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

View Poll Results: Grade Lost Souls
Excellent 130 72.22%
Above Average 35 19.44%
Average 12 6.67%
Below Average 1 0.56%
Poor 2 1.11%
Voters: 180. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 24 2009, 03:13 PM   #556
Christopher
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Mirmotte wrote: View Post
But just wondering...what happened to Rebekah (sorry if wrong spelling) and the rest of the Liberated from Greater Than The Sum?I would have liked to see what happened to them in Destiny....
I would assume it was something similar to what happened to Seven of Nine. Which pretty much renders all of Dr. Crusher's efforts in GTTS moot, but them's the breaks.
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Old April 12 2009, 11:05 PM   #557
Jean-Luc Picard
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

I finished this book and, so, the trilogy as a whole, ages ago, but computer troubles have kept me offline since then so I haven't been able to post my thoughts. In short, I loved "Destiny", and think that it is exactly the boost that the novel franchise needed.

It had everything - action, drama, tragedy, romance...what else could a reader ask for? Everything was so powerfully delivered, and the best part was how Mack managed to capture the intricacies of war; it was the little moments, like Admiral Paris' death and Troi's relief over her child, that really hit home amidst the all-encompassing destruction wrought by the Borg. In such an epic saga, it's difficult to zone in on the individual tragedies, but it was done flawlessly throughout all three books.

Talking of the Borg, this was the most imposing they've ever been. My jaw was on the floor when the cubes effortlessly ripped through the armada that Bacco had worked so hard to assemble. Their relentness approach, and the way everyone had given up fighting back by the time they reached Mars, really had me believing that Earth was going to take some heavy hits if not be ravaged altogether. That's how good the set-up was: not only did I actually believe that core facets of the ST universe were about to be wiped out, I found the fact that some of its key figures (usually so determined and persistent) had given up believable and realistic.

The characterisation, for the most part, was spot-on. I particularly enjoyed Bacco (made me love her even more), Dax (she makes a very different but entertaining captain), Worf and Choudhury (their relationship was developed very well), and Kedair (a new favourite of mine who now has an extra dimension added to her through the friendly fire incident). I thought Picard's breakdown was a little over-the-top, and found his connection to Crusher a bit too sickly-sweet, but otherwise he was written brilliantly. Hernandez and the Caeliar also shone, although I hope they don't pop up again too soon - I'm not too keen on races that powerful, though they fit the boundaries of the story here.

One quibble I had was that the third book, for all it accomplished, felt a bit...ill-paced. It seemed as though the timing was a bit off, with several chapters of talking and then sudden bursts of action, but needless to say that the conclusion was satisfying enough for me to let that go.

Overall, despite some minor criticisms, I give this trilogy full marks. A great read.
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Old April 22 2009, 11:34 AM   #558
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

I guess I'm in the very large minority of people who, while enjoyed the trilogy, didn't really think that it was what everyone was saying it is. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy them.

Book 3 was great, but the first two, I really just skimmed all the past stuff because it was pretty obvious what was going to happen from Book 1, it was just a matter of when. Plus those characters weren't all that interesting. Though the relationship between Hernandez and Inyx was pretty intriguing.

I was really kind of rooting for Will and Deanna's baby to not survive, yeah, kind of cold, but nothing like that really happens in books like these, and it would make for some tense moments in future Titan Novels.

I did like the Borg just annihilating the Federation, there was a sense of "OH CRAP" in there, and I did like the fact that Picard really had nothing to do with the solution except for providing the transport to the Cube Scout, finally he takes a back seat, and someone had the junk to say screw you this is what's going to happen.

Should be interesting to see where they go from here, I haven't read Singular Destiny or the Titan or Voyager releases to follow, so hopefully they will be a bit better than these.

Good books, but I think this could have been a Duology and not a Trilogy.

I know I'll get flamed, but hey, it's only one persons opinion.
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Old July 5 2009, 04:52 AM   #559
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

I wasn’t sure whether to write this, since it isn’t going to be the glowing review most people have given the book. But I figure since I wrote reviews for the first two, I might as well type out why I was ultimately disappointed with the finale, and the trilogy as a whole. Maybe a dissenting perspective can be useful; I don’t know. I finished the book a while ago, but I needed to know why I reacted (or rather, failed to react) the way that I did to the book. Having thought about it, my principle objections to the book are twofold: one, the excessive amount of death and destruction and the permanent damage done to the setting and its philosophy; second, the messianic resolution which renders most of the trilogy immaterial because the characters contribute nothing to it; as we say here, they just stand on the side of the road, waving their dicks at the traffic. There’s a kind of irony here: typing all these reviews into the same document, I can go back and check what I disliked about previous entries, and there’s sad amusement to be found that my biggest problem about the first book (which I otherwise liked)—to wit, the fact that the E-E characters were spinning their wheels, not acting but reaction—not only infects all the other storylines in book two but becomes the essential theme of the book’s resolution, which appears to celebrate impotence, passivity, and yes, failure.

Reading the book is an experience of ups and downs. At first one gets excited, because after all the meanderings and doldrums of Mere Mortals, the pacing finally picks up again, conveying the sense of urgency that had been missing from the invasion so far; plus, we get to see what happened to the survivors of Mantillis, which I had not been expecting and was thus a pleasant surprise. Then there’s a down bit as urgency of the situation proves to have been too urgent: not content with the devastation as the Azure Nebula, now we’re ‘treated’ to the Borg invasion fleet wreaking slaughter across swathes of Federation and Klingon space, at which point the heroes have essentially lost, and the rest of the book is essentially going to be about whether their abject failure will be complete or mitigated. Then there’s an up bit when the characters, belatedly, finally start fighting back (although even there it proves too late); the middle of the book is probably my favourite part of the trilogy, other than Hernandez’ saga over the three books. Then finally we end on a down bit as we get to a resolution that has next to nothing to do with what’s come before and next to no involvement from the characters whose civilization is getting its assed kicked. The ending is just so depressing as this higher power swoops in to rescue the incapable, so-called heroes then departs, leaving the Federation a burning ruin.

It should be said, in the interests of fairness, that I don’t think this is a poorly written book. As with Mere Mortals, most individual scenes accomplish what they set out to do; it’s in the totality of effect that it falls apart—and by the third book, it’s impossible to ignore the baggage of what had come previously, as was still possible to enjoy isolated scenes like the Hirogen attack. That’s my one, major technical gripe: the disconnect between plot and resolution. For the rest of it, I admit my distaste stems from conflicting ideology: I have always considered Star Trek’s optimism and humanism to be at the core of the universe, to be what sets Trek apart, uniquely, from every other space opera and near-dystopian future out there; and this book skirts if not outright contradicts both. So before I start my bitching in earnest, I’ll go over what I did like.

