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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old August 20 2008, 01:43 AM   #1
Dayton3
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Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

I had heard a lot of great things about "Greater Than the Sum".

So I got the book.

I read it.

I reread it.

Hopefully with an open mind.

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This book is awful.

There are some good things of course. For one it is a reasonable length and not the monstrosities it seems we get from too many novel writers who think that 100 pages longer than necessary makes the book better.

And the cover art of the Enterprise is quite nice.

Now, review in order of problems:

1) The character of T'ryssa is one of the worst ever written for Star Trek. She struts around the book acting more like the chick in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" having her sexual awakening.

Can we really believe that a PROFESSIONAL Starfleet officer, an academy graduate really would act like this? She is 26 years old for crying out loud! She acts more like a slacker teenager of the 21st century. Or worse, one of those kids who leaves college, gets a degree, then comes back to live with their parents for years.

And that is ultimately the problem, T'Rypress is a kid. Not a professional.

Worst off, she comes across as a character written that we "just have to like" because she has such "attitude".

God almighty....

2) Picard and Crushers marriage- Why is Beverly in such a big hurry? They've only been married two months. Her biological clock given the technology of the period is certainly not an issue.

Crushers bitching and moaning about wanting to have children during the Borg crisis kills a lot of the drama. After all, if the characters fully anticipate coming out on the other side of this thing okay, and moving on and having children, where is the sense of peril and doom?

And beyond Picard's discomfort with becoming a father, didn't anyone ask the obvious question? That Picard with a pregnant wife aboard would be much more distracted than he would be otherwise?

3) The alien critters in the book. This strikes me more as more of more of the "living universe" crap we see in Star Trek. They were boring about ten pages in.

4) Poorly written battle scenes. Most of the battles were written like this:

The ship rocked again, sparks flying from the consoles

Oh please.

I guess "It was a dark, stormy night" was taken.

5) The epilogue.

Upon, first reading, I was impressed then I realized how dull and by the numbers the part about the Borg ship destroying a world of a billion people was.

The CNN news ticker would've reported a Borg attack in such a manner.

Finally, the Captain of the U.S.S. Bhutto allows his security chief to take one of the Federations best weapons into battle with the Borg in a suicide mission on the off chance they can inject one of the drones with it!!!

Those are the bulk of my opinions about the book. I read it twice to see what I might've missed but my opinion only declines with more exposure.
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Old August 20 2008, 01:56 AM   #2
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
1) The character of T'ryssa is one of the worst ever written for Star Trek. She struts around the book acting more like the chick in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" having her sexual awakening.
I liked T'Ryssa a lot.

I'll go a step further. As fascinating as I found the star cluster beings, T'Ryssa was the part of the book I liked the most.

Okay, yes, her casual, carefree attitude toward sex took some getting used to. Four sexual partners in the course of a single book (though two of those were prior to the prologue) was slightly eye-popping. But, in the future, sexual mores are going to be different. Sexual mores are changing now, there's no reason to think they wouldn't become more open and less restrictive in the future.

All of that said...

What I liked the most about T'Ryssa was that she had to grow up. Or, as Worf's conversation with Kadohata made clear, she had to find a way to channel her natural free-spiritedness into something that "worked" for Starfleet.

I know that, in the acknowledgements, Christopher discusses her origins, as a D&D character tossed into a Trek milieu. I thought about it, and while I can see that, depending on how one plays a D&D character, because there are dour players who attack gazebos, I thought T'Ryssa was akin to what the crew of the Enterprise-D was supposed to be like -- a free-spirited joie de vivre, with capes and customizable uniforms. People who didn't fit the "military" mold. A kinder, gentler Starfleet.

I really liked T'Ryssa. I hope she sticks around. If Dave Mack frags her in Destiny, I'll mourn for a week.
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Old August 20 2008, 02:04 AM   #3
Dayton3
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
I thought T'Ryssa was akin to what the crew of the Enterprise-D was supposed to be like -- a free-spirited joie de vivre, with capes and customizable uniforms. People who didn't fit the "military" mold. A kinder, gentler Starfleet.

I really liked T'Ryssa. I hope she sticks around. If Dave Mack frags her in Destiny, I'll mourn for a week.
You might be right about T'Ryssa being what Gene Roddenberry orginally envisioned for the Enterprise-D.

But remember, when GR created ST:TNG he had one foot in the grave and his dick was apparently the only thing that still worked.

If David Mack kills T'Ryssa off, I'll buy him a beer.

