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First, some comments from previous columns . . .

Trek's "Adaptations" of Previously Published Stories
Beginning with Shane Tourtellotte's comments in the 8/1/97 column

Phil: Almost three months ago, Shane started a thread in this column asking about the similarities between the NextGen episode "Tin Man" and a short short entitled, "Tin Woodman". Brian Lombard contributed some comments the next week from a radio interview that he had heard. And . . . a good time was had by all! ;-) This week, I received a note from Dennis Bailey, one of the original authors in this saga and I thought you might like to hear his comments!

Dennis Bailey: Hi. I'm one of the authors of the ST:TNG episode "Tin Man". Ran across this question at your Nitpicker web-site.

The story on the book "Tin Woodman" and the ST episode "Tin Man" is this: in 1989 Dave Bischoff, Lisa Putman White and I wrote and submitted a spec script based on our 1979 novel "Tin Woodman" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (it was actually based on our _short_story_ "Tin Woodman", published in Amazing Science Fiction for December 1976 which we based our novel on a few years later. I believe in the virtues of recycling . It's certainly easier to boil a short story down to a forty-two minute teleplay than to do that to a novel).

Somewhat to our surprise, Paramount bought our script and put "Tin Man" into production in February of 1990. David and I are credited as the sole writers on the teleplay (Lolita Fatjo tells me that "Tin Man" was the last spec script submitted by outsiders that was bought and produced as such by "Star Trek" -- over the years they've bought quite a few spec story treatments and scripts which have then gone through in-house rewrites to become episodes, but that's a little different. The only three scripts submitted on spec that have been purchased and produced have been "The Measure Of A Man" by Melinda Snodgrass, "The Bonding" by Ron Moore, and "Tin Man".)

Dave Bischoff and I also received shared teleplay credit with Ron Moore, Joe Menosky and Michael Piller on the TNG tv episode "First Contact" (fourth season. Featured memorable appearance by Bebe Neuwirth). On "First Contact" I'm credited under my legal name, "Dennis Russell Bailey". On "Tin Man" I'm credited as "Dennis Putman Bailey". In that case I wanted Lisa Putman White, a long-time girlfriend who contributed a lot of dialogue and editorial work to the script, to receive some credit for it (the hows and whys of not having a three-person writing team credited on the show were and are beyond me. We were just stonewalled on it by the studio and Guild).

Anyway, doubtless more than anyone wants to know. Thanks. ;-)

Phil: Always interesting to hear from the source!

Money and the Federation
Beginning with Jeffrey M. Muscato's comments in the 9/25/97 column
(Last week for this subject unless something fabulous comes in. At this point, we're going around the barn as second time! ;-)

Jim Elek of Sterling Heights, MI: First of all, Vash and the Picard Vineyard are exactly what I meant when I wrote (in the 10/17 column) that "we end up with discrepancies and more questions than answers." I think you hit the nail on the head, though, when you said that Trek only pays "lipservice to 'communalism.'" Let's face it, this subject isn't the only area that the "Powers That Be" have sacrificed continuity for better drama or "Because It Looks/Sounds Cool."

As for human evolution in 400 years, it's all a matter of opinion. Who can say whether your view or mine is correct? However, the foundation of Star Trek is not only that humanity as a whole survives the next 400 years, but that it also thrives and evolves and outgrows or overcomes many of vices and conventions of today's society. If one cannot except this premise, then Star Trek would never make any sense to him or her.

Phil: True! And I'm more than willing to agree that 400 years is a long time and who knows what will happen! (Personally, I think in 400 years that there *will* be utopia on Earth--just not the kind of utopia that Trek espouses! And . . . you could read all about it if I could every find a publisher for my novel The Son, The Wind and The Reign. Arrgh. ;-)

Patrick Sweeney of Torrington, CT: In the "real" military, you know, here on Earth, in the 20th century, most crews on naval vessels do not buy their own meals, or uniforms. And when they see something they want they have to BUY it out their pay checks, which are usually direct deposited into an account. This appears to be true in the 24th century as well. Remember the episode, I think it was "Data's Day", witht the O'Brian wedding, and Data goes to get a gift with Worf?

Well, it looks very much to me that they have to pay for things they get from that room, with those particular replicators. Also, 10-forward is like the Officer's Club of present day military bases, the only difference, is that anyone can go to the 24th century one, but everyone still pays. You think a sophisticated computer can't keep track of who uses a replicator? I doubt it, and in ten-forward it is the barkeeps job to do that.

The only part that makes no sense is in FC when Picard tells Lily about "..the economics of the 24th century". This can be explained by the simple statement, that the Federation doesn't pay for anything. That's the problem with our government today (Meaning the US) , it buys evrything, from itself, the country, other countries, and it is putting us in debt. Now, if we say that the Federation "prints enough money" to pay everyone their wages, and to compensate those who provide materials for vessels and such, than there is no debt, but the planet is well equiped and happy. I think once we balance our own budget, probably about the 24th century, we may begin to realize this.

