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

View Poll Results: Grade "Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals"
Excellent 98 77.78%
Above Average 15 11.90%
Average 10 7.94%
Below Average 1 0.79%
Poor 2 1.59%
Voters: 126. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 3 2008, 04:54 AM   #121
KRAD
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

MHJH wrote: View Post
All of the stuff with Bacco and her diplomatic entreaties was absolutely brilliant. I was concerned about anyone but KRAD playing with those characters, but after seeing the way Mack wrote them, I've decided the Trek book I now most want to see is an AOTF sequel where KRAD and Mack alternate chapters, each attempting to outdo and build on what the other has done. The competition might kill both of them, but we'd get a political novel that could never be topped.


That would be fun to do, but Dave's got enough of that with Ward and Dilmore on Vanguard....

And, FWIW, I was incredibly pleased with how Dave handled Madam President et al.
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Old November 3 2008, 05:06 AM   #122
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

destro wrote: View Post
Marie1 wrote: View Post
No, you're right, its not. TBH- if I was in her position, dealing with a conceived child, I would do the same thing- hold on to all hope for the child as long as possible, as long as it lived.
But she was specifically told by her Doctor that there was no hope at all AND that it would mean her death...
Parents' logic is often uncertain where their children are concerned.
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Old November 3 2008, 08:05 AM   #123
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

JeremyW wrote: View Post
Okay...I JUST FINISHED....and I have two words: HOLY CRAP!!!!!!

WOW! There's going to be another one of my reviews, and yes, I plan on giving the book the same treatment I gave Gods of Night. But, simply put.... not only has Dave's writing matured, like I mentioned in the last review, but he kept his trademarks alive and well in this book..... I have smiles all over my face.

Just a few points: (YES, SPOILERS BEWARE!!!!!!)

1. Loved seeing Garak again. Interesting that there's a female castellan in charge of Cardassia now. I guess something to look forward to in the years ahead in DS9 literature.

2. Seven's endgame solution that got scoffed.... did NOT see that one coming, but in the sense of the situation, it made the most sense. I liked how all those in the halls of power scoffed at the idea of using it, but in the end, Seven was RIGHT.

3. What a great cliffhanger!!!! And, I say that on several fronts.... Troi/Ree, Riker,Hernandez and Titan, Picard and Ezri..... Lost Souls is going to be fantastic.

For those who moan excessively still about the Borg.... I want you all to consider something: Dave Mack's done something in his narrative that I cannot remember reading since I read The Lord Of The Rings, and he pulled it off very well. In The Lord Of The Rings, the whole story is centered on The War of the Ring and the Dark Lord Sauron, and the impending evil that broods behind Mordor, waiting to be unleashed. However, we barely see Sauron in the book or in the movie, yet his presence is always there. Dave's done the same with the Borg. You know they're there, and you know they're coming, but it doesn't consist of every scene dealing with the Borg. We saw politics, character dramas, freakin' Hirogen (tres cool), and for me, the gem of the story was the ongoing story with Hernandez and the role that story plays in the overall narrative. In short: AMAZING!!!!!

Like I said, review's forthcoming, but I just couldn't contain my excitement. Dave, great job. AGAIN!
Well, without further ado, here is my review of "Mere Mortals"....

************************************************** **

STAR TREK DESTINY: BOOK TWO – MERE MORTALS
WRITTEN BY DAVID MACK
REVIEWED BY JEREMY WOOLWARD

One month after reviewing David Mack’s first outing in the Destiny trilogy, Gods of Night, I have returned to review the second instalment, Mere Mortals. Given the attention I gave the first novel, the expectations are high that I deliver a quality review to this title as well. I can say that I will do my best, because, I found Mere Mortals to be just another example of why David’s done a fantastic job contributing to the Star Trek literary universe. Mere Mortals has it all: action, suspense, character drama, romantic moments, and another huge cliffhanger at the end that keeps us all in suspense for the final instalment, Lost Souls. So, let us begin to dig

THE NARRATIVE:

As in Gods of Night, Mere Mortals follows several distinct storylines: that of Captain Picard, Captain Dax, Captain Riker, and Captain Hernandez. However, in this outing, there are few additions to make: the story also features Christine Vale’s away team, Melora Pazlar and Commander Ra-Havreii and the return of Nanietta Bacco as the President of the United Federation of Planets. (Besides her cameo in Gods of Night) You would think with all these storylines in place, one would get lost, but it’s not the case in Mortals. Each story is paced appropriately so that you never get tired of one, or get confused as to what’s really going on. As well, the ending of Gods of Night set up the Picard and Dax storyline in that their stories are fused together and become one.

