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Old June 25 2013, 05:42 PM   #33
Charles Phipps
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

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.
I knew it's entirely coincidental but before Tom Clancy took a ultra-hard turn to the Right and militarism, the central conceit of his Jack Ryan books was that, as a CIA analyst, his hero's chief contribution to crises was his ability to discern the motives of "enemies." Often discovering what they wanted wasn't necessarily war and everyone was too busy posturing to realize something was up.

In The Hunt for the Red October, he deduces that they're NOT trying to nuke the United States and trying to defect-avoiding a tragedy. Likewise, in SOAF, our hero figures out the Russians aren't the bad guys and thwarts an Undiscovered Country-like plot to destroy the superpowers by putting them to war against one another (the movie version, IMHO, does it better).

For me, seeing the world on the brink of war, an evil conspiracy to put the powers against one another, and our intrepid heroes trying to find the truth felt like one of his early novels. Amusingly, like Archer, Jack Ryan ends up President.

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!
ST:E was kind of up and down about that. Archer had a big problem with bullies and criminals ("Mauraders", "Civilization", "Detained") even if it meant interfering. Yet, there's the infamous "Dear Doctor" episode I suspect not even you could untangle the logics behind. I think episode which handled it best was "Desert Crossing" where Archer obviously is tempted to interfere but recognizes how profoundly stupid that would be.

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.
The only way to win is not to play. OTOH, knowing the Orion Syndicates carry on indefinitely is rather depressing.

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.
I get that, certainly, but I think (purely by accident) it sort of missed the Unfortunate Implications (see TV tropes) that this becomes an episode about manipulative conniving women enslaving men with their whiles. I think you nicely balanced things out by making it a pyramid society of slavery.

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