Thursday, April 09, 2009

Full moon, "Full Circle"

Maybe it was the full moon, but the Internet BBSs went wacky this week, what with people avoiding spoilers for the new Star Trek movie, others devouring spoilers for the new Star Trek movie, many celebrating/commiserating about their quest for tickets to the Sydney gala world premiere, plus the surprise preview screening in Austin, TX.

As diehard fans continue to grapple with how the new movie might affect their personal view of Star Trek, others are continuing to demand predestined assurance of a happy ending (ie. a resurrection) for the recently-departed Admiral Kathyrn Janeway, formerly captain of "Voyager". Killed off in a "Next Generation" novel, Peter David's "Before Dishonor", and dying again this month - from another angle - in the just-released "Voyager: Full Circle", the passionate Janeway/Kate Mulgrew fans continue to express their online anguish.

Perhaps Pocket will bring Janeway back as a surprise, unexpected event? They might not want us to know when, or why, or how long we must wait. In real life we never know how long we will take to recover from an illness, a death of a loved one, or adapt to a career change, a divorce, or moving house, Perhaps the creative team at Pocket, too, don't know yet what is in store for Janeway.

When the Borg ship needed to be secured who went charging in? The best woman for the job. A popular main character. She gave her last breath to help save the Federation. In fact, she gave that support beyond the death of her physical body. How heroic!

(Less effective alternate version: When the Borg ship needed to be secured who went charging in? The best woman for the job. A popular main character. She once again kicked Borg ass, just like every other time. How... repetitive!)

Now Pocket Books has a highly popular character waiting in the wings. Just as Wesley Crusher returned (twice) in the "A Time..." mini-series of novels (set between "Insurrection" and "Nemesis") to help save the day with his Traveler powers, now Admiral Janeway may be off learning new abilities with the Q Continuum. Considering if she still has a future with mortals? Maybe. Who knows? We aren't supposed to know. Yet.

As I told a few distressed VOY fanfic writers, I would have thought they'd realise how to manipulate the emotions of their readers by now. A writer learns to use his or her words in clever ways, to cause readers to experience strong emotions towards a particular set of fictional characters. Sometimes negative emotions, and sometimes positive ones. Because we, as an audience, all bring to a work of fiction our own sets of values and experiences, each individual reader's reponses to a story will be unique.

Some fans might not like the twists this particular storyline ("Full Circle") took, but it's part of an ongoing saga, and it's a licensed tie-in. As history has shown, all successful licensed tie-ins usually end up reverting to the status quo. Eventually. Because to continue too far beyond the canonical work, the tie-in stops resembling the parent show. I have no doubt that Janeway will return. You can't keep a popular character down, and the Janeway fans keep telling us how popular she is.

Surely it's the right of an author to use everything in his or her power - even death - but also a host of other life-changing experiences, to bring us the best possible story they can tell? Many VOY and ST readers are loving Kirsten Beyer's "Full Circle", and are eagerly anticipating the sequel, and are willing to bide their time in case Janeway returns. Some fans need to be a little more patient. (I waited from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", in 1979, all the way until the "Enterprse" TV series to get what I had always hoped for: a continuing, feisty, wonderful, antagonistic, ongoing Andorian character: Shran. I even got an entire ST DS9 novel, "Paradigm" by Heather Jarman, set on Andor itself! And then ENT set an episode on Andor, "The Aenar"!)

But I don't want a return to the situation of 1987-1991, where every licensed ST novel was guaranteed to be self-contained, and guaranteed to preserve the status quo, and - in the licensed comics - every new character added to DC Comics' TOS movie era and TNG storylines was only permitted to stay for a short story arc and then had to be dismissed forever. It got very tedious knowing the authors were so hemmed in, and their creativity was constantly being challenged.

1 comment:

Therin of Andor said...

It seems to come down to whether you have trust and faith in Pocket's editors and writers, and in the CBS vetting process. Overall, I'm very trusting and they rarely let me down. Every so often - but not for ages - a novel comes along that I feel is sub par, and I find myself wondering how it made it through the process, or if it was fast-tracked due to deadline issues and didn't get the full editing job it needed.

But even "Warped", "The Laertian Gamble" and "Into the Nexus" have their fans, and someone out there is always bound to say, "That was my favourite ST novel of all time."

There are other ST fans who are not so trusting of "The Powers That Be", or who even believe that TPTB are vindictive towards the fans. And those fans are going to have a hard time enjoying any ST novel.

And there are many fans of science fiction media series and movies who don't read much of anything, enjoying their shows because they are a visual medium and don't require a high level of reading skills. They will have little interest in tie-in novels, and some will be highly critical of a line they can't engage with readily.

And there are thousands of other permutations, because "the fans" are all individuals, and we cannot even attempt to speak for them all with confidence.