Tag Archives: Star Trek

New Way To Tell Stories – Star Wars and The Void

Hey everyone!

With our honeymoon coming to a close, I wanted to tell you all about an incredible experience we had here in Orlando!  And that was Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire!

Haven’t heard of it?  Worry not, because I wanna tell you all about the state of the art in Virtual Reality Technology, and the new possibilities it opens for story telling!

Total Immersion – Holodeck-like Experience!

I know, I know, this is about Star Wars, but when I first heard about Secrets of the Empire, the first thing I thought about was Star Trek TNG’s holodecks.  If you’ve ever watched any of the Trek shows after the original series, you’ve probably seen this wondrous technology, where you step into a room, and whole other environments, complete with interactive people, suddenly appear!

Is that what Secrets was like?  Well, we’re not to that level of tech yet, but it certainly was the most immersive experience I’ve ever had.

After signing a waiver, my wife and I, along with another random couple we were paired up with, followed our guide into a room with a big screen, where we received an urgent message from Cassian Andor (from Star Wars Rogue One).  After that, each of us were able to choose the color of our Stormtrooper armor’s pauldron.  There were lots of colors to choose from, but it’s a good idea to coordinate your choice with the other members, because you can double up and this can make it confusing in game!

After that, we were led into the gear room, where an Oculus Rift headset and haptic-feedback suit awaited us.  After putting our gear on and getting them synced up with our wristbands, we were led into a square room, and lowered our visors.

And suddenly, we were stormtroopers.  All of us.  My wife, with her purple pauldron, stood next to me, and was rendered with her accurate height!  I think I even made the joke of ‘aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?’  The other couple was across from us, the tall guy with his black pauldron (I chose blue) and his significant other, who also had a purple pauldon but thankfully was a little taller than Beck so I didn’t lose track of who was who.

We were in a small compartment on a troop transport, and suddenly the door opens…and K2SO pops his head in to give us a mission update!

What was really incredible was that we were free to move around in the rendered environment.  When we moved into another compartment and were asked to sit in the rendered seats, we sat and there were chairs.  When asked to get onto a moving platform, we did and it felt like it moved.  When entering a lift and told to pull the lever, there was a lever we could actually pull, and it was rendered in real-time as we pulled it!

What’s more was the feel and smell.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but when we were in a place with fire, there was heat and I could smell burning wood!  When stormtroopers shot at us, I felt the impact and heat from when I was hit!  The designers and creators, The Void, did a really good job mixing a physical environment with virtual, creating an incredible experience!

It wasn’t perfect…to save money and time, there were no gloves, so your avatar’s hand movements were tracked with motion sensors.  This sometimes glitched, and when my hands were in my lap, I’d look over and it would look like I had my hand in my wife’s mouth.  And one of the four blasters kept malfunctioning and not showing up in the game, so they had to start us over two times before it worked properly.  Plus blaster bolts moved annoyingly slow (like Elder Scrolls 4 – Oblivion arrows) and that made the fights a little less intense than they should have been.

But all said, the experience was incredible and immersive, and is definitely the closest we have come to holodecks!

What Does This Mean for Storytelling?

I’m extremely excited about what this represents!  Right now, Secrets of the Empire is the only thing like this that I am aware of, but it opens the door for some unique storytelling!  As the technology improves, things will only get better.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Star Trek jumps on the bandwagon soon.  I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to step onto the bridge of a Starship or fight through a Borg ship?

Or what about Harry Potter??  Some more tweaking of the tech, but as you wave your wand and speak the words, the system reads it and you see your spell unfold before you!

Unfortunately right now, I don’t see sword fights happening with our level of tech, but how long before they figure out a way to make that happen?

What stories could be told interactively?  Sure the settings are finite, but some amazing stories can be told in small spaces.  Such as the Star Trek bridge mentioned above.

Secrets of the Empire was pretty much scripted, but as we’ve seen with video games, stories can change depending on choices, and as long as those choices are planned ahead…there could be some pretty big facilities made for some impressive interactions in the future.

I think that this is just the beginning!!  Now if only The Void would open more locations…like one in Denver!

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What Kind of Series Do You Prefer?

Greetings, dear readers!

