Now that the contracts have gone through (after some delay), I’m finally able to announce my next three Star Trek projects.
First, probably sometime later in 2014, is my return to the Department of Temporal Investigations series, in an e-novella exclusive entitled The Collectors. That’s right, it’s not a full-length novel and it won’t be on paper, but at 35,000 words it’s a pretty hefty novella. And it’s a story I had a great deal of fun writing, delving deeper into two elements from Watching the Clock that I’ve been eager to explore in more depth: The Eridian Vault, where the DTI stores dangerous temporal artifacts (sort of a Warehouse 13 for time travel), and the mysterious Agent Jena Noi of the 31st-century Federation Temporal Agency. Unlike WTC or Forgotten History, The Collectors isn’t about weaving together time-travel episodes from the TV shows, although it does feature one significant onscreen guest star in addition to established DTI characters like Lucsly and Dulmur. Instead, this was my chance to tell an original story driven by the DTI characters and concepts themselves, to just cut loose with them and play with the potentials of a time-travel narrative unfettered by the need to fill in the blanks of this episode or that movie. It was enormously fun to write, and I hope it’s as much fun to read.
My other, probably less surprising, announcement is that I’ve been signed for two more Enterprise — Rise of the Federation novels to follow this April’s second installment in the series, Tower of Babel. Book 3, tentatively titled Uncertain Logic, will be out in early 2015, and Book 4 will probably arrive in early 2016 (there’s a 10-month gap between the due dates for the two manuscripts, so the interval between publication dates may be about the same). The two books will each stand on their own but have a common story arc connecting them, with the latter story arising from the consequences of the former. (That’s why I got contracted for the two books together. I thought I’d have to talk my editor into that, but she was just, “Sure, I’ll start the paperwork.”) And both books will continue to flesh out ideas from Enterprise, reveal the origins of elements from The Original Series and beyond, and feature original worldbuilding and exploration as well.
In this case, I haven’t started the manuscript yet; indeed, I turned in the outline for Book 3 just last night, and the outline for Book 4 is in more skeletal form, to be fleshed out more once Book 3 is written. But I feel pretty confident about where I’m going with the storyline, which will continue to challenge, deepen, and evolve the characters and hopefully bring some surprises. Oh, and the good news is that I’ll have more room for it. The first two RotF books were in the 80 to 85,000-word range, but these will be heftier tomes; I’m free to go up to 100,000 words. (Which means I should be able to include a subplot I had to cut out of Book 2 for length. Technically I’ve already got 4000 words of Book 3 written!)
I’ve just been informed (by Keith R.A. DeCandido on Facebook) that Ian Coomber of the site What Culture has posted a list of the top 5 Star Trek tie-in novelists:
Number 1 is Una McCormack, #2 is David Mack, #3 is Keith, and #4 is yours truly! (#5 is a tie for the actors who’ve written or co-written tie-in novels: Armin Shimerman, Andrew Robinson, and J.G. Hertzler.) I made the list specifically for DTI: Watching the Clock, which he describes as “a novel whose ambition is only surpassed in its accomplishments” and “borderline epic.” Not bad for a novel that I only pitched as an afterthought.
Thanks to Ian for the recognition!
The Trek Mate Family Network in the UK has just released a podcast of an interview I did for their “Captain’s Table” feature in which they interview Star Trek prose authors. The discussion covers my Trek work, my Marvel novels and their audio adaptations, and Only Superhuman. You can find it here:
Empire Magazine‘s site has posted a feature on Pocket’s Star Trek novel line, focusing mainly on the series that expand the universe beyond the aired shows:
This includes some series that I’ve been a part of; Department of Temporal Investigations gets a whole page, and their “if you read only one” recommendation for Titan is my Over a Torrent Sea. Plus there’s an oblique reference to The Buried Age on their page for The Lost Era, though they don’t mention it by name. I do wish they’d spelled my last name correctly, but otherwise I appreciate the attention, both on my behalf and that of my colleagues.
