Don’t break canon without good reason

You know, it really isn’t fair that I have to follow Dave on this blog. That’s especially true after his post yesterday. If you haven’t read the post yet, go do so now. He gives the best response to the Hatchette “response” to Amazon’s letter that I’ve seen. That’s all I’m going to say on the Amazon/Hatchette subject today except for this: the double standard of the Amazon haters applauding authors like Patterson for their ad asking readers to email Amazon to say how evil they think Amazon is while at the same time condemning Amazon for asking its customers and KDP authors to email Hatchette boggles my mind. And that, for now at least, is all I’m going to say on the matter.

I have been in a dry spell for finding blog topics recently, especially ones that don’t include the words Amazon, Hatchette, Hugos or LonCon. The latter two mainly because I figure there will be lots of fodder after the Hugos are announced. Today is no different — sort of. It would be very easy to turn this post into one about the loss of Robin Williams. Whether you liked him or not, I doubt any of us can deny that his was a talent that spanned the years and proved that comics could also be great dramatic actors. Unfortunately, anything I were to write here would eventually lead to a discussion of his demons and there would be someone to blame him for taking his life — yes, I’ve already started seeing those posts on social media — and you guys really don’t need to see what my response that that sort of crap would be.

Aaaaaand, just as I was about to type “so I’m going to do a promotions post today”, I checked FB one last time and am now having to clean brain matter off the walls because my head exploded. The SJWs and GHHers have done it again. Let me get another mug of coffee and I’ll explain.

Back. Now gather around children and listen closely. Characters can be anything you want them to be. They can be pink or purple, black or white, gay or straight or bi or whatever. But what they are has to make sense within the confines of your story and, if you are writing in a “universe” that has a canon, you’d better not break canon without setting the groundwork and there being a pretty darned good reason for it.

Consider this, a letter from a fan to a writer in the Star Trek Universe who states he will never again read anything from this particular author because of a break in canon by the author. While the reader didn’t approve of the homosexual affair written into the book, that wasn’t what brought such a firm stance from him. No, it was the fact that the affair was between a Vulcan and a Klingon spy.

Read that again and you don’t even have to add the word homosexual. The important part was that there was an affair between a Vulcan and a Klingon spy. Heck an affair with anyone would have been against canon. As the reader stated, it simply wasn’t logical. Logic is the driving force with Vulcan’s and, unless the Vulcan was in the midst of the mating drive, would she be having an affair with anyone, much less a Klingon, the hereditary enemy of Vulcan?

The author’s response was not to explain how the affair was justified by the plot — so I have to assume that it wasn’t — or how it was allowed by canon. Nope, not at all. Instead he blogs about how there must be diversity in science fiction and how proud he is to be pushing forward in bringing such diverse characters to SF, and the Star Trek universe in particular. In fact, the closest he comes to trying to justify such a character arc is to quote Spock from one of the movies: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”

All the author seems concerned with is the fact that the reader was closed-minded in his beliefs and the fact that he, the author, was so very proud of how he wrote the character and how she grew during the story. Now, I’m the first to say it always feels good as a writer to see your characters evolve during a story. But to put that ahead of the story, and story canon, can be disastrous.

Now, I know you guys are going to note that I haven’t linked to the post in question. I haven’t and I won’t. For those of you curious enough, I’ve given more than enough detail to let you find it through a quick search. But I frankly have no desire to send any more traffic to this person’s blog than necessary. To me, the response to the read email epitomizes the stance of the SJW/GHH crowd. To them, the message is more important than the story and to hell with what the readers want. In this case, the author broke canon, or at least appears to have and I’ve seen nothing in his response to tell me otherwise. That will lose more readers than the fact he wrote homosexual characters.

So here’s my two cents’ worth. Write the character that needs to be written for the story. But don’t make a character into whatever the current “character class du jour” might be just so you have a “diverse” cast of characters and stories. If you force the diversity, there will be a feeling of artificiality to it. Your reader will see it and that will detract from your story. Is that what you really want to happen and all for the sake of being politically correct?

And, for the record, unless there is a really good backstory explaining it, there’s no way I’d buy a Vulcan and a Klingon having an affair — gay, straight or otherwise.


Now for the obligatory self-promotion.

