Writing Star Trek Novels, or, Why don’t you get a morally acceptable job?

The Entropy EffectBack in the 1980s, I wrote a bunch of Star Trek novels. I thoroughly enjoyed writing them. Pretty much the only drawback was that some of my colleagues took exception to my polluting my precious bodily fluids with evil tie-in novels. You’d’ve thought they believed they had to save my soul, blathering about the improvement in my moral character that would result if instead I took an honest job as a waitress. (A job that to be done well requires character traits that I both admire and am well aware I don’t possess.)

The tie-in novels subsidized one heck of a lot of my original fiction.

I’d been a big fan of the original Star Trek when I was in college (class of 1970); I wrote a teleplay that (I was told) got all the way to Gene Roddenberry’s desk before he left the show and the series changed in the third season to something I didn’t recognize. (To this day I haven’t seen most of the third season episodes.)

My teleplay, The Entropy Effect, was rejected soon thereafter.

Years later, the opportunity to write a Star Trek novel came along The folks who invited me to write it knew I’d been fond of the series and they trusted me to treat the characters with some respect.

The deadline was very tight and I never would have been able to manage it except that I’d just bought, with my two housemates, a computer: A tan-case Osborne I with a four-digit serial number. It had 64K of memory and you could fit a whole chapter on a 5.25″ floppy disk — nearly thirty pages! And the disks only cost $10 each!

Thanks to my housemates, who not only didn’t kill me for monopolizing the new machine during all my waking hours for six weeks, but also occasionally took me away and fed me and sent me to bed, I hit the deadline for The Entropy Effect. (It was very interesting to collaborate with myself between the age of 18 and the age of 30.)

My editor happened to be coming to a convention in Seattle just before the book was due, and asked me to give him the manuscript there, so I did.

(It was on paper; writers might have begun creeping into the computer age, but publishers hadn’t yet, very few people had email, and once rudimentary email did come along, sending anything but plain ASCII that way was a triumph of binhex and encoding and I forget what-all.)

To my surprise (and not a little discomfort), my editor sat himself down in the middle of a small party and started reading. After he’d read fifty pages or so, he said, “Paramount will either love this, or they’ll really, really hate it.”

Fortunately, the former.

I’m quite fond of the book. I’m displaying the original cover rather than the more dramatic new edition because the original has Mr. Sulu in piratical mode, with long hair and a mustache. (He gets laid, too, which a lot of readers don’t notice, to my astonishment.)

The Wrath of KhanAfter Entropy, I wrote three of the movie tie-in novels. Wrath of Khan was the first of these, though it wasn’t called that to begin with. Considerable discussion went into the subject of the title. (I had a great idea for the title, so great that I can’t remember it now.)

Somebody in the licensing department at Paramount called me and said, “What do you think of The Revenge Vengeance of Khan?”§

This was just about the time The Return of the Jedi was scheduled to debut, though the title hadn’t been released yet and the gossip was that it would be called Revenge of the Jedi.

“Gosh,” sez I, “I guess it’s OK as long as you don’t mind if somebody from Lucasfilm comes to LA and chases you around the desk with a baseball bat.”

“Oh, no, no, no problem, we’re all good friends.”

They sent me a copy of the cover. It was quite handsome, with The Revenge of Khan in gold embossing (which is expensive and takes longer).

About 1.001 days later they called me again. “We’re changing the title.”

[beat]

(as they say in the movies)

“Nothing to do with the Jedi movie title! Nothing at all!”

“OK,” sez I. I didn’t actually care what they called it since they weren’t going to use Demon Warrior (I knew I’d remember that eventually).

A few weeks later I saw an article about The Return of the Jedi, with a quote to the effect that it had never been going to be called “Revenge,” nuh-uh, because Jedi knights don’t indulge in revenge.

I fell on the floor laughing.

But I was kind of disappointed that the title on the new cover for Wrath was neither embossed nor gold.

Enterprise: The first adventureWhen I had barely finished the manuscript of The Voyage Home, which I researched by going on a pretty darn cool whale-watching trip, my new editor came up with the idea of a 20th anniversary Giant Novel.*

“What do you think of the idea?” he asked.

“Sounds like a plan,” I said, or words to that effect.

“Great! What’s the plot?”

“Um. Call me tomorrow?”

So he did.

“What’s the plot?”

“Jim Kirk gets his first command and expects to be sent out to save the universe and instead gets sent out on a USO tour.”

“Sold,” he said, or words to that effect.