Well, the Joseph-Beth book signing on Wednesday went off reasonably well, despite the fact that I’ve been dealing with a cold and a sore throat for most of the week and have been kept up nights coughing. On the wee hours of Wednesday morning, desperate for sleep, I drove to the pharmacy to look for something I could take for the cough, but I wasn’t sure I trusted any of the options, since I had a bad reaction to a cold medicine a few years ago and I didn’t quite remember which medicine it had been. And I was too tired to think clearly anyway, so I just gave up, went home, and suffered through another sleepless night. But Wed. morning I looked online for sore throat remedies, and treated myself with tea and honey, cough drops, and pseudoephedrine from the drugstore. (The stuff that gave me the bad reaction was the stuff that’s replaced pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter meds since it was discovered that the substance could be used to make methamphetamines. Now you can still get it but have to show your ID at the pharmacy counter.)
So by the time I got to the signing, I was still below my peak, but at least my voice was reasonably functional. And the folks at J-B were very helpful and got me a hot tea with lemon for my throat. My scene reading from Only Superhuman didn’t go as smoothly as it ideally would’ve, but I got through it okay. The event wasn’t as well-attended as it could’ve been, but better than some Shore Leave panels I’ve been on. And another local genre author I recently met, Laura Resnick, was kind enough to attend the event and participate in the Q&A/audience discussion after my reading. The audience had a good range of questions about both OS and my Trek/tie-in work, and one of them bought a copy of Forgotten History. And overall, the folks there, both store employees and attendees, had very positive and heartening things to say about the book and its prospects for success. (And they let me keep the banner they printed up for the signing!) We didn’t sell that many autographed copies of the book then and there, but they had me sign the rest of their stock, and the store’s publicity guy sounded confident that the book would continue to have legs, especially once it comes out in paperback this fall. I hope he’s right.
Anyway, though the pseudoephedrine helped me have a borderline-functional voice for the signing, I paid for it that night, since apparently one of its possible side effects is sleeplessness, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep despite not having as bad a cough. (Which is odd, because it didn’t have that effect on me in the past — that’s why I thought I should use it instead of the substitute, which I think had similar but stronger effects on me.) That’s at least three nights in the past week, two of them consecutive, that were completely sleepless for me. Yesterday I was getting worried about how long I could go without REM sleep before it impaired me. I stopped taking the decongestant once I realized it was probably keeping me awake, but the tradeoff was that my cough kept me awake again, plus my attempt at a late-afternoon nap yesterday probably threw off my sleep cycle. The cough drops helped, but after sucking on a few of them, they start to taste really foul to me. Still, I apparently managed to get a few hours’ sleep last night, and my throat feels better today. I think I’m finally coming out of it, which is good, because it’s been very hard to concentrate on my writing or other responsibilities the past few days. Which is why this post is a day late.
Simon & Schuster/Pocket is about to put out several e-book omnibuses (yes, that is the correct plural) each combining three related Star Trek novels into one volume. One of them, Star Trek: The Original Series: The Continuing Missions, Volume 1, includes my own DTI novel Forgotten History along with Greg Cox’s The Rings of Time and Dayton Ward’s That Which Divides. In this case, the books aren’t really related, more just a trio of recent standalone TOS adventures, although Rings and FH both involve time travel and there’s a slight bit of cross-reference between them. (Maybe TWD also fits with the general theme of space-time phenomena because it involves a pocket universe, though that’s reaching.) But what the hey, it’s a new edition of one of my books. And the FH cover is being used as the cover for the whole volume:
I admit, FH is kind of an odd choice for inclusion here, since it’s not entirely a self-contained TOS novel but ties into DTI: Watching the Clock as well. Still, I wrote it so that it could work as a TOS novel guest-starring some guys from the future. And who knows? Maybe this omnibus will help bring the story to at least some TOS readers who didn’t take note of it when it was published under the DTI banner. Again, though, this is only being released in e-book form as far as I know.
And yeah, it looks as if all TOS prose tales from now on are going to be subtitled The Original Series, presumably to distinguish them from the new movies.
