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Why aren't novels canon?

Cptkirkfan18

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Report this May. 17 2008, 1:56 pm

Simply put - Why aren't Star Trek novels canon sources?

captbates

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Report this May. 17 2008, 2:15 pm

There would be too much conflicting material, and it would create problems for later live action shows trying to integrate canon, which is hard enough to do now, just the way things are.

Cptkirkfan18

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Report this May. 17 2008, 2:30 pm

You're right. ?I always considered the Klingon Academy video game to be canon, when Kalnor (Son of Gi'oth) cuts open General Chang's eye in that battle during the civil war a few years before Star Trek VI. ?In the little clip, they mention that the current Chancellor is Lorak. ?For the longest time, I thought Lorak to be the Chancellor, until I read the book "In The Name of Honor", which takes place in 2287 (1 month after Star Trek V) saying Chancellor Kesh is the leader of the Empire. ?In the book, Kesh stands down - but being a hardcore fan that I am made up a story inside my head, saying Lorak was the younger brother of Kesh and he took the role (Similar to Raul Castro taking control of Cuba after Fidel stepped down, his brother.) ?Gorkon is high though, Chief of Staff then eventually becomes Chancellor by the time of Star Trek VI. ?Sounds reasonable, no?

OtakuJo

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Report this May. 18 2008, 12:41 am

Apparently because Gene Roddenberry said so.

Still, it's true that there really is too much material for them to be entirely canonical.

It's great when they reference each other. Even better when they are consistent with each other. But basically unrealistic to expect they would not be some inconsistency.

Far as I see it though, "canon" doesn't really matter in the strictest sense.

Enjoy the books for what they are, I reckon. (That being a Bloody Good Read -- for the most part.)

Lynx677

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Report this May. 18 2008, 2:03 am

Quote (OtakuJo @ May 17 2008, 1:41 am)
Far as I see it though, "canon" doesn't really matter in the strictest sense.

You are correct here. Canon is not the one and only written law. Canon is a guideline which should be used to avoid contradictions.

If anyone want to count the books as part of the ongoing TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT story then do so.

As long as there aren't too many contradictions in the books, the events in the books can easily be fit in to the ongoing story of each show and it's possible to assume that the events in the books did take place as well.

In my Timeline for the first three seasons of Voyager, I've included the books as well.

IanCrawford

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Report this May. 18 2008, 9:34 am

They do try to keep novels in continuity, with both TV and further novels. But novels are not written in stone, and i agree with it. Doing a movie or TV show is hard enough without having to read every single novel in connection with whats being produced.

phoenixhawk

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Report this May. 19 2008, 11:08 pm

I actually like the idea that the novels are their own set of adventures. The whole "Star Wars" style of including EVERYTHING as canon and trying to fit it all in is annoying. Trek books are a nice read and if you like it, you can include it in your own personal idea of Trek canon. If you don't like it, just remember that it is not a work of "offical" canon and disregard it if you like.

Chris

_Roadhog_

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Report this May. 22 2008, 8:22 pm

Quote (phoenixhawk @ May 20 2008, 3:08 am)
I actually like the idea that the novels are their own set of adventures. The whole "Star Wars" style of including EVERYTHING as canon and trying to fit it all in is annoying. Trek books are a nice read and if you like it, you can include it in your own personal idea of Trek canon. If you don't like it, just remember that it is not a work of "offical" canon and disregard it if you like.

Chris

I dunno, both have their pros and cons.

I hear what you're saying, I like having my own "personal" canon, as I know full well that the Shatner-verse is seperate from say, the TNG/DS9/VOY Relaunch...

but something can be said for a big vision of including "everything", and more importantly, CONSIDERING "everything"...

NuclearWessels

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Report this May. 23 2008, 2:50 pm

as far as i know, all the novels released during or after the DS9 relaunch have been following one continuity (except for the shatnerverse of course).

To me since we wn't be seeing the 24th century for a while, the TNG/DS9/VOY books are canon unless something on screen contradicts them.

