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Old July 19 2008, 11:37 PM   #19
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Thrawn wrote: View Post
Regarding the crew shuffling - I also thought it was ambiguous whether or not T'Lana would leave, so I wasn't expecting that, and as for Leybenzon, even if he was scripted to have left the ship, why kill him off so suddenly? No one liked him enough for that to be an effective Dramatic Moment, and it seemed to me that all it did was take a potentially interesting character, reduce him to one dimension, and eliminate him. Like I said, a waste of resources. Even if you and David Mack didn't want him on the ship, why not leave him alive for later authors to play with if they wanted?
We wanted to kill someone off to underline, basically, that we meant business with this new story development. I had a choice of T'Lana or Leybenzon, and I wanted to leave T'Lana around for possible redemption.

Besides, I really don't have much sympathy for characters who think of combat as a desirable thing. I wanted to make a point about what that mentality leads to.

As for T'Ryssa, well, it seemed to me that most of her character was something like "I am smart and awesome enough to know that I'm an annoying unprofessional person, but I'm cute enough that I don't have to do anything about it, so everyone else gets to deal!"
Actually I kinda like that.

And after a book in which many people were criticizing several of the new characters for a lack of Starfleet professionalism, a new character who not only doesn't have any but basically refuses to do anything about it seemed like salt in the wound.
First of all, I don't think a little unruliness is in the same category as throwing your captain in the brig. Second, I think you're confusing style with substance. She maintains her irreverence, but she mellows over the course of the book and is a better officer at the end than she started out being.

The constant punning, sleeping around, and lack of respect for authority made her into what I feel is a pretty common archetype in bad, male-centered entertainment; I didn't mean to insult you or anything by saying that, I apologize if any offense was felt, it's just an archetype that I personally think is really irritating.
Like Trys said, she doesn't lack respect for authority, she's just not very good at following it. She took (or was alluded to having taken) three lovers in the course of a book that spans several months, which makes her probably less active than Riker or Bashir, say. And the puns? That's just me. You should see some of the puns I wanted to use but didn't. (Worf gives T'Ryssa a speech about how he's grown and matured, and she replies, "Good to know you're not a static Klingon.")

Actually, I didn't mention this in my previous post, but I really loved what you did with Kadohata; I was hoping for similarly layered characterizations of T'Lana and Leybenzon, because I knew you'd be able to pull that off and make real and interesting people out of the confusion of the earlier books. I was disappointed that you didn't, whether by your or by editorial decision.
To be honest, I don't think I could've done much with Leybenzon. I appreciate what Keith was going for with the character, but I wouldn't have been the right author to tackle a character like that effectively. I bet Dave could've done something interesting with him, but it wasn't in the cards.

The setting was outstanding - your novels have some of the greatest sci-fi ideas to appear in Star Trek in years. I really hope that this enormous thinking entity thing finds its way back into the novels at some point, because by the end of the book I was every bit as interested in that thing as a character as I was in all the actual people. Taking a wild idea like that and giving it personality (subtly, not like Q or Nagilum) was fascinating.
That's really nice to hear. It was an interesting challenge I set for myself, to depict an alien mind without having it speak a word, but it really helped make it different from your usual alien.

Basically, I just wanted to do something I hadn't done before. I'd done planet-dwelling civilizations, I'd done spacegoing intelligences, so I wanted to do something that was neither.

The Borg were almost an afterthought, a way to get into the story with this creature and a way to underscore the familial theme of the book, and I liked that a lot. If there had to be so many Borg stories in a row, this was definitely the way to take one. There was a lot I loved about this novel.
That's also nice to hear. I did want it to be as much a change of pace as possible.

I guess maybe my expectations were too high; this is the first time there's been a character in any of your books I haven't really enjoyed.
I guess I should take that as a compliment, but I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to make T'Ryssa as appealing to you as she is to me.

Based on the quality of your earlier novels, I was expecting you to come in to the slightly clumsy TNG Relaunch and fix it, turning everything into people that made sense and long term arcs that connected. Now that I know that a lot of the decisions to remove characters, etc, weren't your fault I realize what a hard job writing the first third of this book must have been, and I suppose it was the best it could've been. But it's really odd to me how all the other ongoing book series I've read - NF, DS9 Relaunch, Gorkon, Titan, Vanguard, A Time To... - kept long term arcs going, but this series seems determined to reinvent itself every book. It's jarring.
Well, the authors of the 2008-9 TNG books -- myself, Dave Mack, and William Leisner -- have been keeping in regular contact and coordinating our efforts to keep things reasonably consistent from here on. Although different books won't necessarily focus on the same characters to the same degree.
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