TrekBBS, November - December 2005:

Comments on Canon from Pocket Books and Viacom Consumer Products Personnel

Part   I:  Oct. 2005  (assorted Trek authors)
Part  II:  Nov. 2005 (Marco Palmieri, assorted Trek authors)
Part III:  Dec. 2005 (Paula Block, John Ordover, assorted Trek authors)


One November day I was searching for additional information on Richard Arnold to see if there was any more information to be found online regarding his opinion on canon.   In doing so I bumped into a thread on TrekBBS featuring a month-old message by poster "Therin of Andor" claiming that, per Richard Arnold, the StarTrek.com site was a mere licensee like Pocket Books and as such contained no direct information about the Star Trek canon policy (which would've meant that the various canon-related FAQ answers were as unimportant as Pocket Books claims about canon).

I briefly skimmed the earlier portions of the thread (largely from 2004 and early 2005), unfortunately missing out on poster "CaptainHawk1" appearing at the bottom of the first page and developing a few arguments before I did.  Below is the conversation he took part in from October 2005:

"Captain-
Hawk1"
The only reason that I tend to disagree with the opinion of what is canon and what isn't is because Paramount itself (Star Trek.com) contradicts the statements here and the ones made by Steve Roby. I'm frankly too tired to look it up for the thousandth time in the last 5 years but I'll tell you what it says (...and implies) and you can go look it up.

To simplify: Canon is anything that was on TV or in the movies excluding the Animated Series (however there are exceptions to that as elements of TAS are considered canon). Novels are generally not considered canon. The only exceptions to this rule are Mosaic and Pathways written by VOY co-creator Jeri Taylor that provide the back-stories for Janeway and her crew. Reference materials (TNG:Tech Manual, Trek Encyclopedia, etc.) are considered canon if they were written by Star Trek production personnel. Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise and the Trek tech manual (Franz Joseph?) would not be considered canon as they were not written by Trek staff.

Now, these are not my words, these are Paramount's words that can be easily found here with a little work. I've always found these guidelines to be satisfactory, but people have been arguing with me for years about them. As far as Jeri Taylor's writings contradicting another Trek staffer's writings, this happens all the time on screen. Why should the fact that something that was written (in the only 2 novels that Paramount considers canon) happens to contradict other canon Trek screenwriting negate it's validity? Again, I'm not pulling this out of thin air, it's officially stated as such on Paramount's website.

By the same token, what is more valid as far as canon goes: what was in an original theatrical release or what was added/or removed from the Director's Cut/Special Edition DVD?

So what is it? What Paramount states on its official website or what everyone thinks canon is? Like I said, I lean toward Paramount's opinon and no one has ever been able to say anything to contradict this and make me change my mind. If there is a valid argument for against what Paramount has said about the definition of Trek canon is I'm more than willing to be open minded to it.

The only other problem I see is that Trek may be done from TV forever unless some major changes occur. Isn't it likely that the only official vehicle for new Trek stories will someday be the novels and future novels may one day indeed be considered canon?
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
The only reason that I tend to disagree with the opinion of what is canon and what isn't is because Paramount itself (Star Trek.com) contradicts the statements here and the ones made by Steve Roby.




StarTrek.com is not "Paramount itself." It is, like the Pocket novels, a licensed tie-in to Star Trek.

Quote:

Canon is anything that was on TV or in the movies excluding the Animated Series (however there are exceptions to that as elements of TAS are considered canon). Novels are generally not considered canon. The only exceptions to this rule are Mosaic and Pathways written by VOY co-creator Jeri Taylor that provide the back-stories for Janeway and her crew.




That is a claim made on ST.com, but since ST.com is not Paramount, it does not actually represent official Paramount policy. It also conflicts with the simple facts, because a number of things in Pathways were contradicted by later episodes of VGR.

Quote:

Reference materials (TNG:Tech Manual, Trek Encyclopedia, etc.) are considered canon if they were written by Star Trek production personnel.




Completely and utterly untrue. The authors of those works refute that in their own introductions. They say outright that they're merely offering one possible interpretation and do not intend to inhibit anyone's creativity in the process. Indeed, the shows themselves sometimes contradicted conjectural material in the Tech Manual, Chronology and so forth. Those works -- and even the official, behind-the-scenes writers' bibles -- were only meant as supplements to the shows, as possible sources of inspiration for future writers. They were not meant to restrict or limit future writers, so all they did was make suggestions which writers for the shows were free to use or ignore as they wished.

Therefore, nothing offscreen is canon. Even the most authoritative offscreen references are subject to onscreen contradiction, because they merely support the show, not the other way around. The show, the canon, is the work itself; everything else (including Startrek.com, by the way) merely supports or derives from it. It would be ridiculous for a TV show watched by tens of millions to be restricted by things from a book read by mere hundreds of thousands, let alone by an internal, behind-the-scenes reference read by mere hundreds. I don't get why that's so hard to understand.

Quote:

By the same token, what is more valid as far as canon goes: what was in an original theatrical release or what was added/or removed from the Director's Cut/Special Edition DVD?




Hard to say, but it's not our call. By definition, the only people who have a right -- or a need, for that matter -- to decide what is canonical are the people writing new Trek episodes or movies. Canon isn't meant to be binding on the fans; it's a guideline for the makers of the shows. So asking other fans for opinions on what constitutes canon is a pointless exercise, because our opinions, by definition, don't apply to that particular question.

Indeed, since nobody's currently making new Trek, the whole question of canon has become pretty much a non-issue.

As for those of us who write tie-in fiction, our mandate is to remain consistent with onscreen canon, but that doesn't forbid us from incorporating compatible material from other sources, including variant cuts of movies, or even deleted scenes if we wish (for instance, the recent TNG novels built on the deleted NEM reference to Beverly Crusher rejoining Starfleet Medical, while ignoring its deleted character of Commander Madden).

In Ex Machina, I chose to treat the Director's Edition as the "true" story, since it represents the director's intended version of the film, the one he would've released to theaters originally if he'd had more time to finish it. But that's got nothing to do with canon. The people who make the shows define canon, and if they wanted to go by the theatrical or ABC version of TMP instead of the DE, that would determine canon. What I decided only determined the contents of my book.

Quote:

The only other problem I see is that Trek may be done from TV forever unless some major changes occur. Isn't it likely that the only official vehicle for new Trek stories will someday be the novels and future novels may one day indeed be considered canon?




The only way the novels would be considered canon is if the makers of some future Trek series decided to acknowledge them. Because, for the three millionth time, canon simply means what the makers of the actual show itself choose to be bound by. It's only relevant to them. And as long as nobody's making new onscreen Trek, canon is simply a non-issue.

 

Terri Osborne
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
The only relevant definition of "canon" is what the writers of the TV series and movies are obliged not to contradict. For the moment, that constitutes TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT and the movies. Whether or not that changes is for the future to decide.

Anything else falls into the realms of "personal continuity," which is purely and wholly subjective.
"Captain-
Hawk1"

Quote:

Posted by Christopher:
Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
The only reason that I tend to disagree with the opinion of what is canon and what isn't is because Paramount itself (Star Trek.com) contradicts the statements here and the ones made by Steve Roby.




StarTrek.com is not "Paramount itself." It is, like the Pocket novels, a licensed tie-in to Star Trek.

Quote:

Canon is anything that was on TV or in the movies excluding the Animated Series (however there are exceptions to that as elements of TAS are considered canon). Novels are generally not considered canon. The only exceptions to this rule are Mosaic and Pathways written by VOY co-creator Jeri Taylor that provide the back-stories for Janeway and her crew.




That is a claim made on ST.com, but since ST.com is not Paramount, it does not actually represent official Paramount policy. It also conflicts with the simple facts, because a number of things in Pathways were contradicted by later episodes of VGR.

Quote:

Reference materials (TNG:Tech Manual, Trek Encyclopedia, etc.) are considered canon if they were written by Star Trek production personnel.


With all due respect, where are you coming up with your information? Check the terms of use page as it clearly states the Star Trek.com is operated by Pramount Digital Entertainment, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures Corporation. The last time I checked Pocket Books was not an affiliate of Paramount, simply a licensee. I.e., Paramount runs that site and is responsible for its content including the statemnets made about what is canon and what is not.

Quote:

Completely and utterly untrue. The authors of those works refute that in their own introductions. They say outright that they're merely offering one possible interpretation and do not intend to inhibit anyone's creativity in the process. Indeed, the shows themselves sometimes contradicted conjectural material in the Tech Manual, Chronology and so forth. Those works -- and even the official, behind-the-scenes writers' bibles -- were only meant as supplements to the shows, as possible sources of inspiration for future writers. They were not meant to restrict or limit future writers, so all they did was make suggestions which writers for the shows were free to use or ignore as they wished.

Therefore, nothing offscreen is canon. Even the most authoritative offscreen references are subject to onscreen contradiction, because they merely support the show, not the other way around. The show, the canon, is the work itself; everything else (including Startrek.com, by the way) merely supports or derives from it. It would be ridiculous for a TV show watched by tens of millions to be restricted by things from a book read by mere hundreds of thousands, let alone by an internal, behind-the-scenes reference read by mere hundreds. I don't get why that's so hard to understand.


Well, so what? Again, the way I look at it, if Paramount (see:previous paragraph) says it's canon, it really doesn't matter what Rick Sternbach or Mike Okuda think about even their own work. I'm well aware that many things in those reference materials have been contradicted by what's been on screen, and I don't suggest that any writer be strictly tied to using said reference materials as their unviolable source in their writing or creativity process. That being said, canon is changed all of the time in Trek and contradicted from episode to episode. My point is that the standard for canon that keeps being touted is first of all not the same as Paramount's own standard (see: previous paragraph) and second the argument against reference materials doesn't stand on its own because it is being ignored that the TV shows and movies contradict themselves, not just the reference materials. Just read the Nitpicker's Guides and you'll see the glaring sontradictions in onscreen Trek. It's not hard to understand, as you put it, and I don't suggest that anyone be strictly tied to anything published about Trek, even by production staff, but nonetheless, Paramount has made it official that they consider reference materials by Trek staff official. That doesn't mean it won't change or be contradicted.

Quote:

By definition, the only people who have a right -- or a need, for that matter -- to decide what is canonical are the people writing new Trek episodes or movies.


