Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Star Trek: Lost Voyages of the Reimagined Universe - Exclusive Interviews

Star Trek fans may have to wait until 2012 for another big screen Trek fix, but until earlier this week it looked like they would get an opportunity reimmerse themselves in the J.J. Abrams version of the Trekverse with four novels set in that continuity. Meet the authors of those proposed voyages.
by Edward Gross

ST - The Hazard of ConcealingThis summer the Star Trek universe as reimagined by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci nearly expanded by way of four original novels from Simon and Schuster written by Alan Dean Foster, Christopher Bennett, David Mack and Greg Cox. But then – after announcing the titles and even going so far as to list them alongside mock covers in their catalog (and after most of the work on the part of the writers was complete), the publisher decided to indefinitely postpone or cancel the line.

“With last summer’s blockbuster Star Trek movie,” offered the official “explanation” of the cancellation, “JJ Abrams created a new vibrant, layered version of the Star Trek universe. After careful consideration, we decided to hold off on telling new stories while JJ and his team continue to develop his vision.”

Although issue #38 of SciFi Now magazine will have a more detailed look at these “lost voyages” of Star Trek (more information can be garnered from, SciFi Media Zone offers a look at one aspect of them: the need of the authors to capture the new voices of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew, without merely utilizing what the audience is more commonly used to.

ST - More Beautiful Than Death"Writing the ‘voices’ of the new incarnation required me to watch the new movie a few times in order to be able to ‘hear’ them in my head while I was writing the dialogue,” says Mack, whose novel was More Beautiful Than Death. “The characters whose voices had changed the most, in my opinion, were Montgomery Scott and Nyota Uhura. Scott has become much more verbose, and Uhura has become feistier and more assertive.

“Spock,” he continues, “still sounds much as he did in the original Star Trek pilot ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before,’ when he was younger and less in control of his human emotions. Kirk is brasher, cockier, not as secure in his authority as he was in the TV series. He’s a bit more of a hothead and a bit more aggressive – again, likely because this is a younger Kirk than the one we know from the TV series, and one whose childhood probably doesn’t include some of the darker memories that haunted his original incarnation. But the most important voice I needed to capture was not that of a single character, but rather of the series itself. When writing a book based on J.J. Abrams’ vision of Star Trek, I wanted it to sound and feel as if it was part of his universe. I focused on emulating his film’s breakneck pacing, kinetic action, quick humor and emotionally charged interactions.”

Cox, who wrote The Hazard of Concealing, states, “You definitely want to capture the voice of the new actors. The way I figured it, if the reader can visualize William Shatner speaking Kirk’s dialogue, I’m doing something wrong. Although some of the characters sound more like the old versions than others.”

ST - Seek a Newer WorldSeek a Newer World author Bennett muses, “It helps that I have a good ear for voices and speech patterns. I saw the movie three times in the early phase of writing the novel, and I’d already seen the trailers and preview clips plenty of times before then, so I had a good sense of the new actors’ voices as I wrote, and that guided me in writing their dialogue. In particular, there’s no way the Kirk in this novel could possibly be mistaken for the Kirk of the original show and movies. However, I still see these as the same characters at the core despite their surface differences. After all, Spock Prime recognized Kirk and Scotty on sight, so these are still the same people in-universe even though they look and sound different to us moviegoers. I tried to approach it both ways; I wrote the first draft with the movie cast’s voices in mind, but then I went through it again imagining the original actors delivering these lines. I’d like to think the readers could imagine it either way and it would still work, though of course my priority was fidelity to the movie’s tone and style.”

ST - RefugeesFoster, author of Refugees, opines, “The differences haven’t really come out yet, but actually I think that Pine and Quinto and all the others did such a wonderful job of channeling the original portrayals. Obviously the Kirk character is much more impulsive, which is his youth, and he has yet to settle into that experienced mode that a starship captain who’s been on the job for years would have. That makes it a little more exciting, because you’re not quite as sure what he’s going to do. In the old series, you had a pretty good idea how things were going to play out because you’d been through episode after episode. But the basics of Kirk are certainly still there. Even towards the end of the film you’re starting to learn that he’s starting to rely more on his intelligence and thinking before he jumps, but there is that feeling he could go off half-cocked at any second. That’s why you’ve got Spock there to pull him back and think things through a little more. It’s the same dynamic that exists between Kirk and Spock in the old series, it just hasn’t been fully developed yet. With time, he may become more like the original Kirk.

“Moving on to Spock,” he continues, “Quinto is dead on, but, obviously, this Spock is a little more in touch with his human side than the series Spock was. That’s going to be an interesting dynamic. I’m sure through the subsequent films we’ll see this constant pulling of Spock back and forth between his human side and Vulcan side. More so than we saw in the original series. The big change in ‘voice’ comes from the relationship with Spock and Uhura. They’re going to have to be very careful with that. It’s a very good thing, but the tendency there would be to overdo it and fall back on it in future films and they have to be real careful with that. The fact that he’s a man torn between two worlds, kind of thing…there are all kinds of precedent for that in Conrad and other writers in literature. Particularly the story of the civilized British guy who suddenly finds himself posted to India or Africa, wherever he finds himself, falling in love with a native girl. Spock and Uhura are very different from that, but the general dynamic is the same with somebody being torn between two worlds.”

For more on these “lost voyages,” continue to check in at and look for information on SciFi Now #38, available February 18th.