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View Poll Results: Rate A Choice of Futures.
Outstanding 54 50.47%
Above Average 39 36.45%
Average 10 9.35%
Below Average 2 1.87%
Poor 2 1.87%
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Old June 25 2013, 04:24 PM   #31
Charles Phipps
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Here's my review of the novel! Great read!

http://unitedfederationofcharles.blo...ederation.html


A Choice of Futures is an interesting novel. In a weird way, I'd say it's as close to a Tom Clancy novel as you're going to find in Star Trek. Only, instead of Jack Ryan, we have Archer and instead of John Clarke we've got Trip. For those of you who have never touched a Tom Clancy novel in your life, what I'm saying is that it functions on two levels: a political one as well as a spy one. In fact, Christopher Bennett does Tom Clancy up one by having a third level of pure Star Trek exploration.

Christopher Bennett takes advantage of the Enterprise timeline's relatively close time period with "our" future to make things somewhat familiar. The newly formed Federation has many problems with it--ones very similar to ones from history. Without a Prime Directive in place, people are calling for the UFP to become the Alpha Quadrant's police-men and Starfleet's leaders are eager to play the role (all except for Admiral Archer). Comparisons with the USA are inevitable but there's also allusions to the USSR and even the Crusades.

As an audience, we know Starfleet is going to become a scientific and exploratory body dedicated to peaceful first-contact. Here, however, it's obvious the majority of the UFP's leaders are seeing something more like NATO. After both the Xindi and Romulan War, this is an understandable position.

Indeed, I'm honestly not sure it's wrong despite several potentially disastrous situations being averted due to the former Enterprise crew's relative pacifism. Part of my problem with The Undiscovered Country is repeated here: it's hard to have a message of peace and understanding when there's a third party working to bring about war. Of course, I loved The Sum of All Fears and TUC is my favorite Star Trek movie so I can't complain too much.

For those who are interested in jumping onto the Enterprise novel bandwagon but haven't purchased previous books, you won't have to in order to keep up. It's an excellent starting point to the series with even the strangest element (Trip is alive and a member of Section 31) being explained. All one really has to know is the Romulans have been defeated and everyone is settling into an uncomfortable new alliance.

The changes to the characters feel natural and appropriate. Archer is now an Admiral, adjusting to it better than Captain Kirk or Picard would have, while T'Pol has moved onto her own command. Malcolm Reed is also in line for his own ship, a promotion which I think is long overdue. I wasn't too happy with the continued half-relationship between Trip and T'Pol but that's more or less inevitable given their circumstances.

Christopher Bennett's talent for "arc welding" comes into play here as he attempts to address a large number of the issues leftover from the series. Without spoiling anything, he brings back several one-shot enemies and shows their reaction to the changing state of the galaxy. Prior to the Federation, with the exception of the Klingons, it was more or less a lawless universe. Watching that change is a fascinating sight to see. I especially liked learning more about the mysterious Gray-like aliens from "Silent Enemy."

Weirdly, an element I really appreciated from the book was a retcon regarding the Orions. One of the most annoying changes done by Enterprise, undoubtedly done for changing sensibilities, was their transformation of the misogynist slaver group into a female-controlled society of slavers. That, to me, was actually more offensive than the original. Here, Christopher combines the two in such a way as to leave their role as corrupt vice peddlers intact.

There's some really good moments in the book, including tying in a TOS character's history to early Starfleet, but I felt the book could have been improved by changing some of its focus. The Captain Reed section is completely divorced from the main plot and didn't feel thematically consistent with the rest. Aside from learning to accept alien life-forms (and keep their secrets), I felt it could have been any old episode of Star Trek. I would have much preferred a greater focus on the political angle of the newly formed Federation.

Overall, I found A Choice of Futures to be a very satisfying read.The characters are spot-on, the situations are interesting, and the storytelling is excellent. I also love the way Christopher Bennett effortlessly weaves in story elements from a variety of sources to make the episodic setting of Star Trek feel more interconnected and alive. Honestly, though, I would have enjoyed more examination of the monumental nature of their new government. A person on the street's perspective on the new Federation would have been appreciated.