This I really take issue with. It is not the right of the writers to decide what canon in Trek is. It is at Paramount's (the owner of the property) sole discretion to decide what canon is and what can be changed. I've read on numerous occasions where writers would not stick to canon and the producers would shoot them down and make them change what they wrote to accomodate established Trek canon.
Quote:

Canon isn't meant to be binding on the fans; it's a guideline for the makers of the shows. So asking other fans for opinions on what constitutes canon is a pointless exercise, because our opinions, by definition, don't apply to that particular question.


This I totally agree with. Canon, as far as Trek is concerned, is a guide. We are not talking about the Catholic Church's definition of canon. We are talking about Star Trek's canon, which has a tendency to be changed and contradicted all of the time on accident or simply because the creative process dictated it. This is not the same as what is considered canon by the Cathollic Church by any stretch of the imagination. Star Trek's canon is fluid and flexible and I believe meant to change every now and then. Again, I wouldn't go to fans to determine what is canon, I go to the source and everything that I keep digging up confirms what I said before about Star Trek.com.
Quote:

As for those of us who write tie-in fiction, our mandate is to remain consistent with onscreen canon, but that doesn't forbid us from incorporating compatible material from other sources, including variant cuts of movies, or even deleted scenes if we wish


Of course not, and for the record the writers of Star Trek novels have done an excellent job over the past few years not only sticking to canon, but also walking the fine line as to not put in any material that may be refuted in future onscreen Trek. There have been many novels over the past few years that are so good and so no-contradictory that I've always thought they should be considered canon, but obviously, because they are novels, they won't be and I accept that.

Quote:

In Ex Machina, I chose to treat the Director's Edition as the "true" story, since it represents the director's intended version of the film, the one he would've released to theaters originally if he'd had more time to finish it. But that's got nothing to do with canon. The people who make the shows define canon, and if they wanted to go by the theatrical or ABC version of TMP instead of the DE, that would determine canon. What I decided only determined the contents of my book.


First, I haven't read that book . Second, the only point I was trying to bring up about SE/DC's of films is that even Paramount cotradicts their own rules on canon and has never made a statement regarding SE/DC's canon and have left it vague and ambiguous for the rest of us.
Quote:

The only way the novels would be considered canon is if the makers of some future Trek series decided to acknowledge them. Because, for the three millionth time, canon simply means what the makers of the actual show itself choose to be bound by. It's only relevant to them. And as long as nobody's making new onscreen Trek, canon is simply a non-issue.


...And as we've seen time and time again, they don't always bind themselves to anything. I've never had a problem with not considering novels as canon as the problem is that there is just way too much on screen Trek and there is no way that the novels are going to be able to keep up with all of the continuity.
Steve Roby As for startrek.com being the official arbiter: you say yourself it's created by Paramount Digital Entertainment, right? Well, Paramount Digital Entertainment, like Pocket, is part of the Viacom empire, but it is not the part of that corporate entity that produced the Star Trek movies and TV series.
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
With all due respect, where are you coming up with your information? Check the terms of use page as it clearly states the Star Trek.com is operated by Pramount Digital Entertainment, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures Corporation. The last time I checked Pocket Books was not an affiliate of Paramount, simply a licensee. I.e., Paramount runs that site and is responsible for its content including the statemnets made about what is canon and what is not.




Yes, operated by an affiliate of Paramount. That doesn't mean that it's personally assembled by the people actually making the show. It's just produced by some folks hired by the corporation that also hired them. The website is not some statement of official doctrine or law. It's just a piece of entertainment, put together by some guys hired to put together an entertaining website.

(For that matter, Pocket Books and Paramount are both owned by Viacom, so they are technically affiliated.)

Quote:

Well, so what? Again, the way I look at it, if Paramount (see:previous paragraph) says it's canon, it really doesn't matter what Rick Sternbach or Mike Okuda think about even their own work.




It doesn't matter what some employees at Paramount Digital thought either, because canon is defined by those actually making the show. The statement on ST.com about Jeri Taylor's novels being canon was true when it was written, because at the time, Jeri Taylor was still the show-runner on Voyager and chose to treat her books as authoritative sources. Once she left the show, her successor did not feel beholden to the conjectures she made in her books, therefore they were no longer considered part of the canon. The statement on the website is nearly a decade out of date. It may have been true at the time, but it isn't any longer.

Quote:

and second the argument against reference materials doesn't stand on its own because it is being ignored that the TV shows and movies contradict themselves, not just the reference materials.




Exactly. Which is why it's such a waste of effort to make a big deal about what is or isn't "canon" in the first place. It's just not that important. It isn't binding on the fans, and as you say, it isn't even absolutely binding on the people who made the shows. So why does it even matter?

Quote:

...I don't suggest that anyone be strictly tied to anything published about Trek, even by production staff, but nonetheless, Paramount has made it official that they consider reference materials by Trek staff official. That doesn't mean it won't change or be contradicted.




Yes, those materials are official. But "official" is not "canonical." As you say yourself, the shows were free to contradict the material in those official sources -- thereby proving that being official does not make something part of canon. What is meant by saying that those materials are official is partly just that Paramount approved them, and partly that tie-in works are expected to abide by their conjectures until and unless they are contradicted by onscreen canon. Official is a tier above unofficial, to be sure, but neither is on a par with canon.

Quote:

This I really take issue with. It is not the right of the writers to decide what canon in Trek is. It is at Paramount's (the owner of the property) sole discretion to decide what canon is and what can be changed.




That is the strangest thing I've heard all day. Canon means the actual content of the shows. And of course it's the writers who decide what's in the show. That's their job. The "owner of the property," as you put it, hired them for the specific purpose of creating the show's universe and deciding what happens within it. Yes, Paramount approved their decisions, and did have the discretion to reject or change those decisions. But it hired them specifically to make those decisions.

Besides, "Paramount" is not a single entity. It's a corporation made up of individual human beings, executives who make the decisions that constitute "Paramount policy." When you talk about "Paramount," you're talking about those individual people who made the decisions. And in the case of Star Trek, the relevant individual embodying "Paramount" was a fellow named Rick Berman. He was a Paramount executive whose job it was to oversee ST, to make the decisions about its creative direction, and to hire the people who wrote it.

Quote:

I've read on numerous occasions where writers would not stick to canon and the producers would shoot them down and make them change what they wrote to accomodate established Trek canon.




The producers were writers. The writer/producers on the show's regular staff collaborated with each other and with freelance authors to make sure that their scripts remained consistent with the canon that the staff defined.
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
I can't take issue with any of that. The reality is...there i no canon...period. It gets changed and convoluted too many times even on TV and film.




No. The reality is that the canon is, simply and literally, the actual content of filmed and televised Star Trek. That canon is not absolutely consistent; no canon is (Biblical canon least of all). But it is what defines the "reality" of the series' universe.

The problem is that people insist on misdefining "canon" to mean any number of other things, such as "What I want to be real Trek" or "That which is absolutely consistent and unquestionable" or "That which Paramount commands us to obey." You're right that none of those concepts have real meaning or functionality here, but none of those concepts equates with canon. There is a canon; the canon is, plain and simple, the show itself. The original work, as opposed to the secondary works derived from or interpreting it. That is what the word "canon" actually means.

Quote:

I think it's an issue of common sense. You can't consider novels part of the official Universe period. But, it would seem to meake sense to me to consider the reference materials written bt Trek staff official even if they do get contradicted in the fuure.




Saying that an individual considers something official is as paradoxical as saying that an individual considers something canonical. "Official" means that it has the cachet of an office, of the company or agency that has authority over the matter. If something is official, it's because Paramount says it's official, not because you or I think it should be.

And as I said, the staff-written reference materials are considered official by Paramount, in that tie-in creators are instructed to conform to their conjectures where not overtly contradicted by canon. But "official" is a far cry from "canonical," and the two don't have that much to do with each other.

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The truth is that you, Pocketbooks and the fans really have no more say in what is canon and what isn't than PDE.




And I'm not deciding what is canon, I'm simply explaining the definition of the word. Canon literally means the core text, the essential work or body of work, exclusive of anything external or supplementary to that essential body. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of the literal dictionary definition of the word "canon" in general terms. The decision as to what actually constitutes the core text lies in the hands of the people responsible for creating that text, so they can decide what the canon contains; but what the word "canon" means in basic terms is a matter of established definition, not individual opinion.

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WHo decided this at PDE and why has been allowed to be up there for 5 years if its not accurate? After all they do represent Star Trek and Paramount.




"Represent?" That's a bit pretentious. It's an entertainment site tying into a show. It's meant to be entertaining, not to stand for some deep principle or embody the core values of the corporation or something. It's just supply trying to meet demand. It's a business venture.

And let's face it, only a tiny minority of fans even cares to debate what is or isn't canon. The issue would only come up in the minds of fans who are aware of supplemental/tie-in materials beyond the show and are curious to know how it relates to the show itself. But according to estimates posted here by former Pocket editor John Ordover, such tie-ins are generally read by only two percent of a show's viewing audience. So probably over 95 percent of Trek viewers have no particular interest in the question of canon, and a very large percentage of those have probably never even heard the word applied in this context.

So it's supply and demand. Most Trek viewers couldn't care less about the Great Canon Debate, so ensuring accurate information about it is not going to be at the tippy-tip-top of Startrek.com's priority list. It's a big site; they've got a lot of other stuff to do.
"Captain-
Hawk1"
To respond to all 3 of you. Very simply, an official Paramount site, Star Tek.com, defines what is considered canon in the Star Trek Universe. Everyone has continued to question the validity of that source with nothing to back up their assertions other than their own understanding of what 'canon' is. And this argument about the literal definition of 'canon' is moot because that is not how the owner of the property defines 'canon.' Regardless of the printed materials, they don't even consider TAS canon! What makes TAS different than the other on screen Trek? You can't dispute these facts by conjecture and off-handed comments made by Trek writers.

Show me an official Pramount press release that disputes what an affiliate of Paramount says on the property's official website, then I'll be glad to ignore st.com.

Regardless of this, may I ask a question? Why all of the 'pretentious' vitriol. What, I can't have an opinion based on the facts I see?

This isn't life and death sh*t, here. Why does everyone seem so angry?