UPDATE: Oops, sorry, forgot to mention — the publication date is on or around January 29, 2013.
Keith DeCandido’s interview of me from New York Comic-Con in October is now up on The Chronic Rift’s webpage:
It’s mainly about Only Superhuman, but also covers my Trek novels, other original stuff, and my reviews on this blog, among other things. Naturally, the Star Trek project I couldn’t talk about then is Rise of the Federation.
Today was the Books by the Banks festival for authors from the Cincinnati region, and I spent six hours at the convention center downtown hawking my wares. In addition to a big pile of Only Superhuman, the bookstore providing merchandise for the event also had a bunch of copies of Forgotten History, a small supply of Watching the Clock, three copies of the Mere Anarchy trade paperback, and one lonely copy of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder — which wasn’t lonely for long, since it was the first book I sold. By the end of the event, I’d sold out of Mere Anarchy as well and was down to one WtC, and I’d moved seven copies of OS and at least a few of FH. Plus a few people who didn’t buy OS then and there nonetheless indicated they intended to buy it online or as an e-book. All in all, while I could’ve wished for better, it was a pretty decent performance considering that this was a general book festival, not specifically SF-oriented. I seem to recall that at my first BbtB, where they only had Titan: Over a Torrent Sea for sale, I didn’t sell that many copies. So I’m satisfied with how this event turned out. Plus I made a couple of new contacts and set things in motion for a book signing event that will hopefully materialize fairly soon.
Well, it’s been an eventful day and a half. My first panel on Friday, about superhero novels, was a pretty cozy affair, with the audience barely outnumbering the panelists, and it was kind of a replay of last year’s panel on the same subject. At least it was a gentle way to ease into things. And at least I had my advance reading copy of Only Superhuman and its great cover art to show off. After that things were quiet until Meet the Pros, where I handed out promotional fliers for OS as well as signing Trek books. Usually I’m relatively quiet at these things, not as outgoing as some of my author friends, but this year I was less tentative and more assertive, since it wasn’t the usual case where the people coming up to me were already established fans of the thing I was writing for; I had something new that I really wanted to promote and try to get people interested in. I think I handled myself pretty well, though it was still less busy this year than it was in years past.
Marco Palmieri, the assistant editor on OS, brought a printout of the cover mechanical, i.e. the full artwork and text for the wraparound dust jacket that will enswathe the hardcover. It’s the first time I’ve seen the final treatment and what the spine will look like. The brown-dominated front and back covers are offset by a green spine and flaps, and the spine has a smaller, cutout version of Emerald Blair’s cover pose between the title and my name,which is neat.
I showed the OS cover to Alan Kistler, who writes the “Agents of S.T.Y.L.E.” column critiquing superhero costume designs for Newsarama, and asked him to critique Emerald Blair’s costume. He thought it worked pretty well, that it fit the character (as I described her to him) and was still practical. So that was good to hear.
I only had one panel on Saturday, a morning panel about writing time travel, which let me talk about my DTI novels and discuss the writing of time travel in general with the other authors on the panel and the members of the audience. That was really my only Trek-related panel for the whole con, although this morning I have one about moving from tie-in to original work, so there could be some Trek discussion there. Anyway, despite only being a panelist on one event, I had a very eventful Saturday. After my panel, I stuck around as an audience member for the next two in the same room, a writing workshop with Marco, David Mack, and David R. George III (which never really got to the workshop part since the audience was content to listen to the panelists talk about the writing process for two hours). I’m glad I attended, since their comments on story structure helped me recognize a couple of significant structural flaws in the spec novel I’m getting ready to revise. Hopefully I’ll be able to think of ways to strengthen it up in those areas. That was followed by a panel on editor-author relationships with Marco and Greg Cox, my main editor for OS. Some nice insights there.