And I don't even drink.
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Old August 20 2008, 02:28 AM   #4
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post

I really liked T'Ryssa. I hope she sticks around. If Dave Mack frags her in Destiny, I'll mourn for a week.
Me too.
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Old August 20 2008, 02:39 AM   #5
Christopher
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
1) The character of T'ryssa is one of the worst ever written for Star Trek. She struts around the book acting more like the chick in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" having her sexual awakening.
I've never seen that movie, nor do I have any interest in doing so. And frankly I'm surprised that people have so much of a problem with the fact that she's sexually active. She's described as having one recent/former lover, one casual fling, and one increasingly committed relationship over the course of a book that spans four months. I don't think that's especially unusual for an unattached 26-year-old, in reality or in fiction. Unless said 26-year-old is from a conservative or religious community. I recall Riker being similarly promiscuous during TNG.


2) Picard and Crushers marriage- Why is Beverly in such a big hurry? They've only been married two months. Her biological clock given the technology of the period is certainly not an issue.
I answered this in another thread. It's not about Beverly, it's about Picard. Just before they got the message from Starfleet about the Borg, Picard was about to suggest to Beverly that they start a family. He was ready. He wanted that. He's always cared profoundly about his family lineage, and we saw in Generations how concerned he was about the end of the Picard line if he never had kids. So this was something he wanted, and Beverly knew it. But then he pulled away from it because of his fear of the Borg. She wasn't bugging him to let her have a kid, she was trying to help him move past the fear that was keeping him from fulfilling his own need for a family.

Crushers bitching and moaning about wanting to have children during the Borg crisis kills a lot of the drama. After all, if the characters fully anticipate coming out on the other side of this thing okay, and moving on and having children, where is the sense of peril and doom?
I seem to recall having Beverly specifically say that it was worth trying to create life even despite the risk that it might end.

And beyond Picard's discomfort with becoming a father, didn't anyone ask the obvious question? That Picard with a pregnant wife aboard would be much more distracted than he would be otherwise?
Again: Picard wanted to be a father. Preserving the Picard lineage is just about the most important thing in the world to him. His discomfort came from his fear of losing his family to the Borg.


3) The alien critters in the book. This strikes me more as more of more of the "living universe" crap we see in Star Trek.
I don't have a clue what you mean by that.


Finally, the Captain of the U.S.S. Bhutto allows his security chief to take one of the Federations best weapons into battle with the Borg in a suicide mission on the off chance they can inject one of the drones with it!!!
Well, it's kind of hard to use a weapon if you don't actually bring it into contact with the enemy at some point. And since they did have a whole planet being destroyed beneath their feet, they didn't exactly have the luxury of devising a perfect plan.
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Old August 20 2008, 02:45 AM   #6
Dayton3
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

^Sorry.

Not buying it.

And Rikers number of sexual relationships is as overstated as you claim Kirks was in another thread.

And for all you dress it up, the entire "Picard Baby Thing" comes across as Beverly bitching about wanting a child at one of the most inopportune moments.

It drags on the novel tremendously.

T'Ryssa is hideously immature.

Once again, she should be a PROFESSIONAL with PROFESSIONAL standards.

How did she ever get through Starfleet Academy much less promoted after that with such a slacker attitude?

And the battles scenes are poorly written at best.

Last edited by Dayton3; August 20 2008 at 04:07 AM.
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Old August 20 2008, 03:02 AM   #7
Christopher
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
I liked T'Ryssa a lot.

I'll go a step further. As fascinating as I found the star cluster beings, T'Ryssa was the part of the book I liked the most.
Aw, that's nice. I appreciate it.

Okay, yes, her casual, carefree attitude toward sex took some getting used to. Four sexual partners in the course of a single book (though two of those were prior to the prologue) was slightly eye-popping. But, in the future, sexual mores are going to be different. Sexual mores are changing now, there's no reason to think they wouldn't become more open and less restrictive in the future.
Four? There was Paul, the one-night stand, and Rennan; who was the fourth? And as I said, that single book covered four months, so I don't think it was that extravagant.

And I don't think the future has that much to do with it. I mean, how many men did the women on Sex in the City sleep with over the course of four months?