Like I said, I was very glad to see Graylock’s people again after thinking that their fates had already occurred ‘off-screen’ in Mere Mortals. Ironically, just before reading this book I read through a non-fiction study of a 19th-century ship (the H.M.S. Enterprise, as coincidence would have it) and its unsuccessful search for the lost Franklin expedition, so I was fresh off a scientifically-research account of survival in Arctic climes and was impressed by how realistic and accurately detailed the experience of the Columbia survivors was (for an alien planet with wendigo-like predators, that is). Despite the fact that these were all characters one was inclined to dislike, to varying degrees, for their participation in Foyle’s genocidal escape attempt, the battle they must wage against their ruthless environment actually endears them to the reader, as does the psychological tensions in the group, keeping everything—including Thayer’s very real trepidation at living with those who maimed her—suppressed to maintain to cohesion of the group, even as they start dropping off one by one to the various perils they’re now subjected too. Previously I had compared the Hirogen attack to ‘Alien’; these sequences were, in their own way, like watching a well-crafted thriller. So, too, was watching the doomed native expedition; despite the short amount of space devoted to them, and the foregone outcome, you actually feel that these are real people from a multifaceted culture in the brief period of time one knows them.

The origin of the Borg… well, I felt like something of a dunce in that I had missed it up until then. I had speculated about a connection between the Borg and the Caeliar back after Gods of Night, but my chronology was completely off. And yet, in retrospect, it’s possible to see all the clues woven into the overall narrative, and I appreciate a complex, interwoven mystery like this. And ultimately, one can’t help but feel sorry for Thayer, Graylock and even Pembleton—to have endured so much, only to, finally, tragically, suffer a fate worse than death. It’s even hard to feel much antagonism for Sedín, who distinguishes herself amongst the Caeliar as someone who actually wants to live, which, however unfortunate the consequences, is still welcome in such an otherwise atrophied, stagnant species. Although her attitude of callous pragmatism bordered on the cruel, at the time she enslaved the humans she was little more than a collection of instincts, much like the ghost aboard Columbia, driven only by the animal urge to survive, capable of gaining knowledge but never capable of once again finding true consciousness. It is, surely, a terrible existence for all concerned, and it’s nice that, in the end, the Caeliar are able to give Sedín peace before she must die.

The middle part of the book—from Hernandez formulating her plan to become a duplicate queen to their narrow escape from the Borg scout ship--is very entertaining, my favourite part of the trilogy other than Hernadez’ biography. As I’ll get to afterwards, much of the preceding 24th-century portions of the book had made me shut off, but as this plan coalesced and was implemented, I found myself getting excited again, quite likely the most engaged I had been since I finished the first book. THIS is what I had been looking forward to ever since the announcement that there would be a Borg invasion: the characters, old and new (well, mostly new—more on that later, too), using their brains, their creativity, their strength and their willpower to effectively combat the apparently insurmountable foe. It has action and drama, courage and tragedy, sacrifice and victory; it’s a hundred pages or so that manages to capture the full spectrum of human(oid) experience by putting it under incredible pressure yet demonstrating that, however dearly tested, they will overcome, without for that matter ignoring the bloodier consequences. It’s a very rousing sequence; even when you hit the hard patches like the friendly fire incident and the scene in sickbay afterwards, it is still uplifting: they might take their hits, they might go down, but they go down hard, they fight to the bitter end, and they rage against that dying light (unlike certain, more submissive characters one could mention). It was nice to see Bateson and the Prometheus in action again; and when they deployed the Hirogen power dampeners, I actually thought that the story was starting to come together, that all the stuff that had seemed besides the point in Mere Mortals would prove valuable after all. There is a fly in the ointment, of course, in that they’re too late—not just too late to spare the Federation the Borg invasion, as many worlds already lie in ruins, but too late even to prevent the attacks on Vulcan & Co., only to alleviate them. But then, this isn’t a book about people who win but people who lose, so I suppose it’s thematically appropriate that even at their most victorious the characters still only manage a mitigated failure. Still, I don’t want to end on a down note, so I want to single out the firefights aboard the Borg ship and Hernadez’ psychic battle against the Collective as sequences particularly worthwhile—the first, for the tension and cinematic quality, the second because it was something unexpected yet made perfect sense within the context of a mental struggle, the Borg turning her own memories against her, burning ‘ground’ to deny her refuge.

It’s unfortunate that the rest of the book, and indeed the trilogy as a whole, wasn’t more like this: pursuing the setting and characters’ potentials instead of reveling in their faults. The whole destruction thing is a fad I have gotten quite thoroughly sick of, so I’m distinctly displeased to see it happen to the Trek universe (and I should perhaps say ‘again’, although there certainly was no way for the author to anticipate that the latest film would go in the same direction of destruction and failure), which is, after all, supposed to be a cheery, sometimes nigh-utopian vision of the future, a literary fulfillment about the promise of progress in technological and societal development. I fail to see any reason why that society needed to be torn down, destroyed for the sake of an arbitrary, fashionable notion of what constitutes drama—the Trek books we had been reading in years past had been amongst the best in the line, balancing the ability to tell consequential stories without losing sight of the basic premise underlying the fictional universe. Devastation at this scale is unnecessary and unwarranted, and winds up being so extreme that it has the opposite effect of becoming flat and devoid of feeling. I recognize the various attempts to make the tragedy ‘humane’ in scenes such as the death of Tuvok’s son, and I suppose I should be grateful since this is something I felt was missing from the devastated worlds in the first book, or the off-screen non-battle at the Azure Nebula, but the truth of the matter is that I was unmoved because by that point I had just shut down, emotionally speaking. I was reading the text, but not feeling it. The idea that scenes like this were being played out not just across the entire planet but indeed across huge swathes of Federation (and allied states) is just overwhelming in its negativity; even with individual instances, the scope of the devastation is impossible to engage with, and instead of feeling sad or aggrieved, I was just benumbed, as the sheer hopelessness of it all made it impossible to care. I think there is certainly room to explore dark patches in Star Trek--well-written stories about the Occupation or Mirror-Universe have fulfilled these roles—but it was always exploring the shadows in a universe of light, with the knowledge that the better society of the Federation was proximate even if it wasn’t present. But now that universe of light has been replaced by one of shadows. I expect—or hope, anyway—that there will be oases of light, but the whole tone of the franchise has just taken a change in tone for the dark.