I took the next hour off, then attended a panel on Leverage, which is not an SF/fantasy show but no doubt has plenty of overlap in the fanbase (and often makes genre homages, particularly to Doctor Who) — not to mention that one of its current writing staffers, Geoffrey Thorne, is a former Trek novelist who wrote the Titan novel right after my first one. More to the point, a couple of the panelists, including Greg and the prolific Keith R. A. DeCandido, have written Leverage tie-in novels which should be coming out next year. It was a fun conversation. Then I spent an hour signing books at the Constellation Books vendor table — thanks to the folks there for hosting me, letting me hand out more Only Superhuman flyers, and feeding me chocolate. After that I ran into Greg, Marco, and some others in the lobby and got invited to join them for dinner over in the nearby mall. My editors and I shared a table with Bill Leisner (author of the TNG novel Losing the Peace) and we writers mostly listened while the editors talked about the business and traded anecdotes, which was very informative and entertaining and mostly not for public consumption. I had a bowl of chili and a caesar salad, and as usual the restaurant portions were too huge, so I asked for a box to bring back the rest of the salad in, although I have no idea when or if I’m going to eat it (it’s probably wilted some by now). After that I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, but then Marco ordered an apple cobbler with ice cream which turned out to be way too big for one so he asked for four spoons so we could all share, and, well, I guess there’s always room for apple cobbler and ice cream. Then we came back to the hotel and I hung out with folks in the lobby and talked about old movies and Godzilla and the like. After that I came back to my room to decompress after that very full day.
Today, after the author breakfast in half an hour, I’ve got three panels that will all be Only Superhuman-related for me: at 10, the tie-in vs. original panel mentioned earlier, then a Tor Books presentation at 11 with Greg and Marco talking about Tor’s upcoming releases and me talking about OS, and then at 1, a panel about female action heroes in the media. Then I’m pretty much done and will probably be setting out for home not long after. I’d like to get a few hours’ driving in today, but it looks like thunderstorms are likely, so we’ll have to see how that goes.
I’m in my hotel room at the Hunt Valley Marriott. I made slower progress than I’d expected, mainly because of a long wait for dinner at the restaurant I chose last night, but I made it here around 2, and since then I’ve been either resting in my room or saying hi to fellow authors. I’ve got my first panel in half an hour, and then Meet the Pros, the big signing event, at 10. I hope I can stay reasonably awake for the latter.
Not much else to say yet. More later.
The authors have just been sent the (hopefully) final schedule of panels for the Shore Leave convention this coming weekend. In addition to the usual Meet the Pros signing event, I’m scheduled for five panels, four of which will let me talk about Only Superhuman, one of which will let me talk about DTI: Forgotten History. Here’s the list of my appearances:
Superheroes In Between: In Media Other than Films or Comic Books – 7 PM, Derby Room
Christopher Bennett, Kelly Meding, Peter J. Wacks, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Alan Kistler. No doubt this will mainly be about the superhero novels that folks like myself, Kelly, and Keith have written (which could include my Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder and X-Men: Watchers on the Walls as well as Only Superhuman), but judging from the title, maybe there could be discussion of video games, toys, whatever.
Meet the Pros — 10 PM, Hunt/Valley Corridor
The annual mass signing event where all the author guests will be available to autograph whatever you bring or buy. Of course Only Superhuman won’t be out yet, but I’m hoping there will be something OS-related for me to sign, even if it’s just promotional flyers.
Time Travel: Writing it and Reading it – 10 AM, Concierge Suite
Peter J. Wacks, Christopher Bennett, Greg Cox. We’ll be discussing our various time-travel books, including my DTI novels and Greg’s The Rings of Time and Assignment: Eternity. Judging from the title, maybe we’ll be talking about other time-travel books we’ve read.
I have no other panels Saturday, but I’ll still be around the con.
Media Tie-Ins vs. Original Fiction – 10 AM, Chase Ballroom
Keith R. A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Kathleen David, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Christopher Bennett, Ann C. Crispin. Another round of a panel topic we had last year comparing our experiences in tie-in work versus original writing.
Tor Books: New and Upcoming – 11 AM, Salon A
Marco Palmieri, Christopher Bennett, Greg Cox. Of course we’ll be talking about Only Superhuman, but no doubt Greg and Marco will be talking about other books they’re editing for Tor.
