If you knew immediately what the title of this article means, you are almost certainly a Star Trek fan. You also know that a full list should contain DS9 and VOY. (And that, actually, there should be a ST: in front of each of them.)
If this all seems alphabet soup, here’s the deal. They’re all three-letter acronyms (TLAs) for the six different Star Trek TV series. This first article today begins “Star Trek Saturday” (a one-time event) here at Logos con carne. There are two or three ships still in dry dock… (big voice: …In Space) getting finishing touches for a launch later today.
To tantalize your taste buds, I’ll just mention that they concern galactic energy barriers, transporters and replicators. Those are ships of war; photon torpedoes loaded and primed. There is a third ship with a different mission that may also launch today. (Tantalized? Terrific!)
This first post is just an announcement, a statement of intent, along with a brief bit of discussion about an aspect of how we name things (to make the announcement part less boring).
Before we get to that, the announcements! I have a couple other items I’d like to cover. There are some new pages under the Raves rubric I’d like to mention. One, mentioned previously, is a recent rave about blessed, beautiful beer. I added two others last night: a page about the Bushido Code, and a reprint of a 1990 (paper!) article, by Judith Stone, “Why are you being such a bitch?“ Both of those come from my library of cherished favorites. I hope some of you will enjoy them as much as I have.
Now let’s talk about the word, “the”…
There are works in science fiction that have achieved being known as The Trilogy. There are two aspects to this.
Firstly, science fiction seems to lean towards trilogies (where an over-arching story takes three books to tell). In some cases, each book has a tale that stands alone, but to be a proper trilogy, something in the plot must link the books together. It is not sufficient that the characters re-appear in each book if the plots are unrelated. That’s just a series that, so far, only consists of three books. Science fiction, by nature an idea-heavy genre, often requires the space that a trilogy provides. Many authors acknowledge that their “trilogy” is really just one book that, for size considerations, is split into three acts.
Secondly, to be “The Trilogy,” a work must be so universal that people know what you mean without you mentioning the title. One problem here is that, over the years, that criteria applies to more than one great work, and so some context can be required to disambiguate the meaning.
Here are three very well-known examples:
The (SF book) Trilogy—The Foundation series; by Isaac Asimov. Although the next entry is usually what people mean when referring to “The Trilogy” in a science fiction context, among fans of “hard” science fiction, this work is almost as revered. (30 years later Asimov would go on to write two sequels and two prequels, making this actually “The Septalogy!”)
The (SF movie) Trilogy—Star Wars; by George Lucas. There is only one true trilogy here. Lucas may have made some other movies related to “The Trilogy,” but they aren’t worth mentioning (let alone watching or actually purchasing).
So it depends quite a bit on context. And while I’m on the subject of science fiction trilogies, honorable mention to a favorite of mine that is not so well-known:
The Darkest Trilogy—The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; by Stephen R. Donaldson. At some point I plan to do some writing about this amazing series. I say amazing, because it is one of the richest, darkest, most real, most intelligent, most compelling, most difficult to read of them all. In fact, Donaldson wrote a second trilogy and then a final tetralogy (10 books in all, although not all are out, yet). This meta-trilogy comprises the full Chronicles, which are named The First, The Second and The Last (Chronicles).
This is, in many regards, science fiction at its finest (and darkest). An examination of the human condition that delves deep into our darkest corners. These are books with a “hero” so infuriating you’ll want to hurl the books away from you, only to find the story so compelling you have to go pick it up and continue.
Just to give you a taste of what you’re in for, the Chronicles concern a writer, Thomas Covenant, who is diagnosed with leprosy. This, as you can imagine, crushes his spirit and destroys his morale. He loses his wife and child; the people in his small town despise him.
Then one day he is transported to The Land, a place of powerful magic. Part of that magic heals his leprosy making him healthy again. Believing himself in a dream, a product of his mind trying to escape his miserable circumstances, he refuses to believe in the reality of The Land. He refuses to help the people there who are under attack by the evil Lord Foul, The Despiser, even though the people see him as the fulfillment of ancient prophesy: The White Gold Wielder.
His restored health and unbelief cause Covenant to act like a prick, and one of his first acts is to rape a young women, Lena, he meets early upon his arrival (she was the one who healed his leprosy). This act, and the child that results, figure prominently in the plot that follows (are instrumental, in fact).
Think of these books as the anti-Tolkiens. No light-hearted Hobbits here. Unlike Tolkien’s theme of absolute power corrupting, these are about when and how you must wield power to fight evil. The power of these books is revealed in how I meant to just mention them in passing, but couldn’t help going on a bit.
To return to the light, I close with…
Of course, the Doctor refers to Doctor Who! And this delightful British TV series has gone far beyond being a trilogy (would you believe: 32 seasons and counting; the show began in 1963)!
As I mentioned recently, I’m a new convert, and I have to say Doctor Who is better, richer, more engaging, more human, than Star Trek (which is really saying something). The show regularly makes my eyes leak, something Star Trek only accomplished now and then.