Star Trek: New Voyages and the Nebula Conundrum -

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Star Trek: New Voyages and the Nebula Conundrum

A look at the debate on James Cawley's fan fiction near collision

By Pat Ferrara     March 17, 2008

Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories by L.E. Modesitt, Jr(2008).
© Tor Books

James Cawley, the man who moonlights as Capt. Kirk in his own fan venture Star Trek: New Voyages / Phase 2, is in a bit of a predicament after one of his online episodes caught the attention of the Science Fiction Writers of America. The script for “World Enough and Time” has been nominated for the 2007 Nebula Award; a move that, despite its good intentions, could have Cawley sitting in hot water with Gene Roddenberry’s estate, CBS Corp and Paramount Pictures.

Hello Maniacs and welcome to this week’s edition of the Buzz. More so than any other genre, science fiction has a knack for churning out franchises with broad fan appeal, and wherever there are die-hard fans there’s bound to be fan fiction and other forms of emulation. Though this kind of feedback really is the highest form of flattery, fan fiction can be a harsh mistress, causing authors and creators to respond with slaps on the wrist, chastising words, or even full-blown lawsuits. 

Back in 2002 Lucas clashed with fans over a Star Wars film contest and, more recently, J.K. Rowling has decided to sue the fan creators of a proposed “Harry Potter Lexicon” book, but Cawley’s position with Star Wars: New Voyages definitely takes the cake for unique fan fiction clashes.

The online Trek series, which premiered its first full-length episode in April of ‘04, enjoys a fair amount of freedom with CBS and Paramount Pictures because the fan site is just that, a fan site with no plans of generating profit off of its Trek-related material. When Marc Zicree’s and Michael Reaves’ screenplay for “World Enough and Time” was shortlisted for the Nebula, however, the impromptu fan production attained a new level of legitimacy virtually overnight.

Some members of the SFWA board questioned the script’s eligibility for the award, since a Nebula is only given to professional projects (and indeed, Zicree and Reaves’ screenplay is competing with other heavy-hitters: Guillermo del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH, Alfonso Cuaron and co.’s CHILDREN OF MEN, the Nolan brother’s THE PRESTIGE, Wachowski’s V FOR VENDETTA, and Steven Moffat’s DOCTOR WHO episode “Blink”). But after some close scrutiny the board decided that “World Enough and Time” meets the professionalism guidelines as laid out in past interpretations of the rules. Not even a statement by Cawley himself decrying the show’s fan-based, amateur production status would change the SFWA’s mind.

Rather than back-pedal his way out of an ugly copyright infringement lawsuit, Cawley seems to be finding himself in a happy resolution to this Nebula conundrum. Though Paramount has yet to make an official statement on the fan show’s newfound award rank, the series creator seems to be in good graces with the high power pro co. A chance encounter with J.J. Abrams on the Paramount lot has turned the original Star Trek purist into a TREK XI supporter… and even landed him a role in the upcoming film.

It’d be more than a little tragic if James Cawley’s fan series got dismantled solely because it was nominated for an award, yet the time is coming when creators and distributors will draw very clear battle lines against fan fiction. Now that the major players have realized the profit potential of internet revenue, the next fan fiction run-in may not end so nicely.

New in Hardcover:

In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, S.M. Stirling (Tor Books)

While the men and women from Earth are gods from the sky on primitive Venus, on Mars humans or near-humans were building cities and doing calligraphy when fire was the latest superweapon Earthlings had developed to deal with cave bears. They're not impressed with the vaz-Terranan... and they have agendas of their own. Airships, swords, lost cities, decadent civilizations, singing clocks... and that's just the beginning. Sequel to 2006’s The Sky People.

Child of Time, George Mann & David Howe (Telos Publishing)

When Honoré and Emily investigate the bones of a young woman in the ruins of a collapsed house, they are thrown into a thrilling adventure that takes them from London in 1951 to Venice in 1586 and then forward a thousand years, to the terrifying, devastated London of 2586, ruled over by the sinister Sodality. What is the terrible truth about Emily's forgotten past? What demonic power are the Sodality plotting to reawaken? And who is the mysterious Dr Smith? All will be revealed in the stunning conclusion to the acclaimed Time Hunter series. Part mystery, part detective story, part dark fantasy, part science fiction... original adventures in time and space.

Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories, L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (Tor Books)

This is the first story collection ever from the bestselling fantasy and science fiction writer L. E. Modesitt, Jr. He began publishing as a short story writer in the SF magazines in the 1970s, mostly in Analog. Some of the earliest stories are kernels for his early SF novels, others display the wide range of his talents and interests, from satire to military adventure. This collection includes selections of stories from his entire career, as well as three new stories that have never been published before: “Black Ordermage,” set in the world of Modesitt’s bestselling Recluce series; “Beyond the Obvious Wind,” set in his Corean Chronicles universe; and “Always Outside the Lines,” which is related to the Ghosts of Columbia books.

The Stars Down Under, Sandra McDonald (Tor Books)

Alien artifacts, political tension, and a freshly-married pair of heroes in the sequel to the military-adventure SF novel The Outback Stars.