Recently someone pointed out that there are two kinds of series out there: those that are like a fast food hamburger, and those that are like a gourmet meal.

…off hand it sounds weird, but the writer of this guest blog entry uses the examples of food to great effect.

I’m more of a geek, so today I’m going to translate that into geek speak ;)  What I’m talking about today is like the difference between Star Trek The Original Series and Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  Never seen either, or just one and not the other?  Don’t worry, I’ll translate :)

The Star Trek TOS Series

There’s no denying the legacy that The Original Series has left upon our society.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy, along with the USS Enterprise, are legendary, and will probably never be forgotten.

But if you focus just on the series, and not the movies that followed, you’ll notice a pattern that, initially, was emulated by The Next Generation: the characters do not change or grow throughout the 3 season run.

In the beginning, Kirk was a shoot first and ask questions later kinda guy who wasn’t afraid to, *ahem* bridge the interspecies gap with a little…special diplomacy.  Not to say that he wasn’t a positive role model in many ways, especially for his intolerance for bigotry, or the fact that he was always leading up front, not afraid to charge in ahead of his team.  By the end of the 3rd season…nothing had changed.

Just like Bones McCoy was still a grumpy old doctor.  And Spock was still struggling to remain as Vulcan as possible with the occasional emotional outburst.  Uhura never got promoted.  Sulu was always the helmsmen.  Probably the only thing that changed was Checkov’s introduction part way through the series, but then he, too, never changed.

There’s something to be said about this kind of series.  It’s comfortable, knowing that while each story will be just a little different, they’ll be familiar, and the characters will always be how we remembered them.  Plus if you happen into the series halfway through, you won’t be lost.  It’s not a requirement to have seen the premier to be able to step into.

Another example of this kind of series is The Simpsons, and the fact that Bart, Homer and the gang haven’t changed and are still on the air after over 20 years should say something about the power of this kind of story.

The DS9 Series

Contrast that with Deep Space 9.  From episode one on, you knew it wasn’t going to be anything like other Trek.  And in season 1, they weren’t afraid to make that known, such as the episode when Sisko punched Q.  “You hit me!  Picard never hit me.”  “I’m not Picard!”

And the characters changed.  The story evolved.  If you came in during later seasons, you’d probably have no idea what’s going on.  “Why does this Odo person look so weird, but he’s basically human?  Wait, what, he was a changeling and lost is changeling ability but now is getting it back…huh?!?!?”  “Who is the Dominion, and why are they allied with the Cardassians.  Wait, now they’re allied with the Romulans…no, no they’re not.”  “Sisko is an Emissary of…Wormhole aliens?  Huh??”

But then, there’s something powerful about this kind of story.  Because as you watch (or read) about characters growing, you grow with them.  You watch them change.  Like watching Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up.  Or seeing Aragorn change from a reluctant leader to the confident King of the West.

When the characters reach their ultimate goal, you cheer for them!  Or when they fail, your heart aches for them.  Or when they lose someone they love, you mourn with them.

These characters allow you to connect with them in a way unchanging characters never could.

Is One Better Than The Other?

I think this question comes down to preference.  There’s a place for everything.  And perhaps even mixing these two types is advantageous.

But for me, personally, I will always prefer the DS9’s.  The Lord of the Rings.  The Stargates.  These are the ones I connect with better than any other series out there.

What’s your preference?

Thanks for reading!  And to those who celebrate, Happy Easter!
-Jon Wasik

Writing Is Stress Relief

Hi everyone!

Life has become completely crazy this year, especially in the past few months since we had to move (and not exactly by choice, either.)  Between the chaos and craziness that has been my day job this year, wedding planning, and moving, I’ve found myself with very little time and energy to write, or do much of anything writing-related.

It suddenly occurred to me how much I missed writing, and how I’ve had few good methods to help relieve stress.  I remember one afternoon, while we drove to the grocery store, I turned to my fiancee and said, “I really need to find time to write regularly again.”  It was out of the blue, but I figured there had to be some reason I felt compelled to say it.