For Dax and Picard, the premise again is simple: the Enterprise is in the Azure Nebula and has come under attack by a Borg cube intent on their annihilation. Captain Dax and the Aventine, having taken one of the subspace tunnels from the Gamma Quadrant where they were investigating the wreck of the Columbia, end up coming to aid the Enterprise in its time of need. Curious and relieved at Dax’s arrival, Picard determines that there must be away to collapse these tunnels as he feels they’re related to the Borg incursions. They proceed along this front until they find it unfeasible, and then decide to hunt down the Borg and force the front line away from the Federation. However, two ships are unable to do it alone, so Picard request reinforcements to accomplish this. (This particular aspect of this narrative falls under the Bacco storyline, so I’ll discuss it more there) Upon getting his reinforcements, the Aventine and the Enterprise begin to play a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette and try to figure out where the Borg are coming from. Most turn out to be empty leads, but two draw attention: in one, Picard finds stars enveloped in shells, and although attempts to communicate fail, Worf’s suspicious that a civilization that advanced may be dangerous in contacting. (I also speculate that this discovery will have a resolution in Lost Souls) The second, Picard hears the taunting of the Borg Queen, but soon finds themselves under attack. They’re not attacked by the Borg, but rather, a Hirogen hunting party. (Yeah, didn’t see THAT coming did you???) The Hirogen prove to be ruthless in their assault, using energy dampeners to further their attack until having them neutralized. Although victorious, the Hirogen attack leaves both ships crippled, and only through a quick thinking solution by T’Ryssa Chen are both ships able to return to the Azure Nebula through the tunnel, but not before someone fires soliton bursts with the intent to destroy the tunnels. The ships escape, but realize that they escaped certain death and destruction as they return to see that the fleet that Picard had requested destroyed by the Borg. Worf learns that there were over seven thousand Cubes that had emerged from one of the tunnels, and that there were enough in Federation and Allied space to completely annihilate all the inhabited worlds of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. In desperation, Dax tells Picard that the Aventine is going after the Borg Queen and taking her out. Picard wonders how she’ll keep up, and Dax reminds him that the Aventine is equipped with a prototype quantum slipstream drive. Chiding him to keep up, Dax takes off. Picard, pausing to consider his options, orders the Enterprise to take up the chase as well.

On the good ship Titan, Riker and his crew that stayed on the ship while the away team went to New Erigol essentially play the role that the crew onboard Columbia did in Gods of Night. Limited in their options, Riker focuses his attention on understanding why they’re stranded, and how to escape, especially after their attempt to break free of the Caeliar fails miserably. Whereas Riker played a prominent role in the first book, the Titan story (at least, this part of it) is driven by Melora Pazlar and Xin Ra-Havreii. Concerned that her confinement to the stellar cartography lab will do more harm to her than good, Counselor Hulian attempts to drive the issue to Melora, who rebuffs him. Later, Hulian confronts Ra-Havreii and forces him to think about why he built Melora the modified lab where she could move freely about in her limited gravity environment. Xin insists he did it for Melora, but Hulian suggests he’s done it for himself, and suggests he did it to absolve his conscience about the accident on the U.S.S Luna, the motivator for Xin to accept the posting on Titan. Before talking to Melora about it, Xin finds the patterns in the behaviour of the pulses that emanate from New Erigol. He discovers that they’re soliton based, and Riker insists on finding a way to use that to their advantage. They’re able to tap into the soliton pulses, and Riker learns to his horror the massacre at the Azure Nebula. Wanting a real-time feed, they learn there’s none to be had. As they wonder why, Erika Hernandez appears on the bridge of the ship, and informs Riker of what happened: the Caeliar destroyed the subspace tunnels that existed in the Azure Nebula, and are going to shut down their surveillance wormhole. Erika insists she can take Riker to the Azure Nebula, but they’d have to leave immediately. Torn between his duty to Starfleet and his responsibility to Deanna who was still on the surface, Riker tells Hernandez to take them home.

On New Erigol, the Titan away team learn about the reclusive Caeliar, and struggle with the idea that they’re restrictive guests. During their reconnaissance missions, the away team learns of the nature of the Caeliar: they’re synthetic life. For them, their lives continue as it had before their change, yet they’re devoid of the functions that limit organic life. It allows them to manipulate matter, and do the things that the away team witness. Vale, Tuvok and Keru suggest to move with caution, and as the leader of the away team, the call is up to Vale, and she follows protocol to the letter, causing tension with Deanna Troi, who attempts to make a bond with Hernandez. Deanna learns that despite Erika’s change at the hands of the Caeliar, she’s just as much a prisoner as they are. As time passes, not only does Troi’s condition deteriorate as a result of the doomed pregnancy, but her patience deteriorates as well with trying to win Hernandez over, especially when Erika suggests they just accept the fact that they’re going to be here forever. Not accepting that, especially in light of the Borg conflict back home, Deanna tells Hernandez of why they came to New Erigol in the first place, and informs her of the threat to Earth. Troi senses Erika’s emotions wrestling with each other, and hopes she’s made a difference. Nevertheless, she doesn’t have much time to think about it as her physical condition deteriorates, which forces Doctor Ree to operate, but Deanna refuses treatment, citing she wants to be on the Titan and to have her husband at her side, and that since Ree would need the Caeliar’s help, she refuses because she knows she’ll end up as one of them. Deanna’s unstable condition coupled with her volatile emotions leaves Ree no other choice but to take matters into his own hands as he pounces and pins Deanna to the ground. Then, as the away team watches in sheer horror, Ree plunges his fangs into Deanna’s chest to end it.

