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

View Poll Results: Rate Rough Beasts Of Empire
Outstanding 36 25.53%
Above Average 58 41.13%
Average 25 17.73%
Below Average 13 9.22%
Poor 9 6.38%
Voters: 141. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 10 2011, 03:23 AM   #136
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

ATimson wrote: View Post
Thrawn wrote: View Post
It basically went like this - on the one hand: HELL YES. ONLY REALLY GREAT TREK BOOK IN ALL OF 2010.
Actually, it's the January 2011 book.
I bought it and started reading it in 2010, so it counts for me
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Old January 10 2011, 03:28 AM   #137
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

David R. George III wrote: View Post
^ Here's the thing (and I mentioned this earlier in the thread). At the conclusion of the Deep Space Nine television series, the characters were scattered all over the galaxy. Sisko ascended to the Celestial Temple. O'Brien and his family left DS9 and returned to Earth. Worf accepted a position as Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Garak remained on Cardassia. Odo went back to the Great Link. Dukat, Winn, Damar, and the (allegedly) last Weyoun clone all perished. Of the main characters, only Kira, Bashir, Ezri, Jake, and Quark were still on the station. Really, this kept with the overall feel of DSN, at least for me. The real hallmark of the show was change, and the final episode continued in that vein.

In relaunching Deep Space Nine as a continuing literary endeavor, it became necessary to introduce new characters, and to follow familiar characters in new settings. Now, could the remaining original cast members be brought back together on the station? Yeah, maybe. Could it be done believably and well? I'm not so sure. In my estimation, though--and I mean this not as a writer, but as a reader--resetting the characters and situations to where they began would not be particularly fulfilling. Of course, that's just my take.
I completely agree with this entire post; this isn't actually what I was complaining about. Many plots are good; many directionless, apparently random plots are irritating.
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Old January 10 2011, 03:29 AM   #138
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Thrawn wrote: View Post

...except for that post, and the others like it you've posted lately. I mean, I really want to believe you, and it's always worked out before. I'm just frustrated that, even if this IS all going somewhere great, we won't even be able to find out for a really long time.
Well...good things come to those who wait. Not a great response, but the best I can manage under the circumstances.

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But genuinely: I did a lot of complaining in that review, but as a standalone novel, best Trek novel in a year easily. Easily. Sorrows Of Empire was the last Trek book I enjoyed this much.
I didn't really take anything you said in your review as complaining. I think you brought up a lot of valid points, and certainly they reflected how you feel about the Trek literary line at the moment. Nothing wrong with that.

You did, on the other hand, say an awful lot of complimentary things about Rough Beasts of Empire. I appreciate that.
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Old January 10 2011, 04:50 AM   #139
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

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Yes, I understand the awkwardness inherent in turning a black man into a deadbeat dad, but if we could kill off Janeway and still have no problem throwing out the most gender-equal story in Trek history the very next year (Destiny), I think we can get away with this. Because it’s so perfect.
Can you explain in more detail why you think it is perfect?

In passing, I don't personally think that depicting Sisko as a neglectful parent is, in itself, problematic. Certainly there would need to be some strong motivation for this, but whatever, there is no reason why that should be off-limits as a creative choice.

More problematic, I think, is portraying such a selfish course of action as necessary and selfless. That really strikes me as the core issue in the Sisko story: the constant insistance that Sisko is leaving to save his family and not to avoid his own personal sorrow, while his motives don't really stand up to much scrutiny (at least imo).

Portraying Sisko as a neglectful parent is one thing, giving him a pass on it because of a really dubious interpretation of a five-year old prophecy is another. Now, sure, Sisko could get called out on this in a future novel, but anyway for the moment we have the text of RBoE to consider.

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Old January 10 2011, 05:05 AM   #140
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
I'm in the works of writing a fanfic which takes place after ZSG, but involves the Romulans, and I don't want to contradict anything....
Ooh, I look forward to reading that. I trust it will tie in the Breen keeping some of the secrets of the slipstream drive for themselves with
Well...I'm actuall 3/4 of the way into writing it--which is why all this news about Donatra, and Tal'Aura, and Spock, and the RSE, and the IRS...is causing me to bang my head my head against the proverbial wall. Now, I'll have to re-write most of it, since it relies for much of its impact on Tal'Aura's hostility towards the Federation--and Ezri's working relationship with Empress Donatra. (I was basing all that on the assumption that Donatra would be around for a bit longer....)

