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Old August 22 2012, 02:44 AM   #241
Paper Moon
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Re: TTN: Fallen Gods by Michael A. Martin Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Well, I'm finally getting around to posting my review of this. Spoilers ahead.

Fallen Gods worked better for me than I think it did for a lot of people. Yes, there are several deficits. However, the book overall passes a certain quality benchmark that, say, Seize the Fire did not.

Before reading FG, I reread the Titan parts of StF, skipping over the Gorn parts because they had just been too much of a slog to read the first time. Going back again, I recognized that StF was effectively part one of duology. Some things that had, on the first go around, appeared to be just stupidly left unresolved were, in fact, deliberately setting up stuff for FG. Imo, though, Martin did a very poor job conveying that, and it just ended up looking sloppy. And there's still the whole "Brahma-Shiva is spilled milk" thing. No, it's not!! It was a sentient life-form just as much as it was a tool or weapon!! It baffles me how Riker et al. never seemed to care about that.

But anyway.

Perhaps it was because I had lower expectations, especially on the character development front, but I basically liked what I got in Fallen Gods.

I actually enjoyed the Alien of the Week, at least in the sense that they held my interest. I'm sure it's been done before, but it was cool to see
a) a civilization that slipped backwards after achieving warp drive, and
b) a civilization powerlessly facing the end of its world.

The latter, of course, has been seen many times in Trekdom, but the former, not so much. In some ways, the Ta'ith sections seemed more relatable because there are days sometimes when I feel like we (in the real world) are going to end up like the Ta'ithans.

Surprisingly enough, I didn't feel that I was getting beat over the head with the religion vs. science overtones of the Ta'ithan struggle. (Surprisingly, because I tend to be sensitive to those things; see my posts in the TNG Worst Moment thread.) I can definitely see why people would feel beat over the head by it, but luckily, I was spared.

I was glad to have the Tuvok and White-Blue situation resolved from StF, though I was not happy at losing White-Blue. And honestly, I think it would have made for a more interesting story in the long run if the terraforming knowledge had been saved. I feel like we've sorta already done the narrative that Tuvok went through, many times.

My sense was that the crew of the Therin was rogue. But I have nothing really to substantiate that on. But I somehow find that it makes the Tholians' presence onboard a little more believable.

When I realized that the Andorians had figured out how to duplicate people with the transporter, I geeked out. I think it's a brilliant idea, both in-universe and narratively. Narratively, it was completely unexpected, but (to me, at least) believable, and led for a legitimately chilling conclusion.

In-universe, as we saw with Thomas Riker (sad to have him written away so easily), there are no drawbacks to the process; you put in one Pava, you come out with two. And, of course, they both have equal claim to being the "real" Pava. Sure, it's criminal. But whatever punishment is wrought, you still have more reproductive age Andorians.

And color me stupid, but I had no idea that was what Martin was foreshadowing with all the transporter stuff. And even if I had, I would've dismissed it as being impossible. The mystery element worked for me.

One other thing that I liked about this novel is that it felt like we might actually lose one or more of our characters. There were times when I said to myself, "Oh my god, he's gonna off Vale." Tuvok also seemed to be pretty close in a few places. I liked that element of suspense; it's something that I feel we still don't get all the time in Trek novels.

I think most of the things I didn't like have already been touched upon (caveat: I only read about the first six pages of this thread before posting). I definitely agree about the stagnant characters. On the other hand, it does call to mind the days that TNG was on the air and the characters were more or less the same through the whole thing. But that's still not such a good thing.

A couple of other things:
-I think we really should see more of Riker and Troi with Natasha; this child is supposedly the most important thing in their lives, but we've barely seen her since she was born. There's a similar problem with Picard and Crusher and René, but I think it's worse over here. René provoked growth in Picard; Natasha hasn't done so with Riker.
-Vale needs to grow up or get out. She was worse in StF, but she still seems much much too immature to be an XO. This really doesn't make sense to me, because she didn't seem this way in the A Time To... series.

Altogether, it was an enjoyable enough read; makes me want to continue the series, though I am not enthusiastic about the idea of Martin continuing solo. Too many misses and near-misses.
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