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Interview: Confused by S.C.E.? Dying for Starship Team-ups? Author Keith R.A. DeCandido Helps Sort Out His Latest Titles For New Readers and Veterans Alike!

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Posted: 00:59:56 on August 15 2002
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features

Writing STAR TREK novels is no easy task and tackling a sheer number like author Keith R.A. DeCandido does on a regular basis is probably closer to insanity than anything else. With several NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE and crossover novels under his belt, a comic book and an entire new series of novellas, DeCandido is one of the busiest writers churning out the latest print adventures of the STAR TREK universe.

With the STAR TREK S.C.E. (say what?) ebook series a firm success, the author readies two more novellas in the series, a two-book crossover, an entry in next year's LOST ERA six-book series and even two novel spin-offs from characters introduced in previous books.

TrekWeb caught up with this prolific writer to get an introduction to the S.C.E. series and an update on his exciting new titles.

TW: What exactly is S.C.E. and how many entries have there been?

KRAD: The Starfleet Corps of Engineers, a monthly series of eBooks that are released via various online dealers, including SimonSays.com, the official Simon & Schuster web site, as well as Amazon.com, BN.com, PeanutPress.com, etc. The books are available in at least three formats: Microsoft Reader and Adobe Acrobat for personal computers, and Peanut Press's format for PDAs.

The series focuses on the adventures of the U.S.S. da Vinci, a small ship that is assigned to the S.C.E. There's a team of specialists, including engineers, cultural specialists, linguists, etc. who are basically Starfleet's problem-solvers. If you need a ship salvaged or if your world-running computer is breaking down or your orbital station is falling out of orbit or if an alien ship shows up in orbit around your moon, you call in the S.C.E.

The first 18 eBooks are now available, with #19 -- Book 3 of FOUNDATIONS by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore -- due out some time in late August. The first eight are available in print form in the books HAVE TECH, WILL TRAVEL and MIRACLE WORKERS, with the next eight due to be printed in two more volumes in the spring of 2003.

The authors have ranged from TREK veterans such as myself, Dean Wesley Smith, Christie Golden, Dave Galanter & Greg Brodeur, and Robert Greenberger to relative newcomers such as Aaron Rosenberg, Glenn Hauman, David Mack, and Jeff Mariotte.

TW: Give us some introductory information about the ebook format: how long are they, how much do they cost, how do readers get them, how successful have they been and what other series are there in this format if any?

KRAD: Many of the novels are also available in eBook format. Length-wise, these are about a quarter to a third of the length of a TREK novel. The price is less than a paperback, and the prices have, in fact, been going down. I think at this point they're available for $1.99 each.

TW: You've written many of the SCE books and co-created the concept. Can you give us a run-down of the upcoming titles?

KRAD: The current story -- FOUNDATIONS Books 1-3 -- are three flashbacks involving Scotty -- who is a recurring character in S.C.E. -- and the 23rd-century incarnation of the Corps of Engineers, and showing how the 24th-century version we've seen through 16 prior eBooks evolved.

After that, we've got ENIGMA SHIP by J. Steven York & Christina F. York, where the S.C.E. encounters an entirely holographic ship, then the two-part WAR STORIES by me, which will tell what the da Vinci crew was doing during the Dominion War. After that, is another two-parter, WILDFIRE, in which the da Vinci has to salvage a ship that has fallen into the turbulent atmosphere of a gas giant. That'll take us through to the end of the year....

Pre-order now! TW: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (hitting shelves this December) will be a two-book series spanning the various series. Book one will involve ENT, TOS and DS9 and will include elements first introduced in the TNG novel DIPLOMATIC IMPLAUSIBILITY. What do you mean when you say this is a "starship team-up" series?

KRAD: Actually, the elements from DIPLOMATIC IMPLAUSIBILITY won't come into play until Book 2. In any case, the theme is that the crews of each of the first four TV shows will join forces with another ship and crew. It'll be Kirk's Enterprise with Commodore Matt Decker and the U.S.S. Constellation ("The Doomsday Machine"); Sisko and Deep Space 9 with Captain Keogh and the U.S.S. Odyssey ("The Jem'Hadar"); Janeway and the Voyager teaming up with Captain Robert DeSoto and the U.S.S. Hood ("Encounter at Farpoint," "Tin Man") and Chakotay's Maquis cell teaming with Cal Hudson's Maquis cell ("The Maquis" Parts 1-2); and Picard's Enterprise with Captain Klag and the I.K.S. Gorkon (this is the element from DIPLOMATIC IMPLAUSIBILITY). In each case, the point-of-view characters will be members of the other crew, so we'll get to see how others view the familar faces.

TW: To what extent will the ENT portions of the book play a part?

KRAD: Archer and the NX-01 will be in a one-chapter prelude that sets the action up. Enterprise will learn of the existence of four powerful artifacts. Those four artifacts will be found in each of the other four parts.