As for Erika Hernandez, her story takes up the longest amount of time, for it essentially begins in 1519, and ends with her on Titan as Riker decides to let her send his ship home. At the end of Gods of Night, Erika, Veronica Fletcher, Johanna Metzger and Sidra Valerian are the remaining officers of the Columbia left on Axion after the MACO rebellion forced the Caeliar cities to abandon Erigol. Adrift in deep space, hundreds of years out of time, the Caeliar become even more reclusive while trying to find a new home, and to continue plans on their ‘Great Work’. Frustrated at what’s happened to them, the Columbia officers attempt to make the best of it, but they soon learn that the sacrifices required to make the best of it are just too much for them, especially after Hernandez introduces her crew to the holographic constructs the Caeliar have prepared for them. The view of an ocean and the ability to interact with the simulation pleaes Valerian, but frustrates Metzger and Fletcher. Metzger is the first to go and commits suicide. Valerian, already muted from the trauma that had been imposed of them, is the next. Erika consults with Inyx, their primary contact with the Caeliar, and slows down Sidra’s pain, hoping to ease it. However, a last minute change of heart on Hernandez’ part blows up in their faces as an attempt to restore Sidra fails, and she dies in pain and becomes nothing more than dust. Fletcher and Hernandez become isolated and distant, with Fletcher blaming Erika for what happened. Eventually, the two reconcile, but Fletcher confides to Erika that she may very well be dying, which she is. Fletcher manages to hold out until the Caeliar come to New Erigol and begin to make it their home. The Caeliar build the two humans a house on the planet, and it’s there where Veronica Fletcher passes away. Left alone and near death herself, Erika decides to end it all herself, and attempts suicide. However, she’s rescued by Inyx, who has restored her enough to grant her an option: to die, or not to die. Inyx proposes a solution that would essentially let Hernandez live, but it would make her one of the Caeliar. Hernandez considers the irony of the situation, and decides to go along with it with no resistance. At the end, she realizes that Inyx’s given her a great gift, but that gift came with a huge price: Erika would forever be condemned to Axion as her life was being sustained by the energy that governed the city. The years pass, and Hernandez learns more about the Caeliar’s Great Work, and decides that imprisonment is not her best option: she wants to be free. As time moves forward, Hernandez carefully devises her plan, learning more about the Caeliar’s technology and how to use it to her end. After witnessing the destruction of Old Erigol, Hernandez manages to take a peak at Earth, and see what’s happened to it since her departure, and learns about the Federation and the fate of Jonathan Archer. She muses about a hero’s rescue, but she’s soon discovered by the Caeliar authorities, and is placed in Inyx’s care as he’s burdened to be held accountable for her actions. Still determined to be free, Hernandez continues until Inyx pleads with her not to, admitting to her that the Quorum had threatened to handle her themselves if she continued to resist, and Inyx also tells her that he cares for her. Hernandez realizes she cares for him too, and finally surrenders her will to protect Inyx shortly before Titan’s arrival. Her experiences with the Titan crew were awkward and uneasy, knowing that she was now the ‘jailer’, but Deanna’s comments about Earth changed all of that. She saw the Azure Nebula, and saw what the connection was there, and stunned beyond all belief at what she had witnessed. Furthermore, things get complicated when the Quorum decides to shut down the subspace tunnels, citing fear that they’d be misused. The Caeliar fire the soliton bursts at the tunnels, essentially collapsing them. This leaves Hernandez with one choice: to take matters into her own hands, knowing what that would cost her in the end.

But there’s even MORE: on Earth, another drama’s unfolding: upon hearing Picard’s request for reinforcements at the Azure Nebula, the task of assigning those ships to aid him falls on the lap of Nanietta Bacco, who must work to gather friend and foe, and get them to cooperate. Some are easier to get than others, but she is successful. However, that support did come at a price, and in the case of the Cardassians, it cost the Federation several planets along the border, something that the Cardassian Ambassdor to the Federation, Elim Garak, suggests might draw the suspicion of the new female Cardassian castellan. Bacco assures Garak her interests are benign, and he takes her at her word. Eventually, Bacco’s gathered all to her cause except for the Tholians, who insist on holding a grudge, citing the events of the Taurus Reach as to why the Tholians would refuse to cooperate with the Federation. When the news of the destruction of the armada hits Earth, Bacco’s taken aback, not sure how to react. She ponders the immediate future, and realizes that she may be the Federation President that presides over the annihilation of civilized life as one knew it.