Phil: As I have said before, I have no problem with a credit system but I don't think the statements in Trek line up with that system. Doesn't Nog chide Jake during "In The Card" over the fact that Earth abandoned a currency based system? (I don't actually have this episode on tape but I heard this quoted several time from different people.) I don't think you can just say, "Well, he meant coinage not credits." The implication is that there is no medium of exchange (as we have already discussed in previous weeks). Now, as far as "printing all the money you want" goes, there are countries that have tried that tack and it leads to hyperinflation. The reason is simple. Whatever you use for a medium of exchange, people have to believe that it's valuable. Ever since the US went off the gold standard for its currency, our money has been based on nothing more that the belief that its worth something. We all believe its money so its money--even though it's just paper.

Same things with computer credits. We would have to all believe that the computer credits could be exchanged for real goods. Now if the government starts shucking out those credits indescriminately, our faith in those credits would begin to erode--just like it did in the real-life examples in this century. (Germany and Argentina come to mind.) People lose faith in the medium of exchange and they being stockpiling real goods. The price of the goods shoots up and you have hyperinflation.

The only way that this might work is if you had a completely closed system which the Federation most certainly is not and even then you would have to contend with encouraging people doing the less desirable work (as we have already discussed in previous weeks.)

Matthew Cotnoir: I just had a brain storm about the money and Star Trek thing. Well, not really a brain storm, just a really interesting question. Anyway here it goes. If there is no money in Star Trek, how does that explain the existance of Starfleet Academy? Stick with me here. The Academy (to me and some of my friends at least) seems to be akin to the present day military academies (of course, this begs the question again of whether or not Starfleet is military, but that's another question for another time). For example, you must have a recommendation from a high ranking offical to get in (Congressperson in the USA, Captain in Trek, a la Nog and Capt. Sisko), highly competitive tests are administered, etc. Now, here lies the dilemma. Who pays for this? USA's military academies are not free to attend. Is Starfleet Academy? Or is the Academy comletely funded by the state (or Federation)? To me, it seems that to be in Starfleet, you must go through the Academy (which raises the question of whether or not O'Brien went through the Acadamy, or was enlisted, and if he is enlisted, he must be the only one in all of Starfleet. I've never seen any other NCO's in my 10 or so years of watching Trek, but I digress). Hmm, it seems to me that the Federation is looking more an more like a Communist State to me. And if there is a tutition to the Academy, how is it paid? In credits? I would hope not. So, depending on how you look at it, it could go either way. Any thoughts? I apolgize for the disorder of this message. This is a lot of questions about the Academy coming up all at once, and all because of the debate over money in Trek. Go figure.

Phil: Who knows?! ;-) Kirk does make a comment to Spock about the "investiment" that Star Fleet has in him and Spock begins to rattle off a number in "The Apple."

Animaniacs Visit Star Trek
Beginning with Paul Lalli's comments in the 9/25/97 column

Simon de Vet: Another great Critic moment comes to mind... He is at a party and some celebrity shows up (forget the name) Someone says "Look! It's [name]" and he replies, "No it's not, it's just her robot for special functions." Then Shatner walks in chanting "Read. My. Book. Read. My. Book" The same person says "Look! It's a William Shatner robot!" to which the critic replies "That's no robot". Sorry I don't remember better details, but it's been years!

Anne Magee of Fredericton NB: I found another Star Trek reference in ReBoot: In the first season episode "Talent Night," one of the people who auditioned was Captain Quirk. He was introduced by Mike the TV then he sang, if you'll pardon the loose usage, "Rocket Man." Behind him was a vidwindow with a moving psychodelic pattern and a rotating peace symbol.

I'm not sure if the singing was a voice actor faking it, or if it was actually taken from Shatner's 60's LP. There *was* a credit thanking Polygram Records, so it may have been genuine.

Bob Weiss in Bowie, Maryland: Many episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are loaded with great references to Star Trek. The Season Eight show on the Sci-Fi Channel called "Jack Frost" is especially packed. Best Brains (the people who produce MST3K) love to mention that drinking "tranya" thing from The Corbomite Maneuver. Many older episodes, from the days that MST3K was on Comedy Central, also pay hilarious homage to Star Trek. If you want a complete list of sketches, check out the MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Of course, the book doesn't list the dozens of off-the-cuff references they've made to Star Trek while watching and riffing on the films for eight years, only the host segment sketches are listed. MST3K and the Nitpicker's Guides to Star Trek: Two of the best examples that comedy and science fiction do mix very well indeed.

Phil: Thanks for the kind comparision! I can't get MST3K any longer because I don't have cable but when I did have cable and got a chance to see it, I thought it was fabulous!

