Richard Arnold's Repression #2: _A Flag Full of Stars_

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Timothy W. Lynch

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Feb 23, 1991, 1:41:32 AM2/23/91
to
This appeared on rec.arts.sf-lovers earlier today. I thought the r.a.s.
community might be interested in it as well, as it concerns an upcoming TOS
novel. Check this one out...(I'll be back at the end):
============================================================================
Brad Ferguson asked that the following be distributed wherever possible:



Copyright (c) 1991 by Brad Ferguson. No changes or deletions can be made
without the written permission of the author. Permission to distribute by
written and electronic means is hereby granted.

THE BOOK THAT NEVER WAS:

What Really Happened to

A Flag Full of Stars

by Brad Ferguson

Soon, now, there will appear the umpety-umpth novel in the Star Trek series, A
Flag Full of Stars. It will have my name on the cover, which might lead you to
think that it's my book.

Well, it is and it isn't. Mostly, it isn't.

I first proposed AFFoS to Pocket in 1986, soon after my first Trek novel,
Crisis on Centaurus, appeared. I wanted to do a Trek book set on Earth during
the three hundredth anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. That
original proposal, which was for a first-generation book, had Captain Kirk and
a refugee Klingon scientist defeating an Imperial spy ring that had gained
knowledge of an important new source of freely available energy discovered by
the scientist.

On December 13, 1987, there was a meeting at Pocket Books to discuss an
ambitious plan: the creation of a series of novels set in the "lost years"
between the end of the five-year mission and the first film. Editor Dave Stern
thought that, with a little tweaking, AFFoS might work as the second book of
the proposed three-novel series. Present at the meeting were Dave, Bob
Greenberger (who came up with the idea for the series), and writers Jeanne
Dillard, Irene Kress and myself. We all got along very well and got a great
deal of planning done. The books were to come out, one right after the other,
in early 1989.

Too bad it was all for nothing. Gene Roddenberry himself soon enough let it be
known that he didn't think the "lost years" should be written about, although
I've never been told why. Irene's book was cancelled after it was finished,
and it was stated that only two "lost years" books would be produced -- mine
and Jeanne Dillard's. I myself added to the problems: I was terribly late in
delivering my own book, thanks mainly to ill health, but also thanks more than
a little to being stuck on dead center because of an ever-increasing number of
restraints on what I could and could not do in the book. ST:TNG had come
along, you see, and that meant the Star Trek office at Paramount was giving
the novels a great deal of attention.

The preliminary manuscript of AFFoS, due in August 1988, was (finally!)
delivered by me to new editor Kevin Ryan at Pocket Books on March 31, 1989.
That wasn't the end of it, though, because there then followed a raft of
revisions. Some of the revising did indeed have to do with story problems,
which is normal and expected ... but most of it had to do with satisfying
anticipated objections from the Star Trek office at Paramount -- that is,
objections from Gene Roddenberry's assistant, Richard Arnold. Without
exception, those pre-emptive revisions weakened the story I was interested in
telling. Each revision, by my lights, made the story less special and more
bland. I revised AFFoS from stem to stern fully four times between April 1989
and August 1990 -- and, in the end, it was not enough.

Kevin said he was disappointed at the final result and told me that AFFoS had
been turned over to Jeanne Dillard for a fifth revision. I was disappointed at
that, and perhaps a little surprised, but not angry. To tell the truth, I was
relieved; I did not want to have to take yet another whack at the book, and
said as much at the time -- and more than once -- on the GEnie computer net. I
suggested to Kevin that Jeanne might deserve a byline on the book, but was
assured that she would not be doing all that extensive a job. To quote what
Kevin told me more than once, it would still be my book. (I never talked to
Jeanne about this myself. Perhaps I should have done so. Live and learn.)

I assure you that it is not my book. If AFFoS were a movie, you could perhaps
give me a "from a concept by" credit, but that's about all.

I finally received the revised manuscript just a month before publication, and
quickly saw the book for what it had become: a hastily produced and clumsily
edited cut 'n paste of my stuff mixed with some reasonably good stuff grafted
on by Jeanne. Unfortunately, the scars of those grafts clearly show: Our
writing styles are vastly different, and AFFoS indicates that they don't mix
very well. The book desperately needs some smoothing, and it wouldn't have
taken long to do, but there was no time left for it. (I know. I volunteered.)

There are other problems, too. For example, one major character is introduced
twice, ten manuscript pages apart -- once by me and once by Jeanne. There are
sometimes drastic, and occasionally bizarre, inconsistencies in
characterization. Futuristic terminology is awkward: my "viddycams" have been
replaced by mundane "cameras," but "watches" have become mysterious "chronos."
There are also sentence fragments strewn all over the landscape like slats
from a barn after a tornado.

