The Literary Frontier

By Fred Shedian
Posted at August 2, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT

When a person talks about the Star Trek Franchise, most of the time they are referring to the television shows and theatrical releases. Novels and other writings not seen are normally not considered "canon" within the universe, cast aside by quite a few readers as not important. Yet, these books were what kept the franchise alive and mysterious in the 70's and 80's. Although a movie would come out now and again, novels brought people in and continued character development. In recent years, have the importance of these literary works been downplayed?

We have been watching consistent Trek for an extended period of time now. The viewers have a solid source of entertainment to keep their addiction to the show under control. Yet, it is the novels that help us to really understand who our beloved characters are. A simple book using an episode as it's basis reveals so much more. In cases like this, many times the book is closer to the original concept of the script. The book "Relics" comes to mind.

Regretfully, as more television based Trek has entered our homes, it seems that the number of paperback Star Trek is on the decline. The quality of stories are better than ever, yet when I look in bookstores I see more and more unsold books for TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY. Is it possible that people have forgotten to investigate these important resources the franchise has produced?

I have to agree with the majority of book readers when I say that the writers TV Star Trek could get some valuable help from novel writers. These individuals seem to have a more consistent approach to characterization, development of a show, and overall quality performance. Reading over some of the Voyager books, I am in awe and wonder why these folks are not in Hollywood writing the visual version.

A problem our society faces is the fact many do not comprehend the importance and educational use of reading. To an extent, reading material on a computer helps with the comprehension. However, I believe most can agree that nothing sparks our imaginations better than a good book.

In a time when many fans are annoyed or disenchanted with what we see each week, perhaps salvation can be found in the literary version?

I invite everyone to take an adventure back with Doctor McCoy shortly before his retirement in the late 2260's, see what adventures Captain Sulu encountered as he commanded the Excelsior, learn about how the Klingon Empire found honor within it's enemies, find out about the emergency aboard the Enterprise-E days before her commissioning, discover what sparked Kira's promotion, and learn about the early adventures of Captain Janeway before Voyager.

They sound like interesting episode promos, don't they? The best part is, if these were turned into an episode some would run four hours long and keep us entertained the entire time. I hope everyone will take an opportunity to investigate the franchise within the Star Trek Franchise, one in which Pocket Books takes us to: "Space, the literary frontier."

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.