Particles and Physics in Star Trek for Greg
Beginning with Phil's comments in the 10/03/97 column

Elio Arteaga of Hialeah, FL: Is your teacher friend still looking for particles mentioned in Trek? A good resource is the Star Trek Encyclopedia (or the Omnipedia, which I don't own). If he looks for title of each episode in the entries, the Encyclopedia lists all the names, characters, planets, etc. mentioned in that episode. For example, the episode "Hollow Pursuits" lists cryonetrium, invidium, jakmanite, lucrovexitrin (sounds like a medicine), saltzgadum and selgninaem.

Phil: I'll pass it along!

Uzis and the Borg
Beginning with Mick Hogben's comments in the 10/03/97 column

Patrick Sweeney of Torrington, CT: For all we know, maybe the BORG can't "see" the holographic images like we do. I mean half of them only have one eye! If that's true, they may have seen only the "real stuff" of the actually replicated stuff, and not until it was too late. A few little tiny bullets wizzing past when you are still confused about the environement, would be unnoticed, even for the BORG.

Dominion versus The Borg
Beginning with Adam Bay's comments in the 10/10/97 column

Chris Howell: I'm the webmaster of the Great Link Star Trek page. Anyway, one of the Changelings who, erm, infiltrated your site eariler told me about someone who was asking about a Borg vs Dominion War, and who would win? Well.... I had a poll on this question a while ago, if you're interested, then have a look - there were a lot of votes and comments on this poll, its just a pity that I gave the Borg an advantage... :-)

Other Nitpicker's Guides
Beginning with Mike Deeds's comments in the 10/10/97 column

Kevin Loughlin: I've been at you about this, my other favourite show, before; if you'll bear with me, I'd like to chat about a few things, mainly your idea for a Xena guide.

Personally, I don't think it would work that well because it's fun to find mistakes for a show that takes it self seriously, but Xena does not. They throw everything from classical mythology to the laws of physics out the window every week, and we Xenites don't bat an eye. This would create a lot of fodder for nitpicking, but it just wouldn't be that fun. That's me personally.

In order not to represent Xenites unilaterally, I made the same point on the Xena Netforum and asked for other Xenites' opinions. For the record, here are a sampling of the responses:

Phil: I didn't include the other responses that Kevin sent because I didn't have their permission and--while trying my best not to sound pretentious--the simple fact of the matter is I'm not really that concerned about this kind of opinion! ;-) From the beginning of this nitpicking escapade, I have always been amused by these types of responses. Many thought the NextGen Guide wouldn't "work" ("Write a whole book just point out mistakes in a television show?! What's the point?!") Then, many were uncertain that a Classic Guide would work. Then, there was the same kind of discussion on a DS9 Guide. ("Now you know, the creators have gotten a lot more careful about this stuff and it's going to be hard to find nits.") Then, the big doubts came out with the X-phile Guide. ("You know I'm not really sure that you can nitpicking a show that's not alien-based sci-fi, yada, yada, yada.") On and on it goes with the attitude, "Well, yeah, nitpicking worked for that topic, but it won't work for this!"

This is the sum of it: I'm a writer. In fact, I'm a good writer. If I decide to do a Xenite Guide it will be because I have spent some time watching the show and I have found an angle. That's my job (for today). And the book will be fun and enjoyable and just as campy (possibly) as Xena is. And there will be a certain percentage of fans who will enjoy it and there will be a certain percentage of fans who won't and that's life! ;-)

The Seventh Fleet in "A Time To Stand"
Beginning with Rene Charbonneau's comments in the 10/10/97 column

John Myers: Actually (in case I wasn't clear) I wasn't really saying that most of the 98 could be small ships (though they probably were) as that the bald statement that 98 ships were lost without any further details (especially since it came from Bashir who as a kind hearted doctor would be saddened by the loss of life even if it had been a famous victory) is fairly useless in determining how well the war is going. The Royal Navy lost many more ships and men at Jutland than the Germans but the battle was a draw since the Germans failed in their objective to destroy or scatter the British fleet and had to retreat first. Similarly even if the Seventh fleet took the same sort of out of proportion casualties (and somebody said "There's something wrong with our b***** ships today!" as at Jutland) if the Dominion forces had to run away first and their attack had been turned then that is at the least a draw, especially since the Federation/Klingon alliance has NOT had their shipyards (as far as we know) destroyed or damaged.

Of course from the accounts I have read they are all sad and depressed so it looks like it was a massacare (though unlike the Obsidian Order/Tal'Shiar the Fed/Klingon fleet probably fired back) but it still bugs me that there is no context to put the report in.

Phil: This is an important story-telling issue. With just the number thrown out there, fans will connect it to the Borg incident and compare it. We, of course, can come up with explanation for why it isn't the same but . . .