Worst of all -- at least, as I see it -- the ending of the book, fairly
downbeat in the original, has been revised drastically and is now "happy."
There may no longer be room in the Star Trek universe for anything more
thoughtful than a happy ending. The people who license and publish the Trek
books may have come to believe that their readers can't handle an ending that
isn't "happy." Could be, could be. The folks who produce those romance novels
you see in the supermarket think that way, too.

Kevin Ryan tried -- briefly -- to convince me that it's a good book, but I am
realistic enough to know better, and he is honest enough not to have tried too
hard. It is poorly handled and, in the final analysis, it is not about very
much at all. I am stuck with this two-headed yet brainless mutant child who
bears my name, and I do not like it. Not at all.

------------
==============================================================================

Now, I ask, what more do we need to hear?

That makes at least three Trek writers in the past year who have expressed
utter disgust for the repressive rules they are forced to labor under (Brad,
Peter David, and Diane Duane), and at least two of three have curtailed their
Trek work (Diane won't write it at all, and Peter isn't writing the comic
any more, though he is still doing novels). It doesn't sound like Brad will
be interested in it either.

Again, I urge you: If you're concerned (and I hope you are), WRITE PARAMOUNT
LICENSING. When I find the address, I'll pass it along. I think Richard is
coming very close to the fans' breaking point, and the writers' breaking
point. Certainly, he's long passed mine--and I for one refuse to buy it any
longer.

Tim Lynch
Net Activist Reborn

Adam Elman

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Feb 23, 1991, 4:15:26 AM2/23/91
to
In article <1991Feb23....@nntp-server.caltech.edu> tly...@nntp-server.caltech.edu (Timothy W. Lynch) writes:
>This appeared on rec.arts.sf-lovers earlier today. I thought the r.a.s.
>community might be interested in it as well, as it concerns an upcoming TOS
>novel. Check this one out...(I'll be back at the end):
>============================================================================
[Brad Ferguson's comments deleted]

>
> ------------
>==============================================================================
>
>Now, I ask, what more do we need to hear?
>
>That makes at least three Trek writers in the past year who have expressed
>utter disgust for the repressive rules they are forced to labor under (Brad,
>Peter David, and Diane Duane), and at least two of three have curtailed their
>Trek work (Diane won't write it at all, and Peter isn't writing the comic
>any more, though he is still doing novels). It doesn't sound like Brad will
>be interested in it either.
>
>Again, I urge you: If you're concerned (and I hope you are), WRITE PARAMOUNT
>LICENSING. When I find the address, I'll pass it along. I think Richard is
>coming very close to the fans' breaking point, and the writers' breaking
>point. Certainly, he's long passed mine--and I for one refuse to buy it any
>longer.
>
>Tim Lynch
>Net Activist Reborn

Hear hear!!! I for one really enjoyed "Crisis on Centaurus" (It may
not be the best Trek novel, but it's my favorite), and the idea that
Paramount would be doing things like that to an author is, in my
opinion, pretty stupid -- If they want to sell books, it seems like
they should be publishing the BEST POSSIBLE BOOKS. I mean, as far as
continuity, Roddenberry has never paid attention to it before, and
there have certainly been bad Trek novels published with Paramount's
blessing. So why are they coming down so hard???

IMHO, Diane Duane, Peter David, and Brad Ferguson are three of the
finest writers Trek has -- so why is Paramount screwing them over??!!

I think it sucks.

Just my $.02...
Adam Elman
elm...@leland.stanford.edu

Jeff Sicherman

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Feb 23, 1991, 4:59:13 AM2/23/91
to
In article <1991Feb23.0...@portia.Stanford.EDU>
elm...@portia.Stanford.EDU (Adam Elman) writes:

>
>Hear hear!!! I for one really enjoyed "Crisis on Centaurus" (It may
>not be the best Trek novel, but it's my favorite), and the idea that
>Paramount would be doing things like that to an author is, in my
>opinion, pretty stupid -- If they want to sell books, it seems like
>they should be publishing the BEST POSSIBLE BOOKS. I mean, as far as
>continuity, Roddenberry has never paid attention to it before, and
>there have certainly been bad Trek novels published with Paramount's
>blessing. So why are they coming down so hard???
>
>IMHO, Diane Duane, Peter David, and Brad Ferguson are three of the
>finest writers Trek has -- so why is Paramount screwing them over??!!
>

Because the entertainment industry is run by egotists and control
freaks who measure culture and originality in $'s and trailing 0's.
You've really got to join the real world and rid yourself of this
self-delusion that they are trying to produce quality entertainment:
they are trying to produce profitable entertainment. In many cases
that is accomplished by not letting the peons become too valuable
and having too much demand, say, or control and therefore get too
much money. Conveniently this also contributes to satisfying the
ego needs of the powers-that-be (see above).

