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View Poll Results: How would you rate Zero Sum Game?
Outstanding 38 22.22%
Above Average 78 45.61%
Average 45 26.32%
Below Average 8 4.68%
Poor 2 1.17%
Voters: 171. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 27 2011, 07:21 PM   #586
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

While on the subject of subjective interpretations, when Sarina mentions people who have shown romantic interest in her, could that have meant women have hit on her or was that in the interest of political correctness?
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Old January 28 2011, 01:36 AM   #587
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
therealparsnip wrote: View Post
Come on christopher.

Its fiction which is based on hours of established character behaviour.

Bashirs behaviour is not plausible based on this history.
You didn't say "not plausible" before, you said "not likely." (Wait, actually you did say it was plausible in that post, so you're directly contradicting yourself now.) I agree it's not likely that Bashir would go this route. But he was placed in an unlikely enough set of circumstances that he was subject to being manipulated into it, despite the low probability of it. I'm not saying it's something he would've done spontaneously, something that would've happened under normal circumstances. I agree that it is out of character for the man we've known. But I recognize that there are circumstances that can change people's character, that can make them start to think and act in ways they never would have before. And this is a circumstance where Bashir was skillfully and intelligently manipulated into changing his behavior. Unlikely things can be made to happen if enough skill and care are applied to making them happen. People can be manipulated, conditioned, brainwashed to act in uncharacteristic ways. That's what's happened to Bashir in this book. The whole point is that he's being made to act out of character. Sarina used his feelings for her and the circumstances of the mission to manipulate him into starting to change his way of thinking about certain things, and that's the first step in molding him into the person Section 31 wants him to be.
Thanks for the response Christopher.

Okay well i suppose i hadnt really thought too deeply about any negative influence that Sabrina might have had on Bashir in this way. Perhaps this is because i never really felt that there was much connection between them on the page. Perhaps he is being made to act out of character, i accept this.

Without getting too much into semantics - allow me to clarify my earlier posts. I believe it is plausible that Bashir could be influenced by a woman in this way. It certainly strikes at the romantic and lonely core of the man - a man who has been seeking love and that key connection for many years.

However i do not think it is likely that this influence would stretch to murdering 6 people in such a way.

Whilst Bashir is as i have described above, the eternal hopeful romantic, he is also someone who has a strict morality about what is right and wrong.

Then again perhaps i need to go back and watch the dvds again.
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Old January 28 2011, 01:40 AM   #588
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
^Of course...this is all based on the assumption that Julian's feelings for Sarina amount to "love", as opposed to a desperate crush, as Ezri suggested in the book....
Thats a good point and it connects to what i have just said in response to chris.

Bashir is the eternal romantic, perhaps naively so a lot of the time, and what he feels as love, might very well be, despite his genetic enhancements, simple infatuation.

This is important when discussing how and if he was influenced by Sabrina or wanted to impress her in some way by behaviour which is to me out of character.
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Old January 28 2011, 02:36 AM   #589
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

^ For everyone who thinks I exaggerated Bashir's feelings about Sarina, go and re-watch the DS9 episode "Chrysalis." I watched it during the writing of Zero Sum Game, and I believe their relationship and Bashir's subsequent actions make perfect sense based on Bashir's own statements in that episode.
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Old January 28 2011, 02:58 AM   #590
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

therealparsnip wrote: View Post
However i do not think it is likely that this influence would stretch to murdering 6 people in such a way.

Whilst Bashir is as i have described above, the eternal hopeful romantic, he is also someone who has a strict morality about what is right and wrong.
Calling it "murder" begs the question (in the literal sense of the phrase, i.e. presupposing a certain answer or interpretation). As we've gone over time and time again in this thread:

a) Julian Bashir is not a pacifist. He is a military officer who served aboard a combat vessel throughout the Dominion War. He has been seen wielding a phaser in combat, and has personally shot down enemies, presumably with lethal force, in episodes such as "The Way of the Warrior" and "The Siege of AR-558." Bashir has always been portrayed as a man willing to kill when necessary in a combat situation, much like any other Starfleet officer.

b) The people he killed were not innocent bystanders, but engineers working on the ship that he was assigned to destroy, a ship that his mission parameters defined as a threat to Federation security. Thus, by the rules of engagement he was operating under, they were military targets. And Sarina had previously convinced him, over his initial objections, that there could be a tactical necessity to kill base personnel rather than stunning them. When a similar situation recurred with other base personnel, he accepted her logic that it was indeed necessary to kill them.