It was something similar that came over me when I got to the end of the book and its apparent resolution. I was reading the text, and I could note the various techniques being used to make it seem uplifting—the raw emotivity; the grand, epic scale at which the transformation was being worked, encompassing billions; the Manichean imagery of light and dark, shoehorned dichotomies of good and evil; the scurrilous religious allusions—but I was insensate to it all. At first I wondered if it was the same numbness as before, but no—that middle portion had managed to get me geared up, so why did this portion feel so terribly remote. Then Picard solves it for me: “We did it,” says Riker, to which Picard replies: “No, Erika did it. We just lived through it.” Precisely: one feels detached from the resolution because it has little to nothing to do with what came before it, no input from any of the characters save Hernandez, and thus ultimately no point of entry, no mediating figure through which one can identify with what’s happening. If it seems remote, then it’s exactly because it’s occurring at such a remove; I, as a reader, don’t really have anything invested here. If some characters, whether original or old-guard, had been assimilated previously, and we could have experienced the liberation of the Collective from their perspective, I think it would have been of benefit. Of course, there were no assimilated characters because the Borg weren’t doing that anymore, and now we know why: if the Borg invasion had followed traditional Borg tactics, then the resolution would have restored most of the conquered Federation worlds; there would have been a great deal of lingering trauma from the experience itself, but there would not have been worlds aflame and species extinguished, and since the point of this trilogy was to trash the setting, that wouldn’t do. Incidentally, I don’t think we ever did get an in-universe explanation for why the Borg turned into the Snidely Whiplash Collective; there’s a bit about the most recent Borg queen emerging from with a direction to destroy the Federation but no explanation for what spawned the EVIL! command. I suppose one could speculate that the semi-aware spirit of Sedín lurking beneath the hive mind had something to do with it; perhaps the destruction of the transwarp hub by Voyager was of such a scale that it was able to stir corrupted memories of the Caeliar Cataclysm and hatred towards humanity.

I feel that this lack of participation in the resolution not only makes for an unsatisfying ending, it also retroactively undermines much of the trilogy. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Caeliar serve as a deus ex machina, because they’ve been there from the beginning… but a deus in machina, perhaps. I have to ask: why were most of these characters even in these books, when they’re presence, collectively, amounts to nothing, is largely incidental? Picard and Co. needn’t always be the ones to save the day—in many ways, this was Hernandez moment to shine—but I also expect that they’ll make some contribution, help build towards the solution even if they are not the ones to finally enact it. Basically, only Hernadez’s storyline is important to solving the crisis, and the rest becomes reduced to the status of sideshow—entertaining sideshow, perhaps, but still broadly irrelevant to the greater story. I remember criticizing Mere Mortals for lacking such integrity of plot, and here it’s even worse, because plot threads you assumed would eventually lead somewhere fizzle and end. For all that most of the books actually have to do with the story, one could have written Destiny as a single novel, detailing Hernadez’ biographic epic, and stuck the rest into a Tales of the Borg Invasion-esque anthology… indeed, it might have been preferable to do so; Hernandez’ story is a strong one and would have benefitted from not being dragged down by the doldrums of the 24th-century bits, while the other storylines in their anthology wouldn’t be ‘saddled’, so to speak, with expectations of relevance—perhaps even enjoyed as short character pieces, instead of the long, despondent and ultimately futile drifting they undergo here.

In many ways, I can’t help but think that this is a consequence of the type of story being told, generically. It isn’t a quest story, or a mystery, or an epic, where characters are expected to solve the problems that confront them; no, this, to my disgust, is a story of deliverance. It’s more than the idea that Picard, Riker and so on don’t actively contribute to solving the problem: it’s that the problem is so huge that these mere mortals cannot possibly be expected to solve it in the first place, and must instead make recourse to a higher power, those gods of night, whose technological acumen borders on the divine, thanks to a half-human, half-‘divine’ messiah who sacrifices herself to the enemy (who has a five-letter name that begins with an ‘S’ and ends with an ‘n’) in order to assure the salvation of the lost souls trapped in that inferno, but then gets to live on in fully ‘divine’ form. A hell, incidentally, which exists because a handful of humans decided to try and attain a higher level of being (through merging with the Caeliar) in the recent prehistoric past (a scant few centuries away from the start of the Ussher chronology). Quite honestly, if I wanted to read a story like this, I’d just reread the New Testament, or Paradise Lost, or turn to something like the Lord of the Rings where magical destiny actually fits the premise. I strongly feel that these sort of fables do not belong in Star Trek. This is a universe based on humanistic values, on the conviction that human reason, intelligence and creativity is sufficient, and indeed the best-placed, to overcome the obstacles that lie in our way. Hernandez’ story, by itself, is strong enough to resist devolution into a saviour figure no matter what her archetypal function in the resolution: having been witness to her life thus far, she’s too complex to be reduced to anything as inane as a messiah. The Caeliar and the Borg, however, lack such permanence, and fall too easily into trite Manichean patterns despite the fact that they really don’t fit the roles. The Borg, until the TNG-R decided to make them EVIL! in the mistaken belief that might equaled fright, represented pure amorality; you’ll say that VOY had defanged them, and that’s true enough, but it also portrayed a culture more complex than one might suspect, which gets swept aside for the sake of juvenile malevolence. And then there’s the Caeliar, nominal redeemers yet complete assholes—if they’re the opposite force, then they’re Miltonic deities at best (which would go some way towards explaining why I took such an instant and intense dislike to them), interceding only because Hernandez’s Christ-figure outflanks their stodgy natures. I was, admittedly, mildly amused to find many of the criticisms I’d directed at the Caeliar, re: their stagnancy, echoed in Hernandez’s jeremiad to them.
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Old July 5 2009, 04:54 AM   #560
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

(Lousy, sanctimonious post size restrictions--don't you have an Argentinian mistress to go boff?)

And, of course, it’s disastrous to the characters, who fail to pull themselves up by their own merits and must instead be Saved, capital ‘s’. Salvation logic, of course, demands that those targeted by such must be otherwise irredeemably flawed, an implicit statement of dependency upon higher forces for completion or outright survival that hobbles the idea of these characters as self-governing and self-sufficient. Admittedly, this is no “Daybreak” (which retroactively destroyed the free will of the nuBSG characters for the entirety of the series’ run), but it’s still a very repugnant move nonetheless. The resolution celebrates impotence, glorying in the fact that the characters couldn’t solve their own problems as though it were something praise-worthy; celebrates failure, as most of the characters (Choudhoury excepted) are spared any personal consequences for their almost trilogy-long inability to impact the events unfolding around them, and indeed actually seem to be in a good mood which, quite frankly, makes me rather squeamish, since after a failure of such epic proportions they really ought to be beating themselves up for their ineptitude; celebrates passivity, as the characters are basically just there to bear witness to the pseudo-metaphysical struggle between the Borg and Caeliar, that there was no solution except to just sit on their hands and hope for the best, for intervention, the subservient position suited to the dependants of a higher power. Passivity, further, because when one gets right down to it, all this could have been prevented had Titan simply come across the Caeliar sooner, or even should the Borg have bumped into the Caeliar themselves—the end solution would have been the same had it occurred in the first chapters of the first book as it was at the end of third. Nothing is gained in the interim, which makes all the destruction that is unleashed upon the innocent even more wasteful, because what it all boils down to is ‘bad timing’.

