The Canon

Canon: "a: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture", b: "The authentic works of a writer; also : a usu. Specified group or a body of related works <assimilating him into the ~ of standard modern authors - J.W. Aldridge)"

- Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

Of what relevance is that to a Star Trek versus Star Wars site? "Canon" is also a word that applies to the wealth of materials that surround the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. Books, upon books upon books, yet not all of them actually contain data that the owners of the trademarks and stories consider to be ‘truthful’. The most ‘truthful’ data comes from the movies and episodes, themselves, but there have been games, books and other marketed products that have been introduced into the equation that are intended to ‘supplement’ the main storyline, and, in some instances, this is actually accepted by the powers that be. In some others, however, no. The final authority in what is and what isn’t canon to their storylines are the franchise owners, themselves.

Not me, not you; no matter how much many of you try to say otherwise.

What’s the word in Star Wars?

"And with the Star Wars universe continuing to expand, Lucasfilm has meticulously graphed the plot-line of every piece of licensed material to weed out potential conflicts. Fans always want to know what material is actual canon and what isn’t, and Lucasfilm executives recently addressed that question during an on-line conference with Star Wars fans held on the on-line system GEnie. Strictly speaking, the movies, the radio dramas, and the movie novelizations are the most accurate and are considered canon."

-Sci-Fi Universe, Issue 1, "Countdown to ’97: the Next Star Wars Trilogy"; pg: 58, by Chris Gore.

There is a wealth of other books, but, if they contradict the movies or the novelizations of those movies, or the radio dramas, they are not considered canon. However, as long as they don’t, fans can mesh them right in.  Some Star Wars fans usually go through the semantic of differentiating this material as either ‘canon’ or ‘official’, with ‘official’ being second to the canon, and ‘official’ as long as it does not contradict anything canon.

What’s the word in Star Trek?

"The question of what is ‘canon’ (official) information about Star Trek is a difficult one. To be absolutely strict, the only details that are completely official are those that we see or hear on screen; everything else falls into the realm of speculation. This is understandable; after all, the producers don’t want to be forced into altering a story because, for example, a book they may never have read makes certain statements about how the ship works.

Having said this, there are some books that Paramount does consider to contain official reference material, and these often make a significant contribution to our briefings. These books were all written by people who work on the show, so, even if they contain speculation, it is very well informed speculation. They are all published by Pocket Books, and have all been released since Star Trek: the Next Generation debuted in 1987."

-Star Trek: the Magazine, March 2002, volume 2, issue 11. "Canon books?", pg. 69.

I do not consider the Star Trek novels canon, and that is because Paramount doesn’t. Unless you count the novelizations of movies or episodes. Paramount does not go through the tired semantics of canon and official, as it either is accepted, or it is not. The vast majority of it is not. Only a handful of Star Trek’s merchandise is considered canon. This makes it a little easier to find out what you need to know about Trek, and you don’t have to wade through mountains of books and magazines full of different (and possibly contradictory) things. I suspect that’ll change, eventually, though.

However, it all involves the suspension of disbelief, and regarding them both as what they truly are: science fiction storylines, and nothing more. Entertainment.

Trying to make them real will not make them real, no matter how some may try.

Things can even change. Gene Roddenberry tried dismissing everything that wasn’t on screen as not being canon, but, he’s been since overruled by Paramount, Rick Berman and Mike Piller, the new holders of the franchise of the Star Trek name. This policy remains in place. André Bormanis, science advisor in the Star Trek series, even utilizes the tech manuals.

"While Bormanis is trained in several sciences, he relies heavily on research and other sources to fulfill his role of Jack of All Trades with the show. Touchstones include Rick Sternbach, Mike Okuda and their Star Trek Technical Manual as well as other specialists such as Dr. John Glasgow. Bormanis also tries to keep up on the cutting edge of modern science and technology by cruising the Internet and regularly reading a dozen different journals and magazines. Often, says Bormanis, fans themselves will provide detailed feedback that helps improve the show.

"After The Next Generation episode ‘Ethics’ where Worf breaks his back, we had gotten a letter from a woman with a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Dr. Crusher had ordered up 75 c.c.s of something that she pumped into Worf’s carotid artery. This woman pointed out very astutely that 75 c.c.s is a lot of any fluid to pump into somebody’s carotid artery, even a Klingon. Plus medicine is measured in milligrams and the hypospray Crusher was using could hold at the most 28 c.c.s of fluid. That’s the kind of good feedback I like because it helps to make the show better."

-Star Trek Communicator, "André Bormanis: Checking the Science in Star Trek", pg.: 113, by Deborah Fisher. Issue #113, published Aug-Sept 1997.

All-in-all, it is usually the Star Wars absurdist hypocrites that try to utilize books, and then dismiss them, later. It’s like the Bible, if you’re a Christian. If you’re a believer, then you know that you take the whole Bible, the whole story, or you get nothing. If you are like many Star Wars absurdists, for instance, you utilize such books as the Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, only to turn around and say that the elements that you don’t like contained therein are not ‘official’ or ‘canon’. Only the data that supports your own argument could possibly be true. In many cases, it is nothing more than a sign of a lack of the ability to face possible truths that don’t agree with your own, when you are unable to read something that tells you that you’re wrong about just as many things as you thought you were correct about; or, quite possibly, you were more wrong than right.

As far as I’m concerned, until a movie contradicts a book, the book is just as good as the movie for data.

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