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Old February 22 2009, 02:50 PM   #60
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Re: Titan: Over a Torrent Sea

Thrawn wrote: View Post
By this point, I have some pretty high expectations for a CLB novel; I more or less expect it to make me reevaluate some important aspect of myself and the universe, awe and delight me with some kind of idea I'd have never even considered, create flawless and moving character arcs for several main characters, and take such an irrepressible delight in the wonder of the universe that it's effectively impossible to put down.

And, as usual, dude managed to completely exceed my expectations. It's pretty absurd by this point, really; aside from GTTS, every CLB book I've read has left me going "WOW! I mean, I knew it was going to be GOOD, but not, like THAT good!" and mumbling stupidly for a while. The end of this one even made me well up a little. No actual tears, but it was close. I was genuinely moved.
Wow. I'm welling up a little just reading this review. I'm immensely flattered.

More specifically, in a lot of ways, I think this might've actually been the first Titan book to genuinely live up to the series' premise of exploring the conflicts and revelations from having such an alien crew.
Interesting you should say that, because I was trying to move past the whole "Ooh, look how diverse we are!" thing, just take it for granted that the crew had gotten used to that diversity and that conflicts would come more out of individuals (albeit reflecting their own distinct histories and heritages) than species differences.

But I guess what you're saying is that the book really gets into exploring the alien characters' worldviews and mentalities, rather than dwelling on their differences.

For the first time, our biggest spotlight character - Aili - is one of the extremely alien and different ones, and Cethente and Ree put in fascinating appearances as well. Cethente's diving sequence, in particular, is one of my favorite Trek moments ever. But really the heart and soul of this novel is Aili's journey, and it became so much more interesting and affecting than I thought that character would've ever been... and she was one of my favorites to begin with!
Glad you liked those. I enjoyed developing those characters and their cultures. I actually didn't plan on using Cethente at first, but I needed some crewmember capable of handling that dive and Cethente seemed the best choice. I'm quite pleased with what I came up with.

It’s also interesting that the book skips over the scientific part of finding The Solution at the end completely, and just deals with the cultural impact; it’s as if the fact of science producing solutions is never even in doubt, just the people’s willingness to accept them.
Admittedly, it's more that I didn't have a real-science solution for that. The basic crisis came more from Treknobabble energy fields than from real science, and so the solution was pretty much going to be applied handwavium in any case. Rather than think up a couple of paragraphs of that, I just said "We've devised a field" and focused on the more concrete science and logistics of the deployment.

And the way the squale culture was created to be able to underline that moral without them seeming backward was similarly fantastic. The work that went into crafting that society was remarkable.
Thanks, but this is one of those times where it looks like I planned something that I actually didn't. This book is largely based on an unsold spec novel I wrote over a decade ago, and in that version, there was no technological fix that the ocean-planet aliens (more dolphinlike there) had to accept; their fear of technology was just an excuse to keep the leading lady separate from her crew for long enough that she needed to undergo the change that's proposed for Aili and Riker here.

So really the work of creating the squales' society and environment was about half done back then and half done in the writing of this book. Which helped me do a richer job of worldbuilding than I probably could've within the bounds of my deadline for this book alone.

My one big complaint with Titan is that this is now the sixth book in a row to be about profound, soul-searching topics, and I just have to say, it’d be fantastic if these guys could have just a little fun every once in a while. I liked the way this novel started calmly, but even then, it turned out to be a Giant Soul-Searching Epic for everyone involved. Can we visit a planet where the most valuable part of their culture is stand up comedy, or something? All six of the last Titan books (including Destiny) have been absolute genius, but in a row, it's getting to be a little draining. I'm glad I didn't read them all at once, or by this point I think my brain would've exploded. In all fairness, Torvig is always a breath of fresh air, and he gets two hilarious scenes in this one (one as he dons a new mechanical structure complete with fins; two as he decides the best solution to an immediate problem would be spending three weeks making the transporters create wormholes), but it would’ve been nice to see a bit more of that. There's plenty of humor, but very little... lightheartedness.
I'm surprised to hear that, since I was trying to make this a lighter, fun change-of-pace book after the weightiness of Destiny. It dealt with some pretty serious character baggage, but I tried to leaven it with humor and avoid getting too dark.
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