It was a feel-good story when a copy of Norman Spinrad’s long-lost Star Trek script “He Walked Among Us” surfaced at a convention last fall and the web series Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II picked it up for production.

But now we know the “S” in CBS stands for “Scrooge” because they’ve blocked the use of the script, according to a story in the New York Times:

“We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the ‘Star Trek’ fan and creative communities,” CBS said in a statement. “This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.”

By all indications CBS is within its rights. In the entertainment industry the paid writer of a teleplay generally cedes the rights to the material, even if it remains unproduced.

Note, this script is a completely different text from Sprinrad’s novel of the same name.

Not only is the network’s action disappointing, its lack of consistency is mystifying. David Gerrold directed his own unproduced ST:TNG script “Blood and Fire” for Phase II without objections. When questioned by the Times

Mr. Gerrold predicted a Trekkie backlash. “‘Star Trek’ fans,” he said, “are not a sleeping dragon that you want to poke.”

(I always get a kick out of the Times’ formality, calling people Mister. Apart from Jerry Pournelle’s steadfast example of referring to “Mister Heinlein,” it’s not what fans are used to. We go to the other extreme, familiarly addressing David or Harlan or Connie by their first names. Sometimes even at first meeting, as if they ought to know us.)

[Thanks to The Crotchety Old Fan for the story.]

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18 thoughts on “Poke-A-Trek-Fan

  1. At this point I’m wondering about the contractual differences that may exist between writing for ST:TOS and ST:TNG – that may have contributed to the different treatments received.

    It is bothersome though, no matter how you slice it. Unfortunately, the Trekkies most likely to be poked by CBS’s action already shot their wad by getting the show back on the air and creating Trek fandom, while I have little faith in the Trekker’s real emotional attachment to anything non-Ferengi. This will pass them by with a yawn as they read the latest TNG/Twilight fan mashup….

  2. “Not only is the network’s action disappointing, its lack of consistency is mystifying. David Gerrold directed his own unproduced ST:TNG script “Blood and Fire” for Phase II without objections.”
    Not so mystifying when you consider that “Blood and Fire” was done well before J.J. Abrams came on the scene.

  3. What irks me about the Abrams film is the complete lack of understanding of how a military organization works in a democratic republic, and how an officer’s career progresses after graduation from a service academy.

    Except for William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who were born a decade too late to have served in World War II, every single creative figure in the original series served in World War II in some capacity and understood how a real military service worked and what was expected of both junior and senior officers, and how junior officers got to become senior officers.

    The J. J. Abrams film is absurd in promoting a just graduated plebe, who should be an Ensign, to the Captaincy of the newest, largest ship in the fleet. It’s like taking an Annapolis graduate from next month and immediately giving him command of a Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier. It makes no sense. But that’s what you get when you have a film about a military organization written, directed, and produced by film school graduates who have never worn a uniform in their lives.

  4. I was never in any service either, but know better than to pull half the BS they did in the Abrams ST relaunch. I think it was a terrible film — funny in places, I admit — but imitative of the spirit and details of other SF franchises, absurd, unnecessarily smarmy, and dismissive of a vast reservoir of ideas created during the history of the series. It would be as though you wanted to relaunch English literature, but this time let’s leave out Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Latin and the Bible. But the public lapped it up… and a big part of fandom was carried away by the Sound & Fury, Etc. When Shit smells like Success, what can we expect from Hollywood?

  5. While I agree the military organization in the new Trek was… lacking, I’m not about to give rave reviews to STTOS either.

    Both managed to totally ignore the NCO class of the military. If you’ve been in the military, you know those men and women are sort of important.

  6. One might argue that Star Fleet is not entirely a military organization. It seems to have military functions, but also incorporates what would normally be seen as civilian occupations — such as scientists, sociologists, and diplomats — into Star Fleet organization. If in the future the personel of an organization like Star Fleets might not be best portrayed as a large mass of expendible, relatively uneducated manpower to provide muscle, a tiny cadre who move the chess pieces, and a small but important team of human resource management experts — ie: Sergeant-Majors or Centurions — to impliment orders, then perhaps the hierarchy in Star Trek is not so unreasonable.

  7. I would respond the current US military has scientists, and sociologists within its ranks. And, numerous diplomatic missions are headed by senior military officers. There are few ‘civilian occupations” that do not have military personal performing them in the armed forces.

    The comparison to human resource management experts misses a critical point. NCOs are long term service members with years of experience doing the nuts and bolts job *and* leading their troops. They know the job (whatever the specific job may be) well enough to make sure the troops are doing it, teach them how to do it, jump in when the crisis hits and get it done. Along with that, they also provide assistance and advice to junior officers, to help them become senior officers.

    But, let’s just zero in on the current Star Trek movie. You’re one of the new junior officers. You’re going into a possible combat environment. Would you rather be on a ship full of junior officers with little to no field experience, or one full of NCOs who have between 10 – 20 years field experience each?

    I suggest you watch “We Were Soliders”, “Zulu” or for a more naval theme “Crimson Tide” to have some understanding of what NCOs do. They don’t get it all right either, but they are much closer to the truth than any flavor of ST.

    Of course, we are talking about works of fiction that include time travel, FTL drives, teleporters and Intelligent Aliens. I’m sure they aren’t getting that stuff 100% right either.

  8. Odd .. wasn’t Star Trek canceled because of the hue & cry of the American public over the inaccurate portrayal of the military in the show?

    Oh wait, never mind … wrong timeline.

  9. Michael, I am engaging in the well known fannish tradition of snarking about details that really don’t mean much of anything.

    If this is a new tradition to you, welcome to this timeline.

  10. There were occasional characters in both the original series and in the Next Generation who were NCOs, but they were rarely seen as most of the attention was given to the command crew, the show’s main characters, who were all officers.

    Battlestar Galactica had a much better ratio of senior and junior officers to NCOs than most t.v. s.f., witness the deck gang in charge of repairing the Vipers or Dualla and others in green fatigues in the C.I.C.

  11. With regard to formality, I do it out of politeness. I refer to “Dr. Pournelle” or “Mr. Niven” or “Sir Patrick Stewart” when writing about them in the third person. Sometimes I don’t. It depends on context

    I did note when reading his autobiography Long Time Gone David Crosby referred to everybody in the book, after introducing them to the reader, by their first name but one: Mr. Heinlein. Every time he was named in the book he was Mr. Heinlein, no exceptions.

    (Mr. Crosby is a big Heinlein fan.)

  12. All I’m saying is that possibly the character of combat might have evolved i the next couple of centuries — crewing a startship the size of a small city tha t’s largely run by computers and encountering all-powerful God-Beings may not be quite the same as forming a Tortoise or dressing a line. We’ve outgrown flogging and selling officer’s commissions to minor gentry, so who knows what else we’re capable of?

  13. It is entirely possible for the concept of combat to change in 200 years.

    After all, what innovations did the Romans come up with that are still being proven worthwhile after some 2000 years?

    Other than NCOs that is?

  14. I suspect that three or four hundred years from now, we’ll still have infantry sergeants yelling at the men (or men and women) under their command yelling “Advance, you mugs! You wanna live forever?”

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