Thursday, July 18, 2013

Influences: Star Trek?

It’s no secret that I’m a big Star Trek fan, particularly of the original series. I’ve seen every episode multiple times, every movie, and have read almost 60 Star Trek novels and 8 or so nonfiction books about the show.  I’ve watched all of The Next Generation episodes as well, although not as many of the other series. And yet, as far as I can tell, Star Trek has had virtually no influence on my writing.  Most recently, in Wraith of Talera, I have a chapter title that is a take-off on “The World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky.” That’s about the only influence I can think of, and it’s just a title.

In contrast, the eleven books of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs have been a major influence on all kinds of writing I’ve done, not just the Talera series. The works of Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore I’ve read can be numbered on the fingers of my two hands, but they also have been big influences.

I thought at one point that it was because I didn’t really write Science Fiction that the Star Trek influence never showed up in my work. But even when I turned my hand to SF with Under the Ember Star, it was Brackett and Moore type space adventure/space opera, not Star Trek. I have other SF ideas that I want to write at some point too, but none of them are Star Trekesque.

It’s not just the overall story setting of Star Trek either. I’ve never created any characters that smack of Spock, or Kirk, or Bones. I do have a character ‘arch an eyebrow’ on occasion and that might be influenced by Spock’s famous gesture of surprise.

I wonder why this is, and without much promise of an answer coming to me anytime soon. Any of you other writers out there, has there been something you’ve read or watched a lot of that hasn’t influenced your writing? If so, do you have any idea why not?

Speaking of showing one’s influences. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to read this poem by Ty Johnston. Sheer genius!

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31 comments:

Cloudia said...

I enjoy these writerly convos, Charles. Thanks



Aloha

Tom Doolan said...

And here I thought I was the weird one, since I am influenced by just about everything I read or watch...

Keith West said...

I can't think of anything off the top of my head that I've been a big fan of that hasn't influenced me. This is a great question. I need to ponder it some more.

Randy Johnson said...

Trek is derivative itself of a lot of SF, especially the early days of the genre. It's not surprising to me that your work is not directly affected by it. Same thing with Star Wars.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Die-hard Trek fan, but not sure how much of it showed up in my writing. More Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. And fan of Barsoom series as well, so that's in there. Not sure about the answer. Maybe Trek is one of a kind?

Erik Donald France said...

Hey Charles, yes, a cheers to Ty Johnston's for his sly variation on Geo. Thorogood. Woot!

As far as ST influence or other sources that do or don't carry over -- no idea. Mysterious. How about impact on dreams? Maybe you have a subliminal corrective. Either way, you will remain unassimilated, apparently.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, thankee. Glad to hear.

Tom, you are the weird one. :)

Keith, It was strange to see this about Star Trek for myself, although maybe I'm missing things.

Randy, that makes some sense. Hadn't really thought of it that way.

Alex, Trek is definitely different for me than many other things I enjoy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, indeed. I shall not be assimilated. I like that a lot. yes, Ty's poem was great.

Deka Black said...

Big influences on me? I can think right now about 3: Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock and Norvell W. Page.

Also, the lyrics of some Manowar songs.

Ty Johnston said...

I grew up on original Star Trek. For years it was the only sci-fi on television where I lived, at least until my local PBS station started carrying Doctor Who episodes from the Tom Baker era.

I love original Trek, and none of the other TV or movie Trek series have resonated with me. I don't hate Next Gen and beyond; they just never sit right with me, despite the general improvements in acting, special effects, etc.

For me, what held the original Trek together was the characters. The writers were a huge part of this, but when the actors brought their A games, they became those characters. As hammy an actor as Shatner can be, for example, he often shined during season 2 of OST; when provided with solid material, he rose to the occasion.

The Spock-Kirk-Bones triangle relationship was the meat of the show, at least for me, but the other characters were the sinew helping to hold everything together.

As for being an influence on my writer ... no, I don't think so. At least not consciously. I was a bigger sci-fi fan back in my younger days, but nowadays so much of it seems ... vapid ... empty ... repetitive ... glitzy icing on a bad cake. Not that there's not good sci-fi out there, but I'm not aware of it. Scalzi's Old Man War universe is pretty good, but it still kind of feels like Heinlein Ultra Light to me.

