Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blogathon 11: Favourite Peter David Star Trek Novels (Part 1)

We depart from comics for 90 minutes to talk about Peter David's Star Trek novels. Originally, Graeme McMillan and I were going to discuss why we take superhero comics so seriously, but the Hero Initiative raising money for David after he suffered a stroke was something I wanted to include. And both Graeme and I are fans of his Trek novels...

My favourite Peter David Star Trek novel is Q-Squared. I like it even more than the entire run of New Frontier (which I am woefully behind on...). Before they stopped making Next Generation movies, I always wondered why they didn't simply adapt Q-Squared. It's got the series' first villain (Q), alternate timelines, Jack Crusher, ties to the original series, a story that's big as big gets, and it ends with a solution to the "Data problem" (how to get around Brent Spiner aging and makeup not covering that as well anymore). It seemed like the perfect Star Trek: The Next Generation movie.

For those unaware, Q-Squared is based around the idea that Trelane (a one-episode bad guy from the original series) is actually a Q -- and the Q we know is his godfather. He begins messing around with alternate realities, going to the lone alternate reality where Jack Crusher did not die (Wesley died instead) and begins manipulating things to the point where realities begin crashing into each other, things get mixed up, and the whole thing ends with him and Picard fencing (with Q as Picard epee!). There are three realities shown: the regular one, the 'at war with the Klingons' one from Yesterday's Enterprise, and the Jack Crusher one.

For a fan of alternate realities, this was right up my alley. The new reality that David creates is really engaging with the twists he has on characters. My favourite is that Data is a human with a positronic brain (and he's involved in a secret affair with Tasha Yar). At the end of the novel, he's left stranded in another reality and that always seemed like a way to get around Brent Spiner's makeup issues: simply switch our Data for that one. Boom. Done. Problem solved, make more movies. Beyond that, the story is just entertaining as hell. The Jack/Beverly/Jean-Luc love triangle in that reality is engaging and another way of 'having your cake and eating it too' that David engages in.

David (co-)wrote two other Q novels that I really liked. One was Q-in-Law where he brings together Q and Lwaxana Troi... I can't remember the 'main plot' of that one. Just that you don't need a main plot when you're bringing together two characters like that. Of course, they become romantically involved! Of course, Q gives her Q powers! Of course, she kicks his ass! Awesome.

The other is I, Q, which he co-wrote with John de Lancie, the actor who plays Q. It's an unusual novel (unusual for Star Trek novels, because it's written in the first-person) and one of the few audiobooks I really enjoyed, because de Lancie does that, too. Plus, it's got Data and Picard fishing.

What always impresses me about David's prose is how light and engaging it is. He keeps it very simple and lively. He can do big time drama and mix it with moments of very funny humour with seeming ease. Beyond these books, his Star Trek novels were always my favourite. Hell, they may be my favourite Star Trek stuff period.

I need to reread these books, I think. It's been too long...

In 30 minutes, Graeme McMillan shares his views on the subject.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative (Details in this post)! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]