9/10
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Old June 25 2013, 04:54 PM   #32
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
A Choice of Futures is an interesting novel. In a weird way, I'd say it's as close to a Tom Clancy novel as you're going to find in Star Trek. Only, instead of Jack Ryan, we have Archer and instead of John Clarke we've got Trip. For those of you who have never touched a Tom Clancy novel in your life, what I'm saying is that it functions on two levels: a political one as well as a spy one.
Tom Clancy is one of the last authors I would've ever expected anyone to compare me to. I've never read anything by him and I'm not a fan of military or spy fiction. I think I saw The Hunt for Red October on TV once, but that's about it.


The newly formed Federation has many problems with it--ones very similar to ones from history. Without a Prime Directive in place, people are calling for the UFP to become the Alpha Quadrant's police-men and Starfleet's leaders are eager to play the role (all except for Admiral Archer).
For me, one of the big missed opportunities of ENT was that they had Archer adopt a policy much like the Prime Directive early in the game. I always thought it would be more interesting to show the early Starfleet interfering openly in other cultures and making serious mistakes in doing so. That's the cool potential of an early era like this: exploring the mistakes that later generations learn from. ENT didn't really do that... but now I get the chance! Mwa-ha-ha-hah!


Indeed, I'm honestly not sure it's wrong despite several potentially disastrous situations being averted due to the former Enterprise crew's relative pacifism. Part of my problem with The Undiscovered Country is repeated here: it's hard to have a message of peace and understanding when there's a third party working to bring about war.
Except that if you embrace a warlike approach too, you're just playing the game by their rules, giving them what they want. One of the consistent messages of Star Trek is that meeting violence with violence only escalates things -- that the only way to prevent violence is to stop playing that game altogether and find an alternative path.

Of course, the story is also constrained by what we know about Trek history. We know Starfleet becomes a mostly peaceful, exploratory and diplomatic body, and the Federation becomes a benevolent peacekeeping and humanitarian arma -- err, organization. But given that they formed in the wake of a war, how did they end up going in such a peaceful direction? That struck me as kind of a mystery.


Weirdly, an element I really appreciated from the book was a retcon regarding the Orions. One of the most annoying changes done by Enterprise, undoubtedly done for changing sensibilities, was their transformation of the misogynist slaver group into a female-controlled society of slavers. That, to me, was actually more offensive than the original. Here, Christopher combines the two in such a way as to leave their role as corrupt vice peddlers intact.
I think it was meant to be more empowering to the women, to reject the conventional assumption that men are the ones in control in the sexual arena. I can see how it's a contentious and delicate question, though. Mainly I was just trying to reconcile what was presented in "Bound" with other portrayals onscreen and in literature where Orion women were not nearly so overpowering and where they were definitely in subordinate roles. It made sense that different Orions might have different levels of pheromonal control over others, producing a hierarchy.


The Captain Reed section is completely divorced from the main plot and didn't feel thematically consistent with the rest. Aside from learning to accept alien life-forms (and keep their secrets), I felt it could have been any old episode of Star Trek.



I would have much preferred a greater focus on the political angle of the newly formed Federation.
Whereas I don't feel it's Trek without some exploration. Even my more political stories are heavily about exploring alien cultures and cross-cultural interactions. The nature of this project required a more political focus, but I had to work some strange-new-worlds stuff in there somehow.


Charles Phipps wrote: View Post





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

Tom Clancy is one of the last authors I would've ever expected anyone to compare me to. I've never read anything by him and I'm not a fan of military or spy fiction. I think I saw The Hunt for Red October on TV once, but that's about it.
I knew it's entirely coincidental but before Tom Clancy took a ultra-hard turn to the Right and militarism, the central conceit of his Jack Ryan books was that, as a CIA analyst, his hero's chief contribution to crises was his ability to discern the motives of "enemies." Often discovering what they wanted wasn't necessarily war and everyone was too busy posturing to realize something was up.

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

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

For me, one of the big missed opportunities of ENT was that they had Archer adopt a policy much like the Prime Directive early in the game. I always thought it would be more interesting to show the early Starfleet interfering openly in other cultures and making serious mistakes in doing so. That's the cool potential of an early era like this: exploring the mistakes that later generations learn from. ENT didn't really do that... but now I get the chance! Mwa-ha-ha-hah!
ST:E was kind of up and down about that. Archer had a big problem with bullies and criminals ("Mauraders", "Civilization", "Detained") even if it meant interfering. Yet, there's the infamous "Dear Doctor" episode I suspect not even you could untangle the logics behind. I think episode which handled it best was "Desert Crossing" where Archer obviously is tempted to interfere but recognizes how profoundly stupid that would be.