As to characterization beyond the plot… well, Hernadez kicks her habitual amount of butt, and most of the other new characters come through well, particularly the Aventine folk. Dax finally looks like a captain, although it would be hard not to in comparison with Picard and Riker. Kedair gets more good scenes—it’s nice to see someone actually feels guilt for their screw-ups, even as she resolves, with Dax’s help, to move forward; and Tarses gets easily his best scene in the literature thus far in the sickbay triage scene, assured and professional without being insensate to the suffering around him. But, perhaps in order to make them look good, a lot of the old guard characters wind up getting dragged through the mud. TNG has gotten the short end of the ugly stick (mixed metaphor?) pretty much throughout this trilogy, but the negativity just explodes in this final installment. Worf embraces the passivity, going with the flow and shying away from confrontation when he disagrees with Picard, which simply isn’t Worf. Riker spends most of the book as a emo little bitch, moping around over his own strained emotional state even as his civilization is collapsing around him—another character who can’t get his priorities in order. There’s this one scene in particular that just made me roll my eyes, when Riker finally confronts Picard for going all Republican Party and just shooting all ideas down by rote—and instead of actually tying in to the story, the characters break down like weepy schoolgirls in each others’ arms. (Disturbingly, the image that came to mind at this point was the opening of ‘Fight Club’, Edward Norton crying into Meatloaf’s breasts.) It just makes one want to scream: “Hey, people: Borg invasion first, support group later!” Act like professionals and save your emotional traumas for after you’ve dealt with the civilization-shattering crisis.

In fact, Picard is the character who really gets the worst of it. In Mere Mortals, I had noticed he was flintier than his usual self, but thought it was understandable given the circumstances; but here he just turns into a complete jackass with bipolar disorder, bitching continuously to his crew and colleagues then retreating to the holodeck for a hearty bout of sniveling. Picard has always been one of my favourite characters, someone who embodied my ideal of a leader, but even I grew to loathe him over the course of this book as the gravitas that defined the character takes and vacation and he’s gradually stripped on his dignity until little remains but a beatific imbecile prostrating himself on his own bridge. I kept wondering what was going on as Picard acted increasingly intemperate, constantly saying no to every idea that Dax put forward toward solving the crisis; when he decided to scuttle all plans by refusing access to his subspace transmitter, in defiance of all good sense, I thought I had it pegged: that scene at the end of Mere Mortals, were he was transfixed by the voice of the Collective, and I thought the Borg must have seized control of his mind or even implanted subconscious controls to cripple Starfleet’s attempts to resist. Tragically, it would seem that Picard was just acting like a prick for the sake of acting like a prick. I don’t know if this was a way to create more conflict in the story, like the old Idiot Admirals crutch, or if it was an attempt at character development, but either was it was an unwelcome abuse of the character. And if it was supposed to be a character arc, then in the end it, too, comes to nothing, because Picard doesn’t overcome… whatever it was that he was supposed to overcome, but has an outside force do it for him, changing him without the need for work, effort or for him to have learned anything. As with the overall plot, it’s just “poof! I wave my magical technology wand and solve the problem”, once again embracing passivity and deference. Although I’m can’t say that whatever epiphany Picard had at his Damascus is a beneficial one; there’s a moment in the epilogue where, perhaps making a metafictional joke à la “Ship in the Bottle”, Picard appears to embrace some wishy-washy pantheism. Picard has fallen far indeed from the man who so memorably stood up, even at the risk of his life, for reason against the supernatural in “Who Watches the Watchers”, who has stood toe-to-toe with entities of far greater power than this and argued with full conviction in the ability—and indeed, the necessity—of human(oid)s to figure things out for themselves.

La Forge gets next to no attention, but when he does feature it’s to throw a tantrum over Picard’s plan to develop a thelaron weapon, which he hopes to use as a failsafe if things go pear-shaped between the Borg and the Caeliar. Finally, Picard is actually proposing a plan instead of just saying ‘no’ all the time… and instead of progress, we get treated to a hissy fit from La Forge because it hurts his feelings to reconstruct a weapon of the same type that killed Data. He calls the weapon immoral, which is nonsense—an object has no intrinsic ethical alignment, outside of its use, and in this case its use was justified: if the Borg assimilated the Caeliar, the entire galaxy and perhaps many others would have been imperiled. Then he goes to cower behind legalities that no longer even apply as per Bacco’s earlier edict. And then, just to put a cherry on the hysterical sundae, somehow this rambling rant convinces Picard not to act, and since of course La Forge didn’t have an alternative to propose we fall back into passivity, sitting around twiddling their thumbs as the Borg descend on them. Troi—well, Troi had her bout of being crazy and irrational in the first two books, and when she wakes up she finally seems to have come to her senses, just in time to be Saved! The resolution to the Troi storyline is almost a microcosm of the overall trilogy: Troi’s medical condition is not relieved by investigation, research or any other action taken by her or her crewmates; rather, the Caeliar wave their magic wand and she’s cured, which could have happened just as easily at the beginning of the second book and all that intervening melodrama pointless. It’s another act of salvation; isn’t great that his higher power is here to solve our intractable problems and spare us the need to make hard decisions? Bah. Don’t get me wrong—after all the death and destruction up till now, I’m happy Troi didn’t lose her foetus, but the method is, once again, a ‘deus in machina’, so to speak.

After all this is done, there are attempts at spinning the massive failure into something that looks less like a failure. (Although, I think the most hopeful part of the book is actually the conversation between Vale and Troi as they are released [again, without having done anything to earn it] where she confesses and Troi is understanding; I’ve gotten so sick of artificial drama created by characters not talking to each other [I’m looking at you, Lost and T:SCC] that it’s nice to see this plotline won’t be going that way.) The gesture is appreciated, but all this talk about hope and rebuilding rings utterly hollow following on the heels on devastation at an incomprehensible scale. Seventy billion people are dead, a number I can’t begin to fathom. Entire worlds have been laid to waste, and more have been ruined or greatly damaged—including Risa (Paradise Lost, indeed). Surprisingly, that feels more depressing to me than even the loss of Devena did; I guess Risa always embodied some of the best of the Federation, the benefits of life in a peaceful prosperous society and the ability to have hedonism without losing responsibility. Now it, too, is gone, along with the idea of a prosperous Federation as the surplus economy, that which enabled the Federation’s utopian elements, teeters on the brink of collapse. Starfleet is in a shambles. Meanwhile, the Caeliar/Borg just up and vanish; and despite all the enfeeblement the Borg went through in VOY and being turned into generic EVIL! villains in the TNG-R, I feel like another piece of the Trek universe has gone missing; something else that made it unique has been lost. They claim, on their departure, they’ll be looking to protect peaceful cultures—here’s an idea, why don’t you do something about the peaceful civilization you just devasted? At this point, even the dreaded ‘reset button’ would be welcome to restore some of the dead, buried, unburied, beaten with a shovel, and buried again optimism of the setting. The entire trilogy, and particularly the conclusion, is just utterly disheartening. I was gladdened when Marco announced that, with the Titan series, Trek fiction would be looking towards exploration again, finally ‘getting over’ the fallout from the Dominion War. Now, scant few years later, the universe gets trashed all over again, worse than before (what was it Bacco told the cadets about graduating without the shadow of war?)—and when Bacco starts talking about exploratory missions in this book, I think she must be out of her mind to be devoting any of Starfleet’s much reduced resources to such ventures when there’s no doubt a massive refugee crisis, resources shortage and staggering amounts of rebuilding to be done. And all this stuff about a better future… I just can’t believe it, not after the amount of damage that has been inflicted.

