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Star Trek – The Romulan Way by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The Romulan Way is the second book in Diane Duane’s “Rihannsu” cycle – although the first book in the series, My Enemy, My Ally was only retroactively distinguished from standard Star Trek tie-ins. Much like My Enemy, My Ally had been roughly contemporaneous with John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection, Duane’s follow-up was published around the same time as Ford’s own sequel to his earlier work, How Much for Just the Planet? Expanding on My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way sees Duane delving more thoroughly into Romulan history and culture.

The Romulan Way was published amid a sea of change at Paramount and Pocket Books in the late eighties, with shifting mandates and objectives for these tie-in books that represented a conscious effort to hem in some of the more creative tendencies of mid-eighties Star Trek novelist. To demonstrate how rapidly things were changing, both The Romulan Way and How Much for Just the Planet? were both published within three years of their predecessors. After this point, it would take Duane another thirteen years to write the third volume in her saga, and John M. Ford would never write another Star Trek tie-in again.

It’s very hard to condone any publishing philosophy that leads to results like that.

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Star Trek – The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual (FASA) (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

The sheer wealth of supplemental material which exists for Star Trek is often quite stunning. While nowhere near the marketing juggernaut that Star Wars is, the depth of the Star Trek brand can’t help but seem impressive. On top of the television show and movies, there are novels and comics, but it goes even further than that. Models, blueprints, Christmas decorations, action figures, and even china dinner sets. It is occasionally awe-inspiring, but also quite intimidating.

Still, it’s interesting to witness how this extended material has come back to influence the “core” of the franchise. It’s not unheard of for spin-offs and tie-ins to help develop a core property. Kryptonite and Jimmy Olsen were added to the Superman mythos, for example, following their popularity on the radio show. Here we have some background material prepared for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game that was popular during the 1980s. As with a lot of this sort of stuff, it’s not really “canon” or “continuity” in anyway that seems to count.

However, The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual is interesting because it world-builds the franchise, explicitly in reference to John M. Ford’s vision of Klingon culture in The Final Reflection.

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Star Trek – My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

1984 was a hell of a year of Star Trek tie-in novels. John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection was published in May 1984. It was followed by a tie-in adaptation of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but the very next original novel would by My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane. Both novels feel like kindred spirits, really pushing the boundaries of what you could do with Star Trek tie-in novels.

In particular, both works devoted considerable time to developing some of the iconic and memorable aliens of Star Trek. Ford’s The Final Reflection extrapolated an entire Klingon culture, while Duane’s My Enemy, My Ally dared to imagine a complex Romulan Empire, so distinct and well-defined that it isn’t even known as Romulan (apparently the term outsiders use for the species), but Rihannsu.

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