Author David Gerrold describes how the classic second season Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, which he wrote, came into being.
When I purch...moreAuthor David Gerrold describes how the classic second season Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, which he wrote, came into being.
When I purchased The Trouble with Tribbles at my local used bookstore the cashier was both eager and delighted to point out that Gerrold's book had once been used as a textbook for College/University television writing classes. After finishing it the other day, I can see why. Gerrold's narrative offers a blunt and unvarnished look at the nuts and bolts of writing for episodic television. Judging from some of the commentary I have read on Lee Goldberg's blog over the years, I think I can say that Gerrold's book has not aged a day and is just as timely as when it was first published, back in 1973. I will leave to your personal consideration on whether or not that is a good thing.
You do not have to be a fan of either Science-Fiction in general or Star Trek in particular to enjoy reading The Trouble with Tribbles, but it will certainly help. Gerrold is clearly a fan of both and the early sections of his narrative read like every fan's fantasy of getting to work on his or her favorite show of all time. (FYI - my Fan Fantasy would have to be me getting the chance to be a writer for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, although I was all of eight years old when the show debuted and actually getting that chance would involve some serious warping of the Space/Time Continuum.) There were passages where Gerrold could have been describing me - reading a book a day, (although the list of authors I guzzled leaned heavily to dark fantasy and horror: Stephen King, Peter Straub, James Herbert, John Saul, Charles L. Grant, and Ramsey Campbell, to name but a few) dragging his father to see some of the worst genre dreck ever to be splayed across the silver screen, (I still have not been forgiven for "forcing" my family to sit through The Swarm and The Car) watching countless hours of television, (again, heavy on the genre offerings) and collecting all manner of comics, magazines, books, posters, and models (although he does not mention the binge and purge habit that I had - Oh, to have the stuff I so callously discarded so long ago). Throughout the book there was a feeling of "That could be me! I could do that!" that may or may not be shared by other readers. But one thing I can assure you can and will be shared: Gerrold's joy in being able to create and, even more important in the great scheme of things, to be a part of one of the most popular episodes of what is most likely broadcast television's most popular science-fiction series of all time.(less)
Catalyst of Sorrows is set in the year 2360, sixty-seven years after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-B in Sta...moreCatalyst of Sorrows is set in the year 2360, sixty-seven years after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-B in Star Trek - Generations, and four years before the launch of the Enterprise-D in Encounter at Farpoint.
Admiral Nyota Uhura, former senior communications officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise-B and now head of Starfleet Intelligence, receives a cryptic message from beyond the Neutral Zone. An unidentified virus with a 100% mortality rate is killing Romulans and Federationists alike along the Neutral Zone. Racing against time and an unknown and lethal enemy, Uhura dispatches a covert away team consisting of Lieutenant Benjamin Sisko, Lieutenant Tuvok, Dr. Selar and Zetha, the Romulan street urchin that first alerted Admiral Uhura to the viral killer that will come to be called Catalyst.
The gang is certainly all here in this final entry in the bestselling Lost Era series that bridges the seventy plus year gap between the 23rd century set original series and the 24th century placed Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager spin-offs. Uhura and Dr. Leonard McCoy (TOS), Dr. Beverly Crusher and her son Wesley (Next Gen), Benjamin Sisko (DS9), Tuvok and Selar (Voyager) and a handful of cameos from various episodes and films that contain elements or plot lines that are relevant to Margaret Wander Bonanno's futurist spy story. Those looking for epic space battles and lots of fisticuff action should look elsewhere, Catalyst of Sorrows is a mystery rooted in the Cold War era storytelling style of John Le Carre. Bonanno not only states such in the Acknowledgments section, she also makes a direct reference to Le Carre's Cold War classic The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and starts off the book with a quote taken from A Perfect Spy. It makes for a refreshing change of pace.
While the story is a good one, I don't know if it's a good fit for Star Trek. I had a hard time seeing the young Benjamin Sisko in the novel growing into the Captain of Deep Space Nine. I also had a hard time buying Uhura has the head of Starfleet Intelligence. But far stranger things have happened in the Trekverse. The only series characters that felt right to me were McCoy, Crusher and Tuvok. Then again I am not what you could call the most rabid of Trek fans. A couple of episodes every few months or so and the occasional media novel to pass the time are adequate for my needs. Catalyst of Sorrows met them quite nicely.(less)
A review from my blog, written and published August 19, 2006. (And I have now seen more episodes of ST: TNG than I have read tie-in books of the show,...moreA review from my blog, written and published August 19, 2006. (And I have now seen more episodes of ST: TNG than I have read tie-in books of the show, see below.)