And not long after, I realized why: writing is one of my biggest outlets.  One of my biggest stress relief avenues.  In fact in recent years, it has become the biggest.  I no longer sing in choir, haven’t in years, and I don’t read as much as I’d like to, especially in the past 2 or 3 years.  But writing, that has been my constant.

Even after we finish unpacking, the craziness isn’t likely to end anytime soon, we still have a long ways to go in our wedding planning, and work isn’t going to let up anytime soon.

While TV and video games still provide some outlet, they still don’t have the affect on me that writing does.  They aren’t as powerful an outlet.  They help me wind down at the end of the day, which is needed, but they aren’t writing.

Why Is It So Powerful?

I don’t really have a definitive answer to that question, but maybe we can figure it out right now.  Storytelling has been a constant in my life, ever since I was a small child telling wild stories to my Great Grandma Marcis.  It was fun.  And then in 5th grade, I wrote my first short story, and have been hooked on writing ever since.

But somewhere after that, writing definitely became more than just a fun obsession.  Just like choir, just like reading, just like video games, it allowed me to shut out the rest of the world and become engrossed in something else.  With choir, when I sang, the world around me disappeared and my entire Universe became the director, the choir, and the audience.  When reading, the characters on the page were my entire Universe.  Same with video games.

Image Source – http://finalfantasy.wikia.com

But then, that still doesn’t explain why writing does more for me than any of those other outlets.  It certainly didn’t always.  I still remember how obsessed I became with Final Fantasy 7 when I first discovered it.  Same with EverQuest.

I think it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado, when I finally broke a 4-year writer’s block and finished book one of the Sword of Dragons, that writing became something far more for me.

In the past 5 years, I’ve written 3 complete novels and am developing many more.  The development, the writing, the publication process, it all makes me so happy!  I obsess over my stories (ask my fiancee, once I get on a tangent about a story, I don’t stop talking about it!) and they feel like they need to be told.  And that I need to be the one to tell them!

It’s my way of giving back to the world, I think, while at the same time giving myself something.  I’m able to satisfy both my need for stories, both to experience and to tell, while giving the world stories.

Image Source – http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Last_Jedi

Recently when watching the latest trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi, it reminded me how great stories make me feel.  And I love being able to make others feel that way.  Maybe my stories aren’t as great as Star Wars – that’s not for me to decide.  But who knows, someday, maybe someone will fall in love with my stories the same way I fell in love with Star Wars, or Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings.

That would be truly amazing :)

Thanks for reading, everyone!
-Jon Wasik

The Return of Stargate and the Prequel Trend

Hi everyone!

If you haven’t heard yet, Stargate is finally making a comeback!  And I’m not talking about a reboot of the movie franchise, which has either been fully cancelled or at least postponed.  Rather, this is the next ‘chapter’ in the SG-1 Universe.

…Except, it isn’t.  Announced only a few days ago, it’s called Stargate Origins (click here to check the announcement on Gateworld.net.)  It takes place…sometime before SG-1, though we don’t know when yet.  And reportedly follows an adventure of young Catherine Langford as she defends Earth against an unimaginable darkness…  More on why this is a problem for me further down.

Sci-Fi and the Prequel Trend

Image Source – http://www.techtimes.com

Back in 1999, George Lucas released the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace.  At the time, I was extraordinarily excited about it, I’d always wanted to see those first three episodes, to see the origin story of Darth Vader, and, well, I was excited to see more Star Wars on screen.

What I didn’t know was the trend that it would begin…and that is a trend in Sci Fi that has endured for nearly 20 years.

Prequels.  Though I don’t believe Phantom Menace was the first ever prequel, it was the biggest hit I’m aware of.  Since then, here’s what we’ve seen…

  • Star Trek Enterprise (followed by the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and now Star Trek Discovery.
  • X-Men Origins and X-Men First Class
  • Prometheus (prequel to Alien)
  • The Thing
  • Caprica
  • Oz The Great and Powerful

And that’s just a small list of well-knowns.  Now with Stargate Origins coming out, I find myself crying out “NOOOOO!”  I for one have grown tired of prequels.  Especially in Sci-Fi universes that are supposed to be about exploration and moving forward (Star Trek and Stargate both being examples.)