Chill out... it's only Star Trek.
Keith R.A. DeCandido
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
^ Because it's not a matter of opinion, and it's not in any way, shape, or form relevant to anything unless you're actually writing something in the Trek universe, and because somebody shows up every three-and-a-half seconds like clockwork and drags this discussion out all over again, and those of us who've been on the board for more than three-and-a-half seconds are tired of repeating ourselves for the benefit of people who can't be bothered to come up with new topics for discussion that actually matter, preferring to beat a very very very very dead horse.
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
To respond to all 3 of you. Very simply, an official Paramount site, Star Tek.com, defines what is considered canon in the Star Trek Universe.




Very simply, no it doesn't. The errors in this assumption have been clearly explained to you. One outdated document on an entertainment site put together by some people hired by Paramount to help promote one of its television shows does not represent a statement with the weight of law. Startrek.com is no more and no less "official" than any licensed magazine, novel, comic book, action figure or Christmas tree ornament. It's a cross-promotion, not a declaration of inviolable principle.

Quote:

Everyone has continued to question the validity of that source with nothing to back up their assertions other than their own understanding of what 'canon' is.




Your own "assertions" are based on nothing more than your own understanding of what Startrek.com is and what "official" is. Why are you so quick to assume that your understandings are unquestionably true while the understandings of actual professionals working in the field are false and deluded?

The people telling you this aren't just writers like me, they're editors like KRAD and Marco. These are people who work with Paramount Licensing on a daily basis. Questions of canon and officialness and the relation of the show to its tie-ins are things they need to understand and deal with as part of their profession. To you, they're just abstract questions for debate. So how arrogant is it for you to assume that you have more insight into the subject than they do??

Quote:

And this argument about the literal definition of 'canon' is moot because that is not how the owner of the property defines 'canon.' Regardless of the printed materials, they don't even consider TAS canon! What makes TAS different than the other on screen Trek? You can't dispute these facts by conjecture and off-handed comments made by Trek writers.




Again, you're the one making conjectures and guesses. You only have an outsider's knowledge of these matters, yet you're rejecting the insights of people who deal with them far more directly. Does that make any sense?

And again, you've got to stop thinking in terms of "Paramount" and "they" as though the corporation were some reified entity existing independently of any human beings and issuing fiats on its own. Paramount is a business run by individual people, and those people within the corporation who have responsibility for Star Trek have formed varying opinions over the years about what they would regard as canon. Gene Roddenberry decided that he did not want TAS to be considered canon, so that became the policy. Rick Berman did not choose to change it, so it remained. "Paramount" did not decide TAS was not canon. "They" did not decide that. Gene Roddenberry decided that, and his successors did not overrule it.

Quote:

This isn't life and death sh*t, here. Why does everyone seem so angry?




Because we are just so sick of the wealth of myths and misconceptions and petty disputes that arise over the issue of "canon." We keep trying to explain how simple it is, and how pointless it is to argue over, but people keep dredging up the same old myths and making this simple thing far more complicated and contentious than it has to be. And that's frustrating. Especially when someone who is so clearly burdened by myths and misconceptions is arrogantly assuming he understands the matter better than the professionals.

 

"Therin of Andor"
Quote:

Posted by CaptainHawk1:
Show me an official Pramount press release that disputes what an affiliate of Paramount says on the property's official website, then I'll be glad to ignore st.com.




Since Richard Arnold supposedly wrote the infamous "What is canon?" memo, on "Star Trek Office" letterhead, on Gene Roddenberry's behalf in 1989, he is a good source of the status of st.com. He has stated in several issues of "Star Trek Communicator" - and elsewhere - over the years that st.com is a ST licensee, just like other ST tie-in licensees, such as Pocket Books and (when they had contracts, DC Comics, Marvel, Malibu Graphics, WildStorm, FASA, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher and Interplay). The word of st.com is not gospel, nor indeed, canon.

Of course, all the information on st.com is correct at time of uploading. All licensed ST tie-in material is vetted twice by Viacom Licensing, at time of proposal and again at pre-publication. Noone at Viacom goes back through old, already-approved and uploaded web pages and corrects them when circumstances change, just as noone orders Pocket Books to rewrite all novels made redundant by events in ENT episodes. So if the website still says that "Mosaic" is canonical, then they are referring to the fact that Jeri Taylor was still the VOY boss at the time "Mosaic" was current. And the "bible" Taylor used for Janeway on VOY was used and expanded for "Mosaic". When Taylor left VOY and started working on "Pathways", she told the writing staff that information about Janeway in "Mosaic", and the rest of the crew in "Pathways", was her gift to them, but they could ignore as they saw fit. And, eventually, they did.

I can't show you a copy of the 1989 memo, but it was retyped verbatim by ST fans and angry ex-Pocket authors on the old Usenet in 1989 and throughout 1990. I saw it there. Several times Richard Arnold also posted comments explaining points in the memo, such as TAS no longer being binding on new scripts and then that Roddenberry had decreed parts of ST V to be "apocryphal".

The thrust of the memo is also quoted, in part, in issue #1, Series II, of DC Comics' post-ST V comic, where it explains that TAS "no longer crosses over" to the TOS movies - and thus Arex and M'Ress would not be appearing in Series II after all (even though a great b/w set of panels featuring M'Ress appeared in comic review journals previewing issue #1).

And I have to say, I'm incredibly impressed by the CaptainHawk fellow.   He was clear, concise, and his points were very on-target, while the Trek authors were enraged and silly, making retorts that didn't answer the point.   This pattern continues below.

That last message above is the one I saw on the second page of the thread.  In November, I replied to it, and thus began the conversation below:

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Therin of Andor:
Since Richard Arnold supposedly wrote the infamous "What is canon?" memo, on "Star Trek Office" letterhead, on Gene Roddenberry's behalf in 1989, he is a good source of the status of st.com.




Fair enough, but given that he hasn't been around Paramount since circa 1992 his opinion is a little dated.

Quote:

He has stated in several issues of "Star Trek Communicator" - and elsewhere - over the years that st.com is a ST licensee, just like other ST tie-in licensees, such as Pocket Books




So the claim here is that StarTrek.com, which is maintained by Paramount Digital Entertainment (or whatever it will be after the coming Viacom split), is in fact just a licensed product (much like an AMT model) that had to get permission from Viacom Consumer Products to make StarTrek.com.

Is there any evidence for this claim? I just find it odd, given that even Paramount.com is maintained by Paramount Digital Entertainment. It seems logical that PDE wouldn't be a licensee in the sense you're going for when making the official websites . . . just the basement division wherein the webmasters are kept much as one would keep a Neanderthal in a cave.

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The word of st.com is not gospel, nor indeed, canon.




Oh, of course it isn't canon. That's one of the amusing things about canon policy debates . . . the canon policy is outside the contents of the canon.

Quote:

Of course, all the information on st.com is correct at time of uploading.




Well, the page detailing the canonicity of Mosaic and Pathways has existed since circa November 2000. It was moved in the great StarTrek.com reorganization of 2003, and still has a July 2003 date. However, sometime between June 2004 and October 2004 the page was updated and rendered more specific via the use of the word "only".

Quote:

Noone at Viacom goes back through old, already-approved and uploaded web pages and corrects them when circumstances change




Given that the page has been updated and maintained, I see no reason to assume it should be disregarded as old.

Quote:

So if the website still says that "Mosaic" is canonical, then they are referring to the fact that Jeri Taylor was still the VOY boss at the time "Mosaic" was current. And the "bible" Taylor used for Janeway on VOY was used and expanded for "Mosaic".




Jeri Taylor left Voyager in 1998 with the end of the fourth season. The StarTrek.com page . . . according to my sources . . . first appears in November 2000, or the middle of the final season.

Quote:

When Taylor left VOY and started working on "Pathways", she told the writing staff that information about Janeway in "Mosaic", and the rest of the crew in "Pathways", was her gift to them, but they could ignore as they saw fit.




Source for that statement?

Quote:

And, eventually, they did.




Given the internal continuity of Voyager, I wouldn't call that proof of much.

Quote:

I can't show you a copy of the 1989 memo, but it was retyped verbatim by ST fans and angry ex-Pocket authors on the old Usenet in 1989 and throughout 1990. I saw it there.




I can't find it in Google's Usenet archive. Remember anything more? Key phrases, funny responses?

All I have is the text of the Tim Lynch interview from 1991 (snippets available here), which was the first text I'd found of Richard Arnold ever.

Quote:

The thrust of the memo is also quoted, in part, in issue #1, Series II, of DC Comics' post-ST V comic, where it explains that TAS "no longer crosses over" to the TOS movies




How much was there? Just wondering if I need to be hunting on eBay.

Sorry if I'm being a pest and peppering you with questions, but if my canon page is incomplete or in error I certainly need to know about it. Thanks!

 

Dayton Ward The editors at Pocket repeatedly state that none of the books are canon. Even if Mosaic and Pathways ever were considered canon by anyone on the Trek writing staff who wasn't named Jeri Taylor, they're certainly not considered that way now.

Call me crazy, but I'm tempted to believe the folks at Pocket, given their regular and ongoing contact with the good folks at Paramount, have some grasp of the subject.
(Note:  Several days pass between the message above and the message below.)
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net
Well, I'd been waiting for a meatier reply (no offense intended Dayton), but perhaps I can clarify my request more thoroughly in a reply to this:

Quote:

Posted by Dayton Ward:
The editors at Pocket repeatedly state that none of the books are canon.




Got quotes? I've got some second- and third-hand info much like has been reported in this thread and of course in your own reply, but nothing solid.

And if you'll forgive me, I prefer things as close to first-hand as possible for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I prefer any errors to be my own.

How could I report, for instance, that "Paramount Licensing" says or does such-and-such as Christopher reported toward the end of page one, when in fact no such organization exists? (Reference here) What he obviously meant to refer to was Viacom Consumer Products (ignoring, for the moment, that the coming split is going to muddle that up a bit).

Surely you can understand that I'd rather have a direct quote than mere insistence by other interested parties.

Quote:

Even if Mosaic and Pathways ever were considered canon by anyone on the Trek writing staff who wasn't named Jeri Taylor, they're certainly not considered that way now.




The above is an example of what I'm referring to. It's a statement with zero supporting facts offered, and indeed we have direct counterevidence thanks to the late-2004 update of StarTrek.com's notes regarding the canon policy. I've got the full references on my site, and I linked to these earlier.