Admiral William Riker has never recovered from the sudden, unexpected death of Deanna Troi. When Riker, now in his seventies and in self-imposed exile, returns to Deanna's home planet of Betazed, to take care of Lwaxana Troi's estate, his visit stirs up the bittersweet memory of how he first met, then bonded with, his cherished Imzadi.
But that story is only the beginning. Commodore Data shares with Riker a stunning development he had witnessed at Forever World, the home planet of the Guardian of Forever. It seems that Deanna Troi's death has created two separate time lines. Riker is convinced that Deanna Troi was never meant to die, that she had been murdered by someone wishing to create a far different future. Riker becomes determined to go back in time and save his Imzadi...
Peter David's Imzadi is the fourth Star Trek the Next Generation novel that I have read. I think that this creates a rather unique milestone, for I believe that I have now read more Star Trek the Next Generation novels than I have seen actual episodes of the show itself. That will change, in time, of course.
Imzadi seems to be a rather highly regarded Star Trek the Next Generation novel by both fans of its writer, Peter David, and of the show itself. All I can say about that is that the book certainly lived up to its hype. Imzadi works both as a potent love story and as a Trek adventure that crackles with action packed excitement. Every moment in the doomed relationship, from when Riker first sees Deanna Troi, up to the sad ending of their romantic relationship, rings true emotionally. The race between Riker and Data to either save Deanna Troi, or to ensure that the established time line is not tampered with, gave the book a nail biter of a conclusion. I could not tell if Riker would be successful in his queat, or if he would fail. The other thing that impressed me was how David was able to present the pre-existing characters as real people, with real emotions. Even though I have read a lot of tie-ins and novelizations for various franchises, I have seldom come across one that is as emotionally powerful as Imzadi.(less)
I had picked up Night of the Living Trekkies on a whim, which is how I get most, if not all, of my books, becau...moreWow, this book was a pleasant surprise.
I had picked up Night of the Living Trekkies on a whim, which is how I get most, if not all, of my books, because it sounded like silly fun. The kind of silly fun that, being both an almost life long fan of both Star Trek and George A. Romero's zombie movies, seemed to have been created specifically for a weirdo like me.
But then I began to give it some thought, after I had already purchased the book, of course. I started thinking that, maybe, authors Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall were going to be making fun of the things that I loved, rather than having fun with them, which had been the expectation that got me to purchase the book.
After sitting in my "To Be Read" bookcase for almost an entire year - yes, I do not have a "To Be Read" stack, I have an entire bookcase filled with books that I intend to read, some day - I picked up Night of the Living Trekkies and cracked it open. I was happy to find that my former misgivings had been unfounded and my latter expectations were delightfully fullfilled.
Night of the Living Trekkies does not make fun of Star Trek and its fans notoriously "odd" behavior. It just has a great deal of tongue-in-cheek fun dropping both of them into the center of an apocalyptic zombie outbreak. A zombie outbreak that turns out to be a front for an alien invasion! (The book is a Star Trek story at heart, so it is only fitting that the zombies be created by alien lifeforms.)
And it all takes place during a Star Trek convention, of course.
But I do have to take a moment and ask an important question, though. How can it be that wearing mass market approved merchandise for rock bands or sports teams is considered normal, while LARPing and/or Cosplaying is considered weird. For the hardcore fan a convention is like a sports event or a rock concert. It's the time to put on your favorite team's uniform and your favorite team member's number and cheer them on, loud and hard. What is so "weird" about doing that?
Anderson and Stall understand that "support your team" mentality perfectly, which is what makes the humor work so beautifully well. There are in-jokes and references and call outs to Trek on every single page. Our hero, a battle scarred veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is named Jim Pike. The hotel he works at, where the convention is being held, is called the Botany Bay. Each and every chapter of the book gets its title from an episode of a Trek series. Even famous lines and exchanges are integrated into the dialogue.
I know that last part might sound suspect, but it makes perfect sense within the context of the plot. It also brings me back to my "support your favorite team" comment. The entire group, including Pike, are not only devout Star Trek fans, all of them are dressed in costumes. So everyone getting into character and pretending that the zombie apocalypse is some kind of LARP event as a kind of coping mechanism feels perfectly logical. Really, who wouldn't want a Klingon backing them up during a zombie apocalypse?
Although Anderson and Stall move the story at a gallop, and they know that they have written a story for a potentially miniscule niche market, I was most impressed by how well thought out their silly on the surface story was. Save for one very over the top character (hey, every Star Trek story needs its larger than life villain, right?) I found the entire cast of characters not only likable, but relatable. I know I have seen people just like them at every single convention I have ever attended. Reading about how they would try to both survive a zombie outbreak and save the world from an alien invasion was terrific way to spend a weekend. It's almost as much fun as attending an actual convention.(less)