While Bacco’s working on the diplomatic front, her new adviser, Seven of Nine, is working on the tactical front. Assembled with some of the President’s cabinet and some of Starfleet’s top brass, Seven provides feedback on the recent Borg attacks, which are met my scoffs and ignorance. As Starfleet debates the limited usage of the transphasic torpedo, Seven assures them all that conventional weapons would do nothing against the Borg, and that eventually the Borg would assimilate the transphasic torpedo and then Starfleet’s ace in the hole would be come useless: their only hope lied in building the thalaron weapons that the Remans gave Shinzon during his ascendancy to power in the Romulan Senate. Disgusted with the process, Seven leaves, but not without providing a demonstration of what the Borg would NOT do: let go as she strangled Admiral Jellico in the briefing room. To another audience, Seven suggests a mass evacuation of the Federation, which is also dismissed. Later, as the news of the invasion and the subspace tunnels comes in, Seven laments that without an open tunnel, there is no way to escape. The Borg are not only coming; they’re already here, and there’s nowhere left to run.

The only small narrative left is that of the U.S.S Voyager, who was among the first to respond to Picard’s call to arms. Captain Chakotay, embittered after the death of Kathryn Janeway, laments why he’s not the one calling the shots in this armada, citing in his head that they’re the crew that’s most experienced against the Borg. He also confers with Tom Paris, his XO, about how he’s holding up, considering that only four days earlier, Tom received the news about his father’s death. Stalwart and strong, Paris trudges on, but little do they know the horror that awaits them. Harry Kim calls them to the bridge as the one subspace tunnel that the armada could not open decides to open, and then the Borg emerge. Chakotay orders all ships to fire, but it is to no avail. Upon the return of the Enterprise and the Aventine, Voyager is one of the few ships left in the entire fleet. Picard hails them, and Chakotay answers, but could barely make a coherent sentence. Picard beams emergency crews over to the ship to help stabilize it, but little’s known about the fate of Chakotay’s crew...for now....
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Last edited by JeremyW; November 3 2008 at 08:08 AM. Reason: Stupid HTML tags....grrr....
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Old November 3 2008, 08:14 AM   #124
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

**********************************************

THE ANALYSIS....

So, with the narrative out of the way, let’s talk about the meat of the story: the things that make the characters tick, and make Mere Mortals a fantastic and well-written adventure. In this instance, it’s easier to break it down by focusing on some select characters and explore how they’re written, and what they do that brings substance to the story.

ERIKA HERNANDEZ: I said it in the last review, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely love the inclusion of Hernandez in Destiny. Her story takes the longest, and it was the one that really stuck out the most for me. Not only has she been isolated from her home for 12 years (2156-2158) in Gods of Night, a group of rebellious MACO and Starfleet officers forced her into being exiled from her home for a lot longer than that, having been thrown back in time to the year 1519. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d handle it as well as Erika did. She handled herself quite nicely, and all the while, stayed true to form to Starfleet’s commission, to boldly go where no one has gone before. True, she didn’t go it alone, having Veronica, Johanna, and Sidra with her, but she ended up being the last woman standing over the years. When this revelation occurred to her that she would be alone, she found herself in despair, not knowing if she could handle the solitude until Inyx proposed the solution of all solutions: make her as one of the Caeliar. Considering Sidra’s fate, I’d probably question the intelligence of that solution as well, but Inyx assured her he’d found the flaws in the last attempt. Now, it’s this particular depiction that stood out for me so prominently in the entire book, and why I find Dave’s works so enjoyable: if I can relate it back to my own life, and find things in there that resonate for me, then I’ve found a good book. In this case, I’ve hit the jackpot. I’ll cite the passage that got me all excited:

“...he was offering her...eternal youth and near immortality. A bite of the fruit of the Tree of Life itself.” – Page 273.

As I sat and read that book, my mind was left to wonder just how right David actually has it. For some people, they may miss the relevance of this. I’ll therefore explain briefly what the Tree of Life is.

In the Book of Genesis, the Lord created the earth in six days, and on the seventh He rested. On the sixth day, He created man and woman, and placed them in the Garden of Eden. (Adam and Eve) The Lord commanded Adam and Eve to do two things: multiply and replenish the earth, and to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for if they do, they’ll surely die. So, hearkening to the Lord’s counsel, Adam and Eve lived in the garden, and did not take of that fruit. However, Lucifer was also there. In the guise of the serpent, he tempted Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree. She told him no, and he responded by telling her that she wouldn’t die, but she’d be as the gods, knowing good and evil. Eve partook of the fruit, and then convinced Adam to do the same. The Lord returned, and sought out Adam and Eve. Adam told the Lord that they hid because they had found out they were naked. The Lord asked why they knew they were naked, and then asked whether or not they took of the fruit of the tree. Adam told the Lord that the woman that He gave to him had given him the fruit and he ate of it. The Lord asked Eve if she knew what she had done. Eve responded that the serpent had beguiled her. The Lord then cursed the serpent, and He also provided the way for the other commandment He gave Adam and Eve to be fulfilled: he placed enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman, and informed Eve as read in Genesis 3: 16:

Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children...

So, after fulfilling this purpose and identifying that Adam and Eve had become as one of the gods, knowing good and evil (being able to choose right from wrong), the Lord drove them out of the Garden of Eden and placed cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the ‘tree of life’.

