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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Literature

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

View Poll Results: Rate DTI: Watching The Clock
Outstanding 93 58.49%
Above Average 44 27.67%
Average 13 8.18%
Below Average 3 1.89%
Poor 6 3.77%
Voters: 159. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 27 2012, 04:47 AM   #496
JamesRKirk
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

I'd like to say that although I've been lurking on the boards for a while I've discovered that actually posting makes it an entirely different experience. For one thing, trying to respond to multiple messages in the same thread is hard enough. Managing different messages in different threads is even harder. As a newbie to TrekBBS I fear I may have bitten off more than I could chew. If I've come across as rude or abrupt I do apologize. I fear it'll take me a while to get my board legs.

I hope I'm not missing it again but what I was trying to say was that the concept of merging two people into ones isn't necessarily a scientific one. Imagine a fantasy story where a spell goes wrong instead of a transporter accident. They manage to come up with a spell that CAN separate the tow people but the same question comes up, SHOULD they? That's the crux of the story of Tuvix. It doesn't matter how they're combined. What matters is what the Captain & crew do once they are. The science doesn't enter into it, at least from my perspective. And really, a plant causes the transporter to merge two people? It may work for some people and that's fine but I just accepted it as being the same class of storytelling shorthand as the magnetic ore from The Enemy Within. It's not important how it happened but what happens afterwards.
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Old February 27 2012, 04:48 AM   #497
JB2005
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Which is exactly what Christopher was saying...
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Old February 27 2012, 05:00 AM   #498
JamesRKirk
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

What Christopher said is (bold added by me):

Christopher wrote: View Post
I'm talking about telling a story that could not be told without the scientific concept in it. "Tuvix"'s powerful ethical and personal dilemma couldn't be told without the science-fiction conceit of a technology that can combine two people into one. Without the science, the story wouldn't even exist.
I'm saying that the science isn't the important part. It can be told in other ways, magic, for example. Tuvix isn't a story about the technology to merge and separate individuals, it's about the moral and ethical actions that you do or do not take. How they got merged is irrelevant.
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Old February 27 2012, 05:03 AM   #499
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

No but the fact that they got merged is relevant and in Sci-Fi they're going to be merged by Science. But since Sci-Fi is usually lumped together with Fantasy (ie Harry Potter) magic /science are basically the same thing, (Sufficiently Advanced Technology and All that)

What I took from Christopher's post was that there needs to be a method of merging in order to tell the story, and in Sci-Fi it's going to be a scientific method. But it's not the science that's driving the story, the science - like the magic - doesn't really matter, it's the catalyst not the reagant (to stretch a metaphor beyond all recognition)
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Old February 27 2012, 05:19 AM   #500
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Agreed however Trek science is sufficiently malleable that pretty much any explanation involving the transporter is going to cover it. That doesn't mean that it actually makes a whole lot of sense in the real world but I usually take the science in Trek with a rather large grain of salt. If I want real science I'll watch Nova. If I want sci-fi adventures with some sort of message I'll watch Trek.
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Old February 27 2012, 05:24 AM   #501
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Some Trek Science is better than other Trek Science...it's dependent on how strong the story is on whether you'll start noticing the problems...for instance, Tuvix you'll let it slide, but Threshold will always be slammed and Parallax is borderline in my opinion.

Watching the Clock on the other hand - as I realise I have been posting in this thread without commenting on the book - is one of the best Trek Novels. Honestly, leaving aside practically everything else, taking two characters who appear for all of about 2 minutes (I'm sure Christopher will have watched the episode enough times to be able to say exactly how long!) and turning them into compelling characters is a real achievement in my opinion! I have Forgotten History on Pre-Order and I can't wait!
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Old February 27 2012, 05:35 AM   #502
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Tuvis was good because of the moral and ethical dilemma. Threshold was just bad on pretty much every level. You could have tightened up the science and it still would have been bad. But, how much can you actually fix the science of a ship travelling faster than light? There's highly theoretical ideas about how it might possibly work but we're nowhere near being able to run any sort of meaningful experiment to test even the smallest part of it. So, you make it fit with the Treknology that's come before and don't worry about it. Then you ignore the salamanders and read a good book.

Watching the Clock wasn't my cup of tea. I bought it on the strength of Christopher's name and previous works that I've enjoyed. I won't be picking up the sequel but that's OK. Not everything has to appeal to everyone. Even now there's some episodes of all four series that I'll watch from time to time but there's also some that I don't bother with.