Except that if you embrace a warlike approach too, you're just playing the game by their rules, giving them what they want. One of the consistent messages of Star Trek is that meeting violence with violence only escalates things -- that the only way to prevent violence is to stop playing that game altogether and find an alternative path.
The only way to win is not to play. OTOH, knowing the Orion Syndicates carry on indefinitely is rather depressing.

I think it was meant to be more empowering to the women, to reject the conventional assumption that men are the ones in control in the sexual arena. I can see how it's a contentious and delicate question, though. Mainly I was just trying to reconcile what was presented in "Bound" with other portrayals onscreen and in literature where Orion women were not nearly so overpowering and where they were definitely in subordinate roles. It made sense that different Orions might have different levels of pheromonal control over others, producing a hierarchy.
I get that, certainly, but I think (purely by accident) it sort of missed the Unfortunate Implications (see TV tropes) that this becomes an episode about manipulative conniving women enslaving men with their whiles. I think you nicely balanced things out by making it a pyramid society of slavery.

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Old June 25 2013, 05:49 PM   #34
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Christopher wrote: View Post
Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Indeed, I'm honestly not sure it's wrong despite several potentially disastrous situations being averted due to the former Enterprise crew's relative pacifism. Part of my problem with The Undiscovered Country is repeated here: it's hard to have a message of peace and understanding when there's a third party working to bring about war.
Except that if you embrace a warlike approach too, you're just playing the game by their rules, giving them what they want. One of the consistent messages of Star Trek is that meeting violence with violence only escalates things -- that the only way to prevent violence is to stop playing that game altogether and find an alternative path.
Generalising this principle is quite naive.

With some actors - yes, pacifism is the better way.
With other actors - pacifism will only get you killed; the obvious example being WW2 Axis powers: if the Allies would have adopted a pacifistic position, the nazi would have just killed everything in sight, as they repeatedly proved.
For a more contemporary example - non-violent opposition did not work so well for the syrians.
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Old June 25 2013, 05:56 PM   #35
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
Generalising this principle is quite naive.

With some actors - yes, pacifism is the better way.
With other actors - pacifism will only get you killed; the obvious example being WW2 Axis powers: if the Allies would have adopted a pacifistic position, the nazi would have just killed everything in sight, as they repeatedly proved.
For a more contemporary example - non-violent opposition did not work so well for the syrians.
RL examples, of course, go both ways. Star Trek just dares us to imagine otherwise. I.e. that the Nazis are horrible but maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if we'd figured out how to keep Hitler from power (or even, way back when, negotiated that going to war over six drunken guys killing an Archduke was moronic). War may be necessary but glorifying it tends to beget war.

I do, however, note that Deep Space Nine could never really come to a conclusion on the reality of a just war. Sisko and Odo resolve the Founders conflict by making peace with them but that's only AFTER they've been threatened with annihilation. The carrot, in this case, was useless without the stick.

Which may be an answer by itself, albeit a troublingly non-Trek one.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:13 PM   #36
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
Generalising this principle is quite naive.

With some actors - yes, pacifism is the better way.
With other actors - pacifism will only get you killed; the obvious example being WW2 Axis powers: if the Allies would have adopted a pacifistic position, the nazi would have just killed everything in sight, as they repeatedly proved.
For a more contemporary example - non-violent opposition did not work so well for the syrians.
RL examples, of course, go both ways. Star Trek just dares us to imagine otherwise. I.e. that the Nazis are horrible but maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if we'd figured out how to keep Hitler from power (or even, way back when, negotiated that going to war over six drunken guys killing an Archduke was moronic). War may be necessary but glorifying it tends to beget war.
And if Jesus was not crucified...

Seeing how humans are not prophets or gods and don't have the power to predict and change the script - no matter how 20/20 hindsight is - such hypotheticals are, in the end, only ways to avoid looking at the problem: many times, pacifism is suicide with no gain.
And, of course, non-violence has other down-sides, as well: for example, non-violence allows Assad to do whatever he wants in Syria, helped by the pacifism of western nations.

Star trek, of course, can change the trekverse script in order to make pacifism the ultimate solution to any situation.
Thus, the question becomes - do you want to read a children's fairy-tale, where the dice are weighted in the favour of the good guys, or a tale set in an universe which acknowledges the realities of the real world?