The remarks about fulfilling both of the Lord’s commandments in Eden will be relevant later, but right now, it’s required to say that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life are two distinct trees: one tree grants knowledge while the other grants the immorality spoken of. Adam and Eve could not partake of the fruit of the tree of life and be imperfect. They had transgressed against the Lord’s commandment to not take of the ‘forbidden fruit’, and had thus become imperfect. God would have ceased to be God had He allowed Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever in an imperfect state. They’d then be subject to the vices of Satan, who had been cast out of heaven for rebellion (see Revelation 12) The Lord provided a way for humanity to return to Him, and eventually partake of that tree, and that was through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

In the case of Erika Hernandez, the parallels are very similar and the imagery in this one paragraph makes her story even more tragic: near death, having wronged her crew by essentially killing them, (the Columbia crew left on the ship when it entered the subspace tunnel in Gods of Night, Sidra, Veronica, Johanna and the others who were in the other cities when they led their rebellion, and all of this because she didn’t point her ship back towards Earth, but looked to safe harbour near their position) and being unable to make it right again, she’s tempted to be as the Caeliar and have what they have. In this regard, Hernandez plays the role of Eve opposite Inyx playing the role of Lucifer. Inyx does what he does because he genuinely cares for her, and that does not make him bad whatsoever, but his failure to disclose what will happen to Hernandez until after she’s consented to undergo the process makes him Lucifer. When she realizes she doesn’t need to sleep, or to eat, he tells her that Axion’s the source of life for the Caeliar, that they’re replenished by the city’s energy, and to leave it would be to grow old and die. Hernandez understands she’s made herself a prisoner forever, and recognizes that which Veronica Fletcher had recognized earlier: not to accept any of the ‘gifts’ the Caeliar present, for they come with a price. In this case, Fletcher played the role of the Lord in offering that counsel. So, with Eve, Satan and God all depicted, who plays the role of Adam? That role falls to William T. Riker.

After learning about the massacre at the Azure Nebula and his inability to do anything about it, Riker’s left with little hope until Hernandez appears on the ship and offers him a chance to go home and make a difference. Riker’s torn between his duty to Starfleet and his duty to his wife. Hernandez spells it out for him: Deanna’s not going anywhere and he could always come back for her. However, if he doesn’t take this opportunity to go home now, he’ll never get the chance again. In Latter-day Saint doctrine, the choice that Adam and Eve made to partake of the fruit was more than ‘disobedience’... it was the first exercise in choosing for themselves, but it was still in a controlled environment. The Lord only gave Eve the ability to bear children AFTER she chose to partake of the fruit. So, how could Adam do anything but NOT take of the fruit? Had Adam NOT partook, he would have been left the sole man in the Garden of Eden (Eve would have been cast out because she was in an imperfect state), and that would have gone against God’s purpose that an helpmeet be created for him. So, as it’s said in The Book of Mormon, “Adam fell that men might be...” (2 Nephi 2: 25) So, in Riker’s instance, he only has one choice, but he had to make it of his own accord. This hearkens back to the TNG Episode Thine Own Self, when Troi attempts to become a full commander and cannot get past the Engineering simulation. Once she understood that a good commander must put the ship first, she was able to pass by making the one choice available to her: order someone to their death. In Riker’s case, it’s the same situation. He has to put the Federation first, and if it meant leaving his crew behind, then so be it. (Anybody who’s read the excerpt from Chapter One of Lost Souls knows how this choice affects the away team.) Nevertheless, the emotional consequences will still play themselves out. After all, they’re only human.

I’ve only begun to read it, but from what I can gather, the thought that occurred to my mind is that the Erika Hernandez story plays itself out a lot like Milton’s Paradise Lost. The symbolism, the imagery, and the thoughts invoked just screamed Paradise Lost as I was reading, but again, that’s just me. It may be what David intended; it might not.

EZRI DAX: Having read Avatar a LONG time ago, I found it weird back then to see a ship’s counsellor command the Defiant in a time of crisis, especially one with the type of issues Ezri had to deal with, less than a year after being joined with the Dax Symbiont. I found it weird to see her jump to the command track, and didn’t understand why. Now, I see why it was a smart move, and it definitely had its payoff. Dax stood for me as a breakout character in Mere Mortals¸ and as the title suggests, she challenges herself, and thinks herself smaller than she ought to be, until she gets a fine coaxing from her XO, and, interestingly enough, her former husband. The scene with Dax and Bowers in the gymnasium where Dax questions herself and her entire ‘command’ experience going back to the death of Tiris Jast in Avatar was golden. I understood completely her position and why she’d say the things she said, but I understood Bowers even better. The scene played itself out much like it did in VGR’s Shattered where Janeway and Chakotay were discussing Voyager’s life in the Delta Quadrant. Janeway exercises total fear and reservation, but Chakotay cuts her off at the knee and tells her she’s only seen part of the story. After telling her of the good (because for storyline purposes, she mostly just saw the bad), she understands that it just is, and that it’s one’s attitude that will make it a positive or negative experience. I cannot recall if this last part was from Shattered, but I think I recall Chakotay saying something about how the captain doesn’t choose the mission; the mission chooses them. For Dax, this rings true. Bowers reminds her of all the good she’s done, and circumstances aside (yes, there were many for Dax in the DS9 fiction), she’s met every challenge with courage and determination. Apparently, she was the one who stood up and faced the crisis of the Mirror Universe (great pre-spoiler alert for The Soul Key), and it proved her worth as a command officer. To further this end, Dax has a run-in with Worf (or rather, Dax goes seeking him out), and when Dax asked if Worf were concerned with the quick promotion and the whole Soukara incident, Worf responded with the highest praise, saying that she’d done a fantastic job, that she was worthy of Jadzia’s memory, and that seeing her as a starship captain now justified Worf’s action in saving Jadzia’s life on Soukara. For Dax, I think it was that moment that solidified her position as a captain, and up until that moment, she did defer to Picard because of seniority and experience, but at the end, it wasn’t about seniority and experience but rather, stepping up to the challenge and meeting it as she had so many others. Sure, Picard’s been the starship captain for a very long time, but Dax is Dax, and hasn’t changed since Lela Dax over three hundred years ago. It will be interesting to see how Ezri’s determination plays itself out in Lost Souls.