Turbolifts Moving Horizontally
Beginning with Jordan Wolfe's comments in the 10/17/97 column

John Bibb of Garland, TX: I can also list one instance where the turbolift motion lights turn off completely!!! In "Haven," (I think, it might have been "Manhunt") in a scene wherre Deanna Troi is "talking" (through telepathy) to Lwaxana in the turbolift, towards the end of one scene (before the camera changed angles) the motion lights turned off, as if the camera didn't turn of in time! (Incidently, they were moving vertically...)

Voyager's Future Encounters
Beginning with Stephen Mendenhall's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Daniel Tyman of Philadelphia, PA. The race in question is the Krenim. They were those aliens from "Before and After" with the phasing torpedoes(great idea BTW). They will be returning, in an episode called "Year of Hell." It is the two parter that was supposed to be the season finale/premiere until they decided to get the Borg into it. Some rather interesting stuff apparently happens, but for those who don't want their Voyagers spoiled, I won't mention any of it.

Phil: Thanks to Rene Charbonneau for sending this information along as well.

Excelsior's Shuttle Bay
Beginning with Chris Ng's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Chris Cook: Hi again. Someone asked where the shuttlebay on Excelsior is. I've just finished the model of the Enterprise-B (I'm assuming that the shuttlebay parts of it are unchanged from the original). As far as I know, the shuttlebay is located at the rear of the secondary hull, behind the warp nacelle pylons. The opening on the hull on the sloping section in front of the long flat bit is, I think, a cargo bay. Both the Enterprise-D and the Voyager have cargo bays in pretty much the same location, although they have doors (three separate bays on the E, two on Voyager, with rollerdoor-type covers).

Can someone tell me if Excelsior-II (Enterprise-B-type) ships can separate their saucers? The new impulse drives are directly in front of the warp nacelles, and I'm not sure if it'd be healthy for a warp drive to be right in the middle of the wash from the impulse drive (basically a fancy ion engine, spewing out molecules from the exhaust). It occurs that if the saucer could separate, the new impulse drives would not have this problem. Maybe separation was one of the changes from Excelsior to Excelsior-II?

USS Stands For . . .
Beginning with Craig Cicero's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Chris Cook: Someone mentioned the meaning of USS (United Star Ship, or whatever). Split this message into pieces if it work better, by the way. I always assumed that the 'United' was an abbreviation of United Federation of Planets, so the U in USS stands for the Federation. Cause UFPSS is too long, and looks silly.

The Enterprise, The Voyager and Transwarp Conduits
Beginning with Jonathan Klein's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Murray Leeder: "Descent" never makes it dead clear that the rogue Borg ("the Lorg") created the transwarp conduits themselves, or if they were just utilizing something all ready in place.

Phil: True!

Nits In The Title Sequence of DS9
Beginning with Elio Arteaga's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Murray Leeder: If you want to nitpick the DS9 opening credits, how about those nebular gases which appear and disappear.

First Contact With Sisko Instead of Picard
Beginning with Michael A Deeds's comments in the 10/17/97 column

Michael A Deeds: I understand your point about "I, Borg". However, consider this point. Picard had a chance to destroy the collective at the end of the episode and choose NOT to do it! Thus, I took it that he had got rid of his anger against the Borg. His demeanor at the end is much different than at the start of the episode.

Phil: That would be one interpretation of the episode! Personally, I saw Picards attitude change localized on Hugh. He didn't choose not to destroy the Borg, he chose not to violate Hugh's individuality by turning the young man into a bomb.

On to the questions . . .

Shane Tourtellotte: A local radio station has been doing some self-promotion lately, with audio clips juxtaposed with apt comments. One of those clips was someone who has to be Robert Picardo (The Doctor) saying, "What's the matter? Too zesty for you?" Sure sounds like him, and the tone of dry humor he injects is quintessential Picardo. Does anyone know where this strange line comes from? I assume it's Picardo, and *not* from Voyager, but I'm willing to be proven wrong on either count.

[Also,] is it possible the creators of Classic Trek pulled a subtle pun on us? They gave us two starship commanders named Decker("The Doomsday Machine"; ST-TMP), and the German word for 'explorer' is 'Entdecker'. Am I nuts, or could this be intentional? [Or both? :-)]

Phil: The line from Picardo sounds vaguely familiar but I can't place it. As far as Decker goes, if the creators of Classic Trek meant to pull this kind of pun, I would be very surprised! (Unless the writer happened to take German in highschool and he or she threw it in without telling anyone.)

Murray Leeder: Are you planning on nitpicking films this fall? "Alien Resurrection" and "Starship Troopers" come to mind.

Phil: If the schedule permits! Our church is building a new three million dollar facility--that we are supposed to be in by Thanksgiving--and I'm helping with the installation of the audio and video system. (Every Monday and Tuesday nights several of us guys get together to do the "donkey" work--pulling wire, lugging equipment, etc.) Needless to say, it's eating into my extracurricular activities time!

