TrekCore’s literature editor Dan Gunther caught up prolific Trek novelist David R. George III this month, who returned to the Enterprise-B and the post-Star Trek: Generations time period known as the Lost Era in his new release, The Lost Era: One Constant Star.
TrekCore: One Constant Star returns to the Lost Era, a period that has not seen a lot of stories set during it recently. What made you decide to revisit the Enterprise-B and Demora Sulu?
David R. George III: A couple factors motivated me to return to the so-called Lost Era in general, and to Demora Sulu and Enterprise-B in particular.
Of late, I have been writing a lot of 24th century stories that have involved a tremendous amount of continuity, and I thought that I would enjoy working in an era that is considerably less populated with interweaving events, providing me more flexibility in storytelling. My recent Star Trek novels have also been exceedingly political, so I had the desire to get away from that and tell more of an exploratory tale.
I also really enjoy the character of Demora Sulu, as well as that of John Harriman. Even though both originally appeared on-screen in Star Trek: Generations, and then in a couple of literary works, I actually feel sort of proprietary about them.
In two of my previous works — the novel Serpents Among the Ruins and the novella Iron and Sacrifice in Tales From the Captain’s Table — I spent a great deal of time and effort opening up the character of Demora, and I wanted to continue those efforts. In particular, I wanted to see what type of a starship captain she had become. All of that pointed me to the Lost Era and Enterprise-B.
TrekCore: While your previous Enteprise-B novel, Serpents Among the Ruins, focused on the political state of the Federation and the surrounding powers, One Constant Star brings more of a focus on a “strange new world” with a mystery to solve. How did the genesis of this story differ from the previous one?
David R. George III: When my editor invited me to write my first Lost Era novel, he pointed me to the Tomed Incident, an event mentioned on an episode of The Next Generation, but never explored or even fully explained. The audience knew several details about what had happened—that it marked the last direct contact the Federation had with the Romulans prior to 2364, that it cost thousands of lives, and that it resulted in the Treaty of Algeron, which prevented the UFP from developing cloaking technology. I used those details as the basis for the tale I told.
With One Constant Star, I started only with the idea that I wanted to revisit Enterprise-B so that I could examine Demora Sulu’s captaincy. I didn’t even know if John Harriman would be a part of the story, although I hoped I could find a way to include him. Early on, I envisioned the crew of Enterprise-B encountering a strange alien object out in space, and somewhere in or on that object, they found a photograph of Demora Sulu.
That seemed like a cool hook for a mystery, and although that particular setup didn’t quite work out, it started me in the direction of the mystery I eventually developed.
TrekCore: I enjoyed reading about the characters that make up the crew of the Enterprise-B. What was the biggest challenge in creating a crew of previously un-seen characters from scratch?
David R. George III: Well, not all of the crew of Enterprise-B were new characters. I had used quite a few of them previously, in Serpents Among the Ruins. Of course, Serpents primarily focused on John Harriman and Demora Sulu, so I had plenty of room to flesh out the crew. Creating new characters is always a challenge, but not more so here than in any other work.
As a writer, I hope to develop believable, even memorable characters readers will love or hate, people they can relate to or understand in a meaningful way. I also want the characters to carry the story, and to stay true to themselves.
Actually, a bigger challenge was in further developing Demora Sulu. I didn’t know it when I first started the novel, but as I got deeper into it, I discovered that the Enterprise-B captain had become almost aloof from her crew, that she had grown more isolated during her years in command, and more formal in the discharge of her duties. I hadn’t exactly planned for that, but that’s where the story took the character.
TrekCore: In One Constant Star, the notion of duty and responsibility seems to be front and center. How have your experiences with these themes informed the writing of this novel?
David R. George III: I guess that a writer’s experiences necessarily inform their writing, though not always in a straight line. In this case, I’d say that my relationship with my wife was the greatest influence on the novel. In One Constant Star, one storyline sees John Harriman having to deal with the obligation he feels to one of his oldest and closest friends, while at the same time attempting to do what’s best for his own wife.
I love both reading and writing difficult moral or personal dilemmas. Imagine that you had the opportunity to save the life of your best friend, but in so doing, you might never see the person you love ever again. Could you let your friend die in order to preserve your relationship with the love of your life? I think it’s fascinating to consider such questions.
TrekCore: Does the publication of this novel possibly open the door to more new novels set in the Lost Era?
David R. George III: I imagine that depends on how well the novel sells. For my part, I enjoy writing both Demora Sulu and John Harriman, and I also love the Enterprise-B crew I have created, so I can definitely see myself returning to that time period again, if given the chance. There are always stories to tell.
TrekCore: Your recent novel in The Fall — Revelations and Dust — left a number of plot threads dangling, begging for a follow-up. Is there any chance we will be able to see where this story goes?
David R. George III: Yes, absolutely. I believe that recent novels set in and around Deep Space 9 have done pretty well, both in terms of sales and reader reaction. I agree that some storylines have been left unfinished, and that is by design. The editors and the writers have done a fine job of continuing the serial nature of the Deep Space Nine television show. I would love to help continue telling those stories, though it certainly could be other writers who do so. I know that the talented Una McCormack has a new DSN novel, The Missing, coming out in January 2015.
TrekCore: You recently teased about a 24th-century Trek novel that you are currently working on, as well as a follow-up in the works. Can you tell us anything more about this project?
David R. George III: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. My editor prefers to play things pretty close to the vest. All I can say is that you should see my name on some new Trek work in 2015, and that I’m excited about it.
TrekCore: Outside of Star Trek, are there any projects you have on the go that our readers might be interested in?
David R. George III: I recently penned a novelette for a genre anthology called Apollo’s Daughters. The book is a follow-up to the just-published Athena’s Daughters, which features tales with strong female protagonists, all written by women. Apollo’s Daughters will have stories with strong female protagonists, but all written by men, including fellow Star Trek scribes David Mack and Aaron Rosenberg. My tale is called “The Dark Arts Come to Hebron.” It should be out toward the end of summer. It’s not yet listed on Amazon, but you can find more information about it at Kickstarter.
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One Constant Star