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Old September 15 2012, 01:03 AM   #275
CNash
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Re: TTN: Fallen Gods by Michael A. Martin Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I finished reading Fallen Gods the other day.

First, I was very disappointed in the treatment of White-Blue. I enjoyed his characterisation in James Swallow's Synthesis and thought that he'd be a great addition to a diverse crew like Titan's. However it seemed like that Martin didn't really know what to do with him and quickly arranged to have him written out until he was needed as a plot device - for example, to join with the Ta'ithan AI and Tuvok to wrap up the Brahma-Shiva plotline from Seize the Fire here - and then send him right back into technological limbo when he was done. It's a real waste of potential - we've seen that sentient AIs can be written well, look at Data! - and here was a chance to explore issues outside of the usual "outsider strives to be more human" dynamic that tends to plague characters like his.

Like others in this thread, I found the scenes dealing with the Ta'ithan crisis somewhat difficult to digest. Opening the book with a chapter written from their POV, without giving the reader any concrete frame of reference as to what the Ta'ithans or their world really look like or how their society functions outside of the Keeper-Trasher conflict, was perhaps not the best of moves. Reusing the tired old "Titan is the cause of the problem, Riker feels guilty and must make amends" situation is just lazy at this point.

The lack of characterisation became apparent almost immediately; Titan's original crew members seemed to have no personalities other than their basic writers-bible descriptions. Ra-Havreii regresses back to his Luna accident agonising, and mention is made of his typical Efrosian promiscuousness; Melora is conflicted over her use of telepresence (again!); even Pava had no real character moments save from the established Andorian aggression and hot temper. Tuvok was handled better - he's clearly shown trying to regain his mental composure after his experience with Brahma-Shiva - but like White-Blue, he's relegated to a supporting role after the mind-meld with the Ta'ithan AI.

As for the Andorians: The timescale from the secession was far too slight for their appearance to make any sense, and their characterisation just seemed incongruous. I suppose we could accept that the crew is most likely brainwashed by the Tholians, but even that seems hollow somehow.

The transporter cloning thing sounds like an idea that might have been floated in an Andorian brainstorming session, then quickly shot down because it was terrible - even ignoring the huge moral and ethical problems, lack of genetic diversity is going to become an even bigger problem than it already is! The "big reveal" in the epilogue was anything but - even if the transporter chief hadn't coincidentally thought about the Tom Riker incident earlier in the book, it was fairly easy to work out what was going on, and the plotline would've benefitted from being revealed earlier on, saving potential confusion over which Pava was where.

While I didn't feel an urge to put down the book entirely, nonetheless I didn't really enjoy it either. It's a bad combination of an A-story (Ta'ith) that the reader isn't sufficiently persuaded to care enough about, with a B-story (Andorians) that's full of implausibilities and jarringly bad characterisation, and not enough time to really flesh either of them out.
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