Female Action Heroes – 1 PM, Chase Ballroom
Greg Cox, Rigel Ailur, Christopher Bennett, Ann C. Crispin. Yes, it’s a chance to tout OS some more, but it’s a timely topic in the year of The Legend of Korra, ScarJo’s Black Widow, and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Let’s get together and talk about all the awesome female heroes we have these days!
Just a reminder: We’re now only two weeks out from the annual Shore Leave convention in Baltimore, on the weekend of August 3-5. (Normally it would’ve been in July, but San Diego Comic-Con moved to July and Shore Leave wisely moved out of its shadow.) I’ll be in attendance as usual (if all goes to plan), and I expect to be on some panels that will let me talk about Only Superhuman and DTI: Forgotten History, as well as the usual Meet the Pros signing event on Friday evening.
Followers of my website may have begun to think that I was taking the title of DTI: Forgotten History too literally, since I haven’t updated the site with annotations or even non-spoiler discussion and ordering links for the book — a major oversight for which I apologize. Everything but the spoiler notes should really have been up before the book came out over two months ago, so I really dropped the ball on that one. But that oversight has now been rectified, and the main page with basic discussion, ordering links, and a link to the annotations page can be accessed at:
Thanks to Marco Palmieri for tipping me off on this: Apparently Publishers Weekly magazine has just begun publishing a bestseller list, and look what’s in the debut edition (yellow highlighting added by me):
In case the small print is hard to read, it says that Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History is #10 on the Top 10 Science Fiction list for the week of May 21-27 (sorry, I cut off the heading saying what week this was for). But look at those numbers on the left: last week it was #4, and this is its 6th week on the list! Apparently they’ve been tracking these results internally but this is the first time they’ve published the list. So I’ve been a bestseller for weeks without knowing it! Neat!
I missed this until now… over the weekend, TrekMovie.com’s Robert Lyons posted his review of DTI: Forgotten History. The “money quote,” as they say:
Bennett spends generous and balanced time in each timeline, balancing the delicate need for gradual revelation of the Kirk-era timeline in order to leave the reader teased and somewhat in the dark about the development and ultimate resolution of the crisis that presents itself in the later era. In doing so, Bennett revisits and ties together many time-travel incidents from the Original Series and the Animated Series, allowing them to form a consistently woven tapestry behind the formation of the DTI. While the race to ‘connect the time-travel dots’ seemed overkill in the previous DTI installment, the addition of the formative storyline to embrace the original Enterprise’s temporal hopping serves to strengthen the author’s attempt to bring forth a consistent theory of time travel in the Star Trek universe.
I’m sorry I haven’t yet updated my website with information about this book. I’ve had another project demanding my attention for the past several weeks. But I’ll try to get around to putting something up soon.
StarTrek.com asked me to contribute a piece about Forgotten History for their site, so I used a little imaginary time travel to interview my past self about the book:
The results of the Unreality-SF.net Story of the Year voting are in, and DTI: Watching the Clock got second prize, with a whopping 343 votes. The winner by a landslide was Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions by my friend and colleague David Mack, to whom I extend congratulations (though I was actually rooting for Kirsten Beyer’s Voyager: Children of the Storm). Still, apparently second place comes with a trophy of some sort, which I’ll be getting in the mail at some point. And it’s the first time any of my published fiction has gotten any kind of prize, so that’s a notable step. Thanks to everyone who voted for my book.
I guess I can put my second-place Story of the Year trophy next to the Second-Place Semifinalist trophy I won for the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee back in 6th grade. (The word that cost me first place was “meretricious,” a word one wouldn’t have expected a 6th-grader to know, since it means “of or pertaining to prostitutes.” And I was eliminated early from the finals because the lady pronounced “ultimo” in a way that sounded to me like “altimo,” overpronouncing the “U” instead of just saying it normally. I wuz robbed, I tells ya!)