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

nocturnaloriginscoverSome things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

HuntedHunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)
written under pen name Ellie Ferguson

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.

Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.



91 thoughts on “Don’t break canon without good reason

  1. Well, that’s a twist on the usual slash fan fic.

    Now, having insulted a fellow writer, I’ll just saunter off to bash my head against a very recalcitrant story. Probably needs an explosion . . .or maybe instead of blowing something up I’ll have my MC realize he’d be much happier if he was female . . . Umm, no. I’ll find something to blow up.

    1. I see no reason why explosions are off limits to transexual MCs. Such an implication sounds like prejudice to me 🙂

  2. What is it with people writing in franchises where they don’t respect the franchise.

    I largely gave up on comic books back around 1987. Part of that was financial (after separating from the Air Force, I entered into a pretty bad period), but a lot of it was, well, I didn’t outgrow comics, comics “outgrew” me. (For appropriate, or inappropriate, definitions of “grew”.)

    Be that as it may, a few years ago I picked up the set “44 Years of The Amazing Spider Man”–as it said, 44 years of Amazing Spider Man comics rendered into powerpoints and put on disk. I also, um, acquired copies of the relevant comics to cover some of the “crossovers” of the later issues.

    Oh, lordy, where did they get some of these writers? That “spider totem” thing? Mr. Straczynski, I loved your work on Babylon 5 and still consider it the best televised SF ever but if you’re going to write in somebody else’s franchise, it behooves you to respect the franchise.

    And the back and forth over Peter’s relationship with MJ? (Last I heard, that’s out with a magical rewriting of history so that it effectively never happened.) The growth of characters over time, slow perhaps but present, is one of the advantages of the Marvel Universe compared to, say, Silver Age DC. So Peter graduating high school, eventually college, and getting married is a natural progression. Now, this one is personal to me since it came out in a particularly dark period in my own life. (And a bright spot in the middle of comics sliding deep into darkness.) If a “hard luck” guy like Spider Man (in Champions terms, 3d6 of unluck) could marry the girl of his dreams and settle into a married life that, while it has its ups and downs (what relationship doesn’t?), was an essentially happy one, maybe there was a chance for me, you know? And so all the attempts (apparently successful recently) to tear that apart was spitting on something that mattered deeply to me.

    So, please, if you’re going to write in an existing franchise then respect. the. franchise. Parody? That’s fine. Your own world kind of loosely based on an existing franchise? Mm, can also be fine depending on how well you file off the serial numbers. But writing directly in an existing franchise? Is not spitting on it too much to ask?

    It would seem so.

    And I guess I just springboarded off your post into my own rant, but I guess I’m done now. 😉

    1. “What is it with people writing in franchises where they don’t respect the franchise.”

      I can tell you. It’s pure arrogance. There are plenty of authors who will stroll into a franchise that has existed since before they were born, glance around, and say: “Pfft. What a bunch of crap. These writers who came before me were a bunch of amateurs. My version will be MUCH better. Time to blow up all of this, rebuild it MY way, and then bask in the adulation of the fans when they realize that I’m the most awesome author in the history of the universe.”

      My favorite example of this is the “War of the Worlds” TV series from the late ’80s. After the first season, a new creative team took over the show, and they decided to make some changes. BIG changes. Like killing off most of the main characters (including the two most popular ones), literally blowing up their base of operations, and cutting them off from all their previous allies. Like introducing an entirely new group of villains that exterminated all of the old ones, which required completely retconning their backstory in such a way that it not only invalidated the show’s premise, but also destroyed its continuity with the 1953 movie and the 1938 radio show. Like changing the setting from “present-day America” to “post-apocalyptic America” with NO EXPLANATION. Like changing the first season’s lead character beyond recognition — he went from “refuses to use guns” to “carries a gun and shoots anything that moves” — again, with NO EXPLANATION.

      In other words, they jacked up the title and rolled a new show under it. Now, the new show wasn’t all bad, but if these guys wanted to start a completely different series that didn’t resemble “War of the Worlds” in any way, why didn’t they just start it and give it a different name? Why was it necessary for them to take over an existing show and destroy it in order to bring their UNRELATED show to life? Apparently because they thought they were “improving” it. Well, the viewers did not agree. The ratings tanked and the show was canceled.