JEAN-LUC PICARD: It must really suck being Jean-Luc Picard. Despite his reputation and despite everything he is, nobody can really know what it’s like to be him in the center seat of the Enterprise at this moment of time, except maybe for Seven of Nine. For Picard, everything he does in the book seems at least for me to be something that prolongs the inevitable. When he heard the voice of the Collective in Gods of Night, the Collective told him that humanity’s hour for assimilation had passed, but their hour of extermination was at hand. Knowing the will of the Collective, Picard knew it was no idle threat. So, despite everything, he keeps going forward and doing what he can to save as many lives as possible, but it’s only a Band-Aid solution. Unless the Collective could be stopped once and for all, these acts would mean nothing. So, when the Azure Nebula situation presents itself, Picard sees an opportunity to exploit a tactical advantage and shut the Borg’s access to the Alpha and Beta Quadrants down for good. But, he knows that two ships, namely the Enterprise and the Aventine can’t do it alone. So, he calls for a lot of reinforcements, both friend and foe. In this instance, the characterization that comes to mind is that of Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn was, by nature, not one who wanted to be king. He knew his frailties and knew what they would do to him if he yielded to them. However, he was a natural leader who, as the story progressed, moved beyond such limitations and led the forces of Middle-Earth to victory against Sauron. He rallied friend and foe under one banner, and pushed the fight to the Black Gates. Picard’s rallying cry echoes that of Aragorn, but it’s a role he dually shares with Nanietta Bacco. And, in the aftermath of the Azure Nebula Massacre, Picard’s faced with a choice much like Riker’s: to stay behind and tend to survivors while waiting for Starfleet Command to issue new orders, or to go in pursuit of the Borg and the Aventine. Picard chooses to go in pursuit, and we don’t see how that affects his crew in this book, but we do see that through his actions in the rest of the novel, again, his competency to command when this crisis is affecting him more personally than ever is coming back to haunt him. Sure, we don’t see another mutiny as we did in Before Dishonour, but people are beginning to question his motives. I guess we’ll have to wait for Lost Souls and the final confrontation to see this particular payoff as well.

NANIETTA BACCO: I guess the Federation ought to be thankful that Bacco’s calling the shots because of her ability to control herself and keep control of the situation. However, I’m sure her critics would soon rather see Min Zife (or by extension Koll Azernal) or even Fel Pagro on the fifteenth floor of the Palais de la Concorde. Bacco’s stuck with the most horrendous of calls to make: Picard sends a request for reinforcements, something that Esperanza Piniero reminds her he hadn’t done since Redemption Pt. 2 (the Klingon Civil War), in an attempt to push the front line away from the Federation. The task of gathering such forces falls on her lap. In only a few chapters, we see why Bacco’s the perfect president for the Federation. She has a good grasp of the situation and knows how to handle herself, she knows her opponents, and she does not back down from a challenge. As well, she knows how to play stupid, especially when dealing with the Tholians. In her scene with Garak (which totally made me scream for joy in my head), we see a side of Bacco that is very reminiscent of Garak himself from his days on Deep Space Nine. To secure Cardassia’s support, Bacco gives them exactly the things they need: food and land. Cutting Garak off at the knees, Bacco gives them several border worlds that would sustain them. Garak raises some concerns, especially since the Cardassians had played a role in destroying one of the colonies on Solarion IV years earlier. But, even he is silenced by the offer. Bacco’s gambit was purely Cardassian in nature (at least for me), and it paid off. Just as she worked with Ambassador Derro from the Ferengi Alliance, her tactics there were purely Ferengi. Bacco works best when she knows who she’s dealing with, and relating to them on those terms. The part that made me laugh was when she accepted Derro’s strip of latinum. Seriously, what is an older woman who sits at the pinnacle of power in the United Federation of Planets going to do with gold-pressed latinum? The irony in that scene itself was worth the laughs.