But why?  Why is this continuing?  Especially…well, do an experiment with me.  Go to google.com and type in the search parameter “Why are prequels so popular?”  I know that Google can tailor search results based on past browsing habits, but for me, the first 10 results talk about why the Star Wars prequels are so hated.

So if the first major prequel of a franchise was so horrible, once again, I have to ask…why is this trend continuing??

Theories of the Trend

One of the most common opinions I get when I ask people this question is “Hollywood can’t come up with anymore original ideas.”  An interesting theory, but I wonder how true it actually is.

Image Source – http://www.irishnews.com

In fact, until recently, I didn’t really have a response except “maybe that’s true.”  Until…Bright.  The name of an upcoming, Netflix-produced movie, Bright is about modern-day Earth, with elves and orcs and faeries living side by side with us.  Will Smith’s character is a police officer partnered with what appears to be a young orc.  This is radically different from any major sci-fi/fantasy movie I’ve seen in recent years.

But it’s Netflix.  It’s not a major motion picture studio, it’s a relatively brand new production studio.  And I think this is a key point.  Netflix broke the mold with movie rentals, and now is breaking the mold by producing it’s own TV shows and, now, movies.  Like Amazon, Netflix seems to be all about trying new things, innovating, and moving its company in an unexpected direction.  And it’s succeeding at it.

Major motion picture studios, however…it’s like an unknown author sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher.  You’re a big, big risk.  They are highly reticent to invest time and money into you, no matter how good your product is.  So more likely than not, you’ll be rejected.

I think the same can be said about major motion picture studios and TV production studios.  They want to invest money into something that has a proven history of making money.  And even as reviled as the Star Wars prequels are, they made a ton of money.  So prequels make money.

This, I think, is why we keep getting prequels and, for that matter, sequels, rather than truly original content.

This is also why I am becoming a big proponent of Netflix, and of self-publishing.  It allows those with innovative or new ideas to get their ideas out there.  They may not always succeed, but at least they can try.

Parting Thoughts on Stargate Origins

Image Source – http://stargate.wikia.com

I’m really really sad about the direction they are taking to try to revive Stargate.  I really want more Stargate, but a prequel?  A prequel that, at least at first glance, blatantly ignores established timeline?  For those who aren’t as familiar with it, before the Stargate was opened by Daniel Jackson in the motion picture, the Stargate was only opened one other time after it was unburied in Giza, with disastrous results.  It was subsequently shut down for decades.

Yet this premise seems to indicate that Catherine travels through the Stargate, either before or after Ernest is stranded off-world, to confront some darkness that, apparently, SG-1 and the SGC are never made aware of.

In essence, it’s making the same mistake Star Trek and Star Wars made in their prequels: ignoring continuity.

Worse still, the series is being released as 10 episodes…each episode 10 minutes long.  I can’t imagine why anyone thought this was a good idea…but then again…I’m kind of eating my own words now.  I released 10 short stories which will later be compiled into an anthology (The Orc War Campaigns.)  So…maybe this is a result of the trend of online and subscription based TV shows?

Anyway, I hope I’m wrong about Origins, but I really think this effort is going to fall flat on its face, and Stargate will once again be thrown into proverbial mothballs.  :(

What are your thoughts about all of this?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Complexities of Writing a Series – Snowball Effect

Hi everyone!

While the Sword of Dragons is not the first series I have ever written, it is by far the biggest, and I’m only a few books into it!  And the further I go, the more I’m beginning to realize the daunting task ahead of me.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/

Whether or not anyone else has used it before, I call it the snowball effect.  With each and every new story, there’s more material built up, and therefore more material I have to be intimately familiar with to ensure continuity.  (Because I hate continuity errors…as much as I love Star Trek, it was pretty bad about that in later series.)

Now with three books (2 published, plus the Orc War Campaigns which is as big as a novel), working on book 3 has required me to go back often and reference notes, thoughts, and actual pages from previous stories to ensure I’m getting all of the characters, locations, and plots straight.

Image Source - https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/
Image Source – https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/

I’m beginning to understand why the creators of the Mass Effect series did not want to take the story beyond the 3rd game.  For me it’s just one continual story I have to keep track.  For Mass Effect, in each game, the player gets to make a multitude of decisions that affect not only the outcome of the current game, but the games to follow.  Keeping track of and including all possibilities into each game must have been crazy difficult!!  And as far as I could tell from playing the trilogy, they did a great job!