In short, your contention is supported by the following:

1. I have hearsay from Ordover quoted on my site. He works for a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Paramount Communications and, save for a couple of story ideas he sold to DS9, isn't involved in the production of live-action Trek. In other words, it's hearsay from a guy who is of questionable rank in the matter anyway.
2. Less a positive claim and more of a counterclaim against positions such as those on my page, there's the suggestion that Paramount's webmasters at PDE are mere licensees, and hence anything on StarTrek.com is of a rank similar to that enjoyed by Ordover, leaving it as a he-said-she-said sort of thing. I addressed this concept in my last post on this thread.

So far as I know, that's it. If you'll forgive me for saying so, it ain't much.

Don't get me wrong . . . I fully agree that anyone can hold any opinion they like insofar as their personal canon is concerned. You want TAS? Cool. Cox's iffy Khan books? Swell. T-Negative? Go for it. FASA? Rock on.

However, if one is going to discuss the canon policy and make claims about its contents, then we've gone beyond the subjectivity of personal canon and into a discussion of objective fact. "This is what it is, this is what it contains," and so on. That's why I try to make my page as well-researched as possible.

So, do you have anything in particular to support your statements?

Thanks in advance.
Dayton Ward
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
Got quotes? I've got some second- and third-hand info much like has been reported in this thread and of course in your own reply, but nothing solid.




Editors post here regularly. Feel free to ask them. That's about as close to first-hand as you're liable to get.

Quote:


So, do you have anything in particular to support your statements?




Support my statements? Am I on trial here?

I don't particularly appreciate the implication that I must be pulling this information from the air or my ass. When it comes to matters pertaining to canon as it relates to the Star Trek fiction I write, I take my direction from the editorial staff at Pocket Books, who in turn takes their lead from the instructions provided to them via Paramount. That's really all the justification I require and as I've already stated, I deal with these people on a regular basis and am therefore inclined to believe they must know what the hell they're talking about.

 

Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
How could I report, for instance, that "Paramount Licensing" says or does such-and-such as Christopher reported toward the end of page one, when in fact no such organization exists?




Not under that name, perhaps. I'm referring to the people whose job it is to decide such things, including Paula Block and John van Citters -- people that I and all the other writers and editors cooperate with on every single Trek project we do.

Quote:

What he obviously meant to refer to was Viacom Consumer Products (ignoring, for the moment, that the coming split is going to muddle that up a bit).




This just goes to show that people who use the word "obviously" are usually wrong.

Quote:

However, if one is going to discuss the canon policy and make claims about its contents, then we've gone beyond the subjectivity of personal canon and into a discussion of objective fact.




Oh, come ON! Let it go, already. You treat this like it's a federal case, like "canon policy" is some all-important law that governs whole lives or something. You're obsessed with something that just has no meaning. We deal with these issues as part of our jobs -- to you it's merely an abstraction. Can't you see how overweeningly obnoxious it is for you to assume that you're a better judge of this issue than we are? If you were really interested in a fair evaluation of the evidence, you would've accepted what we told you months ago. {Editor's Note:  Evidently Christopher had me confused with CaptainHawk1, here, since I've never discussed canon with him and thus couldn't possibly have ignored something from months earlier.  This might explain some, but not all, of his jackassery.}  The fact that you insist on dragging out this ridiculous, pathetic argument and dismissing the insights of people far more qualified than you just goes to show that you couldn't care less about objective truth, only about legitimizing your own preconceptions. And it's really, really pathetic.

 

Kevin Killiany
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
DSG2k, let me see if I understand your position:
Because the professional authors who write the Star Trek novels and the editors who select and oversee the production of these novels and the publishing house which prints and distributes the novels and the company which holds the license for producing all things related to Star Trek are all in unanimous agreement that absolutely nothing except the live-action television episodes and movies are canon, they are mistaken because the facts disagree with opinions posted on your website?

Despite your opinon that Paula Block and her department do not exist, those of us who do this for a living have to deal with every line we write being vetted as consistent with canon -- though it is referred to as continuity in house. We know exactly what we are talking about. There are no grey areas. And it's more than a little annoying to have someone who has contructed their own fantasy of "how it ought to be" accuse us of dishonesty and ignorance when we share this information.


From the FAQ section of the Star Trek submission guidelines:
Quote:

11. Must my stories stay consistent with other published Star Trek fiction?
Yes and no. While we do strive for consistency among the different Star Trek stories we publish, we understand that not every aspiring author may be familiar with Star Trek fiction. If we like your proposal, we may work with you to make it consistent with other books. The most important thing is that any new Star Trek submission be consistent with the continuity of the various TV series and movies.




I understand you have the most frequently visited site concerning Star Trek canon. As a service to those who visit your site, you should either post the truth or clearly state that the site reflects only your opinion and is a work of fiction.
Marco Palmieri
(Trek Novels Editor, Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
Quote:

Posted by Dayton Ward:
The editors at Pocket repeatedly state that none of the books are canon.




Got quotes? I've got some second- and third-hand info much like has been reported in this thread and of course in your own reply, but nothing solid.




"None of the books are canon. No exceptions."
- Marco Palmieri, Senior Editor, Pocket Books

Been repeating that statement for years.

Believe it, or don't believe it--it doesn' t much matter. It's the reality in which I work.

 

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Dayton Ward:
Support my statements? Am I on trial here?




Of course not.

Quote:

I don't particularly appreciate the implication that I must be pulling this information from the air or my ass.




Then my apologies, for I was not attempting to suggest that the information must have been made up . . . simply that I had no source whatsoever other than your statement.

And, if you'll forgive me for admitting this, until you mentioned "fiction I write" it never dawned on me that you might be an author. Indeed . . . and I say this with more than a little embarrassment . . . I read "Foundations" about a year and a half ago. I've always been bad about remembering the names of author teams, though (except the Reeves-Stevens duo, but that's cheating).

I do hope you'll forgive my senility. This is why I try to have everything written down, which of course is the reason I have my site to begin with.

 

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Christopher:
You treat this like it's a federal case,




I treat it like a subject about which there are objective facts. Virtually any subject has some, and thus can be addressed with equal rigor.

You note later that the canon policy has no meaning. In many cases this is so, but not all. The very reason the concept gets brought up so often among fans is because their discussions frequently require an objective standard to start from . . . a basis of discussion.

An obvious and extreme example would be someone trying to say "well, in my fanfic I established such-and-such". And on the flip side, you get people dismissing anything from certain later Trek series. Somewhere between the two extremes, you might end up with folks wanting to discuss Federation history or technology or whatever and they're trying to decide between them whether such-and-such date from such-and-such non-TV non-movie source should be allowed. The canon policy gives an objective third-party (and important-party) guideline for how to deal with that.

This is especially true when you're actually comparing two separate universes. Unfortunately, my hobby (ST-v-SW.Net) requires this level of rigor, thanks in no small part to the 'loyal opposition' on the other side of the debate which attempts to rewrite the rules of acceptable evidence for both universes in order to aim for their preferred conclusions. I was actually amused when you said I was treating it like a federal case, since I recently compared all this policy debate rigor to the long and arduous discovery phase of a trial.

Quote:

like "canon policy" is some all-important law that governs whole lives or something.




That would be absurd. However, it does help guide discussions about Trek.

Quote:

We deal with these issues as part of our jobs -- to you it's merely an abstraction.




It's not an abstraction . . . my hobby entails a lot of work, and that work is guided by the canon policy. Knowing what that is is as important to my work as it is to yours. The fact that I work for free doesn't make that need less concrete.

(Insert any "you get what you pay for" jokes here.)

Quote:

Can't you see how overweeningly obnoxious it is for you to assume that you're a better judge of this issue than we are?




While I'm dismissing the rest of your baseless personal attacks, I did want to address the above. Any discussion of canon policy is going to need to deal with issues of rank. If you were to say one thing and Roddenberry had said another (for an extreme example), then a third party encountering both quotes (such as myself) would have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Your understanding of the canon policy is framed from (if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor) "a certain point of view". Pocket Books is a licensee, and thus receives lower consideration than statements from Paramount-proper.

The issue of consequence in this thread is whether the say from Pocket Books personnel like Ordover (who previously gave at-least-tacit confirmation of the Taylor novels' canonicity) and Marco Palmieri (whose more modern statements dismiss it) outweigh the seemingly-paramount statements on StarTrek.com. Because the statements are in direct contradiction, some selection must be made.

I could either do this according to my own whim ("I prefer to believe so-and-so"), or I can do it according to the same rigorously-enforced guidelines that I've used elsewhere.

You'll note that my original post to Therin requested further information regarding the suggestion that PDE and StarTrek.com were no different than Pocket and a book. I still have no answer on that, but that's not my point.

My point is simply this: the only thing I'm guilty of is consistency. If that's obnoxious to you, then I'm truly sorry.
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by KevinK:
DSG2k, let me see if I understand your position:
Because the professional authors who write the Star Trek novels and the editors who select and oversee the production of these novels and the publishing house which prints and distributes the novels and the company which holds the license for producing all things related to Star Trek are all in unanimous agreement that absolutely nothing except the live-action television episodes and movies are canon, they are mistaken because the facts disagree with opinions posted on your website?




If by "opinions posted on your website" you refer to "statements made by executive producers and production staff of the actual television shows as quoted on the site", you would be correct. They outrank everyone on your list above.

The question of the moment, as noted in my last post, is whether the StarTrek.com statement is of Paramount origin or is to be considered as coming from a licensee. After that, of course, there's the issue of how to consider a situation where an executive producer's statements are both confirmed and contradicted by different licensees.

Quote:

Despite your opinon that Paula Block and her department do not exist,




I was unaware that I held such an opinion. Thank you for advising me of the opinions I hold. I'm sure others find this service you provide as useful as I do.

Back to the matter at hand, yes it's true that Paula Block doesn't appear on my page. There's a very good reason: I have no quotes on the matter from her. I searched around quite a bit a year or two ago for some, but none were available. If you can point me in the direction of publicly available comments from her, then I'd naturally be quite appreciative.

Quote:

And it's more than a little annoying to have someone who has contructed their own fantasy of "how it ought to be" accuse us of dishonesty and ignorance




I have done no such thing, but I'd certainly have grounds to do so if you keep that sort of behavior up.

Happily, you do share some useful information in your post:

Quote:

From the FAQ section of the Star Trek submission guidelines:
Quote:

11. Must my stories stay consistent with other published Star Trek fiction?
Yes and no. While we do strive for consistency among the different Star Trek stories we publish, we understand that not every aspiring author may be familiar with Star Trek fiction. If we like your proposal, we may work with you to make it consistent with other books. The most important thing is that any new Star Trek submission be consistent with the continuity of the various TV series and movies.