      1. Now, the new show wasn’t all bad, but if these guys wanted to start a completely different series that didn’t resemble “War of the Worlds” in any way, why didn’t they just start it and give it a different name?

        So this. The use of “branding” to the point that the label no longer has any relation to the art (looking at you, I, Robot) is probably going to be the one thing of this age that sends me off on a murder spree.

    2. Another example of the sort of arrogance I’m talking about: Harlan Ellison’s original screenplay for the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever.” Ellison was furious that his script was rewritten to make it consistent with the pre-existing continuity of the show. Well, I have read Ellison’s screenplay, and while it’s a brilliant story, it’s also NOT STAR TREK. Gene Roddenberry was absolutely right to make changes to it.

      Ellison wants the Enterprise crew to include drug addicts — and a drug dealer who, in the course of the story, also committed murder. He disregards existing sets and props, and describes new, inconsistent ones. (His Enterprise has hatches like a submarine instead of automatic pocket doors, and his Yeoman Rand has a “console” strapped to her midsection instead of a tricorder slung over her shoulder.) His script contains imperious demands like this one:

      FADE IN:
      as Kirk stares out at the stars through a port. (If there is no port in the cabin, dammit, build one! This is absolutely essential to this scene, and the tone of the climax!)

      I don’t care who you are; you do NOT waltz into somebody else’s world and start demanding that it be rearranged to suit your preferences. Ellison is lucky that they didn’t just hand him his script back and tell him to get lost. (This is the same man who was hired as a writer by Walt Disney Studios and then fired on his first day when Roy Disney overheard him joking about making a pornographic animated film featuring Disney characters.)

    3. David, since I share the same concerns and frustrations, I completely understand. I don’t mind if the author has laid the foundation for a change. In fact, this particular author may have. But, from his comments on the post I read, I can’t say he did. In this particular instance, he seemed more concerned about showing how much more enlightened he was than the reader who objected to the plot line. Shrug.

    4. What is it with people writing in franchises where they don’t respect the franchise.

      Same thing that’s with the guys making movies that don’t respect the franchise?

    5. I wasn’t aware JMS had done Spiderman.

      I read his take on Thor and it pretty much spoiled me for the series since. Very good.

  3. I . . . actually could see that working. Sort of. It would require careful handling, and a couple of books set up, which I’m guessing wasn’t provided here. But if Peter David or Diane Duane, and possibly a couple other writers, wrote it, I’d read it.

    I know nothing about the writer in question, though.

    1. Oh, I can see it working — if the groundwork is laid. My objection, in this case, is that the author seemed more interested in lauding how he was promoting diversity in SF in response to the reader’s concern than he was in explaining how his book actually did fit into canon and why.

  4. I don’t care if two characters are gay. I just don’t.

    But a Klingon and a Vulcan? Nope. Not without a damn good reason, and “diversity” isn’t a damn good reason. The author could have had two gay humans, or any other combination of races, and no big. Yes, some wouldn’t like the idea of a gay relationship (and I’m started to feel those are being overrepresented in fiction these days), but it’s the writers pool in that regard. If it helps the story, so be it.

    But the idea of gay relationships just for the sake of a gay relationship? Why? I mean, I know a lot of gay people in my real life. Most of them don’t stand up on a table and scream “I’m gay!” to anyone who will listen, yet we have writers who try to bludgeon us over the head with their characters’ sexuality. Now, if it’s the MC, it’s hard to avoid most of the time. If it’s a supporting character? Why do I even need to know?

    My novel will be out in the next week or so. For those who are interested, there are two gay characters. Have fun guessing who they are, because I’m not going out of my way to tell you. Why? Because they don’t see it as anyone else’s businesses.

    I’m about half tempted to go on my own rant, because I have a LOT more to say on this subject. Not sure it would be productive though.

    1. YES! Thank you. That’s the way my characters are. They don’t think what goes on behind “closed doors” is anyone’s business but theirs. It’s like I have characters of different races, religions, etc., but unless it becomes part of the plot — an important part at that — it doesn’t usually come out. Why? Because it isn’t important.

