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

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Old March 25 2013, 02:41 AM   #1
A Time to Heal...torture

I'm reading David Mack's A Time To Heal and I must say I don't like what the Enterprise crew does to General Minza by depriving him of sleep. It's said that Starfleet regulations say that prisoners have to get a certain amount of sleep per day but it doesn't have to be consecutive. This is, at least for humans, clearly torture (, I hope this comes back to bite Picard and company in the ass. Using real world parallels in Trek is totally a huge part of what the show is about but sleep deprivation was excused too lightly.

It's just a show, I should really just relax, but I don't like a certain type of torture to be used by guys who are supposed to be enlightened in my fiction. We get enough rubber stamping of torture from propaganda.
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Old March 25 2013, 03:26 AM   #2
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Re: A Time to Heal...torture

I'll quote this response from another thread. A poster there was expressing discomfort with a twist later in the book (which I've removed so you aren't spoiled), but Christopher's response does a great job of explaining the intention behind that twist and also, I think, what bothers you:

Christopher wrote: View Post
And it's been firmly established that any such accusation about Dave Mack's intentions in writing A Time to Heal is at best a fundamental misreading of the text, at worst a malicious lie. [redacted] As I've already pointed out, it is grossly oversimplistic and wrong to assume that a writer's only motive in telling a story is political commentary or allegory. That may be an influence, but it's merely one of the many factors that shape a story.

For another thing, it was clear that [redacted] was presented as an evil, horrifying thing. Yes, [redacted] was for the best, but it required a disturbing moral compromise to do it, and what really underlined that compromise was that [redacted] that took things way too far. If anything, that was intended as a cautionary statement, pointing out the dangers of crossing the line in the name of what you think is right. It was saying that if you compromise your principles at all, even for the best of reasons, you can't pretend you haven't been seriously tainted.

I can't understand how anyone can read a David Mack book and see only a simplistic, black-and-white moral parable. His books are full of unnerving, ambiguous situations, stories where the heroes have to make uneasy moral compromises and questionable choices, stories where the nominal antagonists can be sympathetic and admirable, stories where it's unclear whether anyone has really done the right thing. If you think Dave is endorsing or celebrating any of the dark actions taken against the antagonists of his books, you're not paying attention at all. What Dave is doing is not letting his characters off the hook. That's his trademark as a writer. He doesn't pull his punches. He doesn't just bring characters to the brink of death, he kills them hard. He doesn't just have characters flirt with the line between good and evil, he shoves them across it and down the slippery slope, so that they have to face the full, horrifying extent of what it means to make an ethical compromise. He doesn't leave them, or the readers, the comfortable recourse of pat, easy answers. Mirror Spock has to become as ruthless and violent as the Empire he hopes to overthrow. Bashir has to shoot to kill in order to survive on his spy mission. Lonnoc Kedair has to live with a friendly-fire mishap that she caused. And Admiral Ross has to face the knowledge that when he made a deal with the devil for the good of the Federation, he wasn't as able to control that devil as he'd fooled himself into thinking.
The Almighty Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart - be confused no longer about what to read next, or what to read first.
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Old March 25 2013, 03:43 AM   #3
Re: A Time to Heal...torture

Thanks, I'm still reading so I'll see how it plays out. I hope there is more than just a 24th century John Yoo waving his hands around. I do know that Trek at it's best is all about Riker's career (BoBW, TATV,etc.), but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

In chapter 20 psy-op torture tactics are called petty torments, Troi must really be putting her ethics aside.

Last edited by PhaseIIforever; March 25 2013 at 06:57 AM.
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Old March 25 2013, 07:08 AM   #4
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Re: A Time to Heal...torture

PhaseIIforever wrote: View Post
In chapter 20 psy-op torture tactics are called petty torments, Troi must really be putting her ethics aside.
Real life people put their ethics aside all the time. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes just for survival. Usually karma bites 'em back. Or guilt. Eventually.
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Old March 25 2013, 10:22 AM   #5
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Re: A Time to Heal...torture

A Time to Kill/A Time to Heal are two of the best Trek books I've ever read and I place them above the Destiny trilogy.
"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Jean-Luc Picard, "Encounter at Farpoint"
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