Which is at the heart of the problem, going forward. This trilogy has redefined the Trek universe, and it has done so in a negative way, emphasizing failure and impotency. In many ways, it feels like the setting has been skewered such that an episode like “Q Who” is now emblematic of its overall themes, from the ass-kicking the heroes receive to having to call on a higher power to save said posteriors; but I always thought it was episodes like “Encounter at Farpoint”, “Best of Both Worlds” or “All Good Things…” that truly encapsulate what this fictional world is about. The magnitude of the events in Destiny are such that there will never be any escaping it; if it seemed difficult to escape the legacy of the Dominion War, it will be impossible to do so here; this generation and likely generations to come will be defined by the scars and trauma of the big Borg invasion. And I’m sick of all the negativity. I’m sick of the darkness, the depression, the devastation, the killing. This is a feeling that has been some time in accumulating, and across a number of media, but I reached the tipping point a while ago and have no interest in seeing them explored further. I gave up on most of the Star Wars line because it had degenerated into simplistic darkness for darkness’ sake. I stopped reading the Ultimate comic line after the destruction pornography of Ultimatum (fuck you, Jeph Loeb). And now, while Destiny was certain better written than any of those, I wonder if I should do the same here. My interest in Trek, it must be said, has been waning for a while, which isn’t just my dissatisfaction with the direction the book line is going in (although callous crap like Before Dishonor) doesn’t help); there’s also the objectively welcome but subjectively inexplicable popularity of that third-rate film among other things. The ‘next’ two books in the series are from Keith and Christopher, two writers who rarely disappoint, but I find myself entirely unmoved to purchase and read them, incapable of generating enthusiasm for the setting. It’s a Catch-22: a book set in this universe will be dark, another generic dystopian vision of the future, which I don’t want to read; or it won’t be dark, in which case, like the attempts to beautify the trilogy’s conclusion, it will lack verisimilitude and believability. Then there’s the third option, which is not to bother reading the book. I can’t generate much interest in reading about a nigh-dystopian Federation, or spending more time on maudlin traumas, or otherwise reading about how terrible the consequences of this must surely be. Maybe later, but not now. And it’s not just the setting that’s become unrecognizable, but the characters. A bipolar, undignified Picard, a mopey, indecisive Riker, an avoidant Worf, a hissy La Forge, an irrational Troi… these people don’t resemble the characters I first encountered onscreen. And talk of change seems misdirected if it isn’t change for the better. It’s great that the authors are free to make permanent changes to the universe and the characters, but those changes seem to all align themselves with degeneracy and decrepitude, whether the arbitrary killing of Janeway, ‘character arcs’ like having Picard be a dunce in every second book that feel forced and unnatural, or, you know, just blowing the crap out of the Federation. The sad thing, really, is that I think the whole faddish infatuation with darkness and death is passing; many of the solicitations I’ve been receiving have specified a desire for positive, upbeat content. But for the Trek universe, it’s too late—these changes are as permanent as permanent gets, and it’s hard to see how they could be undone. So I think I’ll take a break from Trek for a while. I’ve given up on the Rocambolesques of the ENT-R and am feeling rather jaundiced towards anything post-Destiny at the moment, but I know we’ve got some DS9-R books coming our way soon and while I don’t know if knowing what happens to the setting will affect my reading of it, I’m still interested in seeing those storylines unfold. After that, I’ll see how I feel about the rest of it.

Some random points:
--Page 115: “(…) he looked lifeless, Gorgonized.”
Never mind “Stygian”, from now on every Trek book should have at least one instance of the word “Gorgonized”.

--Pages 145-146: “Growing up in Québec (…) outside Montréal.”
Hey, you spelt them with the accent. Thanks for that. I know English technically doesn’t require the accent, but I’ve always been fond of using native spellings were possible.

--Page 159: “(…) death was a simple reality in the hard land of the winter.”
Tales of Brave Ulysses? (Yay, Cream.)

--Page 251: T’Lana; what a twit. She spends her entire literary career getting up in people’s faces, insisting that everybody should do things her way and generally acting to the detriment of the greater good. Then when she’s about to be murdered, when her mule-headed combativeness might, for once, actually find a valid target… now you decide to just stand there and just let yourself die? Ugh. “And accepted what she could not change”; great, the first Vulcan convert to Christianity… or Alcoholics Anonymous, anyway.

Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
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Old July 5 2009, 05:04 AM   #561
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

A thoughtful review, Trent. I don't agree with all of it, but along the way you've hit all the major problems I had with the trilogy, particularly the irrelevance of the characters and the thinness of the plot.
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Old July 5 2009, 06:15 AM   #562
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Thank you again, Trent, for your very detailed and carefully considered review. I'm very sorry you found Lost Souls and the trilogy overall to be such a disappointing reading experience.
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Old July 5 2009, 09:10 AM   #563
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Trent, while I understand what you're saying, I thoroughly disagree with some of the values that underlie your evaluation of the trilogy. The Borg invasion didn't constitute failure, because failure implies that there was ever a real possibility of success on the primary characters' own merits. But the Borg have always been so powerful as to render our heroes powerless when faced with power of such magnitude.

I suppose the whole issue is encapsulated in your objection to the bit at the end where T'Lana accepts what she cannot change. You object to this because to you, it equals submission to failure, a celebration of impotence. I see it fundamentally differently. Accepting what you cannot change is not the same thing as submission -- it is the act of a responsible adult who has learned to accept that there are limits to his/her power and authority, that they are not the center of the universe, and that this face should not prevent them from finding happiness in life. That T'Lana was able to accept her own imminent death was a sign of great growth and maturity; she went from a borderline clinical narcissist incapable of accepting the idea of not having the right or ability to control other people, to a person able to look her own inevitable death in the face without falling into despair.