Plus on the back of the first DS9 omnibus, Twist of Faith, they do mention this as being the authorized continuation.  What exactly does that mean?

TrekWriterKC

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Report this May. 23 2008, 3:11 pm

Quote (NuclearWessels @ May 23 2008, 4:50 pm)
Plus on the back of the first DS9 omnibus, Twist of Faith, they do mention this as being the authorized continuation. ¿What exactly does that mean?

Just that the novels were approved by the property owner (Paramount). That approval doesn't preclude a future movie or television series from coming along and establishing a different storyline for what happens after the DS9 series.

Fred2700

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Report this May. 23 2008, 4:02 pm

Quote (captbates @ May 17 2008, 9:15 pm)
There would be too much conflicting material, and it would create problems for later live action shows trying to integrate canon, which is hard enough to do now, just the way things are.


Actually, this is a legal question and a copyright issue. Let us look at the book, Imzadi, as I am a Troi-Riker fan.

Peter David's work was the last book read and approved by Gene Roddenberry for the characters of Riker and Troi in order to establish background material. It is also one of the few books that were on the New York bestseller list.

When a book is written, it is allowed to quote from a source such as a television show, newspaper or journal article as along as that source is properly documented and given reference. It is similar to writing a research paper and quoting an article or book. In most Trek novels this is done, by describing the episode or setting in which an event took place. For example, Troi and Riker met on the Enterprise D after breaking up (Mission Farpoint). This is canon.

When David wrote Imzadi, he added great detail about why Riker and Troi broke up. The lovers, Riker and Troi made plans to start a new life together. Lxwanna Troi, thinking Riker not good enough for her daughter, attempted to break off the relationship by stating her daughter was no longer interested in Riker, who is devasted and leaves. At finding this out, Deanna argued with her mum over Riker, stating that she did indeed love him. She broke off the relationship with her mother, because she didn't want to do her bidding and decided to join Starfleet, leaving her Fifth House obligations to her mother. After defending Riker against her mother, Troi went to Riker and found him in a compromising position with Wendy Roper. This was the close of the relationship, because Troi realised that although Riker loved her, she was just another role in the hey to him. Had it been love, Riker would have found a way back to Troi.

On the series, the viewer simply finds out that Riker and Troi, who were engaged, were to meet on Risa, but Riker never came (Second Chances). He decided to take a commission on the USS Potimkin.

The episode, Second Chances, happened one year after the novel, Imzadi appeared. The TNG writers were well aware of its existence. Had they used any reference to the novel, then they would have had to pay Peter David a residual for story concept. Had the writers used any dialogue, and then David would have gotten money for contributing to the script. These are the rules of the unions. Had this had happened; it would have been the first time that a novel would have been used for canon.

Another example is the use of Sherlock Holmes on TNG. When the first episode, Elementary Data, was released, neither Paramount nor the writers and producers had requested from the estate of Conan Doyle to use the image or likeness of Sherlock Holmes. The estate requested the residual for the use of the name. Because this took some time, no further episodes with the characters of Holmes and Watson were filmed until AFTER the legal issues for copyright, residuals, and credits were settled. This took almost two years before Ship in a Bottle was filmed.

Therefore, the novels can't be considered canon, because of issues of copyright.

TrekWriterKC

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Report this May. 23 2008, 6:01 pm

Every Trek novel already belongs to CBS Studios (Paramount Pictures before that, but all of that now belongs to CBS, too), so it's not an issue of copyright. They own everything put forth in a Trek novel, and owe no author any further compensation if they should choose to use anything from any of the books. Same for comics, video games, RPGs, etc.

Fred2700

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Report this May. 24 2008, 1:18 pm

Quote (TrekWriterKC @ May 24 2008, 1:01 am)
Every Trek novel already belongs to CBS Studios (Paramount Pictures before that, but all of that now belongs to CBS, too), so it's not an issue of copyright. They own everything put forth in a Trek novel, and owe no author any further compensation if they should choose to use anything from any of the books. Same for comics, video games, RPGs, etc.