      1. Usually, it’s not.

        I remember hearing about one writer describing her characters as something like “half chinese, half Hispanic disabled woman who falls in love with a half black, half indian woman at a school to become elementals”. Not exact, but close.

        I mean, I get it. You think white people are overrepresented. Maybe we are. But when you start making sure your two leads check as many non- white cisgendered hetero normative boxes as humanly possible, it becomes impossible for me to find your story interesting.

        1. I agree, Tom. Of course, I also think less is more when it comes to character description. If you keep the description to the minimum – except for what is required for the plot – you actually open it up so the reader can identify more easily with the character. At least that’s always been my experience. Shrug.

    2. (and I’m started to feel those are being overrepresented in fiction these days

      It’s been nearly a decade since they put out a book series where one of the major characters was a female Vulcan whose mom was raped by a Romulan who hooked up with– I think married– a gender flipping crewmate who, IIRC, got pregnant and came across as a rather butch woman. (Although they used lots of gender neutral madeup words for it.)

      Not even edgy.

      1. I think Larry reference a GLAAD study that showed some networks have 40 percent of their characters as gay…when they represent something like 2 percent of the population.

        But, I’m a helpless homophobe because I don’t beat people over the head with the sexuality of my characters, I’m sure.

        1. I think that was misread. It should have been 40% of their shows have Gay Characters in them. Still over-represented, but not a plurality of the characters being gay.

          1. Yep, you’re right. My mistake.

            But yeah, that’s still serious over representation.

            Based on population breakdowns, if a story (regardless of medium) has 100 characters, then two or three being gay are accurate. However, how many stories actually have 100 characters? That’s a lot to keep up with.

            In reality, some people know more gay people than others, so a story about those people would have a higher percentage. Again, nothing wrong with that if it makes sense. The problem is, if a network decides to make a TV show about hard-assed mercenaries toppling foreign governments of whatever, they’re going to make at least one character gay because “diversity”. Really?

  5. There are authors desperate to prove they’re one of the cool kids and so contort characters and plot until they’re worthless. Me? In one story I was so desperate *not* to be like that I almost wrestled a gay character into oblivion. But he sprang back.

    1. LOL. Sounds like one of my characters that was supposed to die in the third chapter but who decided she not only wanted to live but to become one of the main characters.

  6. I think the best example, the textbook example, if you will of alt or slash fic intersecting with canon is the work of Melissa Good in the Xenaverse. Missy lovingly and delicately drifted from canon to the point where the ineffable quality of her work virtually redefined the canon — inducing the producers of the show to hire her as a writer and producer for later seasons. She never presented the lead characters in any bad light. In fact, she hewed strongly to the single commandment in the show’s bible: Xena must never be seen to be ineffectual. All of her departures from canon were dictated by story, and founded in a consistent mythos that was so well-drawn and so persuasive that many, many fans thought her vision better suited theirs of the way the series ought to go, including the powers that were: thus her hiring for fifth and subsequent seasons.


    1. (Still about Xena, canon vs fans)

      On the other hand, there were the canonical writers, Orci and Kurtzman, of whom a great deal of fan brouhaha was genned up. So many curses hurled their way that “Xena would never do that!” or how evil they were for hijacking the show. Or what the hell was wrong with TPTB for hiring them? I find myself still prejudiced against them due to the controversy relative to Xena, and react negatively to their names in the credit roll on any other show, even though, in retrospect, they do and did a fine job. This is tough since they have since become attached to J.J. Abrams and are working a LOT.


  7. An affair between a Vulcan and a Klingon? That’s as bad as making an Asian Villain into an Englishman but of course that won’t happen. [Sarcasm]

    1. Of course it won’t happen, because that is not silly enough. What actually happens is that an Asian villain gets turned from a Mexican into an Englishman. (And the Irish-Canadian Stereotypical Scottish Engineer turns into an English Stereotypical Scottish Engineer.)

  8. Long running TV series from before about the late 80’s seem sometimes rather prone to that type of changes, maybe because before the age of videos and then dvds and then streaming the customers could not binge watch, or watch repeatedly in a short enough time to memorize something completely, and so were rather less likely to notice if a character, for example, was shown as a master of some specific skill in one episode one season, which then was not touched at all for several seasons, and then suddenly the subject came up again and now the character had no damn idea how to do what she had done easily a few seasons ago.