And, yeah, ultimately Star Trek: Destiny is a story about learning to accept your own limits. In an interview on The Chronic Rift, David Mack said:

"And then the theme of the third book is really just that there are forces beyond us, and that sometimes we are not able to shape events -- sometimes, events shape us.... And what's interesting is that if you look at the career of Picard, and the rather distinguished and successful captain and commanding officer that he is during all the years that we saw him on screen, all the moments of his greatest failures as a commanding officer seem to be linked to the Borg. He consistently underestimated them, overestimated himself -- even from the very first encounter in System J-25: he refused until the very end to break down and ask Q for help, he got 18 of his people either assimilated or kill, got a hole cut in the hull of his ship, he got sent back to the Federation with his tail between his legs and his pride damaged. And then his next major encounter with the Borg, he got assimilated, he basically got mind-raped. And then, we see him again, having yet another major altercation with the Borg -- every time he's seen them after that, his judgment's seemed clouded and untrustworthy. In First Contact, he--"

(KRAD interjection: " 'You broke your ships!' ")

"-- He broke his ships! He was starting to lose it even then. And what we see in the books that immediately precede the Destiny trilogy -- in J.M. Dillard's Resistance, he comes up with this cockamamy plan to to try and re-infiltrate the Collective disguised, to a certain extent, as Locutus, with some sort of nanite-thing put into his bloodstream to try and block the assimilation process. But of course it fails and they end up having to pull his ass out... He just, he bungles his decisions regarding the Borg, over and over again. He does it again in Before Dishonor. And what I found myself thinking about as a writer was when I got to, finally, the third book is:

Picard reflecting on this, in the moment of final breakdown. In the climax of the book, he reflects in one brief passage on, every time he's faced them, he's failed. And he finally breaks down and realizes: I can't beat this. "This is my Achilles Hell, this is my weak spot, the chink in my armor. This is where my pride comes to play. This is where my anger comes out. Every flaw I have is embodied in this. And this is where I keep screwing up. I'm a failure. I'm weak, and I can't do this."

And, in a way, it's this moment of surrender, which is also a running theme through all three books -- the theme is, it's sometimes only in a moment of surrender that we are able to be free. And Picard can't be free of this white whale. And so he surrenders to his own lack of power over it. It's only in that moment of surrender at the climax of the trilogy that he's freed of the burden it has been on his soul.
That's not a bad value, and it's something that's well worth exploring in Star Trek literature. Humanism only goes so far -- at some point, humanism has to meet up with the fact of human imperfection and human limitation. It's all well and good to believe in the fundamental decency of the human race -- and I do mean that; I'm not trying to dismiss the idea that people are basically decent and that a better world than ours today is possible. But canonical Star Trek under Roddenberry (like many fundamentalist religions) took it too far. The fact of human imperfection and weakness, the fact that even good people fail, was downplayed or disregarded.

I understand that you want to see the heroes of the Trek Universe defeat the Borg through their own agency, but ultimately it's an unrealistic expectation. At some point in life, to be a mature adult, one has to recognize one's own failures and limitations. Optimism that does not account for human failure and limitation blinds us -- imbues in us ethnocentrism at best, and moves us to justify horrors committed in the name of "the greater good" at worst. (Just look at American history for the full spectrum of what untempered optimism and faith in own's own inherent goodness can accomplish, both good and bad: The creation of a great power... and the oppression of millions.)

In Destiny, we see characters having to confront that moment of surrender both in practical terms and in more thematic terms. The Borg Invasion is not merely about an invasion. It is about facing one's own imminent death. That's why the Borg kill rather than assimilate -- not because the intent of the trilogy is to un-do all of the hope and optimism of the Trekverse, but because the mere assimilation of the Federation (which canon has rendered so easy to un-do as to no longer feel threatening) would not allow for the point of the story, which is learning to face the fact of one's own imminent death and to accept it.

That's not a bad thing. The refusal to accept own's own mortality -- which is another way of saying, a refusal to accept one's own weakness, malice, or failures -- is a fundamental source of immaturity and conflict. It is the refusal to accept their own mortality (in the form of a literal desire to become immortal and cast off the need for biology, reproduction, and innovation) that led the Caeliar to become a stagnant, dogmatic culture incapable of coping with outside cultures without using horrific force or eternal imprisonment. It is the refusal to accept their own mortality (in the form of imprisonment) that led the MACOs to perpetuate mass murder upon the Caeliar. It is the refusal to accept his own mortality that has consistently caused Picard to screw up in dealing with the Borg, to the point of being willing to use a thalaron weapon in violation of his principles. It is the refusal to accept her own mortality that leads Sedin to decide to disregard the rights of others and create the first Borg. (And, yes, I hold Sedin responsible for that action -- she made the choice to do it long before her mind degraded, and I promise you that Lerxst did not escape Ghyllac's fate.)

It's not a matter of celebrating impotence as much as it is a matter of learning to accept that one is not -- and should not be -- all-powerful. It is through this acceptance that one retains, or regains, one's moral and intellectual integrity. This is, in essence, what the trilogy is about -- looking death (or your own limitations) in the eye, and learning not to succumb to the temptation to think life so precious as to be worthy of disregarding the things that make life worth living. Learning to accept that everybody dies -- and that only by accepting this can we truly live.

I don't see this as a bad and depressing thing. True, it's not so utopian as TNG Roddenberry Trek was. But there again, I never found Utopia all that inspiring -- because Utopia is and always will be a lie. As Joss Whedon said in his commentary for Serenity, it is the "sins," the things that are traditionally seen as "bad," that are also great sources for the best parts of humanity. "I'm gonna show you a world without sin:" A dead world. Utopia is a lie and always has been; you can't make people "better," because people just are. Good and bad are two sides of the same coin, and without it, the best parts of humanity cannot shine through. If this is so, then Destiny serves as the story of the Federation (via Picard and Riker) learning to accept this fact in order to retain its moral integrity.

And, again, I don't think that the story's attempt at a hopeful ending is uncalled for or dishonest. Because the other point of it is, the Federation will recover. It will rebuild. Its citizens will build a better Federation (hopefully one less spoiled, less insensitive to the outside galaxy, less ethnocentric, less prone to its own self-delusions and lies about its own moral superiority over others) -- just as we, in the real world, will recover, will build, and will eventually create a better world for all of us. Not a perfect world, not a Utopia, not a land where no one suffers -- but still a land better than this.

That's why Star Trek: Destiny is, to me, one of the greatest Star Trek stories ever told. It's the story of looking into the most shameful aspects of one's self, accepting them, and then moving past them.

And lest you think that there was absolutely no agency on the part of the Federation in the redemption of the Borg, just remember this: It was through contact with Hernandez, who tries to live her long life by the values of United Earth and the Federation, that the Caeliar come to realize how much they have erred, and to realize the necessity of destroying the controlling intelligence of the Collective and redeeming its slaves into freedom. It's Federation ideals that save the day.
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Old July 5 2009, 09:21 AM   #564
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
Trent, while I understand what you're saying, I thoroughly disagree with some of the values that underlie your evaluation of the trilogy. The Borg invasion didn't constitute failure, because failure implies that there was ever a real possibility of success on the primary characters' own merits. But the Borg have always been so powerful as to render our heroes powerless when faced with power of such magnitude.

I suppose the whole issue is encapsulated in your objection to the bit at the end where T'Lana accepts what she cannot change. You object to this because to you, it equals submission to failure, a celebration of impotence. I see it fundamentally differently. Accepting what you cannot change is not the same thing as submission -- it is the act of a responsible adult who has learned to accept that there are limits to his/her power and authority, that they are not the center of the universe, and that this face should not prevent them from finding happiness in life. That T'Lana was able to accept her own imminent death was a sign of great growth and maturity; she went from a borderline clinical narcissist incapable of accepting the idea of not having the right or ability to control other people, to a person able to look her own inevitable death in the face without falling into despair.

