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Old August 2 2008, 10:26 PM   #100
Christopher
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

D Man wrote: View Post
I thought this book didn't quite make it to the soaring heights you reached with The Buried Age and Orion's Hounds, but it was still a very good read, Christopher.
Thanks!

That being said, I understand why the first third of the book was necessary, and I think you did an admirable job of cleaning up the craziness. It certainly would have been FAR worse if everything was immediately swept under the rug and never mentioned again.
I would've liked to wrap it up more concisely, but there were a lot of loose ends to tie up.

The story itself was terrific, and as I've come to expect and look forward to in your novels, you explored a very intriguing and evocative sci-fi premsie with the carbon planet intelligence. I enjoyed how "Qing Long" never spoke, instead using imagery and Trys's perceptions to communicate. The crew's gradual understanding of the entity was nicely done.
Yeah, I'm glad at how that turned out. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pull off a totally nonverbal alien in print, but it worked itself out.

The slipstream angle was a good hook, and I really expected that the "big ending" was going to be the Borg getting their hands on the technology and zipping away. I hope this tech is returned to in future novels, but for now it seems the Einstein (or Frakenstein, I think I'm with Worf on that name ) plot has no direct connection to the main collective's new attacks. At least, that's the impression I get now, but I'm sure it'll all be dealt with in the Destiny books.
Yeah, it's all kind of a big coincidence, really -- they defeat one Borg threat, and then another unrelated, far more massive one crops up less than two months later. But it's all in the name of irony and Picard angst -- just when he finally thought it was over, it turns out it hasn't even started yet.

As for using the name Frankenstein, I sincerely meant what I had Nechayev say. I just couldn't bring myself to use Albert Einstein's name for a hostile ship. To a science-y type like me, that's practically blasphemy.

I'm mildly interested to see what comes out of the Borg saying they will "welcome" resistance, but at this point the escalation has become a little ridiculous. In Reistance, it was "The Borg attack on sight!" In Before Dishonor, it was "The Borg have an enormous cube that eats planets!" And now it's "They're going to annihliate rather than assimilate!" I don't think anyone wants to restart the "too much Borg" circular discussion/argument that happened in the Destiny thread, but that's my two cents on the issue.
Well, they're all aspects of the same thing, aren't they? The Federation has done a lot of damage to the Borg, and that's put them on the defensive, forcing new adaptations and strategies. The "attack on sight" behavior from Resistance was a defense of the nascent Queen, being generated to replace the last one Starfleet destroyed. The nanotech absorption ability of the cube in BD was a last-ditch adaptation of the technological facet of the Borg when stripped of its organic facet in its latest defeat. And as for Destiny, really, what else would you expect the Borg to do once it becomes clear to them that an enemy is a genuine threat to them rather than merely a nuisance? Once Janeway cripped the Borg's transwarp hub, it made this level of retaliation inevitable; the only reason it's taken three years for the payoff is that the Borg can't get here quickly anymore, aside from isolated cubes like the one from Resistance. Or at least they couldn't get here quickly...

I was suprised to see Hugh killed off, especially since a few chapters later his noble sacrifice turned out to have been in vain. Nevertheless, his last scene with La Forge was terrific. I was thinking the same thing as Geordi about the seeming futility and circular nature of Hugh's existence. Freed, used as a weapon, remained free, only to again be used as a weapon years later. Hugh's impassioned declaration about how meaningful his life as an individual has been was really quite moving, and it rang truer than similar scenes done over and over and over with Seven on Voyager.
I wasn't sure about killing Hugh off. It actually took some contrivance to explain why they couldn't rescue him. And I didn't like blowing up all those drones on the Frankenstein rather than saving them along with the others. But it was dramatically necessary that it be a suicide mission so that Picard's decision would carry the necessary weight.

Speaking of ex-Borg drones, I honestly thought Picard's reasoning behind his reluctance to have children had something to do with the alterations the Borg made to him. I remember thinking the same thing in "Generations" when he said "Now there be will be no more Picards" after his brother and nephew died. I guess his organs are just fine, though.
And if they weren't, Beverly could fix them. (Insert innuendo here, if you must.)

Picard's actual explanation turned out to be my favorite part of the book: the "Inner Light" connection. The scene where Picard finally broke down to Beverly about such unimaginable grief (a thousand years ago is a long time) was remarkable and perfectly in character. I thought of Patrick Stewart in "Sarek" and most of the scene came out in his voice in my head as I read. VERY well-written.
Thank you. Stewart's performance in "Sarek" was one of the main things I drew on to imagine how Picard would express himself here. He's really, really good at playing a total emotional breakdown. I only hope it was as powerful on the page as it was in my head.

I loved "The Inner Light" and wished we had seen ramifications on the show, but this was the next-best place to do it. The sly explanation about his "present" memories being immediately accessible to him after the Kataan probe severed the connection was a clever way to explain why the show didn't have much fall-out.
Yeah... it's always bugged the hell out of me that the experience not only didn't fundamentally change him as a man, but barely even got referenced again. But I'm a big believer in turning a negative into a positive. (Well, at least in my writing. It's not always as easy in real life.)

Overall, I'd give the book somewhere around an 8 or 8.5 out of 10. As a bridge between the previous TNG books and Destiny, GTTS gets the job done, while also showing off a very respectable "stand alone" story with some great character themes. I'm ready to see just how much of the status quo David Mack is going to shatter, and once again I eagerly await the next CLB Trek novel.
Much appreciated!
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