Scott Vogt: Hey Phil, can we (the Guild) help with the publishers? I mean, I know the majority of us would gladly email off requests to see your stories in print. I know from what you've told us on the themes of your books, I would very much like to read them. So how about it? You're the Chief, put your "little trained minions" to work (to borrow a line from Q).

Phil: It's a generous offer and I do appeciate it but I'm not sure it would help. Be warned! This is going to be a long rambling explanation as to why it wouldn't help but I've wanted to say some of these things for a long time anyway so here goes. (And for those of you who have ever thought about writing for a living, you might find this interesting!)

As a person who is involved in the publishing business, I have come to understand that the phrase "publishing business" is an oxymoron. The term "publishing" has traditionally carried the connotation of the production of books by writers--be it fiction or non-fiction. Unfortunately, the term "publishing" when it comes to the phrase "publishing business" makes no sense with that connotation. There are many reason for this.

For instance, nobody--and you should read that with the strongest possible inflection--nobody knows if a given book will sell well when evaluated solely on the basis of the content of the book. I know that sounds like it can't possibly be true but it is. Books that sell based on content are almost always a surprise. Take The Celestine Prophecy. This was a book that was self-published initially, eventually picked up by Warner and rocketed to the bestsellers lists. Setting aside the belief set of the book, the simple fact is that the writing in that book is . . . aweful. And, I don't mean that in the sense of "filled with awe". I mean the writing is terrible. I have never encountered anyone who knew anything about writing who didn't agree that from a literary standpoint, the Celestine Prophecy ranked the big-stinko.

Yet . . . publishers fantasize all day long about finding a book like that! Why? Because the thing has sold something like five million copies! And those copies walked off the shelves with very litte promotion. That's the best of all possible worlds for the publisher.

Now put yourself in the role of the publisher and the editors for a moment. Presumably, you have some background in literature. You might even have a degree in literature. Your job--your business--is to generate money by the production of books. Here sits Celestine Prophecy. You know that there is no way on God's green Earth that you would have ever, in a gazillion years, published that book. It's pap. It's drivel. It's poorly written. If you published that book and it bombed, all the other editors and publishers would have been rolling their eyes, snorting, and wondering outloud how you could have ever imagined that the thing would sell. On the other hand--in the past--you may have published books along the same line as Celestine Prophecy that were really well written tomes and they ended up in the discount bins in less than a month!

This is why "publishing business" is an oxymoron. You simply cannot build a business on anyone's ability to pick titles that will sell based on content because why books do or do not sell based on content is some kind of deep magic voodoo. For every bestseller that rocketed to the top based on it's content alone, there were ten other books out there that had extremely similar content that languished and never went anywhere! (For instance, Dell attempted a book called The Celestine Bar that was similar to The Celestine Prophecy and it tanked!)

What does this mean? Book publishing is a business. You have to get books out the door in order to make money. So, publishers have developed two basic ways to respond and in both cases they almost ignore the content. (Another reason that "publishing business" is an oxymoron because it really should be the "glue-a-bunch-of-pieces-of-paper-together business" if the "business" is not about book content.)

Now, the first way that publishers deal with problem is to stick with "The Sure Bet." Stephen King sells a jillion books every time. King is a good writer. I'm not disputing that. But, King could write anything and his "little trained minions" would march out and buy it. However, surprisingly enough, from what little I understand, big authors like King are not really fabulous money-makers for publishers. They demand large advances. They demand extensive marketing. They go on expensive $1000-a-day book tours. They are the flash and shine of the industry.

Another "Sure Bet" for the industry is recruiting people who aren't writers but already have a cadre of "little trained minions" who idolize them--i.e., politicians, movie stars, comedians, television actors--anyone with name recognition. What happens in many of these case is that writers are hired to make the content of the book palitable. But even if the book is a great book, everyone knows that the books isn't selling because of content, the book is selling the famous person's name is connected to it!

The second method that publishers use to circumvent their inability to determine why a book sells on the basis of content is "Passion." This is how it works. Part of an editor's job is to find new properties to sell. In fact, an editor's prestige is, in part, based on supporting books that eventually sell well. But the editor knows that he or she doesn't know what sells! And, everybody else knows that the editor doesn't know what sells. Yet, over time, a editor who demonstrates that he or she has a good feel for the market will get promoted if he or she picks a string of books that do well.