However, there is a downfall to all the good that Bacco’s done: there still isn’t a solution to the Borg threat that everybody can agree on. And, the viable solutions that could work are being rejected out of hand because of ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ issues. Just like in the aftermath of Azati Prime when Archer suggests stealing a warp coil from a ship in the Expanse, T’Pol counsels him that he’s become like those marauders that stole from Enterprise in the early days of their mission, and that if he doesn’t hold on to what makes him human, then what’s there to fight for? Despite the objection, Archer continues, and in the end, he has to deal with the fallout himself. In the tactical briefing, Seven suggests thalaron weapons, akin to the ones that Shinzon used in Nemesis. Immediately, Bacco’s staff, and the admiralty present rejected the idea because it was a total violation of what the Federation stood for. However, it would make a more viable solution than conventional weaponry would do. Furthermore, Bacco’s put in the exact same position that Zife and Azernal were placed in when Zife claimed the presidency from Jaresh-Enyo: the imminent threat of the Dominion, and the fact that the Federation was unprepared to meet such a threat was that which ultimately led to the installation of the nadion-pulse cannons on Tezwa. Yes, it was a violation of the Khitomer Accords, and yes, not telling the Klingons of their intention was not wise, even if it was necessary, but had the lines crumbled, nobody would be complaining when these cannons would have blasted Jem’Hadar ships to high heaven. The fact that Kinchawn armed the things in A Time To Kill made the situation more dire because Kinchawn targeted the Klingons. Everybody feared that if the Klingons found out who armed the Tezwans that it’d bring a total war, much like the one with the Borg, and to save face, Starfleet buried all the evidence, including the fact that Section 31 executed Zife, Azernal and Nelino Quafina for their role in the cover-up. Bacco was disgusted with the process, and even hauled Admiral William Ross before her to have him explain himself. Ross retired, and Bacco had hoped it’d be the end of it, but now it’s come full circle for her, and she’s placed in her own version of the Kobayashi Maru. Does she hold a moral high ground, or does she execute a ‘Tezwa solution’ to this Borg crisis? With trillions of lives on the line, where does she draw the line? In DS9’s In The Pale Moonlight, Garak showed Sisko the true meaning of the axiom ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ by telling him that Sisko had saved many lives, and all it had cost him was a dead Romulan senator, a criminal and the self-respect of a Starfleet officer. And yes, Garak was right. In this instance, Seven of Nine is right to propose such a radical solution. But, is Bacco willing to pay the price to save the Federation, or will her own desire for moral integrity bring her fall? Her’s is a job I don’t want either. But, despite the tragic flaw, Bacco’s still one of my all-time favourite Trek characters, and I look forward to seeing her again in Lost Souls.
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Old November 3 2008, 08:15 AM   #125
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

***************************************

And now, after highlighting some of the novel’s key characters, I bring attention back to the story itself. Why is Mere Mortals a fantastic tale? As in Gods of Night, the book has a mature tone and feel to it. Although David Mack will forever be ‘Mack The Knife’, his style has gone beyond that of the action writer. In many regards, Destiny is a hybrid of three distinct styles: the action, the political intrigue made famous by Keith R.A. DeCandido and the character/world building of Christopher L. Bennett. Dave’s ability to fuse all three styles together in a way that worked is something worthy of Milton or Tolkien. In my brief summary, I mentioned that Dave was able to pull off what Tolkien did in The Lord of the Rings by making the Borg the primary villain, but not actually having to see them do things that a villain would normally do. In most forms of cinema and television, you often see the villain on the screen, working to thwart the intentions of your protagonist. To consistently refer to them without seeing them may not necessarily work, especially when most television programs today are devoid of substance, and rely on action, special effects, and big name celebrities to pump in ratings. Before the days of television, you had to imagine what you were reading. In Destiny, we have an advantage because a good portion of these characters we’ve seen on the small and big screen. Others, like Dr. Ree and Christine Vale, we have to imagine for ourselves. Dave’s done a fantastic job in aiding us in this process. His gem in this trilogy so far is the Caeliar.

The Caeliar as a species invokes several feelings in my mind. Notably, I find them to be as Hernandez sees them: selfish. Their desire to be reclusive in hopes of finding a race far more superior to them deprives them the chance to learn from lesser species is rather provincial in attitude. I also find them to be a perfect example of the lies and deceit that Satan uses to manipulate humanity today. The Caeliar demonstrate an almost utopian society, run in a perfect order...however, look beneath the surface and you find that even amongst themselves, there is discord. To be one of them is to essentially live a double-life: you preach your god-like attitudes to others lesser than you, but you hide the fact that there are internal squabbles, and unwilling to listen to a point of view that may be different than yours. That said, the Caeliar are very advanced, and their way of life is intriguing in the sense that I believe that when one thinks of the Caeliar and their similarities to the Borg, I think of it as the Caeliar gone bad, and I think that the remainder of the Columbia crew in the other Caeliar cities on Erigol in Gods of Night have something to do with it. Much like the Watraii in the Vulcan’s Soul trilogy, I personally believe that the Borg are a similar by-product. Satan works the same way: empty promises, false truths, and illusions of perfection, but lacking the glory thereof. In a religious sense, the Caeliar story could almost be pulled right out of any book of scripture, and it contains many great and sacred truths.