Of course Jim Kirk still saves the universe and introduces the Klingons to Shakespeare as well, but that wasn’t in the original proposal. The funniest thing about the proposal was that everybody was in a big screaming hurry to get the book out in time for the 20th Anniversary Star Trek book. So I dutifully started writing before I received a contract, which anybody with any sense would tell you never to do; but my editor is a trustworthy guy and if I didn’t start writing till they got around to sending the contract, I would have had thirty-seven seconds to write the book.

A few weeks later my editor called and said, “Paramount approved your proposal.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” sez I, “considering I’m halfway through the book.”

“Um,” he said, with the good sense to be embarrassed, “they want a detailed outline.”

[beat]

…as they say in the movies.

“A detailed proposal, huh? Here’s the thing. Please tell them they can have a detailed proposal or they can have the book in on time, but they can’t have both and they have to pay me the same either way.”

He cracked up and I never heard another word about the detailed proposal — I have no idea what heroic measures he had to take to accomplish that — and the Klingons got Shakespeare, and George Takei got to read the audiotape including the completely baffling “translation” of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

And the next time I saw George he said, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” and laughed his great laugh.

— Vonda

————

§ Email correspondent asks if title might have been “vengeance” rather than “revenge” and is quite correct — VNM.


*Enterprise was the first Giant Novel, the only one that came out only in paperback because they were testing the waters — it sold a whole lot of copies but the folks who came in my wake with hardcovers made one heck of a lot more money. (Correction note: Correspondents inform me that some years later the giant novels began appearing as original paperbacks only.)


 

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Writing Star Trek Novels, or, Why don’t you get a morally acceptable job? — 97 Comments

  1. Someday I may be able to get to the box that [possibly] has your books in it. Meanwhile, I think I’m going to raid a used bookstore, because it’s been way too long since I read them, and I remember that they were fun.

  2. Hi Vonda,

    First off, I really liked “Enterprise: The First Adventure”. I loved, particularly, your treatment of Janice Rand. Her backstory is very much a “Tip o’ The Iceberg”. And, ever since I read the book, Rand has been one of my favorite Star Trek characters.

    Now, I found most interesting the fact that the female Klingon (who’s name, sadly, escapes me), escapes in the end. That, and the character of Roswind (who’s conflict with Rand is very interesting indeed), leads me to wonder: did you ever intend to write a sequal to the book? Did you ever intend to use those original characters again?

    Thanks!

  3. How incredibly unbelieveably awesome, Vonda. What a great article and great insider information about these books and characters we all love.

    I wrote a tie in novel too. It’s a sekrit.

    Noooo – not Star Trek. I would have loved to do that! But wrong generation. By the time I was in a position to do that, the Star Trek series was definitely in its latter phases, and the writers that did continue on were so exceedingly well-established.

  4. I’ve always been strongly in favor of the rent getting paid, and seem to regularly be reminding someone or other pecunia non olet.
    Coincidentally, I’ve recently started accumulating ST novels by “name” sf writers. At the moment, my get-to-them shelf has Robert Sheckley, Esther Friesner, and Janet Kagan. IMNSHO, that’s good enough company to be in.

  5. Steve: Thanks, but, reallio trulio, my time of writing tie-in novels is past.

    Kathy: I’m sorry to hear that some of the writers didn’t have as enjoyable time as I mostly did.

    Suzette: Thank you for your extraordinarily kind words.

    PJ: Glad you enjoy the books.

    RL: I always thought Janice Rand got a raw deal. I happened to meet Grace Lee Whitney once and she was kind enough to mention enjoying the backstory I created for her character.

    Amy: Your sekrit is safe with me, considering I don’t know what it is.

    Everybody: When you go looking for books — How about using the Powell’s Bookstore link there in the right-hand sidebar? BVC gets a tiny little commission off book sales from the site (which is a wonderful bookstore in Portland, Oregon, should you happen to find yourself there), and helps us pay our site hosting fees.

    Also the BVC home website’s Book Street page has links to local independent bookstores, which we also do our best to support.

    I don’t have any problem with used bookstores; I’m not among those who think they should be put out of business or forbidden to resell books; nor am I anti-library. In fact library sales used to make up a significant percentage of fiction writers’ incomes. These days, not so much, as you’ll note from the remainder marks you see on many library books. (Books sold at remainder prices pay little or no royalties to their authors.)

