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Old July 6 2009, 09:07 PM   #610
Trent Roman
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
In other words -- neither one was superior or inferior. (...) It is a story of deliverance -- of mutual deliverance. (...) It's not the interaction of gods and man, superior and inferior. It's the interaction of equals
You and I read this story very differently. I think the religious allusions were amply clear, and the positions into which the characters were slotted put the Caeliar in the role of the deity--albeit a Miltonic deity, as I've said, assholes. I also think you vastly overestimate the impact the Federation had on the Caeliar. Hernandez convinced a slight majority of of the gestalt to reach out and touch someone for a change. The rest was, in their own way, the Borg, who served as a dark mirror for their own entropy and dubious morality.

Christopher wrote: View Post
But we've seen what can happen when a Borg cube is stripped of all its organic drones. As shown in Before Dishonor, the contingency plan for such a cube is (at least potentially) to switch its nanotechnology into a more aggressive, virulent mode that "absorbs" and converts all matter it contacts.
Not saying I disagree, but one of the first things the 'awakened' Borg cube did was seek out organic components (Janeway and her team) to incorporate into itself and eventually turn Janeway into a queen. The Borg may be able to survive for a time without their organic components, but they are clearly compelled to seek such nonetheless.

I think what ProtoAvatar is missing is that the thalaron weapon never had any serious prospect of bringing victory over the Borg. Proposing it was a desperation move. Intellectually, Picard knew he had no chance of stopping the Borg with a thalaron weapon, but he wanted to hurt them, to get in one last parting shot before the end. It was a childish attempt to lash out in hatred and rage, not a legitimate victory strategy. That, as much as anything else, was why Geordi was against it -- because it was simply not a valid solution.
Picard never did propose it as a means of victory; he was well aware of the possibility that it was something they had already assimilated and wouldn't work, and must have known that even if he managed to cripple this invasion fleet, the Borg would have adapted the next time they showed up. The thalaron weapon was a tactic, like duplicating the queen, useful mainly because this was a circumstance where there would actually be so many Borg at one place at one time. If, as you say, Picard had just wanted to hurt them, then he would have been eager to develop the weapon; yet he was relunctant, doing so only because he felt compelled by necessity, and he looked at it as a failsafe should the Caeliar fail or worse, the Borg assimilate the Caeliar. Not the attitude of the raging maniac you paint him out to be. As for La Forge--if that's what he thought, then perhaps he should have said it instead of whining about Data's memory.

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
Well, for one thing T'Lana is Vulcan. In her culture, she would shame herself if she spent her last moments roaring defiance or showing any extreme emotion. Instead, she analyzed the situation, concluded death was inevitable, and stoicly accepted it. She died Vulcan, true to her culture.
Ah, true; you make a valid point. There is a strain of passivity present in Vulcan culture, a take it slow attitude, a tendency not to fight back when they think the odds of winning aren't good. We saw it in ENT, where T'Pol and other Vulcans had not just accepted their limitations when it came to things like time travel, they had elevated such to the level of dogma and took offence when others proposed that those limits were, in fact, not so insurmountable as others had proposedd. Since T'Lana was, in many ways, a retro-Vulcan, a throwback to the ENT-era, I suppose it is appropriate that she shares some of their fatalism and 'you can't change it so don't even try' attitude.

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
Compassion for the traumatized and reflection on what was lost can re-affirm the ties between citizens and cultures, create the foundation of a stronger Federation. Yes, Risa, Coridan, Deneva, Pandril, Yridia etc are irreplacable, but the Federation has a final duty to do them: ensure that life goes on and the galaxy prospers, to (if you'll forgive my becoming poetic) commemorate them.
Hollow and meaningless.

Sci wrote: View Post
If I am understanding them correctly -- and if I'm not, please feel free to correct me -- Trent (...) think[s] that accepting one's limitations is the same thing as submitting to them and never working to improve yourself,
Submitting, yes. Never working to improve oneself, probably not--accepting a limitation is saying that it is unsurmountable, but there are plenty of things which mustn't seem insurmountable and thus fair game for improvement, no? Heck, sometimes that happens without even our meaning to do so. But I do think that the ideal ought to be working for betterment, and not allowing oneself to be cowed by difficulty.

that accepting your own death is disrespectable
Depends on the circumstances. Murder is one of those which should never be accepted.

and that heroes should always be the direct agents who solve their own problems.
Yes. Otherwise they are not heroes.

And Trent in particular cannot believe that there can be hope for a better future in the face of extreme suffering;
Not never, just unlikely. There certainly have been anecdotal instances of people who experience suffering, rebel against it and go own to better themselves and their surroundings in reaction to it. We like to believe that these things are 'character building experiences', as every asshole who exercise cruelty for its own sake will claim. But the truth of the matter is people exposed to suffering and trauma as victims are simply more likely to carry on that suffering and trauma themselves when they become actors; violence begets violence.