I know that, in the acknowledgements, Christopher discusses her origins, as a D&D character tossed into a Trek milieu.
Not exactly. She was a Trek character from the beginning, but in the game, she was transported into a D&D milieu. See, my friend who was into gaming wanted to come up with a way that she and I could do something gaming-related together despite my hesitancy to try it out, so she proposed letting me play a Trek character in a D&D world as a way to ease me into it. It was fun for a while, but unfortunately her family responsibilities got in the way and it got nipped in the bud.
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Old August 20 2008, 03:11 AM   #8
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
And for all you dress it up, the entire "Picard Baby Thing" comes across as Beverly bitching about wanting a child at one of the most inopportune moments.
I'm sorry it came across that way to you. Evidently I wasn't successful enough at conveying to you what was actually going on.

T'Ryssa is hideously immature.

Once again, she should be a PROFESSIONAL with PROFESSIONAL standards.

How did she ever get through Starfleet Academy much less promoted after that with such a slacker attitude?
She's quite professional when it comes to actually doing her job as a scientist. Her problems are only with matters like decorum, deference, and formality. If Starfleet were an actual military, she would've washed out in weeks, but then, if it were an actual military, she never would've enrolled in the first place. Starfleet is an organization that performs science and exploration, and that's something she's good at, even if the superficial trappings of discipline and rank have little meaning to her.


And the battles scenes are poorly written at best.
Sorry you feel that way. I put a lot of thought into the tactics and physics of it. Battle scenes usually bore me to tears, because there's nothing interesting or entertaining about people or ships shooting things at each other. So I always try to vary it up by focusing on creative tactics and problem-solving rather than the blood and death and destruction. Maybe that means what I write wouldn't be as interesting to someone who enjoys war stories. But the bottom line is, combat is never a priority in my writing, and the battles were the least important elements of this novel, except insofar as they illuminated the characters involved in them.
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Old August 20 2008, 03:15 AM   #9
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
T'Ryssa is hideously immature.
Thank you, Mr. Kettle.
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Old August 20 2008, 03:16 AM   #10
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Actually I think she's quite attractively immature.
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Old August 20 2008, 03:35 AM   #11
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

I don't think that T'yrssa is a slacker. I think that in order to be a slacker you have to actively decide not to do things, and try not to do them or do them in a careless manner. She seemed quite the opposite; she had passion that wasn't focused or directed in any direction and as a result she couldn't keep her personality under control. That'll probably stay a character flow of hers, I Imagine. I did think that her free-spiritedness was over exaggerated a little bit, but that's sort of one of the dangers that go along with character introduction stories.

I think that Picard's been half-consciously mulling over thoughts about having a family for a long time. "All Good Things" made him really look at himself and where his future was leading and then in "Star Trek: Generations" he lost all of his blood relatives. Also, when he was in the nexus, the nexus gave him a world in which he had a very large and extended family and although he was very confused at what was going on, he didn't seem to be against that. I think the bigger step is that they actually let themselves have a relationship with each other and put the past -- Jack Crusher -- behind them.

While I'm at it, I think the Picard/Crusher things in the new TNG books are the best elements. Moving the TNG world forward is a different task from the DS9 world. The DS9 had so many plot lines lingering and so many conflicts built into the series that it's easy to come up with new plot lines. Well, easier, at least. TNG on the other hand was episodic in nature and it pretty much wrapped itself up in All Good Things and Nemesis. But to have Picard and Crusher move forward with their relationship is wonderful character development. The same captain who showed up in "Encounter on Farpoint" mumbling about how they used to let children and families aboard ships is now at the beginning of starting his family.

I also disagree with your "living universe" comment. I know what you're getting at -- star clusters and rifts and planets have a funny habit of turning out to be sentient in the Trek world. I thought that the Noh Angels had quite a bit of personality. It was child-like in the way it had curiosity over the creatures that came to it but it also had wisdom in that it didn't jump onto one side of the Borg/Starfleet conflict and instead tried to figure it out for itself.

Ironically, or Maybe not ironically, I think that Greater than the Sum of its Parts is greater than the sum of its parts. It has some faults, but in my view it had more positive stuff than negative.

"The ship rocked again, sparks flying from the consoles."
I laughed out loud when I read this. I thought to myself, "What, is this a Voyager book I'm reading?" X D
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Old August 20 2008, 03:56 AM   #12
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Newspaper Taxi wrote: View Post
I don't think that T'yrssa is a slacker. I think that in order to be a slacker you have to actively decide not to do things, and try not to do them or do them in a careless manner. She seemed quite the opposite; she had passion that wasn't focused or directed in any direction and as a result she couldn't keep her personality under control.
That's a good analysis. She's more like the prodigy who doesn't get good grades because her mind is too lively and active to be constrained by classroom formulas, but who does great at independent learning.