That doesn't mean I won't check out another non time travel novel of Christopher's. I enjoy his writing, just not the subject of time travel.
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Old February 27 2012, 05:54 AM   #503
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

JamesRKirk wrote: View Post
I hope I'm not missing it again but what I was trying to say was that the concept of merging two people into ones isn't necessarily a scientific one.
That's not the point! Again, it's not about whether something can really happen. That's irrelevant to what I'm talking about here. What I mean is that the story depends on the speculative element -- that it tells a story exploring themes of character and emotion and philosophy that could never be told without the speculative premise of two people being combined into one. Whether that premise is plausible or not is a separate issue, a matter of stylistic preference. Some science fiction is grounded in plausible science, some is based in far more fanciful science. But either way, the point is that if you take away the speculative element, the story can't be told at all.

What matters is what the Captain & crew do once they are. The science doesn't enter into it, at least from my perspective. And really, a plant causes the transporter to merge two people? It may work for some people and that's fine but I just accepted it as being the same class of storytelling shorthand as the magnetic ore from The Enemy Within. It's not important how it happened but what happens afterwards.
But my point is that it's thinking too narrowly to assume it has to be a choice between focusing on a speculative premise and focusing on a character story. My point is that the speculative premise is what makes the character story possible in the first place. That SF is not merely a distraction from exploring characters and ideas and philosophy and emotion, but can enhance the exploration of those things by creating new possibilities, opportunities to put characters in situations they could never face in a more conventional story and explore what those novel situations reveal about human nature, beliefs, emotions, etc. So it's a fallacy to treat it as some kind of zero-sum game where you have to avoid getting into deep, involved concepts in order to tell a story about people. What's interesting about the concepts in the first place is the way they let you tell new stories about people. That's how science fiction ideally works. It's not just about positing hypothetical advances or discoveries, it's about exploring their impact on human nature.

It's true that in the past, hard SF has often been weak on character and more character-oriented SF has been weak on science, but it doesn't have to be that way. Over the past few decades there's been an increasing number of writers who serve both science and character equally, and I strive to be one of them.


JamesRKirk wrote: View Post
But, how much can you actually fix the science of a ship travelling faster than light? There's highly theoretical ideas about how it might possibly work but we're nowhere near being able to run any sort of meaningful experiment to test even the smallest part of it.
Well, that's kind of a contradictory statement, because if we're just talking about ideas, about exploring the concept in entirely conjectural stories, then experiment is irrelevant. Fiction is entirely about the ideas. What's cool about it is that you don't have to be limited by having to make things happen for real, so you can freely explore any possibility. SF stories are literary thought experiments, positing a "what if" question and extrapolating a possible answer.

On a purely conceptual level, which is the only level that makes sense to talk about concerning fiction, the science of FTL travel has been worked out in considerable detail by physicists, particularly since 1994 when Dr. Miguel Alcubierre published his famous "warp drive" metric. This is real theoretical physics research -- that was directly inspired by Star Trek. You may dismiss ST's science as irrelevant because it isn't exactly true, but plenty of actual working physicists disagree. Because exactness doesn't matter; what matters is inspiration, directing minds toward new possibilities.

The goal in hard SF is not to limit yourself to what's provably real -- hell, it's not SF at all without some conjecture beyond current experimental knowledge. The goal is to minimize the number of impossibilities -- like I said before, to make suspension of disbelief as easy as possible by minimizing the number of things that provoke disbelief. And the research of Alcubierre and others does a lot to reduce the number of things we have to suspend disbelief about in order to accept the premise of FTL travel as plausible.
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Old February 27 2012, 06:22 AM   #504
JamesRKirk
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

I'm sorry Christopher but I'm not buying into the idea that merging two people has some sort of scientific basis. I don't care HOW they merge or how they solve the merging. The fact that it involves flowers interfering with the transporter doesn't make it somehow more plausible. I see the transporter as a plot device, a way to get people into and out of interesting situations. Sometimes the interesting place is on a planet and other times it's in the mind of a captain who faces a moral dilemma.

I dont care what people call it. Call it science fiction or sci-fi or action/adventure. What it comes down to for me is am I entertained and does it give me something to think about? I'll watch sci-fi or fantasy or an English bedroom farce as long as it keeps my attention. The genre isn't that important to me. As long as it's fairly self consistent and I can suspend my disbelief the setting really doesn't matter. I like the characters and what they do and how they interact.