Pre-order now!TW: Book Two will involve VOY and TNG and will take place after the GATEWAYS crossover and DIVIDED WE FALL, correct? Can you draw a picture for us of the stage set by the previous two books and then how that influences Book Two?

KRAD: Only the TNG part will take place after Gateways and DWF. The VOYAGER portion will take place prior to "Caretaker," and tell the story of how and why Tuvok infiltrated Chakotay's Maquis cell in the first place. As I said, each part will see the crews finding each of the four parts of the artifact that Archer's crew learns about -- the final part, the TNG portion, will bring elements from all the previous parts together, and also will feature an additional team-up: Ambassador Worf and Ambassador Spock.

TW: You are also slated to do a two-book Klingon series following up the events of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD in 2003. A GOOD DAY TO DIE and HONOR BOUND will entirely feature Klag and his Klingon ship, introduced in DI and continued in TB&B. Can you give us a preview of these titles? Is this the first time that an entirely new alien character/crew has been given an entire novel series?

KRAD: I believe it is, yes. All I can tell you for now is this: These are the voyages of the I.K.S. Gorkon. It's mission: to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and conquer them for the greater glory of the Klingon Empire!

There's more to it than that, of course. There will be fights, duels, honor, politics, first-contacts, and bloodwine. It will not be a typical STAR TREK story, and yet it will be very much a typical STAR TREK story.

TW: You're also penning a book in THE LOST ERA series, set for release next year. What can you tell us about this?

KRAD: Not much yet, except to say that it will be the third book in the series, and will take place over the course of two decades. It will be a giant political thriller involving most of the Alpha Quadrant powers with lots of different characters and a great deal of maneuvering and politicking. It'll be a nice change from the other stuff I've done, which is part of the appeal for me.

TW: As evidenced by the above, Pocket Books is clearly embarking on many multi-volume series. Some readers have complained that oftentimes this strategy rings hollow, as the story could've easily been contained in one volume. As a writer, how do you respond to that and how do you assure readers that purchasing multiple volumes will be worth their while?

KRAD: Well, THE LOST ERA is being very specifically set up so that you can buy as many or as few books as you want. The six books are connected only by dint of taking place between the launches of the Enterprise-B in the GENERATIONS prelude and the Enterprise-D in "Encounter at Farpoint." That's eight decades of mostly untouched history to play with. We could do a helluva lot more than six books on that alone.

As for everything else, I prefer to assume that the readers are smart enough to determine for themselves whether something is worth it or not, and they'll vote with their wallets.

TW: Continuity within the STAR TREK novels has been a difficult issue, with phases of "independent storytelling" predominating for some time. This was due in part to Paramount's strict insistence that the books not significantly alter a character's accepted franchise status so that they may be continued on-screen without distraction. Do you think this is a valid concern, considering the common knowledge that the novels do not situate within the official "canon" of the TREK universe anyway?

KRAD: It's no more a "concern" than it is a "concern" for haiku writers to have to limit themselves to 17 syllables or that sonnet writers have to limit themselves to 15 lines or that comics writers have to limit themselves to 22 pages. Every media tie-in novelist knows going in that they're doing material that can't contradict what has been established onscreen, nor can they effect major change on the characters. The mistake comes in assuming it's a limitation, when in fact it's a challenge. There's still plenty of room to delve into the characters and turn their psyches inside out and see what makes them tick. Anyone who says otherwise simply isn't trying hard enough....

TW: Many have argued that this has caused many TREK books to resort to fantastical adventures that are only reset in the end and ultimately >meaningless. How would you respond to that?

I'd shrug and say, "Sure it happens sometimes."

TW: With the end of TNG, DS9, and VOY on screen, there seems to be some breathing room for increased serialization of the novels. The new titles we discussed above provide clear evidence that continuity from previous novels is now being maintained and the books are forging their own sort of "canon." Is this something you see happening as well and what benefits does it have?

TNG has not ended on screen -- there's this movie coming out in December, and I no more believe that it's the last TNG movie than I believed it when they said STAR TREK IV was the last movie with the original crew. However, both DS9 and VOYAGER are being continued forward past their season finales. DS9 has already had four novels and one novella in their "relaunch," with six more novels between now and January. VOYAGER will be kicking off with two post-"Endgame" novels in the spring of 2003, both written by Christie Golden.

I think the benefits are tremendous because it gives you the opportunity to move forward. This is more beneficial with these two franchises in particular because DS9 was constantly moving forward, and the novels were hamstrung by DS9's constant changing of the status quo. Now the novels are the status quo, so it allows the novels to truly be continuations of DS9. As for VOYAGER, they were on a specific arc: get home. At the end of "Endgame" they got home, so that part of the story is done, and it leaves Christie to explore what the next part of the story is.

You can learn more about Keith and his previous work at his official web site DeCandido.net, and talk with other STAR TREK book readers at TrekWeb's Divine Treasury forum. Don't forget to subscribe to TrekWeb's brand new email newsletter to receive our monthly column, STAR TREK IN PRINT!

2002 TrekWeb.com. All Rights Reserved.


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