    I suppose those things were more likely to happen in TV than with something like book series since writers change more with them, and it’s less likely there is anybody who can oversee the whole thing and maybe keep an eye on things like continuity.

    But now, when you can binge watch those old series, boy do those things stand out. And they can be thoroughly irritating.

    1. And btw, that “I’ll write the story I would like to happen, and the characters as I would prefer them, instead of sticking to official canon” is one reason why I have never gotten much of a taste for fan fiction. I suppose it’s okay for lots of people since there always are plenty enough fans who prefer to use something more as a springboard for their own fantasies than to settle for it as it is, but if I like something I probably like it best as I found it – especially when it comes to characterization – and it seems, from my occasional forays into them, that fan fiction writers can be a bit too lax when it comes to warnings about the changes they have made to the canon in their stories, and wasting time with something which seems to start okay only to go off the rails badly halfway in, with characters starting to act way off character, is rather frustrating (the slash warnings and other stuff connected to sex seem to be usually given diligently enough, as is when something like the occupation or time period gets changed – something like “this story is about X and Y as they might have been if they had lived in the wild west” – but changing the characterization otherwise not so much).

      Well, I suppose often the lack of warnings can be because the writers honestly don’t notice how much they have changed the characters or something else in the story universe after having lived with their personal versions a lot more than with the original ones, but anyway, it makes reading fanfic too much of a hit or miss gamble to my taste.

      Usually you can trust officially sanctioned versions a lot better. So it’s even worse when they do that going off the rails thing.

      1. “I’ll write the story I would like to happen, and the characters as I would prefer them, instead of sticking to official canon” is one reason why I have never gotten much of a taste for fan fiction.

        Agreed. That’s why (if you’ll forgive me but this doesn’t seem like a place to object to self-promotion) when I do fan fiction I either run with new characters or adopt straight up continuity porn.

  9. Funny, I was thinking about canon as I saw the announcement about the 13th Doctor (and thought “but Peter Cushing’s dead.” No the actors are not identical, but close. Followed by “are they going to end the series or shatter Time Lord tradition?” Anyway.) Which led me to the BBC and the bit I saw about calls to make Sherlock and Watson lovers in the next season. Note, I have not seen a single episode of the new Sherlock Holmes. Are the calls because it fits the drift of the program, or because BBC? After the past year’s revelations, I’d guess BBC: shatter the canon, show how “hip and edgy” they are, and give people an eyeful of the actors.

    1. Well that just bloody pisses me off!
      I assume you are referring to “Sherlock” the new series that just finished its third season. Love the show. Very true to the Holmes cannon in that Sherlock is a self admitted sociopath and Watson is a former military doctor. Holmes has a female love interest of sorts if at a very intellectual level, and Watson is married and per a major subplot in season three loves her very much, willing to forgive a major issue which shall remain unnamed as it involves a huge spoiler.
      Fits the drift? Oh Hell no!
      Puts me in mind of a cartoon I saw many a year ago. Very effeminate British gentleman depicted and the caption read:
      First it was a felony
      Then a misdemeanor
      Then simply discouraged
      Finally accepted
      But now we won’t stop until it’s mandatory!

      1. Yes, it’s “Sherlock.” I hope the writers et al don’t let fan pleas and politics haul the series into the weeds.

        1. As other comments confirm it would not be the first show to jump the shark simply because the writers wanted to up the “coolness” factor. I strongly suspect that in entertainment as in politics the attitude is strongly that one must muck about with things to show one’s importance rather than stick with proven methods known to be successful.
          TPTB managed to kill off Firefly after a single season simply by demanding that the episodes be shown out of order. I’ve always seen such creative scheduling changes as a sure sign to avoid investing in a TV show as it’s a given that it likely won’t return next season.
          Politicians insist on new, different, unproven ideas just so that if by chance things happen to work out they can claim the credit. We’re seeing catastrophic examples of that in both health care and education.
          Should the idiots win I will greatly miss Sherlock. Naturally those responsible will never own up to the damage they’ve caused, curse their black meddlesome souls.

    2. I don’t know. I think the drunken spree in the wedding episode lost me. It was not funny, but dull and should have been left on the cutting room floor. It was great until that episode and I was just left scratching my head.

