Thursday, May 08, 2008

A novel completist

Over on the Star Trek online bulletin boards, there's been a thread about people who ask, but don't always receive, more information about upcoming Star Trek novels from Pocket Books. Who's in it? Where is it placed in the timeline? What's going to happen? Will it clash with other recent ST novels? Will it clash with older titles set in similar territory? Will it get overruled by JJ Abrams' new movie? And so on.

So how much should one know about an upcoming novel before it's "too much" information?

It seems to me there are a lot of ST fans who are very curious about the storylines of ST novels, but lack the finances - or the inclination to find the time for actually reading a novel. They will then seek out reviews or spoilers so they either don't have to read it, or they will seek out spoilers so their curiosity is sated, or so they can say, "Sounds stupid, why should I spend my money?"

When I ran ST clubs (we had a group which grew from 200 to 1000 people over about twelve years), there was only ever a small percentage of members who maintained completist collections of ST novels and comics. I did a column in the newsletter calling "Publishing news" and many of our members were happy enough to read that, and perhaps the odd book review - and not buy the actual books - or they'd grill the completists at monthly meetings.

I see, quite often, people asking online for exhaustive reviews of certain ST novel mini-series - stories that are crossovers with ST series they don't follow, or mini-series that are too long to attract their attention, or mini-series where a few titles are perceived as being weaker than others. When "Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion" (2006) was coming out, I remember people boasting they could finally "catch up", as if Jeff Ayers' summaries of all past novels and short stories would somehow be enough.

Perhaps my available funds allow me to be more extravagant? I choose to buy all ST novels and comics, after all, and try to keep pace with reading them all. Maybe if I ran a car and had to educate a family of young children, I'd be scrimping to buy the odd ST book, and perhaps would be scrounging for novel spoilers to satisfy my curiosity, too?


De said...

I think anything that requires fans to spend money generates that sort of mentality. Even movies have people asking for in-depth reviews.

One of the oddest memories I have of my old Star Trek club was when Insurrection and Nemesis were released. You would think that members of a Star Trek club would go see the movies but we had a lot of people who were happy enough to hear if it was good or bad and then wait for it to air on cable TV. Kind of hard to have a discussion about something if everyone isn't on board. Grr. Argh.

Therin of Andor said...

Yep. I can understand club members being reluctant to watch videos of TAS ("That's a kids' cartoon, isn't it?" they'd say), or to follow a tie-in comic book, or even to be selective about the novels, but I hope I'm never so penniless that I can't afford to see a brand new Star Trek movie on half-price Tuesday - even if I'd heard that the script or SPFX was terrible.

Lee said...

I was an avid Trek novel and comic reader but then the funds to support such devotion dried up for a period in my life.

Now I'm back reading the novels when I get the chance, I haven't stretched it to the comics books at present but from what I've been seeing and hearing they seem pretty good (I've got all the original run TNG comics and a lot of the TOS ones digitally).

I really loved the movie adaptations especially as they added whole dimensions to the story lines that only made watching the movies richer (despite not being canon). I suspect I'll start getting a few more of the novels since I only recently stuck my toe back into that world with Star Trek: Resistance which I got enough out of to be satisfied.

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