Inverarity (inverarity) wrote in bookish,

Saturday Book Discussion: Tie-in fiction

Splinter of the Mind's Eye

This should have been canon.

This topic is one I don't have a lot to say about, because, for the most part, I don't read tie-ins. I will go see the movie made from a novel; I haven't read novelizations of a movie since The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

(Btw, that 1979 Star Trek novel was not written by Gene Roddenberry, even though his name is most prominent on the cover. It was actually written, like the novelization of the more recent movie, by Alan Dean Foster.)

ETA: Alan Dean Foster corrects me.

A lucrative writing gig for a midlist author is licensed tie-in fiction, where you are writing novelizations of movies or TV shows or RPGs. There is a stigma against this sort of writing because it's got all kinds of strikes against it:

  1. It's very obviously commercial product, without even the pretense of being for Art.
  2. No matter how good or even in love with the material the author may be, he has hard limits on what he can do with the characters and the universe.
  3. Being constrained by canon (and a corporate mandate), it's basically licensed fan fiction (with all the stigma that implies).
  4. Because of all of the above, it's rare that you'll get the combination of a good author who's really trying to produce his best work, which means, yes, most of it is pretty crappy.

I remember The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture being pretty good (books), but Alan Dean Foster is a veteran SF author with a whole bunch of non-tie-in novels to his name. (Also, I was, like, 12 when I read them...) But most of the tie-novels I've skimmed since then have been pretty dire. There are authors like R.A. Salvatore and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman whose careers were built on AD&D novels. Michael Stackpole, who is now on the "Death to the publishing industry!" bandwagon, made plenty of coin writing Star Wars novels.

BuffyDragonlanceRogue Squadron

It may be fair to distinguish here between books that are straight novelizations of a movie, and books that expand the movie-verse's canon. The latter may allow the author somewhat more creative license, though strictly limited by the owners of the property, while the former is pretty much work to spec. Star Trek novels (and fanzines) kept the franchise alive during the dry periods between movies, and some books based on TV series have gone completely off the rails in terms of following canon. But this also brings up the question of whether these works are really any different from fan fiction. (Lee Goldberg, who is vehemently against fan fiction, says he totally does not write fan fiction.)

So, how many of you read tie-ins? And what do you think of tie-in novels?

John Carter

This is not the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

This is the novelization of the movie

which is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs Novel.


Poll #1839923 Tie-ins

Do you ever read tie-in novels?

I love them!
I have a favorite series or two that I read.
I've read a few, and they were okay.
I've read a few, but they were terrible.
No, and no interest in doing so.
Why would anyone want to read this crap?

Can tie-in novels be as good as original fiction?

Sure, what makes them different from "original fiction"?
A good author can write good stories no matter what, but licensed tie-ins inevitably limit creativity.
A few stand out, but mostly they're crap.
No. They may be entertaining, but they're derivative commercial product by definition.
Maybe in theory, but in practice, not a chance.
No, and an author has to sell a little bit of his soul to write them.

Previous Saturday Book Discussions.
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