The recent announcement that George Takei would be playing his most recognizable character, Hikaru Sulu, in an upcoming Star Trek movie focusing on the USS Excelsior got me to thinking. Of course, since it was announced on 1 April, it’s possible — even probable – that it’s an April Fools’ joke, but still, it got my brain working.
I didn’t go to see the 2009 Star Trek movie, and I stopped watching Enterprise after only a few episodes for the same reason: I don’t think it’s necessary to mess with existing Star Trek canon, even if you explain it as an alternative timeline, in order to tell a good story. For evidence, I present two series of Star Trek books, one from the original series era, and one mostly from the post-Nemesis era, though it also touches on the Enterprise era.
From around the time of the original series comes the Star Trek: Vanguard series, starting with Harbinger. This 8-book series, which just had the last book published last month, begins just after the first episode of the original series, though the prologue occurs shortly before Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. Commodore Decker of the Constellation finds a mold with far more genetic information in its DNA than it needs on a planet in an area called the Taurus Reach. Since the ship doesn’t really have the scientific equipment to do the sort of study this requires, they send it off to Starfleet Command, and a whole series of events is set off, beginning with the construction of Starbase 47, also known as Vanguard (hence the series name), in the Taurus Reach. The reasons for the accelerated construction of Vanguard are initially cloaked in mystery, which is gradually revealed over the course of the books. I’ll just say that the Tholians, one of Star Trek’s most mysterious alien species, are involved.
The other series is the Destiny trilogy, starting with Gods of Night. This is technically a trilogy, but the events in it have spawned several offshoot books, including the Typhon Pact books, because the changes made in the Federation are extensive. In short, it explains both where the Borg came from, and how they’re finally neutralized as a threat to the Federation. Even though parts of it hearken back to the time of Enterprise, it’s mostly set in the post-Nemesis era, with Picard in command of the Enterprise-E and Riker commanding the USS Titan, which is another good book series, by the way. In fact, the events of Vanguard are hinted at in Destiny, though because Vanguard was still being written there’s not a lot of detail given.
Neither of these series involves an alternate timeline (as far as I can tell, I haven’t finished the Vanguard series yet), and they’re both true to the original canon established by the TV shows. They’re very well conceived and written stories, and I say that even though I have individual quibbles with some of the events in both series. In Vanguard we have a starbase full of interesting characters along with a secret project, and in Destiny we see Picard struggling with his time as Locutus again, and Riker and Troi (now married) having their own problems on the Titan.
Hollywood could do much worse than to look to the Star Trek novels for inspiration for their next movie, and quit playing with alternate timelines.
Filed under: News