from the archives: Articles of the Federation ten (now twelve) years later

Two years ago today, I was interviewed by Visionary Trek about my Star Trek political novel Articles of the Federation on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. Here’s what I wrote about it on the old blog………


Amazingly, it’s been ten years since Star Trek: Articles of the Federation was released….

I’d actually intended to write about Articles last month — the actual anniversary month of the book’s June 2005 release — but deadlines and life got in the way. It’s amazing that it’s been so long, and curious to look back at the influence the book has had.

It’s a bit of an odd duck. The book isn’t about a ship and crew, but rather politicians. None of the main characters are established from the screen iterations of Trek, and the only “canon” characters who do appear — Spock, Alexander Rozhenko, Admiral Ross, Janeway, the EMH, Bruce Maddox — have tiny roles. Plus, the novel consists entirely of people sitting in rooms talking to each other. Because that’s what politics is.

It’s at once one of my worst selling books (it was the first 2005 novel to go out of print, it never got multiple printings, and it’s got the crappiest numbers of all my Trek fiction on my royalty statements), but it’s also probably my best-reviewed book — certainly my best-reviewed Trek book.

The novel grew out of a desire to show more of Federation politics. We saw tons of Klingon, Bajoran, Cardassian, Ferengi, and Romulan politics in the various shows and movies, but a vanishingly small amount of Federation politics. David Mack and I started that process of rectifying that in the last three books of the A Time to… series, and then I devoted an entire novel to it.

That novel may not have sold, but it has been influential. Every portrayal of Federation politics that we’ve seen in the fiction over the past ten years has used Articles as its guide. I’ve joked that it’s the Music from Big Pink of Trek fiction. Big Pink is a 1968 album by The Band, which most rock’n’roll fans probably haven’t heard of, or if they have, they may not know well, but pretty much every single person who made music between 1968 and 1980 cited Big Pink as a major influence. President Nan Bacco, the main character of Articles, who is based in large part on my late great-grandmother, has gone on to appear in more than a dozen novels since then, starting with her major supporting role in Mr. Mack’s epic Destiny trilogy, and going on from there.

On the occasion of the novel’s tenth anniversary, I sat down with the fine folks at Visionary Trek for an edition of their “Captains’ Table” podcast to talk about Articles and various other bits and pieces of my Trek work. Do check it out!

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