I would argue that accepting your limitations is not the same thing as submitting to them and allowing them to rule your life, because I would argue that if you do not accept your limitations, you will never truly understand yourself -- and therefore will never know which parts of your nature can be changed to become stronger.
Piffle. I understand myself quite well. And it seems to me that a person who challenges themselves despite thinking they will fail is likelier to develop--sometimes in unexpected ways--than one who merely seeks such where they already know they can find it.

As for the question of how there can be hope in the face of such despair... Trent, I'm not trying to insult you, but I really question how you can claim to believe in the idea of hope for a better future if the fact that people suffer can so completely undo your belief that life can improve. How is it genuine optimism if there is no hope for a better future just because bad things, of whatever magnitude, have happened? I would argue that genuine optimism means cultivating an attitude of hope independent of circumstance -- means recognizing that all conditions are temporary and no conditions are permanent, and that therefore conditions can be changed for the better, even when those conditions seem overwhelming.
There appears to be some confusion. I am not an optimist. I defend it here because I believe it was something integral to the setting, something which is lost in the transformation of Trek into a universe of darkness and devastation. I, myself, tend to be more of a cynic. I do like to think that humanity gradually--slowly, painfully--improves itself, but I don't see a society of the kind that Trek shows us humanity as having achieved to be particularly likely. But I don't need to believe that to enjoy the setting, because it is a work of fiction; a better humanity, an admirable Federation, is surely as much part of the Trek mythos as warp drives and transporters. This is something I think those who insist on strict realism miss, on their instance that anything other than twentieth-century humans transposed into a futuristic setting as a falsehood; that science-fiction can be social as well as technological. The Federation's near-utopia was a fascinating exercise, because elsewhere the future is dystopian, or else what one thought was utopia is inevitably revealed to be terrible reality concealed under a superficiality pleasant cloak. The Federation was bright and working, and the Trek setting generally like a shiny bauble amidst grittier speculations. Now that bauble has been swept from the shelf and made to shatter; you might try to glue it together again, but I can't see it regaining its former glory.

And the Europe that exists today is a better Europe than ever was built before World War II.
I've talked about this before, but I'd like to point out something else: Europe (and Japan) post-WWII developed the way it did in no small part because of the massive cash infusion of the Marshal Plan and because of the ideology of the Cold War, circumstances not easily duplicable. You are correct that conflict can produce a better society, but I would say that is the exception rather than the rule; most wars simply bring about more suffering, trauma, resentment and violence in their wake. Most devastated areas will not have a wealthy patron to build them back up, and while they may spawn individual acts of courage will more likely bring about widespread poverty, misery, sickness and death. We like to believe that everything we've gone through, including our wars, have been for the better (just look at how many alt. history stories there is about something we 'thought' was bad turning out to be worse if it hadn't happened), because we don't want to admit that all that suffering and loss has been in vain. Yet, most of the time, it is. Conflict itself does not bring about better societies, and most of the time not even the opportunity for such (if it did, places like Somalia should be paradise on Earth by this point).

Anyway, this is basically a difference in fundamental premises about how one views life. I don't think they're reconcilable.
Quite possibly.

Some people want Utopia, and others want something closer to home. I want something closer to home. I welcome the changes that the Destiny trilogy have brought to the Trekverse. I like seeing a galaxy that more closely resembles our own world, and a Federation that more closely resembles our societies.
With all due respect, but isn't that most every other sci-fi universe out there? Why wreck this one, too, for what is readily available elsewhere? Genuine utopian fiction (or rather, near-utopian) is a rarer breed of animal, and for those of us who like to watch it, another specimen has just died to fadish realism and darkness. It was the unique setting that had drawn me to Trek, bright and humanistic, and now, with Destiny and Abrams' Product, it's... just like everybody else.

(...) to be far more inspirational than the story of someone raised in Utopia who never faces any real problems.
Well then, why stop here? Why not have Earth destroyed too? Why not have more of the crew die, the Enterprise lanced by weapons which wipe out half their number, including the main characters? Why not more worlds devastated, until the Federation itself collapses? Why not have failure on such a scope that the characters become a ragtag band of rebels on the lam from the massive power that is the Borg? Why not Picard alone, crushed, kept in a cage by the Queen for her own amusement, the last non-Borg in the galaxy? That's problems for you. I wonder, would you actually like to see this, or do you find some of these extreme? If you do find it extreme, then it implies a tipping point, and to understand my perspective, you need only understand that my tipping point has been reached and passed.

The story of Jesus doesn't resonate with people because they think he was perfect (a few fundamentalists aside). The story of Jesus resonates with people because he was tempted, because he went through the Garden of Gethsemane and was weak -- yet still achieved something in spite of his weakness.
Please. The story of Christ isn't popular because it's somehow humane (it isn't), it's popular because it's a get out of death and guilt free card, a fable that promises complete happiness in the passivity of an afterlife, attainable simply through submission.

Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
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