Unfortunately, some elements of the story ALSO demanded I set it after ZSG--which Memory Beta tells me takes place at some point AFTER RBoE ends.

*sigh* I'm actually considering putting in a "This Takes Place In An Alternate Universe" disclamer--otherwise, I'll just end up disposing of much of the dramatic structure....

David R. George III wrote: View Post
Rough Beasts of Empire actually takes places over the course of precisely one Terran year. It begins in late February 2381, during the final Borg invasion described in David Mack's brilliant Destiny trilogy, and it ends 365 days later, in late February 2382.
And I take it ZSG takes place after this?
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Old January 10 2011, 05:29 AM   #141
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

flemm wrote: View Post
Thrawn wrote: View Post
Yes, I understand the awkwardness inherent in turning a black man into a deadbeat dad, but if we could kill off Janeway and still have no problem throwing out the most gender-equal story in Trek history the very next year (Destiny), I think we can get away with this. Because it’s so perfect.
Can you explain in more detail why you think it is perfect?

In passing, I don't personally think that depicting Sisko as a neglectful parent is, in itself, problematic. Certainly there would need to be some strong motivation for this, but whatever, there is no reason why that should be off-limits as a creative choice.

More problematic, I think, is portraying such a selfish course of action as necessary and selfless. That really strikes me as the core issue in the Sisko story: the constant insistance that Sisko is leaving to save his family and not to avoid his own personal sorrow, while his motives don't really stand up to much scrutiny (at least imo).

Portraying Sisko as a neglectful parent is one thing, giving him a pass on it is another.
Sure. Here's how I see it.

First: Things couldn't stay as they were. To put it bluntly, happy endings are boring, and Sisko got one: home, with his family, retired. I have no interest in a Sisko that's just off to the side, occasionally dropping in to throw some prophecy our way. Yes, of course there are possibilities in domestic tension or something like that. But, just like Janeway as an admiral made the character difficult to shoehorn into ongoing stories, Sisko as a retiree would do the same. And for my money, if he's around, I want him to be going somewhere.

Second: His story with the Prophets has no way up, only down. The whole question during DS9 the show was of faith; how much for him to believe in them, how much for him to be rational/following rules/etc. But that's answered. He went to live with them, he joined with them, he saw the universe from their perspective. Them showing up and giving him prophecies and doing the usual story where he doubts them would just be dumb. He has basically BEEN a Prophet; either he agrees or doesn't, at this point.

Third: The prophecy from DS9 about him knowing only sorrow hadn't been addressed. By my second point, going in a direction of ambiguity on that would've been "been there, done that". Yes, I suppose this particular plot point could've been ignored completely, but that's not the way the Prophets work. We know that, because we followed Sisko as he learned that on the show. But regardless, even if WE don't believe it, there's eight whole years of character arc behind the fact that HE WOULD.

Finally: If Picard was about Doing What's Right, Sisko was about Doing What's Necessary. Every momentous choice he made was a gray one, practically, and his best moment of the show is In The Pale Moonlight, arguably the most morally gray episode in Trek's history. In a way, it has often seemed as though Sisko had better instincts than even he knew, and those instincts went against what he ostensibly believed, but turned out to be the only right answer. I've often felt as though Sisko as a character was based on a conflict not between reason and faith, but between morality and instinct. The Prophets built up his belief in his own instincts. In many ways, DS9 was the story of how Benjamin Sisko learned to trust his darker impulses, his certain knowledge that something had to be done, even when it wasn't the right thing to do.

So, here we are then - bad things happening all around, and a growing certainty in Sisko that the worst is to come. Based on advice from entities he completely trusts. Coming after many years of learning sometimes one must sacrifice everything, including what one believes in, for the greater good of others. So he sacrifices again. Of course. Leaves his family behind. Of course. And in the process, loses his happy ending...

