For those of you who aren’t dialed in to such things, CBS announced back in November that a new Star Trek television series was in development, with a premiere scheduled for January 2017. Unlike its previous TV incarnations, this new Trek was set to explore the strange (not quite) new world of “internet streaming” services, opting to present this new series on it own such service, CBS All Access. In a nutshell, the success of original content such as that to be found on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon has CBS wanting to get in on some of that action, and someone there thought a new Star Trek series might be the way to go.
Naturally, Star Trek fandom reacted in a variety of ways to this news, running the gamut from unchecked enthusiasm to bitter disdain and everything in between. My favorite responses, of course, came from that segment of fandom who opted to completely lose its shit.
Even back in November, a number of questions were raised, and more than a few of them were quite reasonable: Would this new series be set in the same continuity as the previous TV shows and their follow-on motion pictures? If not, would it take its cues from the newer concepts established by the most previous “reboot” films, the third of which, Star Trek Beyond, is set to bow this summer? Or (:: gasp! ::), might it be an altogether new spin on the venerable Star Trek brand in honor of its 50th anniversary, which we’re celebrating this year?
The answers at the time could be boiled down to this: “Damn if I know.”
Earlier this week, we got the first piece of juicy news about the new series, when it was announced that veteran TV guru and Trek veteran Bryan Fuller had been named as a co-creator and executive producer for “Star Trek 2017.”
Now, as a fan, I don’t mind telling you that I think this news is yuuuuge! Ever since Star Trek: Enterprise ended its run in 2005 and fans began clamoring for a new series even before the corpse of the previous show had cooled, names like Fuller and Ronald D. Moore were being bandied about as potential showrunners and saviors for Star Trek‘s next TV venture. Before assembling a truly impressive resume of TV credits, Fuller got his start as a writer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after a script he sent in through the show’s “open submission process” caught the eye of producers. He’s a lifelong fan who had his dream realized, and then parlayed that bit of good fortune into a solid career in the biz. His love for Star Trek is unquestioned, backed up by a proven track record of getting shit done. We fans should be touching ourselves with unabashed glee over this news. Repeatedly. To hell with the refractory period.
Of course, with this announcement, and Fuller’s own comments from a few years ago when he answered questions about what he might do, given the chance to helm a new Star Trek series, speculation has once again kicked into high gear as to what form this new show might take. “Prime” or “classic” continuity? Something in line with the reboot films? A fresh take? The only comment of any substance I’ve seen is this bit of mischief from the Variety article that announced Fuller’s attachment to the new series:
“The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.”
Well, then. That certainly should be enough to send some folks breathing deep into paper bags.
Now, closer to home and from where I sit on the periphery of Star Trek stuff, I’ve been asked how this new series might affect the current line of Star Trek tie-in merchandise, in particular the novels, comics, the Star Trek Online game, and other “ancillary story venues.” Will they continue, or be forced to change in order to conform to the series’ new direction? Might they end altogether?
I imagine we can expect to see something like this:
As one might imagine, there’s at least a bit of worry, particularly among the longtime, dedicated fans of such material. With a lack of hard info at this early date, speculation tends to run rampant. I’ve been asked by a few people about my thoughts on the subject, and to be honest, my various answers to such queries can all be boiled down to this: “Damn if I know.”
(Sounds familiar, right?)
Do I think a new series spells the end for stuff like Star Trek novels and/or comics? Nope. Not at all. Star Trek books and comics have been getting published on a fairly regular basis going all the way back to 1968. Hell, the number of stories set during Captain Kirk’s five-year mission alone probably roll up to a combined total of something like 27.6 billion hours of adventures. Not everything fits together into a single seamless continuity, of course, and those few brave souls who have attempted to bring order to such things have long since been fitted with straightjackets. That way lies madness.
Will a new series mark the end of “classic” Star Trek novels or comics? Again, I’m no authority, but my gut tells me to kinda sorta doubt that. The “prime Star Trek universe” remains popular, so I suspect that merchandise supporting it won’t be going anywhere any time soon. As I write this, we have novels set in the “classic” timeline–along with a precious few set within the “rebooted universe”–and regular comics featuring both incarnations. They’ve managed to coexist for (:: checks watch ::) going on seven years now, with no signs of intergalactic entropy on the horizon. I think we’re good.
If the new series is its own thing, separate from both the “classic” and “reboot” Star Trek timelines, what does that mean for stuff like books, comics, games, etc.? Might these “ancillary story venues” get herded up under a new umbrella, ala what happened with Star Wars and its novels, comics, games and so on and so forth?
Again, I have no idea, but I kinda doubt that, too. It’s not like there’s ever been anything stopping the folks in charge of Star Trek from doing such a thing, and they’ve chosen not to do so. Instead, they’ve been happy to give such products their official blessing and seal of approval, while stating without equivocation that none of the novels, comics, and whatever are “canon” with respect to the TV episodes or films. This tends to cause varying levels of consternation within the fan ranks, but it’s helped by the fact that the message has always been consistent on this point. As a writer of such material, this sort of thing tends not to bother me. Hey, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
As for any wrinkles that may be introduced with a new series, I guess we’ll know when we know. Until then? I suppose any advice or insight I could offer is best summed up thusly: “Relax. Breathe regular. Keep calm, and oh! Read our books, and shit.”
Whatever happens, I for one plan to roll with it. We’re getting new Star Trek, people. I’m down with that.
Meanwhile, I’ve got stuff to do. Two more Star Trek: The Next Generation novels to write between now and summer, for one thing.
Come here, Jean-Luc Picard, you sexy beast, you.