    But if you like an author’s work and want that author to be able to continue writing, how about taking a look at the author’s website? The author may have books to sell and may be willing to autograph them. The author may have a Powell’s Bookshelf that pays commission even on used books, or have an arrangement with a local bookstore to go in and sign stock. (I do that all the time at University Book Store in Seattle, and I believe Robin Hobb does as well.)

    For an outlay of a few of your minutes (Google is your friend), you might be able to get the books you want at a cost not much more than those “buy a book for $0.01, pay no attention to the inflated S&H costs lurking behind the curtain in the corner” sites, and in a way that might help your favorite authors continue to write.

    Vonda

  6. Neil: It would sure be nice if the best advice writers got these days wasn’t “Don’t give up your day job.”

    Folks who aren’t familiar with the authors you mention should also check out their original work. Among other things, all three writers you mention are accomplished humorists.

    Vonda

  7. Vonda,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences writing the STAR TREK tie-ins. It’s great stuff…entertaining and very informative.

    For those of you who are curious about the business of tie-ins, I encourage you to visit http://www.iamtw.org, the home page of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, and browse through our many articles. Our members include Kevin J. Anderson, Karen Traviss, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Greg Cox, Andy Mangels, Raymond Benson, Jeff Mariotte, Max Allan Collins, James Rollins, and lots of other authors who may be familiar to tie-in readers.

    Lee

  8. Hi, Vonda,

    Thank you for sharing this reminiscence. I’ve long treasured my copies of The Wrath of Khan; your characterization of Saavik make a big impression on me. I love the texture and authenticity you brought to the Star Trek universe in your writing.

    I still have the original books from the early 80s — you can see a photo in the Blog Entry I posted a short while ago.

    ~Amy

  9. Amy Sakurai — Thanks for the kind words. I enjoyed your blog post.

    There was a little bit of Saavik’s background in the screenplay (basically that she was half Romulan), but it was presented in an “As you know, George…” way that’s not great in prose and is deathly in screenplays, so I assume that’s why it ended up on the cutting-room floor. I did make a pretty big leap in back-story from there, but, like I say, there’s a good bit of space to fill between the length of a screenplay and the length of a novel.

    Vonda

  10. Thanks for this trip down memory lane! Back when I first got serious about writing a Trek novel I wrote to a number of my favorite authors to see what advice they could give me. This was back in 1992, and you were one of the writers kind enough to respond. All these years later, and after many detours, my Trek novella, “Honor in the Night” is coming out from Pocket Books in 2010.

    I’m happy to say that the Trek fiction coming out now and for a number of years back has returned to the kind of rich storytelling that you were doing before the restrictive phase the books went through. Some writers from back in the day, like Margaret Wander Bonanno, have come back into the fold.

    I’d sure like to see what you could do with a Trek book these days!

    Scott

    PS: My previous project with Pocket, the Next Generation short story “Among the Clouds,” had some flying squid in it . . .

  11. I’d never look down on an Author for doing tie in work. On occasion I’ll read a work because of the author in spite of it being a tie-in. I never would have read the Star Wars “Thrawn” series except that Timothy Zahn wrote them. I read them because Zahn wrote them, not because they were Star Wars.

    But let’s face it, a lot of tie-in work is hack work, and a lot of the Star Trek Pocket Books were pretty bad. At a certain point when I was reading them it was pretty much a mater of “well, who wrote it? If it was McIntyre, Duane, or Carey, I’d buy it; if it was written by someone else I’d likely skip it.

    I loved your novelizations of the films by the way. As a reader I always wondered what little snippets might have been in the screenplay that were cut/not filmed, and what was added by the author. For example there is a wonderful little scene in ST:IV where the crew is at the hospital and Kirk reaches out and grabs the 20-th century doctor and somehow manages to apply the Vulcan Nerve pinch, then looks down at his hand and says “that worked. That never worked before.” You could tell that whoever wrote the scene really cared for and understood the characters. (I always figured you added that little bit)

  12. Wow. And here I thought it was just me, when I lost all interest in the Star Trek novels roundabout mid-90s. I figured maybe I’d just wandered off to other interests or something. I’ll have to give the more recent ones another look.

    I was a huge, huge fan of the Star Trek novels as a teen (late 80s). Yours, Kagan, Duane, Carey, Crispin, Bonnano, several others. I tried to collect them all, regardless of how bad they were (though as a teen, I didn’t have very refined tastes, anything was fine 😉 ), and learned a lot of vocab from reading them – “entropy” among them. The references to other books’/authors’ characters was one of my favorite things – it enhanced the feel of continuity to the universe.