So Bashir's actions were not, in fact, inconsistent with his previously established morality. He chose to kill in a combat situation because he deemed it necessary, which is something he has done before in canon. He considered it an act in defense of his nation and his people, not an act of murder.
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Old January 28 2011, 03:15 AM   #591
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
So Bashir's actions were not, in fact, inconsistent with his previously established morality. He chose to kill in a combat situation because he deemed it necessary, which is something he has done before in canon. He considered it an act in defense of his nation and his people, not an act of murder.
Well, Bashir does ponder "the stain that state-sanctioned murder had left on his soul" towards the end of ZSG, but on the whole I basically agree with you. Bashir has certainly killed in action before, and so it didn't strike me on first reading that anything he did in ZSG was an especially strong break with what we had seen from him in the past (at least during the Dominion War).

The narrative does encourage us to see it as significant, though, so I guess it is a matter of degree. Perhaps we can say that Bashir was goaded by Sarina into being somewhat more ruthless than he had been in the past or than was absolutely necessary to the success of the mission.
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Old January 28 2011, 04:19 AM   #592
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

David Mack wrote: View Post
^ For everyone who thinks I exaggerated Bashir's feelings about Sarina, go and re-watch the DS9 episode "Chrysalis."
I have--and I agree with O'Brien: he's a bit too head-over-heels, too soon--and, of course, she's his patient.

I watched it during the writing of Zero Sum Game, and I believe their relationship and Bashir's subsequent actions make perfect sense based on Bashir's own statements in that episode.
Statements which indicate, again, his lack of skills in distinguishing love and infatuation. But he can be forgiven for this, as infatuation is hard to identify when you're the one taken by it.

I must also bring up, again, that O'Brien (in the ep) and Ezri (in the book) have both challened Julian on this, calling into question the authenticity of his beliefs.

A noted and distinguished psychologist (whom I'll bet Ezri is quite familiar with) has described the problem like so:

That wild ride at the start of a romantic adventure bears all the earmarks of a lifetime trip. Just try to tell a starry-eyed sixteen-year-old [or whatever age] dreamer that he is not really in love...that he's merely infatuated [as O'Brien and Ezri did]. He'll whip out his guitar and sing you a song....

He knows what he feels, and it feels great. [Note Bashir's lines in the ep that Mr. Mack pointed out.] But he'd better enjoy the roller coaster ride while it lasts, because it has a predictable end point.

...How many vulnerable young couples "fall in love" with love [the idea, he means] on the first date...and lock themselves in marriage before the natural swing of their emotions has even progressed through the first dip? They then wake up one morning without that neat feeling and conclude that love has died. In reality, it was never there in the first place. They were fooled by an emotional "high".

...How, then, can real love be distinguished from temporary infatuation? If the feeling is unreliable, how can one assess the commitment of his will? There is only one answer to the question: It takes time. The best advice I can give to a young couple contemplating marriage (or any other important decision) is this: make no important, life-shaping decisions quickly or impulsively, and when in doubt, stall for time.
Mr. Mack, you have wonderfully expressed and channeled Bashir's beliefs in that episode--but his all-too-quick "fall" for Sarina, in both instances, is not, I blelieve, indicative of true, authentic love.

Authentic feelings take time to develop--and to be frank, his relationship with Ezri took time, starting with friendship and slowly but surely bringing them closer and closer, until it became inevitable that they would both subconciously think of it--and become suprised at the idea, but then accept it.

For Julian and Sarina, the feelings hit in full force, when the two barely knew each other. And to be blunt...his feelings strike me as a kind of "Nightingale Effect".
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Old January 28 2011, 04:21 AM   #593
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

flemm wrote: View Post
The narrative does encourage us to see it as significant, though, so I guess it is a matter of degree. Perhaps we can say that Bashir was goaded by Sarina into being somewhat more ruthless than he had been in the past or than was absolutely necessary to the success of the mission.
That's basically what I've been saying all along.
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Old January 28 2011, 11:42 AM   #594
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
David Mack wrote: View Post
^ For everyone who thinks I exaggerated Bashir's feelings about Sarina, go and re-watch the DS9 episode "Chrysalis."
I have--and I agree with O'Brien: he's a bit too head-over-heels, too soon--and, of course, she's his patient.

I watched it during the writing of Zero Sum Game, and I believe their relationship and Bashir's subsequent actions make perfect sense based on Bashir's own statements in that episode.
Statements which indicate, again, his lack of skills in distinguishing love and infatuation. But he can be forgiven for this, as infatuation is hard to identify when you're the one taken by it.

I must also bring up, again, that O'Brien (in the ep) and Ezri (in the book) have both challened Julian on this, calling into question the authenticity of his beliefs.