...and gains a new adversary, in the Tzenkethi. This last bit may be more wishful thinking, but despite not really explicitly tying them together, what I'm hoping is that RBoE sets Sisko up for a fight against these guys. Not a gunfight, but a fight of will and wiles. Because that, my friends, will be INTERESTING. We'll see if I'm right about that, and I'll admit that not knowing where this story is going for sure is the biggest strike against it.

But if nothing else, it opens him up for new arcs, from a new perspective - a complete faith in entities that have lost faith in him. He's alone, for the first time since Emissary. When you take away the prophetic clout, the strategically essential location of his command, and the support of his family...what's left? Who is HE?

I think Sisko needs to find out. And I can't wait for the answer.
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Old January 10 2011, 05:51 AM   #142
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Thrawn wrote: View Post
First: Things couldn't stay as they were. To put it bluntly, happy endings are boring, and Sisko got one: home, with his family, retired.
That's true, but that's not a big problem when you have a prophecy about "nothing but sorrow" on the horizon. There are myriad ways of introducing conflict and avoiding the "happily ever after."


Thrawn wrote: View Post
Second: His story with the Prophets has no way up, only down.
I basically agree. The Prophets will likely make a return to Sisko's life at some point, but it makes sense to take a break.

Thrawn wrote: View Post
Third: The prophecy from DS9 about him knowing only sorrow hadn't been addressed.
It still hasn't. The story in RBoE is about Sisko apparently evading the consequences of his decision to spend his life with Kassidy. The prophecy could still be addressed in a more direct manner at some point in the future (and I hope it will be), but this story gives Sisko a way out where I don't think there should really be one.

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Finally: If Picard was about Doing What's Right, Sisko was about Doing What's Necessary.
I can get on board with this as a description of Sisko to an extent, but with the caveat that Sisko was rarely, if ever, about doing what is necessary blithely or with no conscience. ItPM is an excellent example of this. That's also not the only thing that Sisko is about. Family is another major aspect of his character that distinguishes him from the other Captains. If anything, the strength of his attachment to his family is part of his motivation to do what is necessary: it's flesh and blood, not abstract ideals, that mean the most to him.

Now, Sisko becoming estranged from his family could potentially be interesting (for the same reason that Picard having a family life is interesting), but it would have to be handled in a plausible manner. For the sake of argument, let's accept that Sisko can't spend his life with Kassidy because, if he does, something horrible will eventually happen to either his wife or daughter (or both). So, he can't spend his life with Kassidy. But what part of that suggests he can't be a part of his daughter's life? No part of it, really. So even if we accept that Sisko must divorce Kassidy to nulllify the great sorrow, we still don't have a motivation for the neglect of his daughter. To the extent that a story is going to portray a father abandoning his family as a selfless and absolutely necessary act, well then it needs to feel absolutely necessary, or the opposite effect is achieved.

Thrawn wrote: View Post
...and gains a new adversary, in the Tzenkethi. This last bit may be more wishful thinking, but despite not really explicitly tying them together, what I'm hoping is that RBoE sets Sisko up for a fight against these guys. Not a gunfight, but a fight of will and wiles.
I understand why getting Sisko out on his own would be tempting. Writing interesting stories about family relationships is hard, and Trek has never been very good at it. That said, there had to be a better way of getting Sisko to this place. Maybe Kassidy and Rebecca are killed and that is the great sorrow. That strikes me as a much more direct and satisfying way of both addressing the prophecy and getting Sisko out on his own than anything in RBoE.

Despite my very strong reservations about how it was handled, I agree that seeing Sisko operate on his own for a while could potentially produce some excellent stories. It could also produce some really generic stories, however: Trek has told a lot of tales about bachelor Captains out on their own doing whatever. So that remains to be seen.

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Old January 10 2011, 06:01 AM   #143
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

It's pretty tragic, though--the notion that "happy endings are boring, therefore we must put our heroes through all kind of personal conflict, to make their lives miserable, and therefore interesting".

Look...I'm all for conflict--but tearing Sisko's personal relationships apart, because to do otherwise would be "boring"--SHEESH, can't we give the guy a break?

