Tie-in

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Synonyms: tie-in novel, authorized sequel, sequels, pro novel, Profic
See also: novelization; adaptation, bookverse, movieverse, comicsverse
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Contents

A tie-in is a published work meant to complement (and derive a profit from) another published work. In general, tie-ins are novels or graphic novels that spring from a movie or television show.

A movie made from a novel is an adaptation and may or may not be faithful to its source. A novelization, by contrast, is a rewriting of the movie script in novel form and thus does not deviate from the plot of the movie. An authorized sequel is a tie-in work written with the consent of the author or their estate.

Professional Fanfic?

Pocket Book's guidelines, printed in TREKisM #44, click to read
Pocket Book's guidelines, printed in TREKisM #44, click to read

It is often argued that tie-in novels are professional fanfic, and several tie-in writers started out writing fanfiction (e.g., Una McCormack). Some tie-in writers and editors disagree with this violently (e.g., John Ordover, Lee Goldberg).

History

The history of the tie-in novel is ambiguous. Some properties, published in obscurity, exercise great freedom to change the canon from which they are written (e.g., Diane Duane's Star Trek novels of the late 1970s and early 1980s). Other properties are written strictly to fit into existing canon — neither to enlarge it, nor to occlude any possibilities — and thus often find themselves ending on a reset button. One way tie-in writers have found around this problem is to write original characters in tie-in universes; Peter David created a whole series of Star Trek novels in this vein that have been very successful.

Discussion and Acceptance of Pro Novels in Different Fandoms

Tie-ins rarely develop followings in fandom as powerful as their source materials do. Supernatural tie-ins, e.g., regularly got details of canon wrong, and are generally not taken as canonical. On the other hand, Buffy comics which continue after the TV series are often discussed as if they definitively extend canon (perhaps due to the fact that Joss Whedon himself wrote the tie-in).

Discussion of Quality

  • From Boldly Writing "The professional novels got a lot of press. In January [1983 issue of Interstat], Sonni Cooper wrote 'By the time this is published, my Trek novel, Black Fire, will be available. I'd like some feedback.' She got both positive and negative reactions. S. L. R. responded, 'Black Fire, in my opinion, is the poorest excuse for a pro novel that it has ever been my misfortune to read. In fact, there is, to my knowledge, no excuse for this book.' Jeffrey K. Wagner had a more positive reaction: "Black Fire, by Cooper, was exciting, action-filled, and generally very believable.' In April [1983 issue of Interstat), Lisa Wahl and Julia Ecklar complained once more about the poor quality of the pro novels: 'Is everyone as tired as we are at discovering that Trek novels by award-winning science fiction writers are not as good as many fans' works?" In June, Lisa Wahl suggested that Star Trek fans boycott the Timescape Star Trek novels in October and November of that year, in order to protest their poor quality. That got a lot of fans writing in. Several fans said they were afraid that such a boycott would hurt sales of Yesterday's Son, which they had read in manuscript form. Howard Weinstein was one of them, though he added, 'Lisa and Julia get no argument from me when they complain that not all the pro Star Trek novels are as good as they might be.' Howard also wrote, 'Since the publication of Covenant [of the Crown], I've gotten several hundred letters from readers...I've found overwhelming approval.' This matched reports of every single pro author who wrote to a letterzine: all reported getting hundreds of positive responses."
  • Another fan in Universal Translator (February 1983) comments on a recently released Star Trek pro novel, contrasting the quality of the stories in the fan realm and the pro realm: "Black Fire is fan-fiction at a level only millimeters above the mediocre, and it's frustrating to see it professionally published when superior material remains confined to fanzines and therefore unknown to the general public."
  • The Star Wars letterzine Southern Enclave has much discussion regarding "pro-novels": whether or not they are canon, that they have no "heart," that their writers are constrained too much by the Lucas franchise, that writers don't know "what to do about Luke," that they tend to veer towards "suburbia" and too-perfect children, that Han becomes a neutered lap-dog and that the novels are generally a fail.
  • While tie-in novels are often picked apart by fans for their lack of continuity, understanding of character, and emotional resonance, one book in the Mass Effect fandom got it so wrong that its publisher issued a public apology: "The teams at Del Rey and BioWare would like to extend our sincerest apologies to the Mass Effect fans for any errors and oversights made in the recent novel Mass Effect: Deception. We are currently working on a number of changes that will appear in future editions of the novel. We would like to thank all Mass Effect fans for their passion and dedication to this ever-growing world, and assure them that we are listening and taking this matter very seriously." [1]
  • Boldly Writing says of Star Trek: TOS pro-novels: "The year 1981 marked a turning point with the pro novels. Reviews went from being almost always negative to being largely positive. Part of the change was due to a real improvement in the quality of writing, and part due to new influx of fans who never saw the classic fanzine stories of the 1970s. Some fans claimed that no Star Trek pro novel ever outshone the best fanzine stories of the 1970s. Other fanzine readers of the 1970s sided with the newer fans and claimed that some of the pro novels of the 1980s were pretty good. The 'which is better, pro writing or fanzine writing' debate continued off and on through the entire decade."

Notable Examples

External Sources

  • Margaret Wander Bonanno, writer of the Star Trek novel "Probe," offers up an expose of the machinations, politics, and heavy-handed editorship of Pocket books in the late 1980s and early 1990s; this pdf also includes the novel as she wrote it, rather than the 7% of her words that appeared in the published edition.

References

  1. BioWare Beg Fan Forgiveness on Bungled Mass Effect Novel, February 6, 2010, accessed February 23, 2012
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