I’m curious to see what they do with the new game, Andromeda…how much of player decisions can show through into Andromeda?  Or can players even load in their Mass Effect 3 play through to affect it?  We’ll find out soon enough :)

Star Trek Dragon – My First Series

stdragonThe first time I wrote a continual story was my fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon.  Spread across 7 season, 66 episodes of which were a part of the main seasonal run, and 4 more that weren’t part of the episode numbering, it was a pretty big story.  I never brought them all together to get a word count, but I can imagine it’s pretty massive.

There were many instances, especially in season’s 6 and 7, where I took things I had written in the earlier seasons and made them vital to where the story and characters went.  It was fun!

Started while I was at the tail end of Jr. High and finished in College, it wasn’t the most popular fan fiction out there, but it was well received by those who did read it, and I did have a small fan following near the end.

The Sword of Dragons – So Much More Complicated

Cover by Christian Michael
Cover by Christian Michael

So knowing that I successfully wrote 7 seasons and only created a couple of plot holes and inconsistencies, why does The Sword of Dragons feel so much more difficult?

When thinking about this question this morning, the answer seemed rather obvious: in Star Trek Dragon, I had copious amounts of references to look back on, plus I knew the Star Trek universe better than any other.  It was pre-established. And fans are really good at documenting what has happened in it.

With the Sword of Dragons, it’s an entirely made up Universe, one which I’ve built from the ground up and continue to build.  There’s no fan wiki out there (if only I had the time to build one…)  And unfortunately, I don’t have a team of editors helping me with continuity.  It’s just little ‘ol me taking on an entire Universe…

I also wonder how much of the difficulty writing book 3 is stemming from my flare-up of ADHD, because it seems like it’s been harder than it should be.  In any case, I’ll continue to work my hardest to keep it all straight, and will depend on my awesome beta readers (Nick, Natalie, you both rock!) to help keep me on the straight and narrow :)

Final Thought – The Star Wars EU

Image Source - http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/
Image Source – http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/

I was just about to finish this blog when I realized something: I think I understand now why Disney decided to split apart the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the Cinematic Universe.  There are literally hundreds of Star Wars EU novels out there: keeping track of everything and getting the continuity right, all while trying to come up with an original story for the new movies, is beyond daunting…

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Stories That Endure

Hi everyone!

Image Source - www.pinterest.com
Image Source – http://www.pinterest.com

Do you know what Star Trek is?  What about Lord of the Rings?  How about the Never Ending Story or Labyrinth?

There are some stories out there that endure the test of time, ones that have such a powerful impact on the world that they just seem to never die.

In fact, it almost seems as if some will never die.  Never Ending Story is almost as old as I am at 32 years old.  Star Trek just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year!  And Lord of the Rings?  It was first published in 1954 as a sequel to the almost-as-popular The Hobbit, published in 1937.  That’s 79 years old, and it’s still just as popular, if not more so, than when it was first published!

And even though I’m not a fan myself, there are even older stories that still exist in our public consciousness: Shakespeare.  Often cited as the origin of the modern story, Shakespeare’s stories are told and retold, over and over and over again today.

Let us not forget the oldest of stories, too, what I recall someone once saying may very well be the first-ever written narrative: Beowulf, said to have been written between 975AD and 1010AD.

Why These Stories?

So what is it about these stories that allows them to endure?  Is it possible to examine these stories and figure out how to write the perfect popular story, which would endure for a thousand years or more?

Image Source - www.thedigitalbits.com
Image Source – http://www.thedigitalbits.com

For that matter, will the newer examples endure just as long as the older?  Will new Star Trek stories be told 500 years from now?  That’s an interesting question right there, being a sci-fi series.  500 years from now, further ahead than when Star Trek actually takes place, what new forms of entertainment will exist?  What forms of space-based travel?  Where will our society be?  And will there still be a place for Star Trek?