    3. TXRed, that ranks up there with the calls for the Doctor to be female or for Sherlock in the American version to be female and to have a female Watson. There is no reason except “diversity”. Sigh.

  10. Well, there WAS a ST: Voyager episode where an assistant engineer (Vulcan) entered Pon Far and centered his attentions on the Cheif Engineer, a Klingon/Human hybrid. It worked, but the whole plot followed Canon

    She tried to kill him, he reciprocated, and things got interesting.

  11. The author didn’t explain how the relationship was justified in the story because the reader had read the story and already knew. Your assumptions, made without reading the story or even knowing the plot line, are understandable, but incorrect. The author, who was also a writer for DS9, knew exactly what he was doing and did it well.

    The story is set in a space station at the edge of Federation space and takes place at about the time of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “The Man Trap” (Starfleet officers are still getting used to the uniforms for women being changed from slacks to short skirts). The Klingon in question is one of the genetically manipulated variety designed to look more human common to the original series. As a spy she has been further altered surgically to appear human (think Arne Darvin of “The Trouble with Tribbles”). While the reader knows she’s Klingon, no one in the story does.
    The Vulcan was indeed in Pon Farr, unaware of her sexuality, isolated from all others of her kind, and being wracked by the throes of simultaneous and overwhelming drives of compulsion and revulsion when a compassionate “human” helps her find her emotional and biological equilibrium. None of this happens “on camera” – the Vulcan character remembers the turmoil and the peace which forms the foundation of her ongoing relationship with the woman she thinks is human.
    The Klingon’s identity is discovered after her death. The Vulcan is thrown from grieving the loss of the person she loved into self-recrimination for having been manipulated, depression at how readily she had allowed her emotions to eclipse her intellect, and all but crippling doubt in her own worth. All emotions she’s ill equipped to deal with – but which she must – and in isolation.
    It’s a powerful emotional journey that is both well depicted and an important element in a multi-novel story arc. Dismissing it as fanfic or casual sensationalism or even misdirected political correctness is to do the novels, and the authors, a disservice. To not read the Vanguard series of Trek novels is to do yourself a disservice.

    1. 1. If you want to go against canon that bad, you should stick with writing fanfic. And if you think homosexuality is something that will shock Star Trek fans, you obviously don’t read fanfic.

      2. As I recall, the consensus about pon farr, even among people who write slash, has always been that pon farr is a biological imperative to mate with members of the opposite sex and fight with members of the same sex, in order to reproduce little Vulcans on a harsh desert world where they can’t afford to reproduce very often. There have been different opinions as to whether females are affected by pon farr; most say yes, some say no because T’Pring was such a cold bitch.

      But the point is that the usual interpretation is that Spock’s hormones didn’t really care whether Spock’s brain liked or lusted after Kirk or McCoy or anybody else that stood in his way, just as it didn’t care whether he liked or hated his betrothed.

      So a Vulcan lesbian in pon farr would still be a Vulcan driven to mate with a male, in order that she should become pregnant with little Vulcans.

      Now, if the Vulcan lesbian was a transexual who had become a woman only surgically, and was still affected by pon farr as a male, _then_ you could make sense of her/him mating with a woman.

      Anyway, the whole point of pon farr was that Sturgeon invented it about being at the mercy of deep evolution-based reproductive urges, not about having sex or affairs.

      1. (And of course movie and novel Saavik basically was the canon argument that Vulcan females were affected strongly by their own version of pon farr, something which was still arguable when I entered fandom shortly before STIII.)

        1. The more recent novels (Vulcan’s Heart, I think?) establish that Pon Farr can really compromise even the most disciplined of Vulcans – or half-Vulcans like Saavik. The only thing that irritated the everliving hell out of me was how sane Sarek was in the reboot movie after Amanda’s death (though the followup comics help on this a little). The Vulcan Academy Murders, which is among the few novels considered canon show that you do not threaten a Vulcan bondmate – human or Vulcan.

          1. I knew Spock’s World and My Enemy My Ally were considered cannon, I didn’t realize The Vulcan Academy Murders were as well.