New in Paperback:

Where Truth Lies, Clifton Gilliam (Tate Publishing)

In a world ruled by science and technology, such a question has only one acceptable answer. But for Lawson Steele, the most powerful psi-agent on the force, he must find his own answer to Where Truth Lies, in the mind or in the heart; in science or in faith. When a fellow agent is ruthlessly killed in the line of duty, Lawson embarks on a quest to Jupiter’s only colonized moon to find the true killer. Lawson soon realizes that his adversary wields unimaginable power and to succeed in his vendetta, he must rely on something long extinct from the public eye… faith in an invisible God. With his faith in the balance, will Lawson find his soul’s redemption or an even more sinister conspiracy brewing Where Truth Lies?

Second Wave Vol. 1, Michael Alan Nelson (Boom! Studios)

Mankind fought back the first invasion. But then came...the Second Wave! Miles Walker was an ordinary man living an ordinary suburban life before alien invaders took his home and wife away. In time, the aliens were repelled -- but now they're back! How have they grown immune to mankind's defenses? How can Earth survive the Second Wave? The secret to victory lies buried deep within Miles... a secret planted by the aliens themselves! Collecting the critically acclaimed series in full color for the first time! Illustrated by Chee.

The Samarkand Solution, Gary Gygax (Paizo Publishing)

The governor is dead! While vacationing in the treacherous city of On, Magister Setne Inhetep - personal wizard-priest to the Pharaoh and part-time detective - stumbles upon a scene of murder by magic at the highest levels of government. With suspects ranging from the high priest of Set to a consortium of merchants and wizards from across the world, Inhetep must piece together the mystery before more luminaries are killed in a plot that threatens the Triple Kingdom of Agypt!

Lord of the Spiders, Michael Moorcock & Roy Thomas (Paizo Publishing)

Once more into the matter transmitter for an unforgettable journey to ancient Mars! Pulled back to earth on the eve of his marriage to the beautiful Princess Shizala, brilliant physicist Michael Kane must once again journey to the Red Planet to reclaim a life of swordplay and high adventure in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs! Kane finds himself on a different Mars, a place of blue giants and red revolution that ultimately leads to a ruined obsidian city inhabited by savage spider-men.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure, Peril, Lost Jewels, and the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree, Andrew Peterson (Waterbrook Press)

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera. Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies. Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

New in Audiobook:

The Dark Highlander, Karen Marie Moning (Brilliance Audio Unabridged)

I am Dageus MacKeltar, a man with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones, driven to sate my darkest desires… From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth-century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who possess his soul, dooming him to an eternity of sexual pursuit. When Chloe Zanders, student of antiquities, is drawn into his world, she finds the insatiable alpha male an irresistible lure. Before long, she is caught up in an ancient prophecy that will sweep her back into time to medieval Scotland. Plunged into a world of timeless magic and dark seduction, she will soon face the challenge of a lifetime: fighting thirteen evil spirits for the heart of one irresistible man...

Okay that’ll do it for this week’s Buzz. Check back next Monday for all the latest info on current sci fi, fantasy, and horror book releases. Questions or comments? Hit me up at


Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
Moz72 3/17/2008 7:44:41 AM
If ST:New Voyages is really that good and is being recognized for such a prestigious award, maybe Paramount shound consider purchasing the online series and continue it with a studio budget and advertising, that way everybody gets paid and the fans continue to enjoy the series.
smegforbrain 3/17/2008 11:29:49 AM
There's no chance Paramount buys this with the intent of support it, Moz, not with a Trek film coming. In the end, they could try and shut this down as competition, even if it isn't for-profit, and they'd probably be well within their rights to do so.
kaybar 3/17/2008 12:28:05 PM
Yeah, I agree with smeg that they probably wouldn't bankroll this fan series with the new reboot coming, but Paramount also can't alienate a large part of their Star Trek fan base. New Voyages and the Phase II projects have garnered a lot of fans, in particular those fans who love the original 1966 series. Putting Cawley on Trek XI was a great idea, but I'm glad as hell JJ is the one in the director's chair. "World Enough and Time" got on the Nebula ballot pretty much due to a technicality (the definition of 'professional'), but I think the copyright argument should focus only on the money-making bit.
sportwarrior 3/18/2008 2:38:07 AM
I just tried watching the World Enough and Time episode... I couldn't get through 5 minutes of it. Terrible acting, terrible dialog... It was awful. I may have been able to swallow the pill if it weren't trying to be exactly like the original Star Trek, characters and all. It actually reminded me of all those roleplaying fantasy nerds that go around hitting eachother with swords and throwing lightning bolts in terrible costumes, but with higher production values.
kaybar 3/18/2008 11:03:06 AM
I've gotta agree sportwarrior, I tried watching it and it was more than a little painful, I couldn't get through it. The premise sounded interesting, kind of like a Tachyon Fringe-type plot that I remember an episode of TNG nailing, but their commitment to the original series is definitely their downfall. All they're doing is re-inventing the cheese factor, and not in a good way.


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