You'll find this quoted on my site soon. Thanks!

Quote:

As a service to those who visit your site, you should either post the truth or clearly state that the site reflects only your opinion and is a work of fiction.




That's precisely what I'm doing . . . the former, mind you, and not the latter. I strive to be accurate, after all (and your quotation above furthered that goal).

Have a nice day.

{Editor's Note:  He later apologized for his post and the misunderstandings therein via private message.  Then, naturally, he pressed his attacks to ridiculous levels, eventually obsessing to the point that he attacks me elsewhere on the internet, and even joined StarDestroyer.Net for the purpose.}

Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
I treat it like a subject about which there are objective facts.




No, you don't, because you've been given the facts by people far more qualified to know them than you, and have rejected them out of hand because they didn't fit your unwavering preconceptions.

Quote:

You note later that the canon policy has no meaning. In many cases this is so, but not all. The very reason the concept gets brought up so often among fans is because their discussions frequently require an objective standard to start from . . . a basis of discussion.




And that's exactly the point. "Canon" is something that fans obsess on, but it's not something that the actual makers of the show care about that much. Canon is the show itself; everything else is supplemental. Paramount and the producers of the Trek shows and films are mainly concerned with the shows and films. The tie-in materials are read by at most two percent of the audience for the shows and films, so they really don't pay that much attention to them. So to them, canon is a non-issue, because everything they make is intrinsically canon, and everything else is incidental. That's why there isn't some big, important declaration of "canon policy" on their site or whatever -- because they don't need such a policy. It's just the way things naturally happen to work.

All these overblown fan debates and arguments are therefore just the fans manufacturing their own beliefs and problems and making all sorts of trouble for themselves. The people who make the shows know what canon is; the people who write and edit the tie-ins know what canon is. It's a very basic and simple issue: the shows are the canon, the original work; everything else is only a supplement. Whether anyone chooses to acknowledge a supplemental, tie-in work as "real" in their own mind is a matter of individual opinion, and no sort of formal "policy" has any bearing on it whatsoever. That's all you need to know.

Quote:

Somewhere between the two extremes, you might end up with folks wanting to discuss Federation history or technology or whatever and they're trying to decide between them whether such-and-such date from such-and-such non-TV non-movie source should be allowed. The canon policy gives an objective third-party (and important-party) guideline for how to deal with that.




It's ridiculous to keep insisting that there needs to be some official fiat defining matters of personal opinion and taste. There can be, should be, no "objective guideline," because it's a subjective question to begin with. If you want to believe something in a Trek novel is "real" in your personal version of Trek reality, go ahead! You have every right to, and nobody -- not another fan, not Paramount, not Pocket Books -- has any right to tell you otherwise. Just exercise your own judgment and imagination. It's as simple as that. If other fans disagree with you, that's fine, because you're each constructing your own personal, individual interpretation of the Trekverse. There is no absolute "right" or "wrong" answer, because it's only make-believe. It's all about imagination.

So stop treating it like some urgent debate where you have to prove your case or disprove others'. That's a pointless exercise, just arguing for the sake of argument. It's all made up anyway. Just read and enjoy the stories in your own way, and allow other people the freedom to do the same in their own different ways. There's nothing more futile than trying to prove "right" or "wrong" in a matter of personal opinion.


Quote:

Unfortunately, my hobby (ST-v-SW.Net) requires this level of rigor, thanks in no small part to the 'loyal opposition' on the other side of the debate which attempts to rewrite the rules of acceptable evidence for both universes in order to aim for their preferred conclusions. I was actually amused when you said I was treating it like a federal case, since I recently compared all this policy debate rigor to the long and arduous discovery phase of a trial.

Quote:

like "canon policy" is some all-important law that governs whole lives or something.




That would be absurd. However, it does help guide discussions about Trek.




But you need to understand, again: Paramount has no interest in facilitating that kind of hobby. It's not something that affects them, so there's no reason why they'd bother to define some kind of absolute "canon policy" in order to satisfy the needs of your hobby. Their priorities are different, and their approach to the issue of canon is fundamentally unlike yours.

So you're never going to find the kind of "canon policy" you want from any Paramount source. Like I said, they don't need to define a formal policy for something that's self-evident to them. And canon is not about telling the fans what to believe or what is "right," it's about telling the writers for the shows what to remain consistent with. So the only "canon policy" you could ever have in your terms is one you define yourself. It's your hobby, it's your imagination and approach to the Trekverse, so you have to make your own "policy" to suit your own needs. Because those needs are apparently very different from the needs of Paramount or Pocket Books.

 

Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
I'm trying to get across to DSG2k that there is no "policy" to begin with, that he's blowing the whole thing ridiculously out of proportion. If it's a hobby, he should just relax and have fun with it rather than asking that some higher authority hand down a gospel for him and others to follow.
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net
I came back to give the good Mr. Palmieri thanks for his quote and to let him know that I'd updated the page (and to note to Kevin Killiany that I'd gone ahead and uploaded some tangential quotes from Paula Block regarding novel continuity). From my perspective, as a fellow who has evidently asked the proverbial 'too many questions' in the course of trying to keep my canon page at its best, I figured this would be a good way of decreasing this peculiar hostility I've found.

Instead, I find more flames and character attacks from Christopher, here.

Chris, I gave you the chance to back down from your behavior by taking the time to explain to you why I asked the questions I asked. I didn't flame you back, question your intellectual integrity, tell you that your books are ill-considered poorly-written crap, or ask you if you'd ever done any research regarding whether authors who engage with their readers but are hostile jackasses sell better than those who engage nicely. (The third would've been entirely unfair since I've never read anything of yours, and though I'd been considering Ex Machina lately I'm not sure I want to bother now.)

The fact is that I have the utmost respect for what you fellows do, and there are a lot of great books and book-derived concepts that ought to be Star Trek canon. It is perhaps unfair that Jeri Taylor had the chance to canonize her own material. However, getting in a huff over the fact that you can't do the same isn't going to help you, and while flaming a guy for keeping track of the canon policy might make you feel better, that doesn't help you either.

Regarding my "basis of discussion" idea for why Trek fans discuss canon so much, you dismiss it as a fan obsession and say Paramount cares little, noting:

Quote:

The tie-in materials are read by at most two percent of the audience for the shows and films




And probably two percent of people actually get involved in in-depth discussions on Trek minutiae (historical, technical, et al.) online. Is it really so hard to believe that these two two-percent groups overlap significantly?

Quote:

That's why there isn't some big, important declaration of "canon policy" on their site or whatever -- because they don't need such a policy.




Ever see the StarTrek.com FAQ? I've pointed it out several times and linked to the relevant answers more than once in this thread. I'm amazed you missed it.

Sure, it's not a big policy in legalese designed to withstand attacks by the same sort of quote-warping fanatics that I have to deal with, but there are multiple frequently-asked-questions pointing to two multi-paragraph answers, including the "rule of thumb" answer. For most purposes that's all that would be needed.

Elsewhere on the site we have additional statements (even in the "Introduction to Star Trek" for newbies) and the concept is discussed in episode podcasts. The concept has even been discussed by the show writers here on TrekBBS.

Quote:

Quote:

Somewhere between the two extremes, you might end up with folks wanting to discuss Federation history or technology or whatever and they're trying to decide between them whether such-and-such date from such-and-such non-TV non-movie source should be allowed. The canon policy gives an objective third-party (and important-party) guideline for how to deal with that.




It's ridiculous to keep insisting that there needs to be some official fiat defining matters of personal opinion and taste. There can be, should be, no "objective guideline," because it's a subjective question to begin with. If you want to believe something in a Trek novel is "real" in your personal version of Trek reality, go ahead! You have every right to, and nobody -- not another fan, not Paramount, not Pocket Books -- has any right to tell you otherwise.




We both agree that people can and should have their own subjective canon. However, the notion that fans should apply this subjective view in the company of other fans while discussing Trek is absurd. You participate in other forums . . . how many times have you seen threads degrade into discussions of canon? Can you even begin to count them?

Do you really think that's only a TrekBBS phenomenon? Do you really think that's only a Star Trek phenomenon?

And do you really think that there would be any improvement if there was no canon for people to fall back on? It would serve as an end to discussion. There are posters here at TrekBBS who reject much of the live-action Trek we've seen. How could you possibly have a thoughtful discussion with someone about, say, the Borg when you get some guy saying "well, I don't think they exist" or "they never came to the Federation, because I reject everything after "Q Who?"" or even "well, in my fanfic I established . . . "?

This is the very reason that religious groups, Sherlock Holmes fans, and a whole lot of other fan groups and producers thereof trouble themselves to make canon policies to begin with. (The idea even appears in soap opera fan pages . . . a group more likely to be female than the male-centric list above.)

Now I agree that the idea of a canon policy . . . itself a uniting influence . . . can be taken too far when people seem bent on meddling with one's personal canon. However, I'm not attempting to meddle with your personal choices about what you want to accept. My purpose with the canon page and with my messages in this thread has been to clarify what that third-party uniting influence actually says we're uniting towards.

And regarding my page, thanks to some subjectivists who believe what they want to believe while claiming they are speaking objectively, I'm having to be damned careful about it, too. That's the very reason I popped up in this thread to ask for clarification in the first place.

Your gross misunderstanding of me notwithstanding, I intend to continue pursuing that goal as I see fit.

Quote:

Just exercise your own judgment and imagination. It's as simple as that. If other fans disagree with you, that's fine, because you're each constructing your own personal, individual interpretation of the Trekverse. There is no absolute "right" or "wrong" answer, because it's only make-believe. It's all about imagination.




This sounds great as a paper ideal, but the history of threads devolving into discussions about acceptable evidence makes it pretty clear that this just won't work in practice.

Religions work the same way. Everyone wants their religion to be objectively valid. And, sad a commentary on humanity as it is, the same is usually true of our other beliefs.

I mean, hell, just look how fast you started flaming me in this thread. No offense, but you certainly can't claim to embody this pro-subjectivism happy-hippies view of everyone's individual interpretation about canon being okay if you're sitting there flaming the crap out of a guy for having a contrary opinion!

And actually, I'm gonna stop right there, because that's game, set, and match . . . QED, and all that jazz. With your behavior you disproved your own argument.