I do, however, note that Deep Space Nine could never really come to a conclusion on the reality of a just war. Sisko and Odo resolve the Founders conflict by making peace with them but that's only AFTER they've been threatened with annihilation. The carrot, in this case, was useless without the stick.

Which may be an answer by itself, albeit a troublingly non-Trek one.
Indeed, DS9 was very...let's say, mature, by star trek standards.
It most definitely departed from the 'pacifism is always the solution' mantra which Christopher seems to be exposing.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:31 PM   #37
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Seeing how humans are not prophets or gods and don't have the power to predict and change the script - no matter how 20/20 hindsight is - such hypotheticals are, in the end, only ways to avoid looking at the problem: many times, pacifism is suicide with no gain.
And, of course, non-violence has other down-sides, as well: for example, non-violence allows Assad to do whatever he wants in Syria, helped by the pacifism of western nations.
That argument just circles back on itself because if we only restrict our arguments to "the present" you can never say when violence is the best solution. Shooting Nazis is the best solution at Point X but if we're at Point X, why not go to point V or U? You don't prove much about violence other than saying it's right in that very specific instance.

I don't even disagree with you that much but violence is not necessarily a good answer. It's just an answer.

One needs look no further to the particular War on Terror. NOT, as you might think, me saying the USA is finding it a poor solution to its problems. No, it's a poor solution for the individuals resisting over in Pakistan's hills.

The tech level divide can (and does) reach a certain point where violence, in a good/bad/neutral cause doesn't do anything even if your resolve is strong, because resolve/violence does not guarantee victory. Tech can overcome those. It's an unromantic notion but violence is no more inherently effective than any other method. When planning to wage war, you need to have a reasonable chance of victory.

Indeed, DS9 was very...let's say, mature, by star trek standards.
It most definitely departed from the 'pacifism is always the solution' mantra which Christopher seems to be exposing.
It was both the benefit and the flaw of the Borg, too. The Borg were cool because they were unreasonable and antithetical to the Federation. Simultaneously, those very facts meant they undermined the whole theme of the setting.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:37 PM   #38
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
ST:E was kind of up and down about that. Archer had a big problem with bullies and criminals ("Mauraders", "Civilization", "Detained") even if it meant interfering. Yet, there's the infamous "Dear Doctor" episode I suspect not even you could untangle the logics behind. I think episode which handled it best was "Desert Crossing" where Archer obviously is tempted to interfere but recognizes how profoundly stupid that would be.
Yeah, but that's the problem -- the characters figured out too early that they shouldn't recklessly interfere, so we didn't get to see them making interesting mistakes. Sure, they screwed up royally in "The Communicator," but as a result of trying not to interfere, rather than as a result of well-intentioned intervention or cultural imperialism.


OTOH, knowing the Orion Syndicates carry on indefinitely is rather depressing.
But not necessarily in the same form. In the ENT era, they seem to be treated as the actual Orion government -- though at this point I haven't quite figured out how that might work. But by the TNG/DS9 era, they seem to be more of an interspecies crime cartel distinct from Orion as a government; Silent Weapons shows an Orion homeworld whose government is evidently legitimate.


For me, that itch was scratched by the Saurian section of the story. It answered that age old question Picard asked Crusher about whether a planet could join the Federation even if it wasn't a one-world government.
Well, they haven't joined yet. They've just entered into an economic treaty. As of the end of ACOF, the Federation only has one member beyond the five founders, namely Mars. The process of bringing in new members is a thread I'm exploring in book 2 and probably beyond that.


Though, admittedly, it might have PREVENTED a war as Ronald Reagan said that he'd team up with the Soviets to stop an alien invasion.
You know, that might've been an interesting way to take that story: Archer decides to pretend he's the vanguard of an alien invasion, in order to push the factions to come together. Thus he'd sacrifice any hope of good relations between Earth and their planet in order to save the people of the planet. (And it was awkward for me to reference that episode when they never gave the planet a name. Although maybe that was appropriate, since the warring factions probably gave it different names.)

Although that wouldn't really have worked. History shows that alliances against a common enemy don't really resolve existing enmities, just put them on hold until the common foe is defeated. The US and the USSR were worse enemies after WWII than before it. And while racial tensions in the US subsided during the war, they flared up with a vengeance when it was over.


Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
RL examples, of course, go both ways. Star Trek just dares us to imagine otherwise. I.e. that the Nazis are horrible but maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if we'd figured out how to keep Hitler from power (or even, way back when, negotiated that going to war over six drunken guys killing an Archduke was moronic). War may be necessary but glorifying it tends to beget war.
Of course, the reason Hitler was able to gain power was because the German people were suffering, humiliated, and angry due to the harsh, punitive reparations the allies demanded after WWI. If something like the Marshall Plan had been instituted after the First World War, if the allies had helped rebuild Germany and establish a viable relationship with them rather than punishing and marginalizing them, then there wouldn't have been as much resentment and free-floating anger for the Nazis to exploit.

By the same token, the Ottoman Empire would've been willing to come into WWI on England's side, but Winston Churchill decided to break his word to them and refuse to give them a pair of battleships that they'd paid England to build for them, because he was afraid of those ships being used against England. So his paranoia was a self-fulfilling prophecy -- by treating the Ottomans as an enemy, he gave them reason to side with the enemy when they could've been an ally. And further, it was the West's heavyhanded treatment of the Mideast after WWI -- forcibly dismantling the Ottoman Empire in violation of the promise that had led to its surrender, then arbitrarily drawing lines defining new nations without any consideration for local religious and cultural affiliations -- that generated most of the tensions that have racked the Mideast ever since.

So a lot of the chaos and conflict of the 20th century could've been avoided if the winners in WWI just hadn't been such jerks. Sure, people like Hitler and bin Laden were total scumbags, but they were only able to gain power because the rank-and-file citizens around them were suffering and angry and looking for someone to blame. If you don't want people like that to end up in charge, then don't create a suffering, desperate population that they can manipulate and expoit.


I do, however, note that Deep Space Nine could never really come to a conclusion on the reality of a just war. Sisko and Odo resolve the Founders conflict by making peace with them but that's only AFTER they've been threatened with annihilation. The carrot, in this case, was useless without the stick.
I've never agreed with that interpretation. They didn't just end the war because Odo gave them the cure, they ended it because he agreed to return home to stay -- and because he linked with the head Founder and shared with her his trust in the Federation, his certainty that they would not become a threat to the Dominion and would not allow the Klingons or Romulans or others to invade it. Basically he proved to her that, despite what Section 31 had done, the Founders were waging the war based on a faulty premise, i.e. that the Federation posed a threat to them.

I'll always remember something my father once said -- not the exact words, but the general concept -- about the strange cultural blind spot that perpetuates so much violence, the double standard people use when thinking about oppression and coercion. So many people think, "If anyone tries to oppress or invade our nation, we will just fight back all the harder until we are free. But if we oppress/invade them, it will break their spirits forever and they won't dare to fight us anymore." It never occurs to them that their enemies will react to oppression or violence the same way they would, fighting back harder rather than being defeated. Even though that's pretty much always what really happens.

The Dominion would never have ended the war based solely on the threat of annihilation. The Federation wouldn't have, so why would they? Maybe they would've backed down long enough to get the cure, but if they'd genuinely believed the Federation was still a threat, they just would've broken the peace and launched a second war. Peace was only possible once they realized the Federation wouldn't harm them if they didn't harm it. Everything the Dominion did was out of fear and mistrust of "solids" -- and Odo ended the war by letting the Female Shapeshifter and the Great Link experience his trust in the Federation, his love for a "solid" woman.


Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
It was both the benefit and the flaw of the Borg, too. The Borg were cool because they were unreasonable and antithetical to the Federation. Simultaneously, those very facts meant they undermined the whole theme of the setting.
I suggest you reread Destiny. The Borg weren't defeated by violence.


And no, I'm not saying "pacifism is always the answer." I'm saying that what goes around comes around. Sometimes fighting is necessary to survive a threat, but it doesn't resolve the underlying factors that created the threat, and by itself it usually just exacerbates them. If violence is the only tool in your kit, then you'll be trapped in a cycle of violence forever. You need something else to wield in addition to it, something more constructive, if you want to find a lasting solution.
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Last edited by Christopher; June 25 2013 at 06:48 PM.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:50 PM   #39
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Seeing how humans are not prophets or gods and don't have the power to predict and change the script - no matter how 20/20 hindsight is - such hypotheticals are, in the end, only ways to avoid looking at the problem: many times, pacifism is suicide with no gain.
And, of course, non-violence has other down-sides, as well: for example, non-violence allows Assad to do whatever he wants in Syria, helped by the pacifism of western nations.
That argument just circles back on itself because if we only restrict our arguments to "the present" you can never say when violence is the best solution. Shooting Nazis is the best solution at Point X but if we're at Point X, why not go to point V or U? You don't prove much about violence other than saying it's right in that very specific instance.
Your argument is rather obtuse.
Are you trying to say the moments when violence is the only feasible solution are unpredictable?
I disagree.