It’s been a full day for me. First, I finished proofreading the first-pass galleys for Only Superhuman (i.e. the pages that show what the final text will look like including formatting) and mailed them back to Tor. I caught a number of typos that I’m amazed I never noticed in all the dozens of prior times I’ve been through this manuscript, like “to use use” or “that was in itself was the result” or my personal favorite, “Sarkar crossed your arms.” That’s right, she reached out of the book and crossed the reader’s arms. (In my defense, that was right after a sentence ending with a very emphatic “you,” so I guess there was some pronominal inertia there.)
I also just got my complimentary copies of Star Trek DTI: Forgotten History from Simon & Schuster! Yup, the book is in my hands now, and it should be on bookstore shelves within the next few weeks. It’s not as hefty a tome as its predecessor Watching the Clock, but they make a nice pair.
I also just got some reading materials as research for a possible new project, so I’ve got past, present, and future projects (or present, near-future, and more distant future in publication terms) all converging on the same day. It’s all a bit overwhelming.
Especially since I also had to deal with getting my car towed. I discovered yesterday afternoon that it wouldn’t start, and had no electrical power whatsoever. A couple of kind people helped me try to jumpstart it, with no luck. It was a bit late in the day, and I didn’t urgently need it then, and I still had a lot of proofreading to do, so I put it aside until this morning. So I had to call the insurance company to find out how to deal with the situation (turns out they’ll reimburse me for the tow), then call the tow truck guy, then walk three blocks to the ATM and three blocks back so I could pay him in cash. Then when he arrived it took me a few minutes reading the manual to discover how to get the car into neutral with no power so it could be moved into a position where the tow truck could get to it. (Yes, I actually read the manual.) Then I had to walk a mile home from the garage, and wait for them to call while I finished up the galleys.
So anyway, while I was composing the first draft of this post around 4 PM, I realized the narrative had no resolution, so I decided to call the garage and find out how the car was doing (yes, I am a writer, why do you ask?). Turns out they were just about done with it, and it was a bad battery, which means the warranty applied and I saved some money. So I have a new battery now, and since the car was in the shop anyway, I asked them to replace the windshield wipers too, since the ones I had were lousy and didn’t do much good. And as it happened, it was raining lightly when I picked the car up, so I got to try them out right away, and they’re nice and quiet and work better than the old ones.
Plus, as it happens, the garage is directly across the street from the post office, so I got to mail back the galley pages and pick up my car on the same trip — and right after that I drove to the grocery store and did the shopping I was going to do yesterday. Which is nice, because if I was going to walk a mile for the second time today (plus 3/5 of a mile to the ATM and back), it’s good that I was able to get multiple things accomplished. (Hopefully including getting in slightly better physical shape so that walking that distance will be easier in the future.)
So now I’m very tired and kind of sore, and that’s even after a long, hot soak in the tub. But I accomplished a lot today, and that’s a good feeling.
One of the characters in my novel Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock was Clare Raymond, the 20th-century housewife from TNG’s “The Neutral Zone,” and while working on scenes involving her thoughts and recollections, I got to wondering what mass-media science fiction would’ve been like in a universe where there was no Star Trek TV series in the ’60s. I vacillated between positing a reality that simply lacked such a series altogether and inventing a substitute series that could go in its place and fill the same role. (I was tempted to use Astro Quest from the CSI episode “A Space Oddity”. Galaxy Quest wouldn’t have worked, since it was supposedly made in the ’80s.) I ended up going the former route, but I didn’t really develop it in detail.
But the subject recently came up in a thread on the TrekBBS, and I got into a more in-depth analysis of the subject, which I want to repost here.
The thing is, Star Trek had such a major influence on popular culture that it’s hard to imagine how different the media landscape would be without it. Star Trek did a lot to make science fiction a more respectable genre in the mass media. It pioneered or popularized many aspects of the modern fandom experience — conventions, fanzines, even slash fiction. The success of ST in syndicated reruns proved that reruns were more viable than broadcasters had thought and led to a rise in rerun use and a decrease in season lengths. Later on, TNG’s breakthrough success in first-run syndication paved the way for the syndication boom of the ’90s.