    Thank you for writing them. I liked Star Wars: The Crystal Star quite a lot as well.

  13. Umm. That is, I tried to collect all of the Star Trek novels, not just those of the authors I mentioned. Theirs were all very good, some of the other ones were bad.

    And I also didn’t mean to imply that any other Star Wars novels you wrote might’ve been bad. o.O Crystal Star was the only one you wrote that I read.

  14. Scott: Congratulations. Be sure to let us all know here when your book comes out. Is your squid story available on line anyplace? I could make it the Featured Link at Talking Squids.

    Mark: I don’t actually remember this long after, but I think the nerve pinch gag was in the screenplay.

    MWT: I knew what you meant, no problem. Crystal Star is the only Star Wars book I wrote. I got a lot of nice letters about it.

    Vonda

  15. What, making a living isn’t morally acceptable? Silly droogs.

    I tried the starving artist thing when I first moved to Seattle. The starving part really interfered with the artist part.

  16. Hiya Vonda – I met you back in seemingly-prehistoric times, must’ve been 1983? A sci-fi convention in or near Omaha Nebraska. I was a pudgy dull-witted boy in my early teens who nevertheless loved Entropy Effect, and I wanted your autograph, but happened to be carrying someone else’s Trek novel at the time… I asked you to sign it anyway. You were kind enough to not laugh, and gently explained that it’s not common practice to ask an author to sign someone else’s book, which is a lesson I remember to this day.
    Just came across this blog thanks to Metafilter and enjoyed reading your views from behind-the-typewriter, so to speak.

  17. Vonda, if it’s worth anything, I don’t think you’ve done your best work yet.

    Hell, if I turn around and say that something you write five years ago or twenty years ago was the best you’d ever done, I’d be telling you that you might as well be dead! I have a theory that writers always have their best work in front of them.

  18. Vonda,

    Thanks for the congrats and the offer for a link, but “Among the Clouds” isn’t available online. It’s in the trade paperback anthology The Sky’s the Limit, which was put out for the twentieth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (There ends my shameless plug!)

    I must chime in on tie-in snobbery. I’ve certainly encountered this, sometimes from people I considered close friends, but who clearly disrespect my accomplishments in that field. As if the regular fiction section only contains the highest literary art! They count a bad mainstream fiction book against the author, but a bad tie-in book is counted against the genre at large.

    To my way of thinking, writing a Trek novel is no different from writing, say, a historical novel of World War II. Both have all sorts of conventions that need to be followed, and established characters who need to be treated consistently with what has come before. In the end, a good story is a good story, that’s that.

  19. Hi Susan — Making a living is fine, they just wanted me to do it in a way that was morally acceptable to them. Writing tie-in novels wasn’t it.

    Ben — how nice of you to remember that convention. I remember it too, quite fondly. I’m sorry I couldn’t autograph the book! There’s information on getting a bookplate at the FAQ section of my website, and if you happen to check out the Basement Full of Books section be sure to go to the Blog Special page rather than the regular page.

    Nisaba — Gosh, I hope so. My most recent work, “Little Faces” (which lost the Nebula, but to Peter Beagle, so that’s OK), “A Modest Proposal for the Perfection of Nature,” and “Misprint” are all on my website in the fiction section.

    Scott — I popped a URL in for your book so people can check it out at Powell’s. You’re sure right that if somebody reads SF and doesn’t like it, they say, “I’ll never read another SF novel,” missing completely the breadth and depth of the field.

    — Vonda

  20. Oh wow, you’re the author of The Entropy Effect and The First Adventure? I loved both of those books!

    There’s nothing wrong with Star Trek books. Whether they’re really good, or really not, depends wholly on the skill of the person writing them.

  21. From what I understand, Revenge of the Jedi got its title changed because of another nerdy movie featuring revenge in the title that was due to come about around the same time. So there was a push chain: Revenge of the Nerds > Return of the Jedi > The Wrath of Khan.

    A far cry from the time back in the 60s when a certain comic-book publisher used “When Titans Clash” as the episode title in three different books almost simultaneously….