Aaron

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Feb 26, 1991, 12:39:40 PM2/26/91
to
Tim, or whoever else can answer this . . .

I have a really important question:

Are we 100% sure it is *R'nold*'s responsibility for all this happening?
After all, hadn't Brad himself said that it was "Gene Roddenberry" that handed
down this edict? You understand, it's not because *I* myself don't think R'nold
wouldn't pull such a stunt -- it's just that people keep saying over and over
that it's *GR* doing and saying this (including R'nold), with the ... just
acting as the mouthpiece. Before you, I, or anybody go after this guy with
both barrels we at least owe it to truth to make damned sure that he's the
target. (How unlike my own comments from last year <rueful grin>) Other-
wise, we'll only end up with the same problem later on, possibly even worse.
More later, if I think of it . . .

--

Success to you, and mnhei'sahe!

Stanley of Essex (NCC-1727)
________________________________________________________________
< Freedom cannot be separated from resposibility. Those who are >
< free but fail to act responsibly when tyrants move against the >
< innocent cannot remain free for long, because totalitarians >
< will not coexist with free people -Cal Thomas >
<________________________________________________________________>
< These are my opinions, and mine alone. Why would >
< anyone else want them? PS-I believe in heat sinks. >
<________________________________________________________________>

Timothy W. Lynch

unread,
Feb 26, 1991, 5:20:47 PM2/26/91
to
aa...@serss0.fiu.edu (Aaron) writes:

>Tim, or whoever else can answer this . . .

Me, I guess, since I'm the one who posted the original article...

> I have a really important question:

>Are we 100% sure it is *R'nold*'s responsibility for all this happening?
>After all, hadn't Brad himself said that it was "Gene Roddenberry" that handed
>down this edict?

No, no--Brad said that Gene himself handed down the edict that the "lost years"
weren't to be written about--but he also explicitly states that Arnold was the
person who kept handing down the progressively more weakening revisions. He
identifies Richard Arnold. By name.

>You understand, it's not because *I* myself don't think R'nold
>wouldn't pull such a stunt -- it's just that people keep saying over and over
>that it's *GR* doing and saying this (including R'nold), with the ... just
>acting as the mouthpiece. Before you, I, or anybody go after this guy with
>both barrels we at least owe it to truth to make damned sure that he's the
>target. (How unlike my own comments from last year <rueful grin>) Other-
>wise, we'll only end up with the same problem later on, possibly even worse.
>More later, if I think of it . . .

I understand the concern, believe me. But one, assuming Jim Griffith's words
last year about Gene's stroke are correct, he's more or less a figurehead
these days; and two, given how tough it's been to muster support against an
obvious prick like Arnold, can you imagine how tough it would be to get support
against Roddenberry? (Granted, the second is cynical and manipulative as all
hell if Arnold's blameless, but since both Brad and Peter have said that he's
far from it, I'm not worried.)

Tim Lynch
Net Activist

Write Paramount licensing!

David Mears

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Feb 28, 1991, 12:25:43 PM2/28/91
to
> / tly...@nntp-server.caltech.edu (Timothy W. Lynch) / 2:20 pm Feb 26, 1991 /

>
> I understand the concern, believe me. But one, assuming Jim Griffith's
> words last year about Gene's stroke are correct, he's more or less a
> figurehead these days; and two, given how tough it's been to muster
> support against an obvious prick like Arnold, can you imagine how tough
> it would be to get support against Roddenberry? (Granted, the second is
> cynical and manipulative as all hell if Arnold's blameless, but since
> both Brad and Peter have said that he's far from it, I'm not worried.)
>
> Tim Lynch

I thought about this when the issue first came up several months ago
but didn't say anything. But does anyone else get that strange Deja
Vu feeling here? Does anything here (Gene's stroke; figurehead; Richard
running the show; etc.) sound vaguely like the TOS episode where John
Gill becomes a figurehead for the Nazis who end up really being run by
Melakon? (I used to remember all the titles; I guess I'm getting old.
Was it Patterns of Force?)

David B. Mears
Hewlett-Packard
Cupertino CA
hplabs!hpda!mears
me...@hpinddf.cup.hp.com

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