Attention, Bajoran readers: I hate to do this, but I’m bumping this Friday’s review of John Peel’s Objective: Bajor off to next week. I’ve almost finished reading the book, but not quite, and I’m going out of town for a few days this weekend. I’ll finish the book and probably honestly get the whole review written at work tonight, but I’m going to delay posting it to give myself a chance to breathe easy on my vacation and create some buffer time to get ahead of the game again. Until then, peace.
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Multiple sources, among them Trek scribes Michael Okuda and David Mack, have reported that Margaret Wander Bonanno has died in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 71.
Her list of literary contributions to Star Trek is short but potent. She is often celebrated by both fans and colleagues for her portrayals of Vulcans in such novels as Dwellers in the Crucible, which examined the t’hy’la bond between Kirk and Spock through a feminine lens; the 2004 Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows; and the event novel Strangers from the Sky, which numerous fans of extra-canonical Trek material uphold as their preferred version of the First Contact Day story. Up until Discovery, her 2006 novel Burning Dreams was widely considered the definitive treatment of the Christopher Pike character.
Bonanno’s third novel for Pocket Books was at the center of an infamous fiasco, in which her original manuscript of a sequel to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, submitted in 1990 and entitled Music of the Spheres, was thoroughly gutted by the editorial regime of the day and given over to a reluctant Gene DeWeese for a wholesale rewrite, which was eventually published in 1992 as Probe. However, because the covers had already been printed prior to the rewrite, hers was the name featured on the front of the book. Bonanno disowned the published product. A brief breakdown of the debacle is available on her website. She continued to make the original manuscript for Music of the Spheres available at no charge through email correspondence. Although that, needless to say, is no longer an option, a PDF can thankfully be easily procured.
Notable non-Trek works by Bonanno include the Others trilogy; a 1987 biography of Angela Lansbury; Saturn’s Child, a science fiction novel co-written with Nichelle Nichols; and the sci-fi trilogy Preternatural, the first book of which was edited by one Greg Cox, who called it “a weird, ambitious, metafictional, loosely autobiographical tour de force about a struggling midlist science fiction writer who may or may not actually be in contact with alien intelligences.”
Bonanno was one of Star Trek‘s finest authors, and she will be greatly missed.
Della Van Hise, a writer most relevant to the purview of this website as author of the 1985 Star Trek novel Killing Time, died of heart failure in Loma Linda, CA on March 3 following a series of cardiac arrests throughout February that confined her to the hospital. The news was reported on her Facebook page by Wendy Rathbone, her domestic partner of forty years. She was 65.
Van Hise published erotic fan fiction both in the Star Trek universe and with original characters and settings under over a dozen pseudonyms, the most notable of which was Alexis Fegan Black. She was also highly committed to a New Age-esque spiritual journey of the self, which she documented in Quantum Shaman: Diary of a Nagual Woman (2005) and subsequent expansions. Quantum Shaman purports to continue the work first laid out by, among others, shamanist Carlos Castaneda in 1968’s The Teachings of Don Juan, a book originally published with serious intentions as an anthropological document but nowadays widely considered a work of fiction. Van Hise also offered “evolutionary workshops” that claimed to aid others who wished to embark on this type of journey.
Killing Time was, rather (in)famously, the novel that forced Gene Roddenberry’s hand in cracking down on overtly sexual elements in Star Trek novels. Killing Time‘s first printing was recalled and subsequently pulped, and Pocket Books issued a second edition with a handful of new edits after it was discovered that an earlier unedited version of the manuscript had somehow reached publication. Copies of it still exist, however (one of which I was fortunate enough to find in a secondhand bookstore), which are most easily distinguished by the title being embossed on the cover, and additionally by certain telltale passages within the text. Perhaps needless to say, it would be Van Hise’s only official Star Trek novel.
Van Hise’s own later statements about the book are characterized mainly by a seething resentment of society’s and fandom’s treatment of slash writers, as well as a stubborn insistence that Paramount ripped off the novel’s plot for later works such as the 2009 J.J. Abrams film, which to her was a fact as simply and immutably true as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west (though her beliefs would probably have led her to question that as well).
Looking back on my own review of Killing Time, I’d say that while it was long and certainly informative, and I tried my best to be even-handed, I was definitely more than a little immature about it in places. Perhaps in the far-flung future, when we’ve finally exhausted the master list of almost 700 Pocket Books novels and I have to move on to reviewing the Bantam books and other adjacent pieces of Trek culture, we’ll take another look at Killing Time—this time looking at it from the perspective of the unedited version.
I’ll cut to the chase on this one. For the three years plus that Deep Space Spines has been a thing, I’ve been able to comfortably afford the books thanks to the relative cheapness of mass market paperbacks and the generosity of my readers, and have built up quite a strong reading buffer. Following the most recent review for The Laertian Gamble, I have in my possession every book to be reviewed for the next 53 weeks. However, after that point, some titles, particularly in the YA line, are outlandishly expensive even at my level of combined disposable income and financial patronage. So, operating on the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I’ve decided to open up the site to donations of books as well as money. To that end, I’ve added a page called Books the Site Needs, where I’ll list books that, shall we say, make my eyes bug out when I look them up online, and see if I can’t get some of them that way.
Thanks as always for frequenting this silly little site of mine and being the awesome people you are.
Star Trek novelist Dave Galanter passed away three days ago on December 12 of cancer. His wife Simantha broke the news of his passing on his Twitter account. He had revealed his terminal diagnosis and the late stage of his illness only a month prior.
Deep Space Spines recently reached his first Star Trek novel, the TNG story Foreign Foes, back in July. He collaborated on the majority of his Trek output with a writing partner, Greg Brodeur, before going solo in 2009 with TOS’s Troublesome Minds. His most recent work in the franchise, the Lieutenant Stamets–centered Discovery novel Dead Endless, came out nearly one year ago to the day.
I enjoyed Foreign Foes, and a lot of the work yet to be reviewed looks pretty exciting. He will be greatly missed.
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