Have a great day.

 

Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Instead, I find more flames and character attacks from Christopher, here.




Oh, lighten up. That's all I've been saying all along -- just relax. Stop making some huge contentious issue out of this, stop being so condescending and hostile toward people who disagree with you, stop demanding proof and hard evidence as if this were some criminal trial, and try to remember that this is supposed to be entertainment. We're here to have fun, not to try each other in court. And your refusal to let go of this fixation of yours is making things a lot less fun for the rest of us -- especially when you stubbornly refuse to listen to our every sincere attempt to provide you with information and answers and just treat us with dismissal and denigration. If you treat people like that, you have no business accusing them of flaming when they react badly to it.

So just let it go. Lighten up. This is supposed to be fun.

 

"Therin of Andor"
Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
How could I report, for instance, that "Paramount Licensing" says or does such-and-such as Christopher reported toward the end of page one, when in fact no such organization exists?




Well, when Usenet newsgroups published a copy of a 1989 memo about the canonicity of various "Star Trek" products, from the then "Star Trek Office" at Paramount (ie. Richard Arnold writing on behalf of Gene Roddenberry), I think the term "Paramount Licensing" actually did exist and the "Star Trek Office" consulted with them. Certainly, "Paramount Licensing" was the shorthand way everyone referred to it. After the "Star Trek Office" was wound up in the days after Roddenberry's death, "Paramount Licensing" took over the vetting of all tie-in merchandise. "Viacom" came along later. I'm sorry I didn't keep you a copy of the memo, although I may have a copy of it in an issue of "Data Entries", an early Brent Spiner newszine. It was also referred to, in part, in DC Comics "Star Trek" Series II, issue #1.

Quote:

It's a statement with zero supporting facts offered, and indeed we have direct counterevidence thanks to the late-2004 update of StarTrek.com's notes regarding the canon policy. I've got the full references on my site, and I linked to these earlier.




Ask Paula Block. She posts here.

Quote:

1. I have hearsay from Ordover quoted on my site. He works for a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Paramount Communications and, save for a couple of story ideas he sold to DS9, isn't involved in the production of live-action Trek.




Hearsay? He was the bloody editor of Star Trek fiction at Pocket Books for years! (A decade?)

Quote:

there's the suggestion that Paramount's webmasters at PDE are mere licensees




They are. This has been stated in issues of "Star Trek Communicator". See Richard Arnold's column. He used to be "Star Trek Archivist" at Paramount and vetted many ST tie-ins for the then-"Star Trek Office".

Quote:

However, if one is going to discuss the canon policy and make claims about its contents, then we've gone beyond the subjectivity of personal canon and into a discussion of objective fact. "This is what it is, this is what it contains," and so on.




Richard's quote at many ST conventions, and referring to the 1989 memo re TAS was, "The animated series does not cross over with the movies" and he went on to explain that "canon" was now considered to be "live-action Star Trek episodes as they appeared onscreen". ie. Not scripts, cut footage, books, comics, movie studio rides/performances, greeting cards, Borg shampoo bottles, action figure cardback biographies of characters, or RPGs. The memo also talked about tie-in authors not sharing original characters.

But this is old news. The memo was superceded not long after Roddenberry's death. Not rescinded in writing, but just referred to less as the concerns became less urgent. There was a TAS reference in the novelization of "Unification".

Quote:

So, do you have anything in particular to support your statements?




Visit Richard Arnold's huckster table - he's at a ST convention every weekend, somewhere in the world. Or why not write a letter to "Viacom Consumer Products"?

 

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Therin of Andor:
Well, when Usenet newsgroups published a copy of a 1989 memo about the canonicity of various "Star Trek" products,




Despite protracted effort and search strings including the quotes you provide later in this post, I am unable to locate any posting of this memo on Usenet archives. If you can remember anything else about it . . . length, responses to it, participants in it, tangential comments about it . . . anything like that might be helpful.

Quote:

It was also referred to, in part, in DC Comics "Star Trek" Series II, issue #1.




You quoted that on TrekBBS some time ago . . . I was able to locate it and quote it. So, if you ever need to make reference to it, feel free to use this link.

Quote:

Ask Paula Block. She posts here.




Really? Excellent. Thanks!

Quote:

Quote:

1. I have hearsay from Ordover quoted on my site. He works for a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Paramount Communications and, save for a couple of story ideas he sold to DS9, isn't involved in the production of live-action Trek.




Hearsay? He was the bloody ...




Hold your horses, kemosabe. Hearsay is hearsay because it isn't first-hand data. That's why your quoting of the DC Comics thing is in the Hearsay section. Ordover's in there because I got his words off of some untrustworthy folks. And besides which, the statements I have where he talks about Paramount's position are also hearsay, though I usually put such comments in my non-hearsay section as a quote by the person making the hearsay statement.

I know my excessive caution and rigor is frustrating, but it's necessary for my page given the people I deal with. Besides, if something can't stand up to a little logical rigor, what good is it?

Quote:

Quote:

there's the suggestion that Paramount's webmasters at PDE are mere licensees




They are.




Well, as noted, even Paramount.com is maintained by Paramount Digital Entertainment, so unless there's a separate licensing agreement for every single Paramount-related website I don't see how this works.   (Further, Pocket Books info on the internet is on the website of their parent company Simon & Schuster at SimonSays.com. Even the parent company's site is maintained by Simon & Schuster Online, though, and not Simon & Schuster itself.)

To be sure, PDE are the guys who maintain StarTrek.com, but there's no evidence to suggest that there's a licensing agreement in place. The site itself reads "This site and its contents TM & 2005 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved." This is different than we saw with, say, Star Trek: The Magazine, a licensed publication. On the June 1999 edition I happen to own it simply says "Officially authorized by Paramount Pictures" and, inside, "STAR TREK and All Related Elements , & 1999 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved." In legalese, that means there's no apparent claim by Paramount Pictures as to the contents of Star Trek: The Magazine beyond their trademarks and copyrighted material . . . whereas with StarTrek.com, they're claiming the whole thing as their own.

Don't get me wrong . . . I'm not trying to bust your chops, here. It's just that for my page, I just can't go dismissing the StarTrek.com statements based on a second-hand report that they only count as much as Pocket Books statements. I'll see if I can catch up with Paula Block, though, since you've noted that she posts here . . . perhaps she has some insight.

Thanks for your help!

There was no reply to the final message above.

Isn't it ironic, though, how poor the reading comprehension is of a bunch of pissy authors who aren't canon and never will be?   I found it quite amusing.

Several days later, on December 5, 2005, I began a new thread with my message below:

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net
Hello,

Some of the Pocket Books folks posting on this forum noted that you sometimes post here as well. I was hoping to trouble you with a couple of quick questions.

1. As Senior Director of Licensed Publishing at Viacom Consumer Products, you are to Pocket Books what Harry Lang is to Perpetual (makers of the Star Trek Online game). Is there anyone in such a role to Paramount Digital Entertaiment, maintainers of the StarTrek.com and Paramount.com websites? If so, who might that be?

2. According to Jon Ordover and Marco Palmieri, none of the Star Trek books are canon. However, non-Pocket resources still list two of Jeri Taylor's several novels (Mosaic and Pathways) as being canon, and Jeri Taylor and Jon Ordover in older interviews confirmed that she intended them to be canon.

Assuming for the moment that they aren't held as canon by Paramount or VCP now, how would such a change come about? I see a few possibilities:

A. Viacom Consumer Products received a directive from Paramount Communications or Berman or what-have-you which explicitly decanonized the materials.
B. Viacom Consumer Products received a directive from Paramount Communications or Berman or what-have-you that did not specifically include the novels as canon.
C. At Viacom Consumer Products, the books were considered to have been decanonized after Taylor's departure.
D. At Viacom Consumer Products, the books were considered to have been decanonized after certain events in Voyager seemed to contradict the novels.

Just wondering how the change would have come about. I presume something like that would require explicit decanonization, but it never hurts to ask.

Thank you in advance for your answers. They'll help me improve the page I ever-so-shamelessly plug in my sig below.

--------------------
Author of Google's #1 ranked page on "Star Trek canon"
Keith R.A. DeCandido
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

However, non-Pocket resources still list two of Jeri Taylor's several novels (Mosaic and Pathways) as being canon, and Jeri Taylor and Jon Ordover in older interviews confirmed that she intended them to be canon.


Something that should be pointed out: If Mosaic and Pathways were canon, I wouldn't have been allowed to contradict them in the least in The Brave and the Bold. But my account of how Tuvok joined the Maquis in the latter is not quite consistent with what was in Pathways.

If those novels were canon, I wouldn't have gotten the proposal approved.

 

"Therin of Andor"
Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
you are to Pocket Books what Harry Lang is to Perpetual (makers of the Star Trek Online game). Is there anyone in such a role to Paramount Digital Entertaiment, maintainers of the StarTrek.com ... website?




AFAIK, all of those people would send their ST material to Paula Block, Senior Director of Licensed Publishing at Viacom Consumer Products, for approval.

 

"DaveR" Since Taylor wrote them when she was producer of the show, she'd be perfectly within her rights to consider them canon. But once she left, anything from the books that she didn't establish on-screen would immediately go to non-canon, wouldn't it?
Dayton Ward
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
^ Pretty much, yeah.

As has been pointed out, were the books in question part of the "canon," then tie-in books would be required to remain consistent with information they presented, just as is required with regards to any other "canon" material. Books not holding to that standard would have been corrected prior to publication. Such corrections/clarifications/revisions occur all the time, particularly if information introduced on screen creates a conflict with a book that is in the process of being written (Dave Stern's Rosetta required rewrites for this precise reason).



EDIT: At least, I think it was Rosetta. )
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DaveR:
Since Taylor wrote them when she was producer of the show, she'd be perfectly within her rights to consider them canon. But once she left, anything from the books that she didn't establish on-screen would immediately go to non-canon, wouldn't it?




Well, not "immediately," like a switch was thrown or a law passed or something. Contrary to what fans like DSG2k keep assuming, it's not like there's some dogma of canon handed down from on high. Canon is more a description of a working phenomenon than a formal standard. It's just the stuff that the makers of the show choose to acknowledge. The producers after Taylor certainly could have chosen to incorporate elements from her books after she left; they just didn't. It's just that while Taylor was running the show, she chose to keep it consistent with her book(s), but once she left, her successors didn't feel obligated to make the same choice.