Mr. Mack, you have wonderfully expressed and channeled Bashir's beliefs in that episode--but his all-too-quick "fall" for Sarina, in both instances, is not, I blelieve, indicative of true, authentic love.
The problem here is that Zero Sum Game takes the episode "Chrysalis" at face value. An episode, which at heart, wasn't particularly well written. As such, the viewer is able to watch "Chrysalis" and take from it that Julian fell head over heels for Sarina in an unbelievable and slightly cringeworthy fashion and that, as such, those feelings weren't 'real'. However, I don't get the impression that that was the intent of the episode; I think we were really meant to believe that Julian and Sarina were perfect for each other and if time and circumstances had permitted they would be in a relationship. It doesn't come across that way onscreen (to me and presumably to others) and so the Julian/Sarina relationship in ZSG seems a bit 'off' because the book is building on the foundations of a relationship which were badly laid on the television show.
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Old January 28 2011, 06:52 PM   #595
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

^ Personally, I thought "Chrysalis" was somewhat ill-timed. Maybe they could have added that Julian was still mourning Jadzia but trying not to show it since she wasn't his wife or it could've been a Jack-Pack sequel episode that largely involved all four of them. But ZSG does make for a very good sequel to that episode. At various points in the story, he does see that he doesn't know Sarina all that well, but he immediately puts those doubts aside. And so the next time he had to make one of those difficult choices, he did without hesitation. Meanwhile, Sarina escaped her captors without having to kill any of them.

For everyone who thinks I exaggerated Bashir's feelings about Sarina, go and re-watch the DS9 episode "Chrysalis." I watched it during the writing of Zero Sum Game, and I believe their relationship and Bashir's subsequent actions make perfect sense based on Bashir's own statements in that episode.
I also can't help but wonder Sarina was intended to be more consistent with the actress's real-life loosey-goosey, have a sense of humor about everything persona, especially when she tells her captor her name is Alice and adds, "Which makes you the Mad Hatter." That really cracked me up.
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Old January 29 2011, 01:14 AM   #596
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

David Mack wrote: View Post
^ For everyone who thinks I exaggerated Bashir's feelings about Sarina, go and re-watch the DS9 episode "Chrysalis." I watched it during the writing of Zero Sum Game, and I believe their relationship and Bashir's subsequent actions make perfect sense based on Bashir's own statements in that episode.
Hi David - please note i felt the book was good - i read it in 2 sittings on 2 consecutive days. Look forward to your next.
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Old January 29 2011, 01:26 AM   #597
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
therealparsnip wrote: View Post
However i do not think it is likely that this influence would stretch to murdering 6 people in such a way.

Whilst Bashir is as i have described above, the eternal hopeful romantic, he is also someone who has a strict morality about what is right and wrong.
Calling it "murder" begs the question (in the literal sense of the phrase, i.e. presupposing a certain answer or interpretation). As we've gone over time and time again in this thread:

a) Julian Bashir is not a pacifist. He is a military officer who served aboard a combat vessel throughout the Dominion War. He has been seen wielding a phaser in combat, and has personally shot down enemies, presumably with lethal force, in episodes such as "The Way of the Warrior" and "The Siege of AR-558." Bashir has always been portrayed as a man willing to kill when necessary in a combat situation, much like any other Starfleet officer.

b) The people he killed were not innocent bystanders, but engineers working on the ship that he was assigned to destroy, a ship that his mission parameters defined as a threat to Federation security. Thus, by the rules of engagement he was operating under, they were military targets. And Sarina had previously convinced him, over his initial objections, that there could be a tactical necessity to kill base personnel rather than stunning them. When a similar situation recurred with other base personnel, he accepted her logic that it was indeed necessary to kill them.

So Bashir's actions were not, in fact, inconsistent with his previously established morality. He chose to kill in a combat situation because he deemed it necessary, which is something he has done before in canon. He considered it an act in defense of his nation and his people, not an act of murder.

Wow - i love this debate!

I would debate that he is a military officer - he is a doctor in starfleet in the federation - to call him a military officer is to describe starfleet as a military force - which i think Picard would take exception to.

He is not a pacifist no - but as i have said i do think he has a strict moral code. Taking your 2 examples -

The Way of the Warrior - the station was under attack, boarded, and he was defending himself and civilians.

The Siege of AR-558 - he is again defending himself in a situation where if he does not he will be killed.

One of the main strengths of Zero Sum Game, and i praise David Mack for this (who else) is the sense of ambiguity i was left with at the end of the novel. Have we been cheering on the good guys? Are the actions of Bashir and Sabrina, and indeed SI and starfleet justified.

Is Keer the enemy? Should we celebrate his death?