  22. Hi, Vonda. Up in the middle of the night, delighted to find you online. (You remember me when I was Anne Fahnestalk–never one to do anything like everyone else, I changed my name, dunno if you remember from Buz’s memorial.) I was just remembering when that all came out and you gave Sulu a first name…and managed to get him laid, too. Hey, at least you wrote legit tie-ins and got paid. Me, I went to writing fanfic–and not only that, the Fanfic That Dare Not Say Its Name, K/S slash. Which will never get published for pay, more’s the pity, because while there’s drek out there, there’s also some good stuff. (Including some, but not all, of mine. I really should re-write my early stuff. Hey, I used it to learn how to write.)

    Anyway, doing original character fic, too, now, so I’m not all socially irredeemable. Might even get published some day, who knows? (Though my K/S is in print in fanzines. Some of which even have standards besides homoerotica.)

    I liked your tie-ins. They were a bright spot in an otherwise dismal world of pro offerings of tie-ins. And I’m delighted you’re on the web. Stop by my site sometime if you like. I’ve been hanging around the web for over a decade now, mostly around Delphi Forums. And myspace. Facebook hates me for some reason. Something about one word names, I think.

    Feel free to email. Anyway, re the tie-in snobbery, try telling old friends you write slash and watch them sort of move away from you, sidling sideways, with that strange look on their faces as though you have something contagious and they might catch it….

  23. Thanks for the kind words. Have you tried using your name twice for Fb? That might be a sneaky way around the software’s desire for two names. I have a Fb page but oh my goodness is their user interface clunky. MySpace attracts people with the design sense of a monkey throwing poop through the bars at zoo visitors and since I value my eyesight I avoid it, though I believe I have a page there if only to subvert the raft of impostors pretending to be other people.

    Good luck with the fiction, whether you choose to write commercial fiction or fiction for your own use and pleasure.

    Best,

    Vonda

  24. I’m so glad I stumbled on this page. When I was in 7th back in the 80’s, my Language Arts teacher asked us to list our favorite authors. I listed Stephen King, Ursula Le Guinn, and Vonda McIntyre. That’s how much I loved TREK novels and Entropy Effect in particular. And, Enterprise captured the characters’ essense like no other novel I ever read. I actually re-read Enterprise a couple of years ago and it held up pretty well (something I cannot say about many other books I’ve tried to re-read as an adult).

    All I can say is Thank You.

  25. Hi Vonda

    Jutst stumbled across this site. I too enjoyed your Star Trek novels so much. But I’d just like to say years ago, I read your short story Of Mist and Grass and Sand in a short story collection and then subsequently read your expansion on that, Dreamsnake and really loved both. I don’t think my late mother ever got around to reading the book but she certainly also enjoyed the short story.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk Wickenden
    UK

  26. Carlos, thanks for the kind words. Sorry to have over looked your comment till now.

    Dirk, thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed Dreamsnake and I appreciate your letting me know what you thought about it; and I’m glad your mom liked “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand.”

    Dreamsnake is being serialized every Sunday over at the main BVC website.

    Best,

    Vonda

  27. I love The Entropy Effect! Just re-read it, and arrived at this site due to Googling Vonda MacIntyre. In Entropy, I love the characters you invented. In the plot, I was struck by how, at the end, knowledge from the now-shut-down alternate reality seemed to leak into the ongoing reality. Suddenly, for example, Kirk realized things that he needed to do re Sulu and re Hunter.

  28. EllenJay — Thanks for the kind words. I was amused to write a story in which the end was “And then they woke up and it all wasn’t a dream.” (One of the top cliche SF story plots is “And then they woke up and it was all a dream.”)

    Entropy was a lot of fun to write.

    Best,

    Vonda

  29. “…and it wasn’t all a dream” Very good!

    This thread reminded me of a number of things. I loved the backstory on Janis Rand. It made perfect sence. I think I need to re-read that book too.

    I’ve always hoped to see more of the Security Dept characters in The Entropy Effect.

    After I re-read Entropy, wanting more, I bought a 2nd hand copy of the 1st volume of Starfarers, which I haven’t read before. I’m enjoying it very much. Re the US govt in this future, if it didn’t say “1989” right there on the legal page, I would think the book was written by someone who had experienced the Bush 43 administration.

  30. EllenJay — Yeah, it would have been fun to write some more about the security department, but it just didn’t happen.

    I’m going to put the STARFARERS series up on BVC pretty soon. You have to kind of think of it as a really long novel that I couldn’t afford to write all at once, so it came out in pieces. It was supposed to come out one book a year but the scheduling kept getting jerked around and I switched publishers in the middle, so there was no rhyme nor reason to the appearance of the four books.

    Maybe I’ll include the story of its genesis as “the best sf tv series never made.”