And, yeah, ultimately Star Trek: Destiny is a story about learning to accept your own limits. In an interview on The Chronic Rift, David Mack said:

"And then the theme of the third book is really just that there are forces beyond us, and that sometimes we are not able to shape events -- sometimes, events shape us.... And what's interesting is that if you look at the career of Picard, and the rather distinguished and successful captain and commanding officer that he is during all the years that we saw him on screen, all the moments of his greatest failures as a commanding officer seem to be linked to the Borg. He consistently underestimated them, overestimated himself -- even from the very first encounter in System J-25: he refused until the very end to break down and ask Q for help, he got 18 of his people either assimilated or kill, got a hole cut in the hull of his ship, he got sent back to the Federation with his tail between his legs and his pride damaged. And then his next major encounter with the Borg, he got assimilated, he basically got mind-raped. And then, we see him again, having yet another major altercation with the Borg -- every time he's seen them after that, his judgment's seemed clouded and untrustworthy. In First Contact, he--"

(KRAD interjection: " 'You broke your ships!' ")

"-- He broke his ships! He was starting to lose it even then. And what we see in the books that immediately precede the Destiny trilogy -- in J.M. Dillard's Resistance, he comes up with this cockamamy plan to to try and re-infiltrate the Collective disguised, to a certain extent, as Locutus, with some sort of nanite-thing put into his bloodstream to try and block the assimilation process. But of course it fails and they end up having to pull his ass out... He just, he bungles his decisions regarding the Borg, over and over again. He does it again in Before Dishonor. And what I found myself thinking about as a writer was when I got to, finally, the third book is:

Picard reflecting on this, in the moment of final breakdown. In the climax of the book, he reflects in one brief passage on, every time he's faced them, he's failed. And he finally breaks down and realizes: I can't beat this. "This is my Achilles Hell, this is my weak spot, the chink in my armor. This is where my pride comes to play. This is where my anger comes out. Every flaw I have is embodied in this. And this is where I keep screwing up. I'm a failure. I'm weak, and I can't do this."

And, in a way, it's this moment of surrender, which is also a running theme through all three books -- the theme is, it's sometimes only in a moment of surrender that we are able to be free. And Picard can't be free of this white whale. And so he surrenders to his own lack of power over it. It's only in that moment of surrender at the climax of the trilogy that he's freed of the burden it has been on his soul.
That's not a bad value, and it's something that's well worth exploring in Star Trek literature. Humanism only goes so far -- at some point, humanism has to meet up with the fact of human imperfection and human limitation. It's all well and good to believe in the fundamental decency of the human race -- and I do mean that; I'm not trying to dismiss the idea that people are basically decent and that a better world than ours today is possible. But canonical Star Trek under Roddenberry (like many fundamentalist religions) took it too far. The fact of human imperfection and weakness, the fact that even good people fail, was downplayed or disregarded.

I understand that you want to see the heroes of the Trek Universe defeat the Borg through their own agency, but ultimately it's an unrealistic expectation. At some point in life, to be a mature adult, one has to recognize one's own failures and limitations. Optimism that does not account for human failure and limitation blinds us -- imbues in us ethnocentrism at best, and moves us to justify horrors committed in the name of "the greater good" at worst. (Just look at American history for the full spectrum of what untempered optimism and faith in own's own inherent goodness can accomplish, both good and bad: The creation of a great power... and the oppression of millions.)

In Destiny, we see characters having to confront that moment of surrender both in practical terms and in more thematic terms. The Borg Invasion is not merely about an invasion. It is about facing one's own imminent death. That's why the Borg kill rather than assimilate -- not because the intent of the trilogy is to un-do all of the hope and optimism of the Trekverse, but because the mere assimilation of the Federation (which canon has rendered so easy to un-do as to no longer feel threatening) would not allow for the point of the story, which is learning to face the fact of one's own imminent death and to accept it.

That's not a bad thing. The refusal to accept own's own mortality -- which is another way of saying, a refusal to accept one's own weakness, malice, or failures -- is a fundamental source of immaturity and conflict. It is the refusal to accept their own mortality (in the form of a literal desire to become immortal and cast off the need for biology, reproduction, and innovation) that led the Caeliar to become a stagnant, dogmatic culture incapable of coping with outside cultures without using horrific force or eternal imprisonment. It is the refusal to accept their own mortality (in the form of imprisonment) that led the MACOs to perpetuate mass murder upon the Caeliar. It is the refusal to accept his own mortality that has consistently caused Picard to screw up in dealing with the Borg, to the point of being willing to use a thalaron weapon in violation of his principles. It is the refusal to accept her own mortality that leads Sedin to decide to disregard the rights of others and create the first Borg. (And, yes, I hold Sedin responsible for that action -- she made the choice to do it long before her mind degraded, and I promise you that Lerxst did not escape Ghyllac's fate.)

It's not a matter of celebrating impotence as much as it is a matter of learning to accept that one is not -- and should not be -- all-powerful. It is through this acceptance that one retains, or regains, one's moral and intellectual integrity. This is, in essence, what the trilogy is about -- looking death (or your own limitations) in the eye, and learning not to succumb to the temptation to think life so precious as to be worthy of disregarding the things that make life worth living. Learning to accept that everybody dies -- and that only by accepting this can we truly live.

I don't see this as a bad and depressing thing. True, it's not so utopian as TNG Roddenberry Trek was. But there again, I never found Utopia all that inspiring -- because Utopia is and always will be a lie. As Joss Whedon said in his commentary for Serenity, it is the "sins," the things that are traditionally seen as "bad," that are also great sources for the best parts of humanity. "I'm gonna show you a world without sin:" A dead world. Utopia is a lie and always has been; you can't make people "better," because people just are. Good and bad are two sides of the same coin, and without it, the best parts of humanity cannot shine through. If this is so, then Destiny serves as the story of the Federation (via Picard and Riker) learning to accept this fact in order to retain its moral integrity.

And, again, I don't think that the story's attempt at a hopeful ending is uncalled for or dishonest. Because the other point of it is, the Federation will recover. It will rebuild. Its citizens will build a better Federation (hopefully one less spoiled, less insensitive to the outside galaxy, less ethnocentric, less prone to its own self-delusions and lies about its own moral superiority over others) -- just as we, in the real world, will recover, will build, and will eventually create a better world for all of us. Not a perfect world, not a Utopia, not a land where no one suffers -- but still a land better than this.

That's why Star Trek: Destiny is, to me, one of the greatest Star Trek stories ever told. It's the story of looking into the most shameful aspects of one's self, accepting them, and then moving past them.