Can you understand how this puts editors in an impossible situation? Their prestige and promotion are somewhat based on that which cannot be predicted! Not only that, even if the editor finds a property that he or she likes, in order to get that property to the next level, he or she must defend it against all the other editors playing devil's advocate in an editorial committee meeting. So here you have a situation where there is one supporter and everyone else is trying to figure out why the property won't sell even though nobody in the room knows what will or will not sell based on content! If you're thinking that this sounds like it's nuts, you're right! Let me give you a real life example. One of the reasons that Dell rejected The Son, The Wind and The Reign (even though my editor was very complimentary about the writing style and the plot and the characterization) was that Dell said they weren't good at publishing religious-based fiction. They came to this conclusion because The Celestine Bar bombed. Now, from my perspective there are a thousand reasons that The Celestine Bar bombed and none of them have anything to do with the fact that it was religiously based. But . . . that doesn't matter because that's what the committee chose to believe. (And they choose to believe this--I'm convinced--because they had personal reasons for rejecting the book but that's another topic.)

This is where passion comes in. While my editor liked the book, she was not passionate about the book. (And in fact there were some things about the book that made her uncomfortable but I've always thought that that was the purpose of great fiction--to shake you up a bit.) Since I am not a published author and I am not a famous person, my first novel has to be evaluated on the basis of content. But, everyone knows that no one knows what kind of content--well written or not--will sell. So, everything comes to "passion." What is neccessary is for one editor to get really, really excited about The Son, The Wind and The Reign because if an editor who has no stake in the book gets really, really excited about it then the editorial committee will believe that there's a chance that other people will get excited about the book as well. See how it works? (It's goofy, but it's the way it is!)

Now think a moment. How many books have you read that through and through you thought were fabulous? How many of your choices for the greatest novels of all time were the same as your friends choices? (Understand, I'm not talking about a book that you thought was fun or interesting. I'm talking about a book that you were willing to base your reputation on and tell everyone you met that it was one of the greatest books you have ever written!) Do you understand that all of this is highly subjective? What really appeals to one person may not appeal to the next. The reason that the Nitpicker's Guides are on the shelves today is because Jeanne Cavelos loved the idea of the books. She was passionate about the NextGen Guide and she ramrodded it through the committee meeting (and in a short seven years Jeanne had risen to a position of senior editor because she had a feel for the market and--by the way--if Jeanne was still at Dell, my novel would probably be published because she loves the idea of it).

So . . . where does this leave me? Well, here's the deal. I have to find an editor out there who really, really likes The Son, The Wind and The Reign. Sometimes an agent can help with that but, of course, I first have to find an agent who is taking new clients and then I have to find an agent who himself or herself really likes the book as well! I am firmly convinced that the right editor does exist. I'm convinced of that but I have no idea where he or she is. What's left for me is to just keep sending out proposals until I happen to hit the right person (which is a daunting prospect is you really thing about it because I may send it to a publishing house and some little editorial assistant will reject it before it can get to the right editor).

This is the final reason that "publishing business" is an oxymoron. This is not a business. Tossing proposals to the wind is not a plan. It's just the only way to get the thing out the door. This is why Dr. Seuss got rejected something like nineteen times before he found a publisher! This is why every writer out there has stacks of rejection notices. Because--aside from "The Sure Bet" mentioned above--the industry runs on the whim and fancy of the editors (and what they had for dinner the night before and whether or not they are having an argument with significant other ;-)!

Please understand, I'm not angry about this (although I will confess to a bit of frustration). It's just the way it is. It's kind of like hoping to meet your future spouse on a blind date. It happens occasionally, but it's rare and you are going to have to go through *a lot* of blind dates before you find the right person and even then it takes deep magic.

Michael Apple: I was just thinking about Star Trek and its aliens... Although Gene Roddenberry purposefully made most of the aliens humanoid in the Trek universe, there are a few intelligent non-humanoid species. Do you know how many non-humanoid sentients there are in Star Trek? (The Founders and the Horta pop into my mind.)

Phil: Let's see . . . Classic Trek had the Thasians (maybe, "Charlie X"), Trelane (maybe, "The Squire of Gothos"), the Metrons (maybe, "Arena"), Horta (already mentioned, "The Devil In The Dark"), the Organians (maybe, "Errand of Mercy"), Sylvia and Korob ("Catspaw"), The Companion ("Metamorphosis"), the cloud creature ("Obsession"), Redjac ("Wolf in the Fold"), the Providers (maybe, "The Gamesters of Triskelion"), the Kelvans ("By Any Other Name"), the Gorgan (maybe, "And The Children Shall Lead"), Kollos ("In There In Truth No Beauty?"), the Melkotians (maybe, "Spectre of the Gun"), the mad-maker (maybe, "Day of the Dove"), the Tholians (maybe, "The Tholian Web"), the lights of Zetar ("The Lights Of Zetar"), the Excalbians ("The Savage Curtain"), the aliens who altered Voyager (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) the "god" creature (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

