As posted on Facebook...infinitydog
, and Kevin Dilmore did with Star Trek: Vanguard
what, in my opinion, J.J. Abrams' reboot failed to do: Bring in new adventures in the Original Series Trek era without mucking up continuity. Unlike the Abrams reboot, they did not need to create an alternate Universe as a cop-out to avoiding continuity, they did not piss on "treknology" (my biggest gripe with Abrams' reboot), and the eye candy was all in the readers' minds with top-notch wordsmithing and eloquence. Though, Doug Drexler's CGI covers did indeed inspire some very good visual aids, allowing an exception on the old "you can't judge a book by its cover" rule. The characters are as real and developed as the original Trek characters, yet the series has a darker, grittier, more visceral (and less clichéd) tone, with TONS of the social commentary Trek is known for, presenting conflicts that make the reader truly think about things. I highly recommend these books to any Trek fan as well as to any science fiction fan who may not have previously been a fan of Star Trek.
I've just barely started reading the last book in the series, Storming Heaven
, so I can't yet say that it has a satisfying ending. Yes, David Mack has a penchant for killing off characters and radically altering the Trek
universe in general, as evidenced in his equally well-written Destiny
trilogy, however, since he has to line things up with original series continuity, he can only do so much. And there are only two characters who are "safe," since they're meeting a few years after the end of the series, so, we know they, at least, survive.
I know most fans think the Abrams' reboot is a wonderful thing. While I'm not going to sit here and rail on how I really didn't care for it, on how Abrams may have created an alternate timeline to cover his lack of respect for the established canon of the property, yet has completely ignored any of the technological principles established, such as limitless transporter range and why starships are built in space, or Spock severely pissing on any kind of temporal directives, I'll settle for saying that others are free to enjoy Abrams' reboot, but I could take it or leave it, preferably leaving it.Vanguard
, while having Kirk and others more as "guest stars," still puts Trek
back on the map. Rockne O'Bannon, when creating Farscape
, wanted something that was antithetical to Star Trek
, and thus we got limited technobabble with Crichton at one point saying, "Einstein, Newton, Hawking... We prove them wrong every time we pop out for groceries. I can't explain it, I just use it." We had a ship without a captain for a little more than half the series. We had escaped prisoners instead of military-trained professionals. Then we got Ron Moore's re-imaging of Battlestar Galactica
, which was initially awesome, with it's social messages for a post-9/11 America and easily recognizable, morally ambiguous characters. Now, Next Gen
slowly crossed that threshold from "lite sci-fi" to "getting a little darker," especially when DS9 dealt with the Dominion War. But Ron Moore, who also worked on DS9 with Ira Steven Behr, succeeded, at least initially, with his BSG reboot. Now, we have "reboot craze" where everyone tries to take stuff from the past and "modernize it and do it right." Most of the time, this is failing horribly (lookin' at Michael Bay, his extrasplodey Transformers and his alien turtles...). Hell, even Moore managed to screw up BSG. Like he just stopped even trying in the third season, and rather than tell a good story, he went for shock and awe. I think that's what Abrams did in his Trek reboot as well, and while that may appeal to the masses, I think I'd rather have a good story.
That is why Mack, Ward, Dilmore, Michael Martin, Andy Mangels, Kirsten Beyer, William Bennett, Geoffrey Thorne, and all the others whom I may not remember off the top of my head, have succeeded in constantly reinventing Trek
without losing any of Roddenberry's core values for the property. Characters face dilemmas, ambiguous situations, and they grow, and we grow a little bit with them. The Vanguard
series, as well as Titan
, Typhon Pact
, and the marvelous job Kirsten Beyer has done with Voyager
(making it, in my opinion, better than what we ever saw on screen), has all kept Trek
alive and well, keeping the characters relevant and the speculations going. If a character dies, then the death had a purpose, if only to show that there are
casualties and not everyone makes it out alive.
What's more... When disaster strikes, as it often does with Mr. Mack, we don't see the frantic soldier, screaming and cursing, and just feel nothing but shock. Instead, we see a soldier, swearing like a sailor, but actually retaining some sort of professionalism. He sees who else is still with him, prioritizes his group's objectives, and then works with others to survive. There's an optimism there that, even though shit happened and people made mistakes, we still see these characters trying to do the right thing, not giving up, analyzing a problem, and working to solve it until the bitter end. In short, we get heroes not because they're overly talented and save the day, but because at the end, they try to do the right thing, despite obstacles, and even if one of those obstacles is himself.
Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work, and though Vanguard
has ended, I hope you'll all continue to expand the Trek
Posted at LiveJournal