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Old July 19 2008, 11:18 AM   #10
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

I have to admit, I didn't think this one was quite up to CLB's usual standards. I loved the thematic nature of the story and the emphasis on family, and how that was manifested in so many different ways (Picard & Crusher, Geordi alone, Guinan's past, T'Ryssa's past contrasted with Kadohata's present, the Borg, the giant intelligence, and Hugh - they all had something to contribute to the theme), so the core of the book was quite wonderful. But, well...

Ok. So, first of all, this deals with the Einstein, which it looks like doesn't have anything to do with the Borg invasion in Destiny. I was hoping there'd be some kind of ongoing thread throughout all this, and while there might be, it certainly isn't apparent in this story. It certainly seems like we follow a standalone Borg story with... another, unrelated Borg story. I'm not one of the people that thinks the Borg are tired and lame, but this is a mite excessive. If all of the TNG books so far involved Romulans and no other enemies, I think people'd have the same reaction.

Two, I didn't really get T'Ryssa. She seemed too much like the standard, idealized female character that guys tend to invent in, for instance, very bad computer games - horny, loose, constantly cracking puns, beautiful, and brilliant, not to mention that she ends up prancing around naked at least 3 times. And, of course, whilst being unconventional and irritating, she eventually gains the love and respect of her new crew. I predicted her whole story from the moment Picard saw her application. Not quite Mary Sue, but a related phenomenon... author's fantasy, perhaps, as made whole in a novel. Maybe I'm being unfair, but either way, she didn't work for me at all, despite the interesting idea of an undisciplined half-Vulcan. Maybe Mack will take her interesting places.

Three, I really didn't like the way the aftermath of the mutiny plot was handled. Seemed like the first third of the book was little more than lots of characters apologizing for acting like idiots and then promptly exiting the story. T'Lara and Leybenzon pissed off so many people that I can sorta see shuffling them aside just to not ruffle feathers, but it seems...I don't know...selfish, somehow, like CLB took all the characters he didn't like and replaced them with his own just because he could. Especially with T'Ryssa seeming like such a stereotypical fantasy girl, and then Leybenzon in his brief appearance being one-dimensional and unrealistic... I didn't much like him either, but I thought there was a real story to tell with him. Turning him into 100% Violence Boy, and then having him screw up and die 10 pages later, seemed lame. A waste of resources.

Oh, and it also seemed odd to me that the primary emotional conflict around our Captain in this series involves having a child, just like it does in Titan at this point. It makes sense for both characters, and when they meet up in Destiny I look forward to some interesting conversations on the subject, but it did seem repetitive. This is a minor complaint, though.

I did like the other new characters, the scientist and the security chief, and look forward to where Mack takes everyone. I also thought the idea for the giant intelligence was fantastic, and the interactions between it and the crew were cleverly written. Most of the plot itself was great, really, just the context was really irritating in a lot of cases. If you remove the general TNG-Relaunch sloppiness and its aftereffects, and the character of T'Ryssa, and this happened to not be immediately bookended on both sides by more Borg stories, it would've been pretty fantastic. As it stands, maybe 7/10.

Last edited by Thrawn; July 19 2008 at 11:38 AM.
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