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

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Old February 22 2011, 01:50 PM   #1
Dancing Doctor
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The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

I had gone to Half-Price Books last week, and managed to pick up several "old" Trek Lit books.

One of the ones I had gotten was The Romulan Stratagem, by Robert Greenberger. Perusing the back cover, I quickly became highly interested, as the book seemed to have several things I enjoy:

-It was described, in my mind, as a political thriller-cum-mystery novel, which I love (I used to voraciously read Vince Flynn's novels, before he tried to outdo his previous entries and failed).

-It involved the Romulans (one of my favorite Trek races, about even with the Cardassians, Vulcans, Bajorans, and Betazoids) and specifically, Commander Sela.

-It, presumably, would involve Ro Laren, which is a character I've enjoyed very much over the years.

Anyway, I decided to buy it (and at $3.75, I wasn't really about to complain regardless).

Suffice to say, I enjoyed it tremendously.

Quick summary: Picard and Co. are doing their thing, and get assigned to act as the Federation representatives to a planet, Eloh, which is still recovering from a devastating civil war, near the Romulan Neutral Zone. They are to sway the population to apply for Federation membership, due to the strategic location of the planet, and because the Federation is awesome and who wouldn't want to join the Federation?

En route there, sensors detect a Romulan warbird.

OMG! However, it's cool because it's an older model, and it's not been fully repaired from previous conflicts. Worf gets all smug and declares it to not be a threat to the Enterprise.

So, Picard and everyone are worried now, because this means they'll have to compete with the Romulans. And everyone knows how devious the Romulans are, and how they'll conquer anyone in their way, and so on.

Finally, the Enterprise gets to Eloh, and they meet Daithin, the leader of the planet. They talk, and Picard asks why they weren't told about the Romulans. Turns out the Romulans weren't told about the Federation, either. And off we go!

There's a lot of politicking and discussion, and the Romulans and Enterprise crew are shown on tours. Geordi and Deanna are taken to this power planet that's a Very Big Deal. I mean, it's Very Freaking Important. Geordi manages to offend the Chief Technologist (or whatever his title is) by beginning to discuss what was wrong with this one piece of Very Important Technology, only to have to stop and hold back because of the Prime Directive. It's not too long after this that a bomb goes off, and Geordi goes "Fuck the Prime Directive", and saves lives and helps prevent a Very Big Disaster. However, sensor logs show that a human was the last one near the place where the bomb went off, and Geordi is suspect number one.

Mistrust abounds and events get cancelled and/or rearranged. During this whole time, we go all over. Picard and Data are observing a debate in the parliament, and are amazed by the lack of organization, as well as the latent hostility that still remains between the two sides that had fought in the civil war. (We're never fully told what exactly the different is between the Populists and the Dar, by the way). So, there are concerns that the planet is truly or fully unified, and that the upcoming vote on whether to join the Romulan Empire or the Federation might push things over the edge.

There's also a formal welcoming banquet for both sides, where Picard and Sela (who is the leader of the Romulans and, it turns out, is being punished for her previous failures. See the episodes Redemption and Unification) both managed to score points.

Allow me to digress a little by saying that Sela's characterization here is wonderful. She's fallen very far very fast (almost as fast as she had risen, really) and therefore she is very driven, both to show that she's still formidable, as well as to best Picard, who had previously bested her. There are some wonderful scenes with her and Picard, and she makes it clear that she has more to gain - and, therefore, more to lose. She absolutely must make Eloh join the Romulan Empire.

I'll stop here, because I need to go back over the book to see what I've failed to mention so far, and what needs elaborating.
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Old February 22 2011, 04:04 PM   #2
Corran Horn
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

I enjoyed it. It didn't end the way I thought it would. I actually brought my copy to Shore Leave last year and Bob Greenberger was kind enough to sign it for me.
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Old February 22 2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

I think that was the best part, for me anyway (warning, definitely spoilers here):

The Federation loses.

While it wasn't quite on the level of Eddington's "Nobody leaves paradise" moment, it was still surprising, and enjoyable to watch.

Picard begins to suspect as, the mission and negotiations go on, that the Elohsians may not necessarily be Federation material, but he continues anyway, working that much harder to tout the wonders of Federation membership. Sela, meanwhile, has been following and analyzing the Elohsians as well, but came to the realization that, but for a few changes, and with the motivations I had already mentioned, she would be able to win.

And she does. The Elohsian leader basically says "The Federation sounds nice, but we think more like the Romulans, and we need peace and unity enforced on us, because our current efforts aren't enough."

While I was a little surprised at how surprised Picard and everyone was, it was an oddly satisfying moment. Picard tried his best, and still lost.

The Federation isn't the most desirable group to join, contrary to common belief.
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Old February 22 2011, 04:45 PM   #4
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Read this one a few years ago, and remember enjoying it. Just a bit of a fun adventure.
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Old February 22 2011, 06:07 PM   #5
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

This was the first "adult" Trek novel I ever owned. I read it a lot. The only thing that ever bugged me was that Ro's B-plot never really joins up.

I too got Bob to sign it at my first-ever Shore Leave.
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Old February 22 2011, 06:11 PM   #6
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Steve Mollmann wrote: View Post
This was the first "adult" Trek novel I ever owned. I read it a lot. The only thing that ever bugged me was that Ro's B-plot never really joins up.
My impression is that he was trying for a less-serious plotline, as well as possibly attempting to mirror the A-plot. It was okay as a minor distraction, but I agree in that it never really joined up.
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Old February 23 2011, 12:28 AM   #7
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

I know I read it back when it came out, but I don't remember any details now. Oddly enough, I think I remember the cover a little, so that at least made an impression.
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Old February 23 2011, 02:53 PM   #8
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Valeris, I cannot thank you enough for the praise you heaped on my noel debut. The entire impetus behind the story was to see a situation in which the Federation -- and Picard -- loses for entirely logical reasons. And yes, the B plot with Ro was done to lighten the overall tone.

I am pleased people continue to think well of this book.

Bob
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Old February 23 2011, 05:23 PM   #9
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Bob Greenberger wrote: View Post
Valeris, I cannot thank you enough for the praise you heaped on my noel debut. The entire impetus behind the story was to see a situation in which the Federation -- and Picard -- loses for entirely logical reasons.
It was a refreshing change, and one that I had suspected but didn't totally expect. It was very well-done.

I am pleased people continue to think well of this book.

Bob
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Old February 24 2011, 06:26 AM   #10
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Bob Greenberger wrote: View Post
Valeris, I cannot thank you enough for the praise you heaped on my noel debut. The entire impetus behind the story was to see a situation in which the Federation -- and Picard -- loses for entirely logical reasons. And yes, the B plot with Ro was done to lighten the overall tone.

I am pleased people continue to think well of this book.

Bob
It was a great title. Thank you for writing it!
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Old March 13 2011, 11:08 PM   #11
trash80
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Re: The Romulan Stratagem *possible spoilers*

Just finished reading this (after reading this thread i knew i had to read this novel), enjoyed it a lot!
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