The Writers' Guild basically sets up the rules and regulations regarding the compensation for writers in regards to scripts for television, film and theater. Basically, a person has to be a member of the union to submit a script to a television show or film. This is why breaking into the business is so difficult. However, a person can submit a script as a free agent, then apply for union membership later, once a set amount of experience has been required. CBS/Paramount adheres to union guidelines and hires mostly from established writers.

If a writer of a novel is a member of the Writers' Guild and gives his persmission for the studio to use his idea for an episode, then the studio can use the idea from the writer's book in a television series. Because of union membership, the writer will be compensated for his idea or work accordingly.

Most writers of Trek do not belong to the Writers' Guild, because they are not writing for television, radio, or film. The mediums are different.

Therefore, if a studio wanted to use a book (let's say Imzadi), they would have to go through a long process. First, they would have to purchase the rights of the book. True, CBS-Paramount own the name Star Trek, but the printed word is credit to Peter David, who would need to be compensated for his work. After purchasing these rights, a script would written. If David is not an experienced script writer, then it is turned over to some who will take the idea and put it into a script format. Once the script is finished, depending on the contract, David will approve it and may make revisions. If there is no revision in the contract, the script goes directly to a producer.The producer reads it and give it her blessing, then  sends it to the Department Head for approval by the studio.  

With all the steps, it is easy to see why the books are not used in the series or as canon. For every writer accepted, the studio must deal with the unions. There are the exceptions such as Michael Moore, but they are few and far between.

TrekWriterKC

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Report this May. 24 2008, 2:37 pm

Crack open any Trek or other media tie-in book and look at the copyright page: It will state that the copyright holder is the license owner, not the individual author.

All Star Trek novels are works for hire, just as any media tie-in novel is a work for hire authorized by the license owner of whatever property. Every word in them belongs to the license owner (in Trek's case, CBS Studios). This is spelled out very specifically in the standard publishing contract any author receives while working on such a project (such as the 25 or so different ones I have in my files), and every author who takes on such an assignment knows this going in. It's standard practice.

There might be some WGA rules which require giving credit (and paying appropriate fees/etc.) in certain circumstances (ex: They create a series based on New Frontier, they might have to acknowledge his and John Ordover's creation of the concept in a "Created by" credit), but I can't speak to that as I'm not a WGA member...maybe somebody like Dave Mack can provide some insight into that side of things. That aside, CBS doesn't need permission, as they already own the NF concept and every word in every book every written under the title.

DaveMack

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Report this May. 24 2008, 4:40 pm

Fred2700,

Every word written in a Star Trek novel is work for hire and is owned in its entirety by the licensor. As a member of the WGA, I can tell you that your understanding of the issue is incomplete at best and, in many aspects, wholly incorrect.

Example: I developed the Star Trek Vanguard literary series with editor Marco Palmieri. If Paramount decided that they wanted to base a new Star Trek TV series on it, they would not need my permission, and they would not have to pay me a cent. I don't own the copyright to that work --- every last word of it belongs to Star Trek and whomever currently controls its license.

The same rule applies to Peter David, another WGA member. The studio could develop his New Frontier books into a new series, or make a movie of Imzadi, and he would be entitled to nothing except the credit "Based on the novel by" --- and even that might be open to challenge by the copyright holder.

As for non-WGA members breaking into the business, the Guild has a clause that lets you make your first-ever sale (of anything -- script, story outline, treatment, etc.) to a Guild-signatory company (such as Paramount) as a non-member, provided that you immediately join the WGA and pay the membership initiation fee as soon as you've been paid. The work-to-acquire-experience method is only for people working in hourly jobs covered by the Guild -- primarily, news writers in radio and sometimes television.

As for your description of the development process, I'll say only this: You could not be more wrong. I've been through it, more than once, and you've misunderstood every facet of it.

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