      2. *feels brain twitch at the concept of a transsexual or homosexual Vulcan*

        *wants to make the argument that a Vulcan would be far more logical and pragmatic about the circumstances of one’s birth, as opposed to being ruled by the emotion of “I am the wrong sex / attracted to same gender.”*

        *sighs* Nah. I’m not gonna bother.

        1. Easy enough to get around by making them an XXY– a genetic transexual.

          Eugenics wouldn’t be logical, after all. (If it was, the Vulcans would be ruling over a very, very empty area of space, having wiped out all the non-logical intelligent species.)

          1. Pretty much. I really didn’t want to pursue that line of thought further, because my head was already killing me, has been for most of yesterday and I’m light sensitive now. Curling up in bed with my eyes covered sounds like heaven.

    2. No, my assumptions are based on the author saying how important it was to have diversity in SF and how proud he was to have it in that book. Besides, even assuming the reader had read the entire book, it was a perfect time for the author to explain why he wrote it the way he did instead of just going off on the diversity issue and how he wasn’t going to worry about a “homophobic” reader. FWIW, I didn’t dismiss it as fanfic. What I had and have issues with is the appearance at least that the author was putting diversity ahead of story and ahead of canon.

  12. No, Amanda was right; because, “The author’s response was not to explain how the affair was justified by the plot — so I have to assume that it wasn’t — or how it was allowed by canon. Nope, not at all. Instead he blogs about how there must be diversity in science fiction and how proud he is to be pushing forward in bringing such diverse characters to SF, and the Star Trek universe in particular.”
    Your comment that it was a well crafted story is probably true; however, the author’s response was the difficulty Amanda was addressing. There are times when we miss the mark, don’t describe the story in a manner that everyone catches it or a reader just for some reason misses it. I’ve done both. The point is that the reader is a customer. The writer is a provider of service to customers. If the customer takes the time to tell the service provider what the conflict is, it means they want to keep the service and need justification. Otherwise why bother writing. If one person writes, it’s assumed that ten felt the same way; therefore he lost eleven sells by flipping off the reader.
    Amanda was clarifying that you can not ‘unjustly’ change canon. Did the Vulcan demonstrate to most readers that she was in Pon Farr? Was there any ‘forewarning’ that the spy was Klingon? Maybe-maybe not. Hard core readers are not as flexible as intellectual readers sometimes. It is in a writer’s best interest to remember that the customer is always right, but, usually open to reason. A polite “Ah, but that was the essence of the mystery, no one including the reader knew; gotcha didn’t I.” would have sold the next two books.

    1. David Alan Mack wrote for DS9 and has written 26 Star Trek novels to date. The homosexual relationship that so offended one reader is one plot thread in a multi-novel arc which was worked out in detail by the several authors who wrote the novels and the Star Trek editorial staff at Pocket Books – not to mention vetted by the holders of the Star Trek intellectual property – before a single word was written. To characterize this as some random attempt by a fanfic writer to shock readers is to miss the point entirely. The disgruntled reader repeatedly stated that he was offended because homosexuality “is not universally accepted” and has no place in Star Trek. He did express incredulity about the homosexual couple being a Vulcan and a Klingon (while glossing over the fact the Vulcan thought she was involved with a human). His argument that Vulcans would never engage in such an act – or have affairs of any sort – with members of races other than their own due becaues of “logic”. This argument ignores the fact such exclusivity on the part of the Vulcans would preclude Spock’s existence.
      My recommendation is read the Vanguard novels and decide for yourself.

      1. I lost interest in ST novels a couple of decades ago when I picked up one while visiting an Aunt….. the author chose, as the character to spend three-four pages of the first half-dozen or so giving verbal exposition, Worf. Who I’m pretty sure usually took half a season to hit three pages of dialogue, net. Haven’t touched another since.

        I have no faith that the books are vetted for anything more than ‘does this poison the well for our most marketable characters’.

        As to the recommendation to read the novels myself to judge the controversy, I stopped falling for that trick back when it was ‘come see the film the Catholic League doesn’t want you to see’.

    2. Thanks Rob. You said it better than I would have just now. It’s been too long of a day to deal with the folks trying to put words in my mouth.