To conclude, I have to say that although it is a quick read and not a resolution by any means, Mere Mortals is a great read, and definitely something I’d read again. Dave, thanks again for a great book, and I’m excited to see what Lost Souls has in store for us. A perfect book by a perfect writer. (At least, in my opinion)
***************************************

Your comments are welcome. I'm sorry for the three parter, but you know.... silly 20 000 character limit.
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Old November 3 2008, 12:18 PM   #126
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

Hells Bells! That was good!!!!

Ambassador Garak??? I never saw it coming and loved every second of it. I literally sat there slack jawed wondering what was gonna happen next. I thought Seven was a little off in this book, but am willing to wait till the next one to see if it works out.

I must say, I believed "Captain Dax" much more in this book than I did in the last. Very well written.
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Old November 3 2008, 04:27 PM   #127
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

JeremyW wrote: View Post
Some are easier to get than others, but she is successful. However, that support did come at a price, and in the case of the Cardassians, it cost the Federation several planets along the border
Oh well, considering the Federation might have eventually lost those planets to the Borg anyway ....
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Old November 3 2008, 05:29 PM   #128
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

Jeremy, thanks for the detailed analysis of Mere Mortals. To answer one of your questions, about whether I intentionally paralleled the themes and ideas of John Milton's Paradise Lost in the Hernandez story arc, note the epigraph of the book — which I selected precisely for its relevance to her story:

Our torments also may in length of time
Become our elements, these piercing fires
As soft as now severe, our temper changed
Into their temper.
—John Milton, Paradise Lost, book 2
Also, because you seem to have a keen eye for religious allusions in the text, I think you'll find a lot to dig into with Lost Souls. Enjoy!
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Old November 3 2008, 05:42 PM   #129
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

JeremyW, your reviews are so exhaustive and well thought out. Makes me appreciate the depth of Mack's books all the more.
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Old November 3 2008, 07:19 PM   #130
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

destro wrote: View Post
Marie1 wrote: View Post
No, you're right, its not. TBH- if I was in her position, dealing with a conceived child, I would do the same thing- hold on to all hope for the child as long as possible, as long as it lived.
But she was specifically told by her Doctor that there was no hope at all AND that it would mean her death...
In her mental state, it currently doesn't matter. The child they wanted is conceived, and she doesn't want a repeat of her last pregnancy. There is always that one in a billion chance they'll make it through- since it more than numbers... scientists have been missing human physiological potential... always. Most parents will do anything for their children, in Deanna's case, it doesn't matter whether its in the womb or not...
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Old November 3 2008, 07:26 PM   #131
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

Destiny seems like it would have made a good video game, or atleast an expansion pack for Star Trek Legacy
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Old November 3 2008, 09:59 PM   #132
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

My Lost Souls review is up: http://scifichick.com/2008/11/03/sta...ny-lost-souls/

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Old November 4 2008, 12:08 AM   #133
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

JeremyW wrote: View Post
but had the lines crumbled, nobody would be complaining when these cannons would have blasted Jem’Hadar ships to high heaven.
I wonder how effective they'd be against Borg Cubes.
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Old November 4 2008, 01:41 AM   #134
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

David Mack wrote: View Post
Jeremy, thanks for the detailed analysis of Mere Mortals. To answer one of your questions, about whether I intentionally paralleled the themes and ideas of John Milton's Paradise Lost in the Hernandez story arc, note the epigraph of the book — which I selected precisely for its relevance to her story:

Our torments also may in length of time
Become our elements, these piercing fires
As soft as now severe, our temper changed
Into their temper.
—John Milton, Paradise Lost, book 2
Also, because you seem to have a keen eye for religious allusions in the text, I think you'll find a lot to dig into with Lost Souls. Enjoy!
Dave, thanks for the notes. I saw the selected text, and I guess I was thinking whether the book as an entire work was paralleled or referenced. I like how you referenced it, even in Warpath. (It was enough that a few months ago, I was talking to a roommate who studied the text whether I could borrow his textbook. He didn't have the whole work, but I later found it at a bookstore and am loving it.)

Yeah, I've seemed to develop a religious eye for your text. You're a quite popular name among some of my LDS friends right now. I've gotten a few of them to read elements of Gods of Night and Mere Mortals and they like it a lot. These books are freakin' rad, and I'm looking forward to reading Lost Souls. I have to go offline for awhile (moving and preparing for a mission), but I can promise a final review of Lost Souls one way or another. Keep it up.

Thanks for the response. It's very much appreciated!!!
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Old November 4 2008, 07:21 AM   #135
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals - SPOILER Thread

Stephen! wrote: View Post
JeremyW wrote: View Post
but had the lines crumbled, nobody would be complaining when these cannons would have blasted Jem’Hadar ships to high heaven.
I wonder how effective they'd be against Borg Cubes.
I want to see the Dominion v. The Borg.
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