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

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Old January 15 2010, 05:24 AM   #1
Kryhavoc
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Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

So, I couldn't find a thread about this book, but my search fu may be weak.

First off, I am enjoying the Star Trek: Vanguard series as a whole. In one respect, I feel like I am reading a period piece novel, kinda like reading something set in Victorian England. Kinda neat, in a way.

I've only gotten to page 50 and I have a quibble with something happening. Bridy Mac is teamed up with Quinn and they are about to make first contact with a non-space travel civilazation and she is letting Quinn do the talking so she can avoid Prime Directive issues. I feel that this would still violate the spirit of the law and a Starfleet officer wouldn't allow a civilian to break such a law on their behalf.
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Old January 15 2010, 05:27 AM   #2
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

I think the idea is that, as established in TNG: "Angel One," the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation and thus isn't binding on civilians.
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Old January 15 2010, 05:59 AM   #3
Kryhavoc
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Agreed, but would a Starfleet officer allow the Prime Directive to be violated in their presence? Would they actively promote the civilian to do something that would violate the Prime Directive? Wouldn't that be seen as violating the Prime Directive by proxy?
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Old January 15 2010, 06:07 AM   #4
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

^ In this case, concealing their identities as covert agents trumps the Prime Directive concern. And as you'll soon see, it's a moot point.
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Old January 15 2010, 07:43 AM   #5
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Christopher wrote: View Post
I think the idea is that, as established in TNG: "Angel One," the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation and thus isn't binding on civilians.
Not to derail the topic, but I would think that the Federation would make that a law, not just Starfleet, so that they would also be able to bind civilians to non-interference. I mean, a person with a privately owned ship could set himself up as a god on a planet with few repercussions under the idea that only Starfleet is bound to it.

Granted, Season One of TNG tended to be somewhat flexible with the way that the Federation was presented - the crew casually violated the Prime Directive just by visiting the Edo, after all.
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Old January 15 2010, 02:05 PM   #6
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Kryhavoc wrote: View Post
Agreed, but would a Starfleet officer allow the Prime Directive to be violated in their presence? Would they actively promote the civilian to do something that would violate the Prime Directive? Wouldn't that be seen as violating the Prime Directive by proxy?
If it's only a military regulation, then how can a civilian's actions violate it? Remember, the PD is formally called General Order One. A general order is just that: an order issued to members of the military, telling them what to do or what not to do. To make a trivial analogy, if members of the military are under standing orders to remain clean-shaven, that doesn't mean that a soldier who comes home on leave is required to make his brother shave off his beard. Military orders are binding on the members of the military, not on civilians they happen to be with.


DGCatAniSiri wrote: View Post
Not to derail the topic, but I would think that the Federation would make that a law, not just Starfleet, so that they would also be able to bind civilians to non-interference. I mean, a person with a privately owned ship could set himself up as a god on a planet with few repercussions under the idea that only Starfleet is bound to it.
Yes, one would think that would be the case, but canon seems to suggest otherwise insofar as it offers any clarity on the question at all. All too often, ST is vague on the distinction between military and civilian matters.

A while ago, I read an intriguing argument that someone someone online (probably on this BBS) offered for why it might make sense for the PD not to be binding on civilians. I think the idea was that contact with other cultures per se isn't automatically harmful. The myth is that when two different cultures meet, the more advanced culture "inevitably" overwhelms or eradicates the less advanced one. But that's bull. When medieval Europe came into contact with the more advanced cultures of the Mideast and China, it wasn't overwhelmed by them, but adopted their advancements and ended up overwhelming them instead. The only times the more advanced culture has overwhelmed the less advanced one have been when it was actively trying to do so.

So I think the point this person made (I wish I could remember who it was) was that maybe the idea of the Prime Directive was to keep powerful institutions like the government and the military from the temptation of using their power to impose their values on other cultures, while still allowing private interests to engage in the kind of intercultural contact that isn't harmful so long as there isn't too much of a power imbalance.
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Old January 16 2010, 12:09 PM   #7
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Christopher wrote: View Post
DGCatAniSiri wrote: View Post
Not to derail the topic, but I would think that the Federation would make that a law, not just Starfleet, so that they would also be able to bind civilians to non-interference. I mean, a person with a privately owned ship could set himself up as a god on a planet with few repercussions under the idea that only Starfleet is bound to it.
Yes, one would think that would be the case, but canon seems to suggest otherwise insofar as it offers any clarity on the question at all. All too often, ST is vague on the distinction between military and civilian matters.

A while ago, I read an intriguing argument that someone someone online (probably on this BBS) offered for why it might make sense for the PD not to be binding on civilians. I think the idea was that contact with other cultures per se isn't automatically harmful. The myth is that when two different cultures meet, the more advanced culture "inevitably" overwhelms or eradicates the less advanced one. But that's bull. When medieval Europe came into contact with the more advanced cultures of the Mideast and China, it wasn't overwhelmed by them, but adopted their advancements and ended up overwhelming them instead. The only times the more advanced culture has overwhelmed the less advanced one have been when it was actively trying to do so.

So I think the point this person made (I wish I could remember who it was) was that maybe the idea of the Prime Directive was to keep powerful institutions like the government and the military from the temptation of using their power to impose their values on other cultures, while still allowing private interests to engage in the kind of intercultural contact that isn't harmful so long as there isn't too much of a power imbalance.
I agree.