    I did impress myself a little bit with some of the speculation in STARFARERS that turned out to be pretty close to what happened; but if you pat yourself on the head too much for guessing right, you have to take your lumps about guessing wrong, and I’ve done plenty of that. But anyway SF is about speculation, not prediction.

    Best,

    Vonda

  31. (I don’t want to take up too much of your time; you don’t need to reply to this.)

    Four? There’s four?! That’s great. I’ll have to be sure to read all of them.

    Forgot to say, I LOVE the concept of the Artificial Stupid. That’s what I need: an AS to do my housework.

  32. EllenJay — Starfarers, Transition, Metaphase, Nautilus. You can see the covers at http://vondanmcintyre.com/ — they’re out of print, but if you click on the covers you might find them at Powell’s Bookstore. (Or they’ll email you when one comes in.)

    A friend of mine has a roomba, and Heinlein had an automatic vacuum cleaner in one of his novels in the 1950s, but I want a machine that will pick up Stephen Thomas’ towels and maybe even wash the dishes for me. And not get too inutterably bored doing it.

    Vonda

  33. Hi Vonda! How wonderful it is to have a modicum of ability in the area of author-reader relations to directly contact one another. One of the cooler results of the internet.

    I bought the Pocket novels as they came out after “The Motionless Picture”. The Entropy Effect and the Movie novels were, to me, some of the better ones if not the best of the lot. It was with great pleasure to read, not only the characters that you had personally created, but the wonderful subplots that were left on the cutting room floor. The Lewis Carol thread was so well done. You gave Sulu his first name! Enterprise was a WONDERFUL vision of Star Trek’s early days and some of it’s threads worked into “The Voyage Home” novelisation were a joy to read. And then…

    And then, suddenly this J.M. Dillard began to write the rest of the novelisations. Well…okay, Dillard gets the job done well enough and some of the other pieces by Dillard are rather nice, but I felt disenfranchised by the idea that the McIntyre “way” was to be abruptly ended and that the little plot devices that gave the other novelisations a kind of cohesive flavour were to be abruptly ended.

    So I guess this is a long winded way of asking you what the story was behind not doing any of the movies past the fourth one.

    And to say thanks for writing the ones you did!

    Live long and all the rest,

    -Kris Nelson

  34. Dear Kris,

    It’s rather a complicated story but what it came down to was, it was time to do something else.

    I hear via my little wilted tendril of the grapevine that it became much harder to write Star Trek novels as time went on. Apparently I had a pretty easy time of it in terms of adding subplots and making stuff up.

    It’s hard to imagine turning a screenplay into a novel if you aren’t allowed to add stuff (as I heard, about fifteenth hand, so take that for what it’s worth, writers weren’t anymore) — movies are inherently shorter than novels.

    Thanks for the kind words. It was fun while it lasted.

    If you liked the Star Trek stuff, you might like some of my original work. Three of my novels are up and running at Book View Cafe (last chapter of Superluminal will be up next week), and the Starfarers series begins on 20 December.

    Best,

    Vonda

  35. I *love* reading about flavours like this, the stories behind beloved stories.

    By the way, why do you prefer Demon Warrior as a title for ST2?

    And in Entropy Effect, is Ilya Nikolaievich’s name and description an homage to Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin in Man from U.N.C.L.E.?

  36. Hi:

    Brace yourself. The words I’m sure you dread are coming in the very next sentence. I have a great idea for a Star Trek novel. Really, I do. But I have one question. If the idea you have for a Star Trek novel needs to reference an event in someone else’s, is that OK, or are lawsuits and lawyers involved.

    Dan

  37. Hi, Dan!

    The situation you’re talking about is usually okay, as long as you can also explain the event from the other novel well enough so your reader doesn’t actually have to have read the other novel. In other words, if the reader needs to have read the other book to understand =your= book, you’re in trouble. If not, and you’re just making a passing reference, you’re likely to be okay.

    That said, the last I knew, Pocket Books (the publisher for Star Trek novels) only accepts Trek proposals from authors who have agents. They don’t read proposals or manuscripts from unagented authors. This is because Trek is so wildly popular, they’d be buried in Trek submissions within hours if they openly accepted them.

    If you have a really cool idea for a Trek book, you’ll have to get an agent first. I don’t know if any agents read Trek proposals from new authors, but you can check the Association of Author Representatives web site to find out. They have a search function that lets you find out which agents represent what kind of fiction. Good luck!

    –Steven