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t think he got the point. It’s not how many books you write or how many of your peers agree with you or you please. The bottom line is the customer. I have lots of buds; but, until they start carrying groceries through my front door, their opinions come second to my customers. The list of award books, movies, shows and whatever that have ended up in the failure to payback their investment is legion.

        1. Rob, that is the difference between you and me and the SJW/GHH crowd. We are looking at what customers want and they think it is their duty to “educate” the masses so they become uplifted and politically correct.


    and AMEN! *raises tankard of bloodwine*

    I’ve been trying to make the points for months that this last season of Supernatural (yeah I write a lot about it, so sue me) was one of the worst purely because they trampled all over canon and often to get the plot they wanted rather than anything organic and fitting to the story. What’s been even more frustrating is trying to explain it to other fans that just don’t get why violating canon is any sort of big deal, like, that’s just your opinion, man. No, it’s a story.

    It’s not just that, either. One of the worst comics I ever read treated canon about like how Zod treats earth in the latest Man of Steel movie.

    Thanks for writing this, I was growing afraid that I was the only sane one left on the planet.

  14. It’s working within canon that makes it a legit story. Canon defines the boundaries, and good writing can be done either in the center, never approaching a limit, or the limit can be used as the focal point, with the story being about why the limit doesn’t apply in THIS case. There is no tension about defying the Prime Directive if there is no Prime Directive. Asimov wrote Three Laws; then wrote lots of great stories dealing with the conflicts.
    And anyone who ignores canon just to rub the readers noses in some social issue has the ethics of a Nazi concentration camp guard, tormenting inmates to demonstrate their power.

    1. It could be worse. Some “individual” on David Weber’s site was talking about “changes” he wanted to make in the Honorverse technology. Never mind that everybody *including* David Weber was telling that by the established canon of the Honorverse what he wanted was impossible. Oh, his “changes” weren’t based on real science but based on his philosophy. [Frown]

      1. Sigh. That’s like those who critique SF or fantasy novels based on their own real life experience. They forget the fact it is fiction and taking place in worlds far away and times not yet seen.

        1. I came into it late.

          But from David Weber’s final comment on this “individual”, it appears that his “philosophy” was “if I want it to happen, it will happen”.

          Oh, “final comment” because David Weber decided that “thread” would end now. Something that he rarely does.

    2. That last sentence deserves to go viral, Pat. Along with the corollary: As does anyone who ignores facts to rub the readers noses in some social issue.

  15. It’s easy enough for them to start their own universe, and make their own rules. The simplest explanation for why they don’t is lack of talent. Oh yeah, and they’re Nazis.

  16. If I want to be preached at, I’ll go to a church. If I want a message, I’ll watch PAX. If I’m reading, especially a long established franchise, I want to be entertained.

    I’m getting so tired of this. Not the messages, they’ve always been there, but the lack of subtlety. No finesse or class.

  17. I know one thing SF characters cannot be:


    Quick — name one SF story where any of the central characters was a sapient/uplifted beaver.

    Prosecution rests. >:)

    1. Dammit, human, I don’t want to write about an uplifted beaver!

      Do you know the places a bright beaver might take you? Can you imagine what happens when people realize there’s a sharp beaver in the room? Do we really need the thinking man’s beaver? What happens when the villain tries to get cunning with the beaver? What happens when an assassin takes a stab at the beaver, but misses? Does anybody really want a scene where the bad guy struggles with the beaver?

      No, I prefer beavers to be handling…

      Never mind. Cold chills.

        1. I wrote the outline to the “Gay Uplifted Beaver vs. Tree Hugging Nazis” short story in the Embarrassing Problem thread. So far, nobody has smacked me, but I’m still hoping…

    1. He has a very distinct style, and since I’ve already acknowledged that I don’t track cueing well, I wonder how that style cues when applied to specific genres.

      Any of the fantastically learned individuals wish to chime in?

  18. BTW, Amanda, I bought and devoured all three of the Nocturnal Origins and the three Hunter’s Moon books. Excellent take on shapeshifters especially the challenges posed by modern forensics.

    1. Thanks! I appreciate the kind words. I’ll be starting the next Nocturnal Lives book in the next two months or so. After that, I’ll probably do another Hunter’s Moon book. If I do, it may be with one of the other clans — possibly the Oklahoma clan. Not sure yet.

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