 

"DaveR" That's kind of what I was getting at. By Taylor having written those books *and* being producer at the time, she could enforce that any backstory stuff that was in the series matched her view. Once she was gone, it wasn't as "automatic" as that. If the producers wanted to keep it, they could, but they didn't have to.

That's the way I've always looked at it, anyway.
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DaveR:
That's kind of what I was getting at. By Taylor having written those books *and* being producer at the time, she could enforce that any backstory stuff that was in the series matched her view. Once she was gone, it wasn't as "automatic" as that. If the producers wanted to keep it, they could, but they didn't have to.




Basically. For that matter, Taylor didn't have to either. If someone had come to her with a great story idea that contradicted Mosaic but was still consistent with onscreen canon, I doubt she would've rejected it for that reason alone. So I don't even think it's accurate to say that Taylor considered Mosaic part of the canon; more likely, she treated it like a writers' bible, in that it was a source of ideas and backstory, but didn't absolutely have to be binding if a better idea came along.

 

Paula Block
(Senior Dir., Licensed
Publishing,
Viacom Consumer Products)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
Hello,

Some of the Pocket Books folks posting on this forum noted that you sometimes post here as well. I was hoping to trouble you with a couple of quick questions.

1. As Senior Director of Licensed Publishing at Viacom Consumer Products, you are to Pocket Books what Harry Lang is to Perpetual (makers of the Star Trek Online game). Is there anyone in such a role to Paramount Digital Entertaiment, maintainers of the StarTrek.com and Paramount.com websites? If so, who might that be?

2. According to Jon Ordover and Marco Palmieri, none of the Star Trek books are canon. However, non-Pocket resources still list two of Jeri Taylor's several novels (Mosaic and Pathways) as being canon, and Jeri Taylor and Jon Ordover in older interviews confirmed that she intended them to be canon.

Assuming for the moment that they aren't held as canon by Paramount or VCP now, how would such a change come about? I see a few possibilities:

A. Viacom Consumer Products received a directive from Paramount Communications or Berman or what-have-you which explicitly decanonized the materials.
B. Viacom Consumer Products received a directive from Paramount Communications or Berman or what-have-you that did not specifically include the novels as canon.
C. At Viacom Consumer Products, the books were considered to have been decanonized after Taylor's departure.
D. At Viacom Consumer Products, the books were considered to have been decanonized after certain events in Voyager seemed to contradict the novels.

Just wondering how the change would have come about. I presume something like that would require explicit decanonization, but it never hurts to ask.

Thank you in advance for your answers. They'll help me improve the page I ever-so-shamelessly plug in my sig below.




As Gilda Radner might have said,Mr.DSG2k, you ask a lotta questions...

Had I seen this a couple posts earlier, I might have given you a lengthy reply. But I see that most of those answers have been covered by your helpful compatriots. To give you a quicky response:

1. Re Paramount Digital, actually there's a guy down there --Tim Gaskill--who used to work for me at VCP, overseeing some of the Star Trek publishing. He's not the only one at PDE, but he's one of several Star Trek experts down there. Not sure what else you're asking here.
2. Okay, none of the books are canon. That's 100% true. While Jeri Taylor was actively involved with Star Trek, we allowed the licensees to treat her two books as quasi-canon for their projects (because the folks at Voyager weren't likely to contradict them in their episodes). And that worked pretty well for a while. After she left Voyager, however, the other writers on the show pretty much did what they wanted (I doubt they ever read her books), so the books eventually stopped being even quasi-canon.
This doesn't mean that the fiction writers working for Pocket can't use Jeri's books as background for their stories. It's a free country. But they're not "canon". Nothing that wasn't onscreen (tv or movie screen) is canon. You guys are so into this "canon" thing. It's just a word, guys. It's not the ten commandments. All it means is that we try not to let people contradict the stuff that was on-screen, but we don't care if all the fiction authors contradict each other's books. Sigh.

I hope this has enlightened you!
best, Paula

 

Greg Cox
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

At the risk of stirring up hornets, I can't resist weighing in on this whole "canon" thing.

To be brutally honest, this tends to be more of a fannish concern than anything else. A few years back, I was the editor of the (sadly short-lived) FARSCAPE novel line. As a result, I was often in touch with the good folks at Henson several times a day. During this entire period, and in all my dealings with Henson, the subject of "canonicity" never even came up. Not once. In all of the dense, voluminous, and painfully negotiated contracts regarding the series, the word "canon" was never mentioned. Honest.

In the real world, this wasn't even an issue. We worried instead about deadlines, schedules, approvals, royalties, and, yes, even the literary quality of the books. "Canon" was something fans argued about at conventions.

Okay, now I've got that off my chest . . .

Marco Palmieri
(Trek Novels Editor, Pocket Books)
It's suddenly very tempting to make Canon the title of the next Titan novel, just so I can then sit back and watch the seizures.
David Henderson
Quote:

Posted by Christopher:
The producers after Taylor certainly could have chosen to incorporate elements from her books after she left; they just didn't. It's just that while Taylor was running the show, she chose to keep it consistent with her book(s), but once she left, her successors didn't feel obligated to make the same choice.


As I recall, there were a few episodes written after Jeri Taylor left the series which still referred to items from Mosaic and/or Pathways. IIRC, Mike Sussman used some of Neelix's backstory in a later episode, and I think the name of at least one of Tuvok's children, as mentioned later in the series, came first from the books.

 

John Ordover
(Former Trek Novels Editor, Pocket Books)

To paraphrase something Fred Pohl said (I'll quote him directly below) You can only decide what is and isn't canonical for anything once the area is dead. In other words, what is and isn't canonical in the Old Testament and New Testament is something that could be hammered out only after no more testaments were forthcoming (and yes, there were other gospels and other stories left out of the final work for various reasons - it's actually a fascinating subject, what was left in and what wasn't, and why).

So until Star Trek is completely dead - no possibility of further movies or further TV shows - it will be impossible to decide which works are canon and which works are not canon. See how that goes?

A century from now, for all we know, after no new Trek is produced for 100 years and no one is going to (no one is writing more books for the bible either) someone hunting for a Ph.D Thesis will find Trek and go through all the films, shows, books, comics, T-shirts, shoelaces, etc. and put forth an argument for what should and shoudn't be part of canonical Trek. That will then spawn dozens of response-thesis arguing aginst the choices made, and eventually, after a decade or so, a canonical set of Trek will be differentiated from the Apochrypha. Whereupon the whole thing will start again with SG-1.

My point being, you -cannot determine what is and what isn't canon- in an -ongoing process- while still in the midst of that process.

So to use another, more accurate term, the films and TV shows are the "sun source" from which all other Trek is derrived. That, however, does not have the same meaning as the word "canon" does, although they are close in concept. Canon implies that the book is closed - no more entries are being accepted - and while TV and Movie Trek is taking a break now, I can't imagine it won't be back eventually, especially with Bryan S. saying he'd like to take a whack at it.


As for what Fred Pohl said, he said "The reason you can't define exactly what science fiction is is becuase you can only define a field after it's dead."
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net
Sorry to spoil the fun of the thread, but . . .

Quote:

Posted by pmblock:

As Gilda Radner might have said,Mr.DSG2k, you ask a lotta questions...




How'd you know I was from Jersey?



Quote:

Re Paramount Digital, actually there's a guy down there --Tim Gaskill--who used to work for me at VCP, overseeing some of the Star Trek publishing. He's not the only one at PDE, but he's one of several Star Trek experts down there. Not sure what else you're asking here.




I was simply seeing if information on StarTrek.com was subject to VCP oversight. It's been suggested that PDE is a licensee in regards to all the sites it maintains (such as Paramount.com), and as such is not a trustworthy source of information if one is looking for data from 'Paramount-proper' (or whichever group will control Trek after the split, assuming StarTrek.com even exists after 12-31-05). One would expect that if this were so, then there would be VCP oversight.

Quote:

While Jeri Taylor was actively involved with Star Trek, we allowed the licensees to treat her two books as quasi-canon for their projects {...} After she left Voyager, however, the other writers on the show pretty much did what they wanted (I doubt they ever read her books), so the books eventually stopped being even quasi-canon.




So, to paraphrase, the canonicity/quasi-canonicity and 'decanonicity' (or 'de-quasi-canonicity' if you really wanna make your tongue sore) occurred in-house at VCP, with the latter occurring due to the perception that later Voyager ignored the novels. Would that be accurate?

Quote:

You guys are so into this "canon" thing. {...} It's not the ten commandments.




Of course it isn't. In general, everyone will have their own 'personal continuity' or 'personal canon' or 'codex' or what-have-you, and there is no reason why this should not be so.

However, for many fans there is great utility in having a third-party standard to start from for the purpose of discussing the tapestry of Trek. Determining what the standard actually is can therefore be of importance. Both of those are the very reasons so many people are so into "the canon thing", and fan discussions end up as threads like this or this.

It's not just a TrekBBS phenomenon or just a Star Trek fan phenomenon . . . issues of canon and continuity have been discussed regarding everything from soap operas to Sherlock Holmes stories to children's cartoons. Arthur C. Clarke troubled himself to mention the matter in the Introduction to 2061 and the Afterword of 3001. The civil war between Star Wars "movie purists" and "E(xpanded) U(niverse) Completists" has raged for over a decade, with entrenched "EU Defense Forces" assaulting purists with comments that make the flaming I received in a recent TrekLit thread look like Kirk's proverbial folk dance.

But in any case, I don't mind being the whipping boy in these threads so long as I still achieve my goal of getting more info on the canon issue. Thanks for your help in that regard.
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Ordover:
To paraphrase something Fred Pohl said (I'll quote him directly below) You can only decide what is and isn't canonical for anything once the area is dead.




That's a thesis which, to my mind, falls rather flat. One can imagine Marco pondering what is or isn't continuous in regards to the next Titan novel (Canon? ) only to have to stop himself because the Titan series isn't done.

Far from being an instance of equivocation, comparing 'canon' and 'continuous' as I did above is on the money, especially when you frame the idea (as many do and some of the participants in this thread have recently) that canon is a topic only of import to producers, writers, and so on.

Further, the idea that a creator and/or owner of a work that has inspired spin-off materials can't dictate what is real in his universe (or declare the spin-offs to be another universe entirely) strikes me as rather odd.