When faced with opponents even half-reasonable and who actually care about not shooting you, pacifism is the better solution.
When faced with opponents who could care less about killing you, pacifism is suicidal.
This distinction becomes obvious quite soon in most situations.

I don't even disagree with you that much but violence is not necessarily a good answer. It's just an answer.
In many situations, it's the only non-suicidal answer.

One needs look no further to the particular War on Terror. NOT, as you might think, me saying the USA is finding it a poor solution to its problems. No, it's a poor solution for the individuals resisting over in Pakistan's hills.

The tech level divide can (and does) reach a certain point where violence, in a good/bad/neutral cause doesn't do anything even if your resolve is strong, because resolve/violence does not guarantee victory. Tech can overcome those. It's an unromantic notion but violence is no more inherently effective than any other method. When planning to wage war, you need to have a reasonable chance of victory.
Needing to choose violence at times is not even about victory.
It is about choosing the method that won't end with your opponents having a good laugh and then killing you and all participants to the non-violent demonstration, in the process also terminating your movement and its goals.

Of course, this is not the situation with USA and the "individuals resisting over in Pakistan's hills"; here, the problem is that terrorists are not the most rational of people and don't have any interest in choosing a non-violent method of achieving their goals.

Indeed, DS9 was very...let's say, mature, by star trek standards.
It most definitely departed from the 'pacifism is always the solution' mantra which Christopher seems to be exposing.
It was both the benefit and the flaw of the Borg, too. The Borg were cool because they were unreasonable and antithetical to the Federation. Simultaneously, those very facts meant they undermined the whole theme of the setting.
You mean, you didn't like the fact the dice, in this instance, were no longer weighed on the side of pacifist solutions in the children's tale.

Christopher wrote: View Post
I suggest you reread Destiny. The Borg weren't defeated by violence.
No, they were defeated by magic hand-waving; without a doubt, one of the most unrealistic moments in the whole of star trek; the dice were so heavily weighted in favour of our heroes it was rather amusing.
In real life, of course, you seldom (and I mean SELDOM) find an all-powerful ally that not only solves the problem for you, but does it in such a morally squeaky clean way.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:56 PM   #40
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

I suggest you reread Destiny. The Borg weren't defeated by violence.
Check out my review of Lost Souls on my blog or the thread. I actually devote a page and a half of text to discussing the "Paradox of the Borg" and how Destiny resolved it, giving the novel a 10/10 as a result.

http://unitedfederationofcharles.blo...ls-review.html

You might like it.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:59 PM   #41
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

I just finished. I thought that it was all right and am awaiting more stories. For those who thought Enterprise did too many things as was done in TOS I have no problems with the early Federation changing policies and slowly approaching that of the mid 23d century.
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Old June 25 2013, 07:14 PM   #42
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Yeah, but that's the problem -- the characters figured out too early that they shouldn't recklessly interfere, so we didn't get to see them making interesting mistakes. Sure, they screwed up royally in "The Communicator," but as a result of trying not to interfere, rather than as a result of well-intentioned intervention or cultural imperialism.
It'd be different if Malcolm had left behind his communicator and returned a year later to find that a bunch of Space Nazis had used the technology to cripple their enemies missile defense before invading. Yeah, here it's FOLLOWING the PD that screws everything up.

But not necessarily in the same form. In the ENT era, they seem to be treated as the actual Orion government -- though at this point I haven't quite figured out how that might work. But by the TNG/DS9 era, they seem to be more of an interspecies crime cartel distinct from Orion as a government; Silent Weapons shows an Orion homeworld whose government is evidently legitimate.
Good point. I liked Orion in Silent Weapons as it was a lot less sleazy and Mos Eisley "wretched hive of scum and villainy" than I'd seen it in my head. More Vegas meets Swiss Bank.

Well, they haven't joined yet. They've just entered into an economic treaty. As of the end of ACOF, the Federation only has one member beyond the five founders, namely Mars. The process of bringing in new members is a thread I'm exploring in book 2 and probably beyond that.
I look forward to reading it.

You know, that might've been an interesting way to take that story: Archer decides to pretend he's the vanguard of an alien invasion, in order to push the factions to come together. Thus he'd sacrifice any hope of good relations between Earth and their planet in order to save the people of the planet. (And it was awkward for me to reference that episode when they never gave the planet a name. Although maybe that was appropriate, since the warring factions probably gave it different names.)
Sadly, they already played this premise for comedy at Roswell in DS9. :-)

Of course, a serious version might be the "Day the Earth Stood Still" with Trek. Two planets are going to nuclear war and Archer decides to prevent it. There was a novel called "prime directive" which played around with that (though it was actually a Lovecraftian nuclear warhead-eating alien).

Although that wouldn't really have worked. History shows that alliances against a common enemy don't really resolve existing enmities, just put them on hold until the common foe is defeated. The US and the USSR were worse enemies after WWII than before it. And while racial tensions in the US subsided during the war, they flared up with a vengeance when it was over.
True, though it might have just got them talking. It's often been stated that two nations will remain rivals until they decide they hate someone else worse.

So a lot of the chaos and conflict of the 20th century could've been avoided if the winners in WWI just hadn't been such jerks.
Agreed. Sadly, a historian, its depressing to find out 90% of history consists of Earth's people being scumbags.

I've never agreed with that interpretation. They didn't just end the war because Odo gave them the cure, they ended it because he agreed to return home to stay -- and because he linked with the head Founder and shared with her his trust in the Federation, his certainty that they would not become a threat to the Dominion and would not allow the Klingons or Romulans or others to invade it. Basically he proved to her that, despite what Section 31 had done, the Founders were waging the war based on a faulty premise, i.e. that the Federation posed a threat to them.

I'll always remember something my father once said -- not the exact words, but the general concept -- about the strange cultural blind spot that perpetuates so much violence, the double standard people use when thinking about oppression and coercion. So many people think, "If anyone tries to oppress or invade our nation, we will just fight back all the harder until we are free. But if we oppress/invade them, it will break their spirits forever and they won't dare to fight us anymore." It never occurs to them that their enemies will react to oppression or violence the same way they would, fighting back harder rather than being defeated. Even though that's pretty much always what really happens.

The Dominion would never have ended the war based solely on the threat of annihilation. The Federation wouldn't have, so why would they? Maybe they would've backed down long enough to get the cure, but if they'd genuinely believed the Federation was still a threat, they just would've broken the peace and launched a second war. Peace was only possible once they realized the Federation wouldn't harm them if they didn't harm it. Everything the Dominion did was out of fear and mistrust of "solids" -- and Odo ended the war by letting the Female Shapeshifter and the Great Link experience his trust in the Federation, his love for a "solid" woman.
My own father, as an insurance salesman, actually had a different view of the matter. His general viewpoint was that wars tended to be resolved via surrender when one side or the other's leaders started to suffer for the loss. As the golem said in "Going Postal."

"When Banks Fail, It Is Seldom Bankers Who Starve."

Your view is very much in line with Star Trek and how I'd prefer to view it. However, an alternate interpretation is the Founders had nothing to lose by the Dominion War (900 billion Alpha Quadrant citizens being nothing to them, same with their own troops) until they, personally, were at risk.

In that VERY cynical take, it was the realization they should just cut their losses and preserve their position.

Which isn't at all Star Trek.
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Old June 25 2013, 07:29 PM   #43
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
True, though it might have just got them talking. It's often been stated that two nations will remain rivals until they decide they hate someone else worse.
Often stated, yes, but as I said, history tends to disprove that belief.


Your view is very much in line with Star Trek and how I'd prefer to view it. However, an alternate interpretation is the Founders had nothing to lose by the Dominion War (900 billion Alpha Quadrant citizens being nothing to them, same with their own troops) until they, personally, were at risk.

In that VERY cynical take, it was the realization they should just cut their losses and preserve their position.
But my point is that there are two different issues that shouldn't be conflated: How to end a war, and how to prevent the next one. The winners in WWI handled their victory poorly, mistreating their foes and exacerbating the problems that had caused the war, and thus made WWII and the Mideast conflict inevitable. Whereas the winners in WWII helped their defeated enemies rebuild, regain their dignity, and become members of the international community, and thereby ensured that there would be no further wars with Germany or Japan. There's a big difference between a cease-fire and an actual, lasting peace. And you can't build the latter with threat and intimidation alone.
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Old June 25 2013, 07:30 PM   #44
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Edit EYZ wrote:
When faced with opponents who could care less about killing you, pacifism is suicidal.
The thing is this is easily enough to maintain when there's a guy waving a gun around in a hospital, less so when involved with nations. Richard Nixon, criminal mastermind and founder of the EPA/friend to Native Americans (showing the complexity of the world in one person), approached the FAR more radical Chinese Communists than the Soviets. As a result, the nation most seemingly likely to go crazy on the world became our closest trading partner.

Irregardless of your opinion of China's morality then (or now), it was a victory without firing a shot.

In many situations, it's the only non-suicidal answer.
"Yes Minister" talked about this a bit as its usually more complex than "us or them." In the Grand Design, they talk about the chief problem of nuclear war being no one actually knows what the hell would trigger someone deciding to drop a nuclear bomb. Invasion of West Berlin? What if it's actually a military coup from within West Berlin? What if it's a rogue commander? Ect ect ect.

Of course, I'm an author too and I had a really good inspiration that I'm going to have to put in a book someday that peace is a lot harder to do and requires a lot more toughness than war because you need to have rock solid self-control as well as a willingness to work around things you might consider grave injustices.

It is about choosing the method that won't end with your opponents having a good laugh and then killing you and all participants to the non-violent demonstration, in the process also terminating your movement and its goals.
That's the thing, though, if your enemy wants to annihilate you and you can't beat him--another option needs to be found because Plan B actually sucks just as much as Plan A. History is filled with courageous self-sacrificing souls who stood up to Genghis Khan because they feared annihilation--and were annihilated because they stood up to him.

Galling as it was, surrender actually won the day there.

Christopher wrote:
Often stated, yes, but as I said, history tends to disprove that belief.
Perhaps, though the Civil Rights issue is thornier as the fact blacks served in both WW1 and WW2 lead to a good deal of change. It just didn't make things better all at once. I will say, however, kudos to the French for being the first to say, "what the hell, United States?" over black soldier's treatment.

Realpolitc is no stranger to the past anymore than the present, either with plenty of nations being "rivals" only in the sense that their leaders wanted each others land. Nations are required to exist before you have nationalism.

You're 80% right from my knowledge, though.

Christopher wrote:
But my point is that there are two different issues that shouldn't be conflated: How to end a war, and how to prevent the next one. The winners in WWI handled their victory poorly, mistreating their foes and exacerbating the problems that had caused the war, and thus made WWII and the Mideast conflict inevitable. Whereas the winners in WWII helped their defeated enemies rebuild, regain their dignity, and become members of the international community, and thereby ensured that there would be no further wars with Germany or Japan. There's a big difference between a cease-fire and an actual, lasting peace. And you can't build the latter with threat and intimidation alone.
Very true. Machiavelli said if you kill man, don't steal his son's property. Which, while sounding appalling, is basically; "if you make it so a man has nothing to live for, he has nothing to lose." The world's history is all too clear that desperate men are the most dangerous of all.

In Star Trek, the Federation ended up beating the Klingons mainly because they made it so the latter NEEDED the Federation.
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Old June 25 2013, 07:44 PM   #45
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

The West tends to demonize Genghis Khan, but the fact is that he was no better or worse than Alexander the Great. Both were utterly ruthless to those who resisted conquest, but both were benevolent and tolerant toward those who accepted their rule. The Mongol Empire actually brought peace and stability to a large part of the world; as with the Roman Empire, a citizen could safely cross the entire width of the domain without having to worry about being attacked by bandits or cutthroats. But Western society has traditionally glorified Alexander because he was European and demonized Genghis because he was Asian. Another factor was the traditional bigotry that sedentary agrarian societies have long held toward horse nomads, seeing them as primitive savages (even though nomadic pastoralism was an innovation adopted by formerly agrarian societies only after the horse was domesticated into a riding beast). In Mongolia, Genghis is seen as a national hero and founder figure much as Alexander has long been seen in the West. Although it should be noted that Genghis was a far more successful conqueror than Alexander, building a much larger empire that endured far longer past his death.

(I particularly hate the way Genghis is portrayed in TOS: "The Savage Curtain," reduced to nothing more than a mute henchman to the white Col. Green. A more accurate Genghis would've easily been the one running the show, and would've been a much greater challenge for Kirk to defeat.)
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