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Old January 8 2013, 04:29 PM   #121
MatthiasRussell
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Re: TNG: The Body Electric by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

My review:
Another great book. Like I didn’t expect that since David Mack wrote it! It did a wonderful job reuniting us with Wesley while making him interesting and not making his inclusion a matter of "let’s see what Wesley is up to." (I do wish DM could have slipped in "Shut up, Wesley" somewhere.)

I just wish Titan could have gotten involved somehow; with Data and Wesley back in the mix. It would have been nice to have the whole TNG cast involved. Another reason to involve Titan is I don’t understand why Data was vitally needed to contact the Body Electric. Isn’t the Doctor an untethered sentient AI or what about the AI society White-Blue comes from? Would perhaps Torvig’s race of cyborgs or the Binars be good enough? Titan could have explored the cyborg angle, contacted White-Blue’s people, or even superseded Fallen Gods to show White-Blue still alive (why not, if IFM is cast out why not some Michael Martin books).

One of the things I appreciated about The Body Electric most, and the whole Cold Equations series, is how well Mack captures the great depth of the emotions parents feel- the pride, dread, and willingness to make sacrifices. The emotions felt by the Immortal and Data toward their children is exactly how I would have felt. This trilogy almost seems to be more about the rollercoaster of parenting and facing the mortality of your child than the cold equations of who lives and who dies.

With that thought in mind, as a parent, I cannot understand or agree with Beverly’s refusal to have Wesley get her and Renee out of the galaxy if the machine succeeds. I understand her reasoning that principles are more important than life, but as a parent, the life of your child is just as important. I could understand her being unwilling to abandon her ship and husband, but I cannot imagine a mother in the situation not asking Wesley to take his brother and protect him if it becomes necessary.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this book is how well Mack captured the spirit of Star trek and the evolved sensibilities of the future men of the Federation. We didn’t see the enterprise firing phasers and torpedoes; the life and death situation was resolved with wits, understanding, and diplomacy. I also appreciated the lack of revenge taking and willingness to forgive. Gatt is given the opportunity to show he learned from his mistakes and isn’t killed for all the deaths he caused. The Immortal is willing to help Data despite his hate for him. In these cases, we see the characters being model heroes who keep their promises. It is refreshing to see stories Trek stories in which the protagonists don’t lose themselves in the darkness they face and give fans a hope of a future with a more enlightened and peaceful mankind.
 
Some other thoughts and observations I jotted down while reading:
I liked seeing a Thallonian server aboard the Enterprise. Always nice to see a New Frontier species aboard.

It is interesting that Q sends Wesley to Picard and not Janeway saying, "Do what I always do- go bother Picard." Seems Janeway has been more helpful than Picard in major crises. I also like that Q only had one small scene which explained why he wasn’t involved and then this book didn’t become a Q novel.

I understand Starfleet needs captains, but I think their expected promotion of Worf is a bad idea. He is a good officer under the shepherding hand of another but he thinks like a Klingon officer, not a Starfleet one. When Gatt comes aboard, Worf wants to throw him in the brig but Picard tells him how unwise that would be. Worf wanted to rush to a military solution to the Body Electric even though he witnessed the futility of this. If this story had taken place with Worf in command, the galaxy would have been screwed whereas Riker probably would have made the same wise decisions as Picard.

At one point, Rhea is looking for a "vestigial system" of the AI ship; when she finds one, she refers to it as an ‘appendix’. Interestingly, the appendix was discovered to not be a vestigial organ a few years ago and was discovered to actually be an extremely useful organ used to harbor and breed good bacteria; clearly not an evolutionary waste product.

"Damn the singularity- full speed ahead." LOL. Good one.
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