If you have doubts about these issues as i do - then yes you can refer to Bashirs actions as murder. Unlike in the 2 mentioned examples - here he breaks into an office were civilian engineers are working on a project which has no clear defined threat to the federation, or indeed, are these 6 people any direct threat to himself at that time.

The situation echoes in many ways how many people feel about the USA's and the UK's action in afghanistan and iraq. Were they justified? And im not stating my opinion on that one way or another - I am just aware of the debate, and it resonates here.

To your final point - i dont feel that he did feel it was a combat situation - or if he did i dont feel that this was made clear justified by prior events.
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Old January 29 2011, 04:07 AM   #598
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therealparsnip wrote: View Post
I would debate that he is a military officer - he is a doctor in starfleet in the federation - to call him a military officer is to describe starfleet as a military force - which i think Picard would take exception to.
Oh, not this debate again. "Military" does not automatically mean "warlike." Militaries conduct many types of missions beyond combat -- just ask the Army Corps of Engineers for one example, or the members of the British Navy who engaged in exploration in centuries past (a prototype for Starfleet). No, Starfleet is not primarily a combat organization, but it is an armed force in service to the state, with a hierarchical organizational structure, uniforms, courts-martial, etc. It is, by every accurate definition of the word, a military.


He is not a pacifist no - but as i have said i do think he has a strict moral code. Taking your 2 examples -

The Way of the Warrior - the station was under attack, boarded, and he was defending himself and civilians.
Actually he shot a Klingon who was about to strike Odo with a bat'leth. Which, if you think about it, was completely unnecessary, since Odo can't be harmed by a bladed weapon. So he killed that Klingon for no reason. (And no, I don't think his phaser was on stun, though it was hard to see for sure. I tend to think that Klingon armor has to serve some purpose other than show, so presumably a phaser beam would have to be intense enough to penetrate it.) And to make it even more ethically prickly, he shot the Klingon in the back.


The Siege of AR-558 - he is again defending himself in a situation where if he does not he will be killed.
Exactly. And that was his rationale in ZSG. He was defending himself by killing those people, because if he stunned them and they woke up before he completed his mission, he could be exposed and killed. At least, that's the logic Sarina used when she killed workers earlier, and she convinced him that he had to do the same.


One of the main strengths of Zero Sum Game, and i praise David Mack for this (who else) is the sense of ambiguity i was left with at the end of the novel. Have we been cheering on the good guys? Are the actions of Bashir and Sabrina, and indeed SI and starfleet justified.

Is Keer the enemy? Should we celebrate his death?

If you have doubts about these issues as i do - then yes you can refer to Bashirs actions as murder. Unlike in the 2 mentioned examples - here he breaks into an office were civilian engineers are working on a project which has no clear defined threat to the federation, or indeed, are these 6 people any direct threat to himself at that time.
I certainly agree about the moral ambiguity of the story. But I'm still not sure "murder" is the correct term here, since we're dealing with a combat situation. Bashir was acting under "full-sanction" orders -- literally a license to kill. To me, the fault lies more with Starfleet Intelligence and Section 31. I question the morality of the mission in the first place. But Bashir was acting as he was authorized to do. True, "I was just following orders" is a questionable defense. But I feel he was manipulated into this position.


To your final point - i dont feel that he did feel it was a combat situation - or if he did i dont feel that this was made clear justified by prior events.
The fact that he was sent on a full-sanction intelligence mission in the first place makes it a combat situation going in. He was told up front that he had permission to kill people if it was necessary to complete his mission. That sure as hell sounds like a combat operation to me, an operation in which a state of life-or-death conflict with the Breen was presumed to exist.
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Old January 29 2011, 08:03 AM   #599
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Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

^"License To Kill" indeed....
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Old January 29 2011, 08:14 AM   #600
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Misco wrote: View Post
The problem here is that Zero Sum Game takes the episode "Chrysalis" at face value. An episode, which at heart, wasn't particularly well written. As such, the viewer is able to watch "Chrysalis" and take from it that Julian fell head over heels for Sarina in an unbelievable and slightly cringeworthy fashion and that, as such, those feelings weren't 'real'. However, I don't get the impression that that was the intent of the episode; I think we were really meant to believe that Julian and Sarina were perfect for each other and if time and circumstances had permitted they would be in a relationship. It doesn't come across that way onscreen (to me and presumably to others) and so the Julian/Sarina relationship in ZSG seems a bit 'off' because the book is building on the foundations of a relationship which were badly laid on the television show.
Interestingly enough...I seem to remember a scene in that ep--after Sarina reverts back to her catatonic state. Julian expresses his frustrations to Ezri.

Ezri then stands in the background, silently watching Julian plead with Sarina to come back.

It's almost a minor foreshadowing of the triangle in ZSG....
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