(As if the Julian-Ezri arc culimnating with Trill: Unjoined wasn't bad enough! Sure, the DS9-R writers HAD to make them bicker and fight over her "growth", because to make them WORK as a couple would be "boring"--never mind Kira/Odo wasn't viewed that way!)

Give it enough time...and all the people we know and love in Trek will die lonely and broken. *sigh*


NOW...that being said, flemm was on to something, just now, suggesting that killing off Kassidy and/or Rebecca would have been preferable. As it stands...Sisko and Kassidy are living through torment right now, in a fate arguably worse than death. Killing off Kassidy seems almost merciful by comparison.
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Old January 10 2011, 06:33 AM   #144
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

^ I kind of enjoy how much of a hopeless romantic you are, but speaking as someone who's seen two uncles, three aunts, and two good friends remarry after failed marriages and be even happier, divorce is emphatically NOT a "fate worse than death".

And besides, there are more stable, long-term main character relationships now than there ever were on TV. (Picard/Crusher, Riker/Troi, Tuvok/T'Pel, B'Elanna/Tom, of course the O'Briens are still together, and a few others in the potential stage.)
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Old January 10 2011, 06:40 AM   #145
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

flemm wrote: View Post
The story in RBoE is about Sisko apparently evading the consequences of his decision to spend his life with Kassidy. The prophecy could still be addressed in a more direct manner at some point in the future (and I hope it will be), but this story gives Sisko a way out where I don't think there should really be one.

...

Sisko was rarely, if ever, about doing what is necessary blithely or with no conscience. ItPM is an excellent example of this. That's also not the only thing that Sisko is about. Family is another major aspect of his character that distinguishes him from the other Captains. If anything, the strength of his attachment to his family is part of his motivation to do what is necessary: it's flesh and blood, not abstract ideals, that mean the most to him.

Now, Sisko becoming estranged from his family could potentially be interesting (for the same reason that Picard having a family life is interesting), but it would have to be handled in a plausible manner. For the sake of argument, let's accept that Sisko can't spend his life with Kassidy because, if he does, something horrible will eventually happen to either his wife or daughter (or both). So, he can't spend his life with Kassidy. But what part of that suggests he can't be a part of his daughter's life? No part of it, really. So even if we accept that Sisko must divorce Kassidy to nulllify the great sorrow, we still don't have a motivation for the neglect of his daughter. To the extent that one is going to portray abandoning one's family as selfless and absolutely necessary, well then it needs to be absolutely necessary.

...

That said, there had to be a better way of getting Sisko to this place. Maybe Kassidy and Rebecca are killed and that is the great sorrow. That strikes me as a much more direct and satisfying way of both addressing the prophecy and getting Sisko out on his own than anything in RBoE.

Despite my very strong reservations about how it was handled, I agree that seeing Sisko operate on his own for a while could potentially produce some excellent stories. It could also produce some really generic stories, however: Trek has told a lot of tales about bachelor Captains out on their own doing whatever. So that remains to be seen.
If Kasidy and Rebecca died, not only would that violate prior prophecy about the infant Avatar, it would also take away the most interesting thing about this development - that Sisko CHOSE it. (Which, I suppose, is the worst part for you, so your objection makes sense, but for me it'd be a lot less worthwhile.)

And he DID chose it because of flesh and blood, not abstract ideals; he chose it because he wanted to protect them from a future of misery that he absolutely believed was inevitable if he were with them. He struggled over it for YEARS, he tried to ask the Prophets for guidance, and none was forthcoming; he had nothing left except his own instincts. And he had to go with his gut, which he'd spent the whole series learning to trust. It's the only thing he could do.

In your mind, what would he have done differently? Just stayed, damn the warning he knew was true, damn his gut instincts, and just hope that his wife and daughter wouldn't die horribly when he knew he could've avoided it?

At least we agree that Sisko out on his own could be interesting. Sure, any story has the chance to be done poorly, but I like the possibilities of this much more than the possibilities with him on Bajor.
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Old January 10 2011, 06:40 AM   #146
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

^To be clear, the death of Kassidy and Rebecca would not be preferable, from my point of view, because it would be preferable for them (LoL, Rush, I think that is a bit of a stretch ), but because it would be a lot less convoluted and a lot more satisfying than the choices made in RBoE.

It's true that the whole question of the infant Avatar is an issue where Rebecca is concerned, but that was more an example than a story idea.

As for Sisko's choice, it has to be plausible. Remember, this is the exact same choice that he and Kassidy made together years before. With one exception, none of the calamities he is blaming on his original choice have any connection to that choice. The fixation that "nothing but sorrow" must mean the death of either Kassidy or Rebecca seems unjustified (given that apparently no causal connection is necessary, it would make as much sense to imagine that something horrible must inevitably happen to Jake, or that earth gets blown up). There is no reason to believe that his original choice can be nullified in any event (which strikes me as the crucial point), and there is nothing in the prophecy about not being a part of his daughter's life (so why does he abandon his daughter in addition to making the necessary arrangements to no longer be a part of Kassidy's life?).

And yes, absolutely, when confronted with prophecies about the future, standing your ground makes the most sense. It made the most sense to Sisko and Kassidy at the time, because at the time they were wise enough to realize that making drastic decisions based on portents that one doesn't fully understand is a form of cowardice and often the absolute best way of making those portents come true in the worst way imaginable. (Granted, that may be what is happening here, pending future stories.)

Instead of trying to find a loophole in the prophecy, why not just address the prophecy and have Sisko experience the great sorrow foretold for him? To a great extent of course, there are still a lot of different ways this could all end up (and of course that is part of what makes it worth discussing).

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Old January 10 2011, 07:02 AM   #147
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

^ I definitely see where you're coming from. I'm enjoying this conversation because there really are a lot of layers to this, and your objection makes sense to me.

But still and all, I actually think the ambiguity you speak of is exactly what makes this such an interesting characterization choice. It wouldn't be the first time that Sisko has denied something, only to later realize more and more in his gut that it's true. (Really, how many times did that happen with the Prophets on the TV show?) I just believe that, confronted with these circumstances, this is exactly what Sisko would do. I don't think the author is excusing him or "giving him an out"; I think he's just writing what he believes Sisko would believe, and I agree. It makes a deep sort of emotional sense to me, regardless of rationality, and that's always where I think Sisko's most difficult decisions have resided, plot-wise. You can call it cowardice if you like, but I think it's oversimplifying. I got to the moment in the book where he explains himself to Kira, and just went "oh, of course."

I too look forward to seeing what the long-term effects of this will be, and if his understanding of the prophecy develops further; I don't think that's a flaw in this narrative, but a source of potential for later ones.
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Old January 10 2011, 07:24 AM   #148
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

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^ I definitely see where you're coming from. I'm enjoying this conversation because there really are a lot of layers to this, and your objection makes sense to me.
I've enjoyed reading your thoughts as well, and I actually think I understand the choices made in RBoE better now than before despite my reservations about the storyline as a whole.

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You can call it cowardice if you like, but I think it's oversimplifying. I got to the moment in the book where he explains himself to Kira, and just went "oh, of course."
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that I think Sisko is incapable of cowardice or that I would be against reading a story about that. I mean, that is an understandable human response and potentially makes for a good story like any other. But, reading RBoE, I often felt I was reading a story about a character making a cowardly choice that was being spun as a courageous choice (or that the character was convincing himself was courageous). So I found that frustrating to read.

Thrawn wrote: View Post
I too look forward to seeing what the long-term effects of this will be, and if his understanding of the prophecy develops further; I don't think that's a flaw in this narrative, but a source of potential for later ones.
In any event, I sympathize with your thoughts earlier in the thread about wanting more and wanting it asap
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Old January 10 2011, 07:27 AM   #149
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

^ No kidding!

And it's nice to have a book that takes chances, and has things in it worth discussing; everything this year has seemed really safe, and bland, to me. Nice to sink my teeth into some deeper analysis again, and read some thought-provoking comments from others.
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Old January 10 2011, 07:31 AM   #150
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Thrawn wrote: View Post
And it's nice to have a book that takes chances, and has things in it worth discussing
Yes, that is a fair point.
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