The official word has come down from on high that a “new” Star Trek movie will grace us on Christmas Day 2008, and that it will be directed by J.J. Abrams, of Mission: Impossible III, Lost, Alias and, of course, Felicity fame.
I put “new” in quotation marks because, apparently, the subject of this “new” movie will be younger versions of Kirk and Spock. I’m guessing that it won’t be the Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy idea that was floating around a few years ago, but will rather be something along the lines of Kirk’s first mission in command of the Enterprise or something like that.
That’s all well and good, I suppose. Certainly, it’s common practice in storytelling — and has been since we began to collectively tell stories about characters that belong to the common culture rather than just an individual storyteller — to revisit and recreate characters and stories to make them more relevant to a contemporary audience.
At a certain point, though, something happens to these collective characters. Like the ancient gods and heroes of pretty much every culture that had ancient gods and heroes — i.e., all of them — modern pulp heroes attain a mythic stature in which all of the important elements of that character are well established. Any story using such a mythic character will be viewed as incomplete, or even incorrect, without these elements, even if they are only tossed in without actually being used in the story. What an individual storyteller (or a group of storytellers) brings to a particular version of the story is mostly just flavor, nothing actually new or, often, nothing that will become part of the hagiography of the character.
To a great degree, that happened long ago with Star Trek, not necessarily with all the various characters that have been part of it but with the basic premise. Someone in the the collective consciousness of Star Trek between its corporate masters and the somewhat less rabid fans has come the idea that what constitutes the proper focus of any Star Trek story is a Starfleet captain on a Starfleet ship.
In other words, no one is really interested in examining all the potential and implied story possibilities available in the 30+ years of background material created within the Star Trek universe. In other words, what people want is to just keep doing the same thing over and over and over again until the concept is so ossified that ability to tell anything resembling an original story is like carving marble with one’s fingernails.
What does this have to do with my pulp novel project? No clue at the moment. It was just something that occurred to me.