And then there's Star Trek: The Next Generation . . . Q (maybe, "Encounter At Farpoint"), the crystal ("Home Soil"), Armus ("Skin of Evil"), the beetles ("Conspiracy"), the energy being ("The Child"), Nagus ("Where Silence Has Leas"), Salia and Anya ("The Dauphin"), the nanites ("Evolution"), The Dowd (maybe, "The Survivors"), energy Marla Aster ("The Bonding"), Tin Man ("Tin Man"), John Doe ("Transfigurations"), Paxans (maybe, "Clues") Space Creature (maybe, "Galaxy's Child"), Trill slug ("The Host"), the chrystalline entity (maybe, "The Silicon Avatar"), energy ghosts ("Power Play"), energy filaments ("Imaginary Friend"), coalescent organism ("Aquiel"), energy being ("Sub Rosa")

I'll let someone else tackle DS9 and Voyager! ;-)

Chris Ng: You've probably told everyone this when I wasn't paying attention, but... What's 'The Sun, The Wind And The Reign' and 'The Fated Shore' about? I know I'm probably going to buy them once you find a publisher (if the Nitpicker's Guides are any indication, you're a good writer!), but I'd love to find out in advance. (Writing is one of my career choices, y'know!)

Phil: I appreciate the interest! And, happily, my talent as a writer seems to be recognized by everyone who has read the work! The great problem here is that talent has very little to do with getting published in fiction (see above).

In short: The Son, The Wind and The Reign is a novel about belief and doubt. The basic scenario is alien invasion. A powerful race of beings show up. They quickly seize control of the world. They command highly advanced technologies. They bring utopia to Earth (everyone fed, no one sick, etc., etc.) but they are also ruthless. They have no qualms about killing anyone who raises a fist against them. In fact, they only have two rules, "Treat others as you wish to be treated" and "Submit or die."

And . . . by the way, their leader claims to be Jesus Christ fullfilling the prophecies in the Bible about the 1000 year reign on Earth. And the rest of these beings claim to be His followers who have been given new "glorified" (read that: technologically-advanced) bodies.

The question is: What are you going to belief and why?

That Fated Shore is a time travel novel about self-destruction. It's about people who made the same mistakes over and over until the mistakes build up and destroy them. It's a black comedy.

Gina Torgersen of LaCrosse FL: We have just finished Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in school, and I was wondering, could Tom Paris be named after Tom Joad? There are some parallels between the characters, such as, they have both been to jail recently.

Phil: Um . . . I think I would need more parallels between the characters before I would be willing to say that one character was based on the other! ;-)

Michael A Deeds: Since your publisher didn't like your idea about a guide for the top 50 sci-fi movies of all time, I have a suggestion. How about a guide for the films (directed or produced by) George Lucas and Steven Speilberg? These two filmmakers definitely should have enough films (and a big enough fan base) to warrant a book.

P.S. Has anyone ever written a book exploring the religious themes in Star Trek?

Phil: Appreciate the suggestion! Unfortunately, unless there was a media blitz for an entire year about how many fans there are of Lucas and Speilberg's work, I doubt Dell would want to do the book. As I said above, you have to understand that publishers in general have no idea what sells and what doesn't. So unless, an editor gets really passionate about a book, it stands *no* chance of getting published and since Dell is not being beaten about the head and shoulders over how great Lucas and Speilberg are, I doubt they would go for that!

As far a religious themes Trek book goes, I haven't heard of one!

Simon Crowley: Who here believes that the English language -- ahem, *Federation Standard* -- could survive unchanged from now until the Star Trek era? Look at Shakespeare's plays. Although the language in, say, "Romeo & Juliet" was still formal for the time, English in the 16th century was different from English in the 20th century, which will be different from English in the 24th century (assuming the human race doesn't nuke itself by then). So why in the world aren't the crew of ST:V using words we've never heard before! (Technobabble not included). On the other hand, it could just be another feature of that annoying device: THE UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR! (It slices words, dices sentences, and creates synonyms for Julienne fries!)

Phil: Yup!

Ed Ouellette: Whatever happened to the Worf - Troi romance from TNG? In the season finale they were an item, but in the movies that aspect of their relationship wasn't touched upon. Now he seems to be going for DAX on DS9 - why? Didn't Dax have a love interest on the planet in the Gamma Quadrant that kept phasing in and out every 60 some-odd years?

Phil: Welcome to the wonderful world of Trek: The Love Boats! Call me psychic but I would venture a guess that the Worf-Troi romance is dead! Personally, I never understood that relationship. Now, Worf and Dax? That I get because they can beat each other up. The rule is this: People on television tend to fall in and out of love on a whim. That's because people on television have their lines written for them by people in Hollowood. (And, no, that's not a typo! ;-)

Christopher Wells: In the episode Sarek, what was the name of the string quartet that they said was written by Mozart which Sarek cried to when he listened to it? I've looked in all of my literature and can't find anything on it.

Phil: If I recall the episode correctly, I believe that piece was the one that Paul Mulik told me was from the Sextet No. 1 in Bb. And it was written by Johannes Brahms, not Mozart!