I think that Picard's been half-consciously mulling over thoughts about having a family for a long time. "All Good Things" made him really look at himself and where his future was leading and then in "Star Trek: Generations" he lost all of his blood relatives. Also, when he was in the nexus, the nexus gave him a world in which he had a very large and extended family and although he was very confused at what was going on, he didn't seem to be against that.
Right. Indeed, it's very telling that his first Nexus fantasy was one of having a lot of children and a rich family life. I'm surprised that anyone could think that Picard at this stage in his life, having finally embraced his feelings for Beverly and actually sought and taken her hand in marriage, could possibly not want to have kids.


I also disagree with your "living universe" comment. I know what you're getting at -- star clusters and rifts and planets have a funny habit of turning out to be sentient in the Trek world.
Hmm, to some extent, but I wasn't just trying to repeat some formula. When I was trying to think of some civilization or species for the E-E to encounter in its search for the Borg, I was looking for something different from what I'd done before. I'd done planet-based civilizations, I'd done space-habitat civilizations, I'd done spacegoing life forms... what was left?


"The ship rocked again, sparks flying from the consoles."
I laughed out loud when I read this. I thought to myself, "What, is this a Voyager book I'm reading?" X D
Okay, I'll admit I wasn't exactly trying hard on that sentence. I'd already written scenes like that in several other projects and I was tired of thinking of ways to describe it. Honestly, I'm sick of writing space battles. Luckily Over a Torrent Sea is not the kind of book that requires them. There are other kinds of action.
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Old August 20 2008, 04:00 AM   #13
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Chris,

As much as I enjoyed the book I too have to wonder how T'Ryssa could have ever made it in Starfleet. Not that I don't find her an interesting character to some degree, but she does seem very un-Starfleet like. Sure she adds interest to a story that might not have been quite as fun without her, but she seems to be the pursuit of male testosterone driven dreams more than a well thought out contributing character. To me she seems too much patterned after Ro Laren and thus that may have hindered my total suspense of disbelief and enjoying her character for what role she played in the story.

Unlike Dayton3 I hated the cover art. I think it's one of the worst in the Star Trek line in many years and truly shows a lack of creativity in the art department and I wish I could tell Marco so! I also disagree with Dayton3's opinion about book length. I think that some elements could have better fleshed out and enjoyed more if the book had been maybe a 100 pages longer. It seemed rushed in many respects.

I generally really enjoy your books Chris but this one would only get 2 1/2 out of 5 stars from me. However, it certainly would not stop me from reading your future contributions to the Trek universe and I do hope you have many more stories to tell.

Kevin
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Old August 20 2008, 04:03 AM   #14
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Christopher wrote: View Post
Four? There was Paul, the one-night stand, and Rennan; who was the fourth?
I took T'Ryssa's lines like "O commander of my heart" and "My commandress," both on page 5, as implying that she had something going with Commander Dawn Blair.

Thus, I read T'Ryssa as having four sexual partners in the course of the narrative, and also as being bisexual. So, a Trekian Captain Jack.

My guess, based on your reaction, is that wasn't a reading you intended.
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Old August 20 2008, 04:15 AM   #15
Dayton3
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Re: Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

[quote=Christopher;1964352]
Dayton3 wrote: View Post
And for all you dress it up, the entire "Picard Baby Thing" comes across as Beverly bitching about wanting a child at one of the most inopportune moments.
I'm sorry it came across that way to you. Evidently I wasn't successful enough at conveying to you what was actually going on.

T'Ryssa is hideously immature.

Once again, she should be a PROFESSIONAL with PROFESSIONAL standards.

How did she ever get through Starfleet Academy much less promoted after that with such a slacker attitude?
She's quite professional when it comes to actually doing her job as a scientist. Her problems are only with matters like decorum, deference, and formality. If Starfleet were an actual military, she would've washed out in weeks, but then, if it were an actual military, she never would've enrolled in the first place. Starfleet is an organization that performs science and exploration, quote]

Oh please.

By any rational standard,

STARFLEET IS A MILITARY ORGANIZATION.

I don't care if Gene Roddenberry denies it.

I don't care if Rick Berman denies it.

I don't care if 100 writers deny it.

Starfleet features

1) A complete military command structure lifted whole cloth from the U.S. Navy.

2) Officers keep immensely powerful personal sidearms in their quarters.

3) Their ships carry weapons in the multi megaton destructive range.

If anyone can name a "science & exploration organization" anytime in human history that featured the three above, feel free to mention them.
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