Quote:

Canon implies that the book is closed - no more entries are being accepted




I'm unfamiliar with that connotation of the word. I've seen many people use the word while talking about new additions to canon. Of course, given how people use words like canon, continuity, content, and so on almost interchangeably, it's sometimes difficult to avoid accidental equivocation.

((Incidentally, as long as you're here, I have some quotes purportedly of you that are reprinted here. The source is somewhat untrustworthy, so I'd like to inquire if those are accurate quotes (or at least are what you would've said) so I can move them out of my "hearsay" section. Thanks for your help!!))

{Editor's Note:  Since Ordover seems to reject the notion that a canon can be determined for Trek, it seems that the quotes of him made by Ian 'Kynes' Samuels may not have been accurate.  This would be unsurprising.}

"Therin of Andor"
Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
So, to paraphrase, the canonicity/quasi-canonicity and 'decanonicity' (or 'de-quasi-canonicity' if you really wanna make your tongue sore) occurred in-house at VCP, with the latter occurring due to the perception that later Voyager ignored the novels. Would that be accurate?




Huh? You wanted direct quotes from Paula Block so they wouldn't be "hearsay" and now you want to paraphrase her? But our earlier paraphrasing of previous Paula quotes weren't good enough? Just use her direct quotes.

 

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by Therin of Andor:
Huh? You wanted direct quotes from Paula Block so they wouldn't be "hearsay" and now you want to paraphrase her? But our earlier paraphrasing of previous Paula quotes weren't good enough? Just use her direct quotes.




Cute. But given how thoroughly I was misunderstood when I mentioned hearsay last time, kemosabe, I figured I'd exercise good 'active listening skills' so as not to do the same thing to others.

{Editor's Note:  Translation = "Stupid Prick."}

"Lightning-
 Storm"

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
Of course it isn't. In general, everyone will have their own 'personal continuity' or 'personal canon' or 'codex' or what-have-you, and there is no reason why this should not be so.




Continuity and Canon are NOT the same thing. You keep using them interchangably and I think this is the source of your confusion.


Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
It's not just a TrekBBS phenomenon or just a Star Trek fan phenomenon . . . issues of canon and continuity have been discussed regarding everything from soap operas to Sherlock Holmes stories to children's cartoons.




And in every one of those cases people have been mixing up the definition of canon and continuity.

See, canon (within Trek) is simply that which appears on screen in live action. Continuity can not be exactly the same thing as canon because canon isn't always continuous.

The confusion comes becuase writers have to be continuous with that which is canon therefore to the untrained eye it appears as if they are the same thing. The question then becomes (and it has been raised before) is what aspect of canon do the authors use when they want to tell a story that has been contradicted within canon? i.e. two stories that are not continuous but are both canon. I believe in that case it is simply the quality and merits of the story that prevail.

DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Quote:

Posted by LightningStorm:


Continuity and Canon are NOT the same thing.




A great many people use the terms either interchangeably or in their own predetermined set way that overlaps with other people's use of other terms for the same meaning. I don't use the terms that way on my pages, but I can't ignore that others do (especially if I'm talking to others who might not know my context).

Quote:

You keep using them interchangably and I think this is the source of your confusion.




No confusion here, thank you. I was simply covering all the bases so that I wouldn't be misunderstood. I didn't realize that I'd be misunderstood for doing so, but oh well.
 
Terri Osborne
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
Quote:

Posted by LightningStorm:
Continuity and Canon are NOT the same thing.




A great many people use the terms either interchangeably or in their own predetermined set way that overlaps with other people's use of other terms for the same meaning. I don't use the terms that way on my pages, but I can't ignore that others do (especially if I'm talking to others who might not know my context).




The error doesn't lie with you on this. The real problem is that the people who are using them interchangeably are wrong, and many refuse to admit that they're wrong.
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net
Well, I'm kind of hesitant to call them "wrong". The denotations of "canon" are all over the map compared to the narrow connotations we're hoping to work with, so it's understandable that (for example) a TrekBBS discussion group might settle on a meaning whereas some other group or author might settle somewhere a little different. That's the very reason why English is so full of jargon . . . general terms sometimes aren't enough, so new words (or, in some cases, old words reapplied) are needed. I highly recommend "Made in America" by a Mr. Bryson (IIRC) for an illuminating look at such things.

(That's the reason I've been toying with using the word "codex" to apply to "personal continuity", reaching back to the original Roman term for a stump to which people were tied (or, in this case, the positions they tie themselves to), not to mention the general concept of something a bit more informal than a published idea. (It also goes well aesthetically with another five-letter C-word.))
Paula Block
(Senior Dir., Licensed
Publishing,
Viacom Consumer Products)
Thanks Lightning Storm and TerriO--you cover the bases quite well. Frankly, I don't really understand why there's so much confusion between continuity and canon. I started working at Paramount while Gene Roddenberry was still alive, so you might say I got canon from the horse's--er, Great Bird's--mouth. Canon is what's produced for the TV and Movie screens. Books aren't. End of story. It's my job to hold licensees like Pocket to that standard. Which is not to say that there haven't been times when canon has contradicted itself--those darn producers and scriptwriters don't always keep track of/remember/care about what's come before. So things can get confusing. But books are never considered part of canon. The only reason Jeri Taylor's books were considered quasi-canon for a while was because licensees really wanted some sort of background structure they could utilize for the Voyager characters (they find it hard to accept statements like "Well, they haven't established that on the show yet..."). So we (by this I mean VCP and folks in Rick Berman's office, whom I consulted with) let them consider Jeri's stuff quasi-canon. It didn't seem to hurt anything.

Another thing that makes canon a little confusing. Gene R. himself had a habit of decanonizing things. He didn't like the way the animated series turned out, so he proclaimed that it was NOT CANON. He also didn't like a lot of the movies. So he didn't much consider them canon either. And--okay, I'm really going to scare you with this one--after he got TNG going, he...well...he sort of decided that some of the Original Series wasn't canon either. I had a discussion with him once, where I cited a couple things that were very clearly canon in the Original Series, and he told me he didn't think that way anymore, and that he now thought of TNG as canon wherever there was conflict between the two. He admitted it was revisionist thinking, but so be it.

That's kind of like God telling you the stuff in that old bible...well, he's just not in to it anymore. (And please don't take that as an invitation to starting a thread about the merits of the old testament vs. the new. Do that on another bbs.) Anyway, you can see why canon is such a difficult concept. But I always fall back on the first and original rule (call me a traditionalist)--what you see on the big and small screens is canon. Nothing else.

Good night and good luck...
Christopher
Bennett
(Trek Author
for Pocket Books)
It's not really surprising that GR would've wanted to disregard elements of TOS. It's a natural enough impulse for creators to be dissatisfied with their past works and want to revise or disavow them. George Lucas is by now infamous for revisionism with his own earlier works, but he's hardly the only one. Novelists have been known to rewrite old books or stories for later republication. (Heck, I did it myself when I reprinted my first published story on my website.)

After all, hopefully we're smarter now than we were back then, and we don't like being trapped by old assumptions. Also, everyone makes mistakes or bad choices from time to time, and most people would rather not be beholden to them.

Certainly there are things in TOS that would be best ignored, and usually have been. The casual sexism of Pike in "The Cage" and everyone in "Mudd's Women." The lunacy that passed for cosmology and antimatter physics in "The Alternative Factor." Spock's profoundly out-of-character behavior in "The Cloud-minders."

In just about any long-running TV series, you'll find that aspects or assertions of earlier episodes tend to be disregarded later on. Sometimes it's just because things get forgotten, lost amid the huge amount of continuity to keep track of, but at other times it's a deliberate choice to replace an unsatisfying old assumption with something that the creators now think is better. And if the creator himself doesn't have the right to do that, who does?

Which just goes to underline how misguided it is to think of Trek canon, of any fictional canon, as some kind of true history that has to be absolutely perfect, all-inclusive, and self-consistent. Part of the beauty of fiction is that it isn't real, so that you can get away with changing or ignoring bits of it.

In sum, I think the best response to the whole issue of canon and inconsistency is Walt Whitman's:

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes."
DSG2k
ST-v-SW.Net

Thanks again, Paula, for your responses and for engaging with the fans in a polite manner. I think you've covered things quite well, with the little exception of whether or not PDE is a licensee like Pocket in reference to their work on things like StarTrek.com and Paramount.com. But, I think I already have the correct answer.

Quote:

Posted by pmblock:
And--okay, I'm really going to scare you with this one--after he got TNG going, he...well...he sort of decided that some of the Original Series wasn't canon either.




Actually, I've already got that report from Richard Arnold quoted on my page. What, you thought I was a rank amateur?
Paula Block
(Senior Dir., Licensed
Publishing,
Viacom Consumer Products)

Quote:

Posted by DSG2k:
I think you've covered things quite well, with the little exception of whether or not PDE is a licensee like Pocket in reference to their work on things like StarTrek.com and Paramount.com. But, I think I already have the correct answer.

PDE is not a licensee. They're a division of Paramount. As for whether or not what they say is canon...Not sure what you're referring to, but again, I will point you back to the tv shows and the movie shows as the only true sources of canon. (what a weird sentence that is, eh?) Websites are not canon. Books are not canon. People are not canon. Not even me (or, for that matter, Richard Arnold).

{Editor's Note:  Did she think I was asking if PDE or anyone else was canon?  What the hell does that even mean?}

John Ordover
(Former Trek Novels Editor, Pocket Books)
Paula, what Roddenberry did is why "canon" can only be determined after it is agreed no new material will be produced that can at all be considered for inclusion - in other words, when the "archive" is complete and no one is adding to it. Since that isn't true for Star Trek, there can be questions of continutiy but not canon.
 

As you can see from the conversations, my original point about PDE not being a licensee was correct. 

Further, Block confirms that the claimed non-canonicity of Taylor's Voyager books was the conclusion of VCP alone.   Indeed, confusing as it might seem, the books were canon and "quasi-canon" simultaneously, depending on where you directed the question . . . Exec Producer Taylor canonized them herself, while at the same time VCP (with permission from Berman's office) considered them quasi-canon for licensees.  Only the quasi-canonicity has ever been rescinded.   There is no evidence of the Taylor canonicity being removed, and indeed the statements (current to 2004) on the official Paramount web presence for Trek (StarTrek.com) confirm that the works are still considered canon.