So without Star Trek, there might never have been a Xena or a Babylon 5. Not to mention all the shows that have spawned directly from Trek veterans like Michael Piller, Ron Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Rene Echevarria, and so on. There’s no telling if they would’ve ever gone into SFTV if not for ST. If it hadn’t existed in the ’60s, then SFTV and first-run syndication in the ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s would be a lot sparser. Heck, without B5 breaking new ground in serialized storytelling, we might not have as many of the heavily arc-driven shows we have today, in SF or otherwise. It’s a ripple effect.
Without ST, sci-fi would probably have maintained a reputation as kid stuff, since the most successful exemplars of the genre in TV would’ve been Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. I think my conjecture in Watching the Clock that the bionic shows would still exist is pretty sound, since they were based on a novel and weren’t really seen as hardcore sci-fi; series producer Harve Bennett wasn’t an SF-oriented type and wasn’t very familiar with Star Trek prior to being pegged to produce the movies, so his ’70s career wouldn’t have been affected much by the absence of ST. Ditto for Bionic Woman creator Kenneth Johnson, who went on to do The Incredible Hulk, V, and Alien Nation. If Roddenberry hadn’t made his mark in SFTV, maybe we’d look back on Johnson as the man who proved that science fiction could be an adult genre, though that proof would’ve come along much later. And we might’ve still gotten Earthbound genre shows like The X-Files and Buffy.
And would there even have been a Star Wars without Star Trek? In the Trek Nation documentary, George Lucas says he’d attended some Trek conventions before creating Star Wars, and he says ST helped pave the way for SW by proving that sci-fi could be successful — and that it could be produced impressively on a tight budget. So without ST, with mass-media American science fiction in the ’70s lacking that one massive success story, would any movie studio have been willing to take a chance on Lucas’s idea to do a Flash Gordon pastiche as a big-budget movie? If they had, it probably wouldn’t have been called Star Wars, a name that I’ve read Lucas chose because it evoked Star Trek. And it might’ve been a much smaller, lower-budget film, and there would’ve been less of a pre-existing genre fanbase for it. And its effects might not have been as sophisticated, since the FX studios for Star Trek pioneered new techniques on that show. Without Star Wars as we know it, there wouldn’t have been an ILM, let alone a Pixar. Sci-fi and fantasy wouldn’t have become the giants in the motion picture industry that they are in our world; the films and franchises that would never have been made are too numerous to list. Nor would there have been a Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century or Jason of Star Command. And without Donald Bellisario cutting his genre teeth on Galactica, there might never have been a Quantum Leap.
So probably the biggest SF fan community would be for Doctor Who, and maybe Blake’s 7 would have a big following too. England would most likely be seen as the vanguard of science fiction in popular culture, though SF would be seen as a genre characterized by cheap production values, and thus would have trouble gaining more than a niche fanbase in the US.
And what about all the people inspired to become scientists and engineers because of Star Trek? If that show had never existed, then modern technology might be less advanced in some respects. There might not have been as much incentive driving people to invent flip phones or pad-style computers. Which might explain why some aspects of technology do seem to have advanced more gradually in the Trek universe itself, although its 20th century clearly had much more impressive progress in crewed spaceflight and genetic engineering than ours.
So all in all, as utopian as Star Trek‘s 22nd through 24th centuries are, it looks like their 20th and early 21st centuries would’ve been rather deprived where mass entertainment was concerned. Maybe that’s why ST’s characters are mainly fans of detective fiction and Westerns and gothic romances and the like — maybe science fiction never really caught on outside its particular niche audience.
Thanks to your nominations, Star Trek: DTI: Watching the Clock has made the top ten list and is thus on the final ballot. Here’s the page where you can cast your vote for the final award:
The top ten list includes three Star Trek novels, two Star Wars novels, a Doctor Who novel, three Doctor Who audio dramas, and a Torchwood radio play. You can vote for only one winner (multiple votes from the same IP address will be disregarded), and the poll is open for the next seven days (through the end of Sunday, April 1).