And lest you think that there was absolutely no agency on the part of the Federation in the redemption of the Borg, just remember this: It was through contact with Hernandez, who tries to live her long life by the values of United Earth and the Federation, that the Caeliar come to realize how much they have erred, and to realize the necessity of destroying the controlling intelligence of the Collective and redeeming its slaves into freedom. It's Federation ideals that save the day.
How wonderfully put, Sci
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Old July 5 2009, 08:17 PM   #565
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

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Trent, while I understand what you're saying, I thoroughly disagree with some of the values that underlie your evaluation of the trilogy. The Borg invasion didn't constitute failure, because failure implies that there was ever a real possibility of success on the primary characters' own merits. But the Borg have always been so powerful as to render our heroes powerless when faced with power of such magnitude.
It's not only that the characters failed to stop the borg; it's that they didn't even try - that was their failure.

Between Picard's passivity, La Forge's (and others) so-called "moral" arguments, the fact that many personages thought a psychotherapy session was more important than actually trying to save the Federation and the rest of the alpha and beta quadrants and the ending when the situation was saved by "God", I agree with Trent that the "destiny" trilogy betrays the optimism and confidence in one's abilities that used to characterise Star Trek.
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Old July 5 2009, 08:29 PM   #566
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

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Sci wrote: View Post
Trent, while I understand what you're saying, I thoroughly disagree with some of the values that underlie your evaluation of the trilogy. The Borg invasion didn't constitute failure, because failure implies that there was ever a real possibility of success on the primary characters' own merits. But the Borg have always been so powerful as to render our heroes powerless when faced with power of such magnitude.
It's not only that the characters failed to stop the borg; it's that they didn't even try - that was their failure.

Between Picard's passivity, La Forge's (and others) so-called "moral" arguments, the fact that many personages thought a psychotherapy session was more important than actually trying to save the Federation and the rest of the alpha and beta quadrants and the ending when the situation was saved by "God", I agree with Trent that the "destiny" trilogy betrays the optimism and confidence in one's abilities that used to characterise Star Trek.
"Didn't even try?" ?? What do you mean? 40% of Starfleet was wiped out trying to stop the Borg, to say nothing of the Klingons, Romulans, Talarians, etc. The main characters spent the entire trilogy trying to stop the Borg. Picard was "passive" because he was pretty much having a breakdown, understandable as the Borg are the one thing he cannot face and remain stable; this was established onscreen. He is traumatized, and now facing the imminent annihalation of his civilization and unborn child by that which traumatized him. He's not suddenly incompetent- he's never been fully competent when the Borg are involved, and this is, to repeat myself, an observation from canon. Also, sorry to pick hairs , but La Forge's arguments were moral whether people agree with that morality or not.

The situation was saved, I would suggest, not by "god" but by Erika Hernandez. It was her convincing the Caeliar to be more than what they had become, to find purpose once again by embracing their lost and traumatized children, and help the galaxy rather than hiding away from others, that was the salvation of explored space. I thought it was 100% in keeping with Trek's optimism- and with faith in one's ability to make a difference, united with his/her fellows.
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Old July 5 2009, 08:30 PM   #567
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

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Sci wrote: View Post
Trent, while I understand what you're saying, I thoroughly disagree with some of the values that underlie your evaluation of the trilogy. The Borg invasion didn't constitute failure, because failure implies that there was ever a real possibility of success on the primary characters' own merits. But the Borg have always been so powerful as to render our heroes powerless when faced with power of such magnitude.
It's not only that the characters failed to stop the borg; it's that they didn't even try - that was their failure.
Of course they tried. They tried everything that they could that didn't violate their own set of ethics. But everything that they tried didn't work, and at a certain point you either confront your own powerlessness and accept it or you don't and find yourself using methods that violate your own ethics.

(Yes, I agree that claiming the thalaron weapon is inherently immoral makes little sense, but that prohibition was introduced by the canon. Sometimes, one has to accept that another culture will have moral prohibitions that make little sense to one -- and that when the point of the story is to not lose your ethical integrity in the face of imminent death, it's really besides the point why this or that is regarded as unethical.)

Now, I'll accept as a valid complaint that Picard didn't seem to be willing to try any of Capt. Dax's tactics against the Borg -- and I'd then point out that the point of that is that he was not behaving like he should have been, because he is so erratic when it comes to the Borg. It is once Picard confronts and accepts his failures with regards to the Borg that he gets over that.

And as I noted above, the Federation is not without agency in the final resolution. It's Federation values that persuade the Caeliar to take responsibility for their errant Sedin, after all. They are not so much saved by the gods from on high as they are people who persuade the "gods" to stop being asshats and take responsibility for their obligations to help other people -- which is, I'd remind you, exactly what Sisko did to the Prophets in "The Sacrifice of Angels."

And anyone worried that Picard is rendered terminally passive need only read Losing the Peace, wherein
Nothing passive about him there!
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Old July 5 2009, 08:36 PM   #568
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
And anyone worried that Picard is rendered terminally passive need only read Losing the Peace, wherein he [...]
Sci? The spoiler tag on this thread is for Destiny, not LtP. kthx.
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Old July 5 2009, 08:49 PM   #569
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

William Leisner wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
And anyone worried that Picard is rendered terminally passive need only read Losing the Peace, wherein he [...]
Sci? The spoiler tag on this thread is for Destiny, not LtP. kthx.
Fair enough. I considered that a minor enough subplot that it didn't warrant a tag, but I just put one up.
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Old July 5 2009, 09:36 PM   #570
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Picard, Riker and the rest of the federation "pretended" to try to stop the borg.
To be more exact, they were content to trade transphasic torpedos with the borg, knowing that the collective will adapt. And when the borg finally adapted, thay just grabed their heades and screamed in desperation - as dignified as possible, of course.
Where was the creativity that permeated almost every Star Trek episode? Well, I guess Data was responsible for it. So much for the myth about machines having no creativity.

And for the first time in his career - as depicted on-screen - Picard was an incompetent cry-baby. Before - even when he faced the borg - he always managed to pull himself together.

And about the ending - I dislike not only the fact that it transformed humans into the playthings of the gods, second class citizens of the universe, but that it also made the star trek universe a much darker place.

For example - In "A singular destiny", The Typhon Pact is introduced - an alliance of powers who were always hostile toward the Federation - and still are.
And, Sci - in "Losing the Peace", I doubt Picard was kidnapping governors because the situation was so rosy.

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La Forge's view is moral only for someone following an amish-like morality.
But, you see, both Picard and La Forge are in Starfleet - they swore to protect the Federation even if that means using deadly force against the aggressors - like in the Dominion War. By refusing to use deadly force against the borg, Picard and La Forge betrayed their Starfleet oath; they betrayed the Federation.
If Picard and La Forge were following an uncompromisingly pacifistic philosophy, they should not have enlisted in the first place - they were not fit to be Starfleet officers.

And Erica Hernandes may have beeen human once; not anymore. Now she is a Caeliar, a transcedental, "perfect" being, part of the rulling class of the universe. So far above "mere humans" that they should start praying to her.
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