This is going to sound strange at first, but bear with me – for different, and yet strangely similar reasons, I think Star Trek will endure another 500 years or more.

generationsThe reason that differs from Lord of the Rings or even Beowulf?  Star Trek is a continuing narrative that can evolve.  Look no further than the vast differences between the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation, let alone the retelling of Kirk’s era in the new movies.

In fact, if Star Trek can continue to evolve (stop going backwards, Trek writers, and start moving forward in the story!) I think it might have more staying power than almost any other series out there.

…but then how is it the same?  What qualities does it have that means it will endure as long as the others?

There are many, I think.  But more than anything, I think there are two elements that are essential.

Image Source - http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/
Image Source – http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/

The first is wonder.  In this, Star Trek has the greatest advantage.  Lord of the Rings still makes me drop my jaw when I read about Moria or Minas Tirith.  I still get a sense of warmth in my soul when I see the Shire in the movies. I still get a sense of dread when I see Minas Morgul.  But Star Trek can reinvent itself with every incarnation, and show new, amazing places that have never before been seen in human history, limited only by imagination…

The second is perhaps one of the most important aspects of fiction, at least in my opinion, and I know I’ve talked about this before: the characters.

Image Source - l-o-t-r.tumblr.com
Image Source – l-o-t-r.tumblr.com

When I think of Lord of the Rings, I think of Frodo and Aragorn and Legolas, not the One Ring (though that comes in a close second.)  When I think of Beowulf, I think of, well, Beowulf.  When I think of Shakespeare, I think of King Lear or Romeo and Juliet (even though I really don’t like either of those…)  And when I think of Star Trek…well for me, the first thing I think of is Picard and Data, followed by the infamous trio, Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

These are memorable characters, many of whom start out by fulfilling common tropes, but quickly become much more complex and interesting.  Fulfilling the common tropes in the beginning makes them interesting on the surface and help readers or viewers attach to them quickly.  But by itself, common-trope characters alone would make people lose interest fast, and so it is the fact that they quickly become much more complex characters that helps them endure.

Image Source - www.inquisitr.com
Image Source – http://www.inquisitr.com

We become emotionally invested in characters.  Hate or like them, we want to see what happens to them.  We need to see how they overcome obstacle A, and then find out what obstacles B through Z will be and how they overcome them.

That is why these stories endure.  That is why they never die.

Because they spark our imagination, and pull on our heart strings, all at once…

What are your thoughts, dear readers?  Do you agree or do you think there is something else that ensures these stories will endure?

For that matter, what are some of your favorite stories that have already shown an endurance?  (Immediately, Disney characters are coming to my mind :) )

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

WAIT!!!!!!!!

There’s more.  A quick, exciting announcement!

The Orc War returns...
The Orc War returns…

 

Taking It Personally – When Does Fiction Become Public Domain?

Hi everyone!

In about 24 hours, the movie millions have been waiting for, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released!  In and of itself, the release of a new Star Wars in theaters is exhilarating, and given that it is the continuation of the story from the Original Trilogy, nerds everywhere (myself included) are ecstatic!

More so because George Lucas has no involvement in its creation!  ….wait, that seriously excites everyone?  The very man who invented Star Wars.  Who created the characters that has inspired generations, and invented the concept of the Force.

obi-wan_kenobi-confused

But let’s face it, over the past 20 years, in the eyes of countless fans, Lucas has slowly dismantled Star Wars and turned it into something that old-school fans despise.  I’m not one of them, mind you – I don’t love the prequels, but I don’t hate them either.  And I actually like most (but not all) of the changes he made to the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy.

Never-the-less, the fire Lucas has received has been incredibly harsh, so much so that he has been quoted recently as avoiding the internet altogether in order to avoid reading the criticism against him.

Which brings me to the point of this article…

A New Era – Fans Taking It Personally

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how Star Trek and Star Wars seem to build upon each other’s successes.  But they seem to be linked in another way as well – the fans react quite vehemently when something is entered into the fictional canon that they don’t like.

The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )
The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )

I still can recall discussions in fan forums back during the DS9 and especially during the Voyager and Enterprise era of Trek where fans were flat out blaming Brannon Braga for ‘destroying Trek and everything it stood for.’  They were taking it personally, and with each new series, the open hatred towards the producers grew worse.