The prime directive applying only to the military makes sense. Remember, Starfleet flies around in starships that can obliterate all life on a planet in minutes. Such a show of force is bound to make anyone nervous.
Furthermore, sending the military to someone is a very uninspired way to express your intention of starting a peaceful relationship.

However, sending diplomatic envoys to make first contact (in ships that reflect their position) is anoher matter entirely.
And, historically speaking, civilians were many times instrumental in establishing a profitable/peaceful relation between cultures.

About such civilians enslaving a more primitive people via advanced tech or posing as gods with help from some technological triks:
These should be, of course, prohibited by the federation criminal law, as slavery and other offenses yet to be codified in contemporary penal law. These crimes would fall under the jurisdiction of the federation's federal police, not under the jurisdiction of the military (aka Starfleet).
Some general "prime directive" is not needed in order to prevent such acts.
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Old January 16 2010, 12:40 PM   #8
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Kryhavoc wrote: View Post
So, I couldn't find a thread about this book, but my search fu may be weak.
FYI, here is the original thread on the subject: Vanguard Precipice- It's been read. Probable spoilers
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Old January 16 2010, 12:59 PM   #9
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

Christopher wrote: View Post
I think the idea is that, as established in TNG: "Angel One," the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation and thus isn't binding on civilians.
Yet in Home Soil, a civilian terraforming project clashes with the Prime Directive when they almost kill the inorganic lifeforms. It says there were part of the Federation's Terraform Command though. But I always saw them like being civilian scientists, like Dr. Marcus in TWOK. So I think the Prime Directive applies for all citizens of the Federation, not only Starfleet.

If a civilian flies to a planet inside Federation territory in order to become worshipped as a God there, I'm sure the Federation would kick his ass.
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Old January 16 2010, 01:01 PM   #10
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I think the idea is that, as established in TNG: "Angel One," the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation and thus isn't binding on civilians.
Yet in Home Soil, a civilian terraforming project clashes with the Prime Directive when they almost kill the inorganic lifeforms.
There's a HUGE difference between making contact with a sentient alien species and "almost killing" this species.
Or between making contact with a species and TERRAforming its planet, making it uninhabitable for the indigenous species (which is largely the same thing as killing the species).
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Old January 16 2010, 01:31 PM   #11
William Leisner
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

I've always felt that the Prime Directive is simply Starfleet's application of the basic tenets of the Federation. The Federation believes all sentient species have "inalienable human rights," which presumably include the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, self-governance, religious and philosophical beliefs, etc., and the right not to have anyone else threaten those rights. Starfleet's Prime Directive derives from those basics and expresses it as "Don't Interfere." Other Federation citizens don't have that absolute ban (which isn't even all that absolute for Starfleet officers), but would still, I imagine have to stay within the confines of Federation civil rights legislation -- or else, like "Angel One," the locals can ask the Federation/Starfleet to take them away.
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Old January 16 2010, 01:55 PM   #12
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

ProtoAvatar wrote: View Post
JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I think the idea is that, as established in TNG: "Angel One," the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation and thus isn't binding on civilians.
Yet in Home Soil, a civilian terraforming project clashes with the Prime Directive when they almost kill the inorganic lifeforms.
There's a HUGE difference between making contact with a sentient alien species and "almost killing" this species.
Or between making contact with a species and TERRAforming its planet, making it uninhabitable for the indigenous species (which is largely the same thing as killing the species).
In the episode Picard said it's a violation of the Prime Directive and that's the whole point.

In yet another episode, Worf's civilian brother Nikolai was also violating the Prime Directive by becoming involved with the planet's population.
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Old January 16 2010, 01:59 PM   #13
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
ProtoAvatar wrote: View Post
JarodRussell wrote: View Post

Yet in Home Soil, a civilian terraforming project clashes with the Prime Directive when they almost kill the inorganic lifeforms.
There's a HUGE difference between making contact with a sentient alien species and "almost killing" this species.
Or between making contact with a species and TERRAforming its planet, making it uninhabitable for the indigenous species (which is largely the same thing as killing the species).
In the episode Picard said it's a violation of the Prime Directive and that's the whole point.
If Picard said that, then he confused his concepts.

The notions of "contact" and "attempted genocide" are remarkably DIFFERENT.

In yet another episode, Worf's civilian brother Nikolai was also violating the Prime Directive by becoming involved with the planet's population.
Don't even get me started on TNG:Homeward.

Picard and co are depicted as unrepenting sociopaths who think they're the peak of creation.
They watched millions die without doing anything when they had the capabilities to save many with no risk to themselves. And they completely viewed this as the morally right thing to do. Ugh.

Last edited by ProtoAvatar; January 16 2010 at 02:18 PM.
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Old January 16 2010, 02:06 PM   #14
JarodRussell
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

What does that have to do with anything? The whole point is: the Prime Directive applies for all Federation citizens, not only for members of Starfleet.
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Old January 16 2010, 02:12 PM   #15
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Re: Precipice by David Mack (SPOILERS)

"That" means that the first directive applying to all federation citizens, regardless of the circumstances, is not only highly illogical, but also completely immoral.

If you want to be slavishly faithful to nonsensical/bad canon, such as TNG:Homeward, you're welcome to.
I prefer to think such episodes never existed - this allows for a coherent/logical/moral trekverse, not a cut and paste universe whose stated fondations crumble as soon as one looks a little closer.
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