Delaney, Alan: In a recent episode of Voyager, the one where Kim and Paris were imprisoned in that prison in space. If I remember correctly, someone made reference to a bomb being made out of Tri-Lithium. In the film 'Generations', the solar probes contained Tri-Lithium (described as having the property of being a fusion inhibitor) to extinguish the suns. Is this the same substance and if so, are the two applications mutually exclusive?

Phil: There's seems to be some confusion about tri-lithium. Remember the NextGen episode "Starship Mine"? In that episode, tri-lithium was produce by the warp drive of the Enterprise. yet, in Generations, when Worf mentions tri-lithium to Riker, Riker responds, "Tri-lithium?" as if he's never heard of the compound. So . . . the unfortunately answer to your question is: Who knows?! ;-)

Bob Weiss of Bowie, Maryland: I have been a guild member for a couple years (at least), but haven't received a newsletter in many months. Has this been discontinued now that you have the web site (due to postage costs, I would guess)? Today was the first time I checked out your cool "on-line" service.

Phil: Honestly, this is one of those things that I didn't handle very well. In the Fall-ish 1995 issue of the newsletter, I made the big announcement about the website. At that time I asked people to get in touch with me three way. If they didn't have Internet-access, I asked them to send a postcard. If they had email, I asked them to send an email. Part of my reasoning for all this was to find out which nitpickers were "active"--i.e. which really wanted to still receive stuff from me. Here's what I did wrong. In 1995, I was sending the newsletters via 3rd class mail. Having now had fairly extensive experience with both 1st class and 3rd class mail, I can safely say that the mail don't always go through with 3rd class. My reponse rate for people getting back with me to subscribe to the newsletter (via the post office) or drop me an email so they can get the newsletter for free is usually 15% or greater when I use 1st class. And when I used 3rd class? It dropped to 2%. Now that tells me that something is wrong with 3rd class mail. So . . . unfortunately, I think that a lot of people didn't get the Fall-ish 1995 newsletter and they didn't know to send me a postcard if they didn't have email and I thought "Well, they aren't that interested in hearing from me" and I stopped sending newsletters! (The only other explanation would be to say that my consciencious and eagled-eyed nitpickers simply didn't read that notice and I just refuse to believe that! Ahem.)

Jim Leko of Redondo Beach, CA: I have a question about Star Trek IV... Why did Spock say (on the return trip) that he wasn't even sure if they would have enough speed to escape the suns gravity. I mean, they were going close to warp 8!!! I dont have my encyclopedia out, but isn't warp 8 a few hundred times the speed of light? And isn't the escape velocity of the sun, less then the speed of light (if it wasn't, it would be a black hole). And since the speed of light is equal to warp 1, they should be able to escape the suns gravity at warp 1. so at warp 8, they should just fly right past the sun, as if it had no influence on them at all (at the speed they were going, anyway...)

Phil: I am running low on time this morning so I apologize for the short answer but if they were going warp 8 it's seems like you would have to fly extremely close to the sun to be in danger!

Wells P. Martin: I hereby ask the Chief: Why not put out the call for Church Bulletin Borgs ? You just might get an overwhelming response ! :)

Phil: As they say in the hills, "I ain't a-gin it!" Send away.

Mark Blankenship of Greenville TX: Are you taking nits from GR's Earth: Final Conflict or Babylon 5? How about Showtime's Stargate SG-1? Are you even taking DS9 nits? (Which prompts me to share this: The local UPN affiliate recently returned DS9 reruns to their 9pm timeslot. They showed an ad during the season opener for DS9 that went something like: "Because you asked for it(pause), because you demanded it (pause), because you threatened us (long pause), mainly because you threatened us, DS9 is returning...")

Phil: Fun stuff! And it's always good to hear that Trek has fans! As far as nits for DS9 goes: Yes, yes, yes. I am dutifully filing them away. And I have also started a file folder on Earth: Final Conflict. And and I would start a file folder on Stargate if anyone sent in some nits. Not sure what I would do with them in the end but I would file them for future reference!

From Someone Identified Only As The Anomaly: Through a unique set of circumstances, I have yet to see "Purgatory's Shadow" in whole. My question is how long were Martok & Bashir replaced by Changelings and which episodes featured the fake Bashir? Did a Changeling deliver KiraYoshi?

Phil: The quick answer is, "Yes!" (apparently). This came up in "Ask the Chief" when the two-parter "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light" originally air. Unfortunately, those columns have been archived off to conserve space! I believe Bashir states that he had been on the station for a month. Also, Murray Leeder brought up the interesting point that Changeling-Bashir may have been on the station when Odo had the baby-changeling and Changeling-Bashir just let it die!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

If you would like to submit a question or comment, send it to: with "Question" in the Subject line. (Remember the legalese: Everything you submit becomes mine and you grant me the right to use your name in any future publication by me.)

Copyright 1997 by Phil Farrand. All rights reserved.