – at least, not for a book or two.

by Anthony Brown

Read the full feature in
TV Zone #207


Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #207
November 2006
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