Let me use the Eugencs Wars by Greg Cox as an example. They were a fun romp and it was cute to try and catch the various cameos he slipped in. However, I didn't feel it was necessary to try and make it fit into our world. We didn't have orbital nuclear platforms for example. But I just went along for the ride and had a good time. In the same way I can watch UFO or Space:1999, to me it's about the story and the characters. The science element is secondary at best. When I got Franz Joseph's blueprints I wasn't trying to figure out how things worked. I wondered more how the unseen parts of the ship would have looked on screen and being disappointed that they didn't exactly match up with the sets.

You've got a science background and love trying to tie things together and making them seem more plausible. For me, it's part of the setting and as long as the broad strokes are fairly consistent I'm willing to let a lot of things go. If you go outside the ship, you'd better wear a space suit or cover it with a line like "There's an oxygen gravity envelope forming outside the Enterprise". I don't care where the gravity is coming from or what's keeping the oxygen in place. The acknowledged that there wasn't any air during the mind meld scene and now there is. Good enough for me. I'd much prefer watching Spock shed a tear.
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Old February 27 2012, 07:49 AM   #505
Yevetha
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Christopher are any of your books aviable as audiobooks?
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Old February 27 2012, 03:29 PM   #506
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

JamesRKirk wrote: View Post
I'm sorry Christopher but I'm not buying into the idea that merging two people has some sort of scientific basis.
For the umpteenth time, THAT IS NOT THE POINT!!!!! I'm not talking about scientific accuracy where "Tuvix" is concerned. I never have and never would hold up "Tuvix" as an example of scientific accuracy. Indeed, it's one of the most ridiculous, nonsensical sci-fi premises in ST history. So that was NEVER my point, not even remotely. My point is not about science, it's about character. My point is that the sci-fi concept enabled a character story that could never have been told without it. My point is that you're wrong to treat character and speculative content as mutually exclusive, conflicting goals. I've told you that over and over again and you're just not listening.

You've shown a willingness to learn how to communicate better, but you haven't yet learned that the most important part of communication is listening -- stopping to think about what the other person is actually saying, and setting aside your own preconceptions long enough to hear it. Too many people on the Internet -- and in life in general -- never learn that basic skill. If you're not able to listen to anything I have to say, then I have no reason to want to talk to you at all, because I'd just be wasting my words.
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Old February 27 2012, 03:54 PM   #507
JamesRKirk
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Perhaps the term speculative is better than science or scientific as you'd used here:

Christopher wrote: View Post
scientific concept in it. "Tuvix"'s powerful ethical and personal dilemma couldn't be told without the science-fiction conceit of a technology that can combine two people into one. Without the science, the story wouldn't even exist.
It's the speculative concept, the "what if" two people are merged that's important. I was confusing the "science" as it exists within the reality of the show and the "science" as it exists in the real world, which is an entirely different thing. I thought you were saying that the only way this story could be told is by using a "scientific" explanation when you were actually sating it was a speculative explanation, although one that had a "scientific" basis within the show. Am I getting warmer?
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Old February 27 2012, 05:21 PM   #508
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

JamesRKirk wrote: View Post
Yes, but for me the chronobabble got in the way. Different stokes.
Indeed, because the "Chronobabble" was my favorite part of the book. The characters and their stories were great, don't get me wrong, but it was Christopher's Unified Star Trek Time Travel Theory (tm) that had excited me the most the minute I heard he was writing this book and was the element that I loved the most while reading it.


Future guy and the whole temporal cold war bored me to tears on Enterprise so I've got that bias as well.
Which is funnyt, because I had the same reaction to FG in ENT, but loved this book anyway.
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Old February 27 2012, 05:42 PM   #509
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

For me, time travel is just a maguffin, a shorthand that allows you to tell a particular story that you couldn't tell any other way. It doesn't have to be explained past "slingshot around the sun" or "the Orb of Time" or "red matter" for that matter.

It's like Mike Okuda's response when he was asked how the Heisenberg Compensators worked. "Very well, thank you" was all that was needed. Even the compensators themselves are an explanation or at least an acknowledgement of the uncertainty principle but they weren't a necessary part of any story they appeared in and could have just as easily been called the Fontana Compensators or the Jeffries Transporter Thing-a-ma-bobs and the story itself would have turned out the same. Don't let the details get in the way of the stories and characters.
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Old February 27 2012, 09:04 PM   #510
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Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

Of course time travel is a plot device, but that still doesn't mean that it can't be explored in more depth, and explained. That's kind of what the novels are for.
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