The same thing has happened with Lucas…but it hasn’t stopped there.  No, not by a long shot.  In fact, if anything, this trend of being offended by aspects of their fandom that they don’t like has only grown worse.

Remember when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond for Casino Royale?  Fan and media reactions were both very harsh.  Many people criticized him as being not handsome enough, not tall enough, and any number of other criticisms.  In fact there’s still a website online, http://www.danielcraigisnotbond.com dedicated to making sure everyone knows that Craig is not a suitable Bond.

roger-mooreIn reading up on this history recently, I learned that former Bond star, Roger Moore, had a few words to say about this.  While I cannot seem to find that article again, and so cannot directly quote Moore, I recall that he was surprised by the negative reaction to Craig.  He commented how 30 years ago, no one would have reacted to such a different direction for Bond, or any other franchise for that matter.

And then there’s Mass Effect 3.  The ending of this phenomenal trilogy of video games, with such an incredibly in-depth story and amazing characters, was considered to be one of the greatest let downs in the history of video games.

In fact, it was so bad that a law suit was filed against EA via the FTC, claiming that EA was guilty of false advertising.  Reactions were so bad that EA actually released a free DLC for Mass Effect 3 that revamped the ending, adding more choices, and created a somewhat better final experience for the game.

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Does Fiction Belong to the Fans?

From the looks of things (and based on fan reactions to The Hobbit movie trilogy) this trend is only growing.  So as a writer, this raises a very serious question: does fiction belong to the fans?  At what point does our creative work no longer belong to us?  Should I cater to the desires (or even demands) of fans for where I take my stories?

To my fellow writers out there, I’m willing to bet most of you are going to immediately say “No!!!  Never change your artistic direction to sate fans!  Nor should you do so for commercial reasons!”  I’ve heard this stance over and over throughout my entire life, especially in college, the domain of “Literary” fiction.

But you know what?  Fans matter.  Here, let me repeat that.

Fans Matters.

This has been my stance from day one of this blog, and goes back much, much further than that.  It has always been my greatest desire to connect to readers, to engage with them, to hear their thoughts and desires and opinions about my works.

Is this me selling out?  I don’t think so.  No matter what, my stories will always be the product of my creative vision.  But I also have an active and adaptive imagination.

I’ve also put this into practice.  My old fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon, is the perfect example.  I had this amazing idea to do a crossover between Star Trek and Star Wars.  The setting was perfect, because the USS Dragon was already lost in a galaxy ‘far, far away.’  And my idea was to make it a permanent crossover.

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It was not well received.  In fact, it is safe to say that the episode titles “A Long Time Ago” is the most disliked episode of STDragon.  So at the end of Season 3, I dropped that crossover…mostly.  And took STDragon in a very different direction from what I had originally planned.

 

And it turned out better.  So much better.

mitchell-sg1This is not to say writers should cater to every whim of the fans.  Do NOT try to please everyone, because that is impossible, and you’ll only drive yourself crazy.  And do not abandon your original creative endeavor.  The original story is still your creation.

All I am saying is don’t ignore them.  And what ever you do, do not ever think of your readers as simple-minded, as stupid, or as crazy.  The majority of readers are intelligent, sensitive individuals who enjoy quality entertainment (yes, I borrowed that quote from the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1.)

I’ve Digressed – Who Owns Fiction?

This is a question I asked my friend Wayne today.  Who owns fiction?  At what point does a fictional body become the domain of the public?

After discussing it with him and thinking further on it, I’ve come to the opinion that it is both, the moment it is released ‘into the wild.’  It is still the creator’s work, and they still will be the ones to guide it into the future.  But it also belongs to the public.  You’ve inspired them.  You’ve engaged their imagination, made them think.

And do not underestimate the impact you’ve had on readers.  If they react strongly to something you’ve written, it means you have succeeded in making them fall in love with your work.  That’s something amazing, and not to be ignored.

Not to mention, collaboration between creators and fans can result in an amazing product.  Look into Star Citizen for a perfect example :)

What do you all think?  This is a pretty heavy and hot topic, and I have no doubt that opinions will vary widely on it.  Please comment below!!  (But please keep it civil!)

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik