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Old June 25 2013, 04:54 PM   #32
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
A Choice of Futures is an interesting novel. In a weird way, I'd say it's as close to a Tom Clancy novel as you're going to find in Star Trek. Only, instead of Jack Ryan, we have Archer and instead of John Clarke we've got Trip. For those of you who have never touched a Tom Clancy novel in your life, what I'm saying is that it functions on two levels: a political one as well as a spy one.
Tom Clancy is one of the last authors I would've ever expected anyone to compare me to. I've never read anything by him and I'm not a fan of military or spy fiction. I think I saw The Hunt for Red October on TV once, but that's about it.

The newly formed Federation has many problems with it--ones very similar to ones from history. Without a Prime Directive in place, people are calling for the UFP to become the Alpha Quadrant's police-men and Starfleet's leaders are eager to play the role (all except for Admiral Archer).
For me, one of the big missed opportunities of ENT was that they had Archer adopt a policy much like the Prime Directive early in the game. I always thought it would be more interesting to show the early Starfleet interfering openly in other cultures and making serious mistakes in doing so. That's the cool potential of an early era like this: exploring the mistakes that later generations learn from. ENT didn't really do that... but now I get the chance! Mwa-ha-ha-hah!

Indeed, I'm honestly not sure it's wrong despite several potentially disastrous situations being averted due to the former Enterprise crew's relative pacifism. Part of my problem with The Undiscovered Country is repeated here: it's hard to have a message of peace and understanding when there's a third party working to bring about war.
Except that if you embrace a warlike approach too, you're just playing the game by their rules, giving them what they want. One of the consistent messages of Star Trek is that meeting violence with violence only escalates things -- that the only way to prevent violence is to stop playing that game altogether and find an alternative path.

Of course, the story is also constrained by what we know about Trek history. We know Starfleet becomes a mostly peaceful, exploratory and diplomatic body, and the Federation becomes a benevolent peacekeeping and humanitarian arma -- err, organization. But given that they formed in the wake of a war, how did they end up going in such a peaceful direction? That struck me as kind of a mystery.

Weirdly, an element I really appreciated from the book was a retcon regarding the Orions. One of the most annoying changes done by Enterprise, undoubtedly done for changing sensibilities, was their transformation of the misogynist slaver group into a female-controlled society of slavers. That, to me, was actually more offensive than the original. Here, Christopher combines the two in such a way as to leave their role as corrupt vice peddlers intact.
I think it was meant to be more empowering to the women, to reject the conventional assumption that men are the ones in control in the sexual arena. I can see how it's a contentious and delicate question, though. Mainly I was just trying to reconcile what was presented in "Bound" with other portrayals onscreen and in literature where Orion women were not nearly so overpowering and where they were definitely in subordinate roles. It made sense that different Orions might have different levels of pheromonal control over others, producing a hierarchy.

The Captain Reed section is completely divorced from the main plot and didn't feel thematically consistent with the rest. Aside from learning to accept alien life-forms (and keep their secrets), I felt it could have been any old episode of Star Trek.

I would have much preferred a greater focus on the political angle of the newly formed Federation.
Whereas I don't feel it's Trek without some exploration. Even my more political stories are heavily about exploring alien cultures and cross-cultural interactions. The nature of this project required a more political focus, but I had to work some strange-new-worlds stuff in there somehow.

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post

Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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