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Poll of the Week: "Canon" Fire

Randal Shayne

Poll of the Week: "Canon" Fire   

39 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you relate to Star Trek canon?

    • Canon is very important to me! I spent a lot of time studying it, so it truly bothers me when writers contradict each other.
    • I’m not crazy about keeping canon, but I do get a bit annoyed when established events and such are jerked around.
    • Canon is alright, but it can be tweaked for the sake of a good story.
    • Ha! Forget canon! The universe is clay in my hands!
    • I really don’t have a preference either way.
    • Something else not mentioned here? Tell us below!

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Let’s face it; the universe of Star Trek is enormous. Hundreds of hours of television create a vast tapestry of lore spanning several hundred years, not to mention a few different galaxies. Even for a seasoned Trekker, absorbing and assimilating this enormous amount of information is daunting, at best. There seem to be two predominant schools of thought on this. While it is a somewhat maddening task, many avid fans have taken it upon themselves to study Star Trek tirelessly, in all of its detail. As such, canon (defined as “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine”) is often very important to these individuals, and tampering with canon in any way can elicit a negative reaction from them. However, there are plenty of diehard fans that are able to fully enjoy Star Trek without exhaustive and painstaking research. 

There are certainly benefits to both approaches. As I was considering Star Trek: Discovery some time ago (a topic that will certainly be featured more prominently in future polls) I began to wonder toward which mentality this fleet leant towards. 

This Poll of the Week asks you to consider your relationship with Star Trek’s canon. Is it important to you, beyond setting the scene for simming? Do you become annoyed when canon is violated? Or are you more interested in the individual stories, and willing to excuse minor continuity and canon errors in the pursuit of a good narrative? Do you have a different take on canon that isn’t mentioned here? Give us your vote, and discuss in the comments section below! 

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I do like canon and see it as a great reference for building good stories but the more canon there is, the more limits there are. So I'm all for bending canon to craft a great story. 

Edited by Nohx
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I'm one of those who have a hard time when writers contradict cannon. It's like trying to rewrite history. I have no problem adding to it and creating fresh new things for a great story but it can be done without rewriting history sooooo leave cannon alone.

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Canon is the backbone of our universe and there are so many stories which can be told within that tapestry that there is no need to recreate the wheel. We have so much material to work with there should be no need to make new canon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ron Moore, the man who was a longstanding Star Trek writer before he rebooted Battlestar Galactica, once explained the frustration of creating stories in the Star Trek universe:


“[You’d be] in the writers room and tossing out stories then having to stop yourself and go ‘Does this work? Does this violate continuity?’ And having to call people and check encyclopedias and look up information. You want to have it all in your head and just play. The Trek universe has got to the point where you can’t play anymore.”

I have read more than once about how a writer will ignore canon in favor of a good story and I can understand the frustration. On the other hand, I can also appreciate how canon describes the world in which we choose to write. We want that world to make sense, for the parts to work together, and when it doesn't, it can be very frustrating. 

For me I think I come down in the middle. I want to learn, to observe canon, but at the same time, I don't want canon to be the most important thing.  Creativity has its place too and as catscatscats said, the spirit of collaboration is sometimes more important than getting every detail right.

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I have complicated feelings about canon. 

For RP I certainly appreciate having some clear idea of how the universe works, though in a lot of cases that also involves expanding on or making up stuff to have an example for things that might not be touched on in canon - e.g., 118 including Marines as part of Starfleet or some ships using additional variants for some roles. I am perhaps more fond of black collars for intel than I should be. :) 

In terms of more general canon, well...Star Trek is a big, broad, (and as catscatscats mentioned above) often messy thing. I find stuff like DS9's we literally photoshopped ourselves into a TOS episode tribble shenanigans fun. I also very much tend to err on the side of viewing things as one facet of stuff, or factoring in that we have unreliable narrators and all that. Try to be cautious about leaning into what little we know to the point where it's very much a planet of hats situation.

There's also the part where...well, some of the canon isn't that great. E.g., the evil mirror universe bi characters thing from DS9. People with my sexuality being the evil ones does put a damper on some of the optimistic future aspects for me. 

There's still a lot about the setting I care about, but I try not to defend canon too broadly given that sort of thing being part of it.

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