Saturday, December 5, 2020

#StayAtHome: John M. Ford's "The Final Reflection"


This was my first rereading of John M. Ford's The Final Reflection (1984) since its original publication some thirty six years ago (!).  My first reflection is how much the novel (and, secondarily, the FASA Star Trek RPG supplement The Klingons, also authored by John M. Ford) have shaped my understanding of who the Klingons "really" are. I believe this was the first really sympathetic portrayal of the Klingons, written from a Klingon point of view. I mean, in my current post-Dominion war Shackleton Expanse Star Trek Adventures RPG campaign, there are Human-Klingon and Romulan-Klingon fusions, and there is even a small renascent Imperial Klingon States in the Expanse. In fact, one of my best pieces of game writing for this campaign was their "declaration" of the new IKS.

A second reflection, provoked in part also by some of the journalism about Star Trek: Discovery, is that the Klingons have been reinvented several times. So any Star Trek GM will need to decide which Klingons they are using - or which combination of Klingon-types they are select for the Klingons in their game. For example, while Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation had this weird idea that repairing disabilities with prosthetics was somehow un-Klingon and/or dishonorable, the Klingons in The Final Reflection have all kinds of prosthetics - even obvious plastic facial prosthetics. Similarly, notions like the Black Fleet and the significance of "the naked stars" start here, with John M. Ford.

A final reflection is that whoever wrote Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, must have been influenced by The Final Reflection. There are just to many similarities in themes, and in the core conspiracies present in the movie to make this happen by accident. Some of Ford's themes spill back to Enterprise as well, particularly the "humans first" movement which seeks to cut off Earth from other worlds.

This is a very enjoyable novel, with a lot of action and a lot of heart, and some really evocative literary references as well. Anyone who has Klingons reading The Once and Future King is doing Klingons and Trek the right way. 

It was nice to see an acknowledgement of John M. Ford in STA's new Klingon Core Book.

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