And for those who haven't seen it, check out the new "Star Trek Continues" at YouTube or elsewhere online. No, it's not perfect, but it's darn close.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, I don't see Norvell Page mentioned that much but he certainly could do the wild action.

Ty, I saw the previews for that web trek thing and it looked really good. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, though.

Riot Kitty said...

I think what has influenced me in fiction when I write for children is the desire to create a happy place. I get that feeling when I read stuff like the Paddington series or A.A. Milne. On the rare occasions I write adult fiction, it's usually drawn from my own.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I enjoyed watching Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek: The Original Series" on television in the eighties. We got it late. Back then it was one of few American series (including Carl Sagan's docu "Cosmos") we looked forward to on state-run TV; the rest were mostly British sitcoms. I don't think I'd have been glued to this sf series if it hadn't been for Spock.

Thanks for the link to Ty Johnston's poem; it's really well written.

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot kitty, I was lucky in that my childhood was basically happy. Things got harder after my father died, but most of my memories of childhood are pleasant. I always dreamed of adventure, though.

Prashant, Spock is a wonderful character for sure. I also watched and much enjoyed the Cosmos series. I have that book as well.

Oscar said...

I'll leave it up to someone else to decide about influences. I was never a star trek fan, but I liked reading Ray Bradbury stories in my younger days. Ty Johnston's poem was a hoot!

David Cranmer said...

I do think Trek's high drama plays into my writing. As does the morality play aspect of the series. And I have watched TOS too many times to count myself. The new enhanced special effects DVDs I highly recommend.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm also a fan of Star Trek, but I don't think it's influenced my writing either. Comparing things plot-wise, my first SF novel looks more like Star Wars, though I'm not really a fan of SW at all.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, Bradbury was a big influence on me as well. I sure wanted to write like him at one point in time.

David, Lana brought home the enhanced versions of TOS from the Library a couple of months back and we watched 'em. It was pretty nice.

Golden Eagle, Star Wars is more fantasy and I think that fantasy has been a bigger influence on me than SF

pattinase (abbott) said...

Most of the things I watch do not influence my writing. But a lot of the things I read do. I am not sure why. I think writing style comes across more on the page and that's what I am influenced by.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Most of the things I watch do not influence my writing. But a lot of the things I read do. I am not sure why. I think writing style comes across more on the page and that's what I am influenced by.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, that's a good point. Probably true for me as well. BTW, you won my giveaway for that free book. I'll contact you about it soon.

ivan said...

Cool poem by Ty Johnston.

But, going with the blog thread, he was influenced.

Seems musical George came back for a brief moment "just to say goodbye." :)

sage said...

I liked the poem! I think our reading (and viewing) of other genres still encourage and influence our creativity even if we never write in such genre.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, I don't think George is gone actually. The drinking has preserved him. :)

Sage, I'm sure that is true.

H&H said...

Great poem! And great influence.

I think most of what I've read, at least that I've liked, has influenced me somewhat. Some more than others, but I can't think of anything that I've seen/read as much as you have with Star Trek that hasn't influenced me a decent amount.
- Greg

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

I confess to having ripped off Star Trek in short, funny references like mind meld, and Vulcan death stare. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Greg, Trek has influenced me in my life quite a lot, I guess I should say, just not in my writing.

Bernard, you're in good company with that. :)

X. Dell said...

Don't mind me. Just fantasizing about your authorship of a Trek novel.

One of the reasons why I don't write much sci-fi is because I really can't imagine myself outdoing the cosmology of Star Trek, which is the big draw to begin with.

Also, I realize that the Talera series has elements of sci-fi, but is different from, say, Dick or Heinlein or Ellison or Asimov--who are more my speed.

But then, to each their own. The world would be much duller with one voice.

Of course, from what I hear, publishing is getting to be that way, these days.

jodi said...

Charles-Star Trek is my reminder that once upon a time William Shatner was actually pretty sexy!

Travis Cody said...

That's interesting. You'd think that with so much exposure to Trek that you'd have to fight off the influences to stay original.

I think I'm influenced by just about everything I read. Sometimes it's just a negative influence...like, that's awful and I don't want my stuff to look or sound like that.

Charles Gramlich said...

X. Dell, that would take a lot of effort to create a cosmology equal to Star Trek. Maybe it's just too much work for me.

Jodi, I know he was sort of considered a sex symbol at one time. Wow.

Travis Cody, I think I have plenty of negative influences too.