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

View Poll Results: Rate A Ceremony of Losses.
Outstanding 69 60.53%
Above Average 37 32.46%
Average 7 6.14%
Below Average 1 0.88%
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Voters: 114. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 3 2013, 08:46 PM   #106
Masiral
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
JeBuS wrote: View Post
One other thing:

If it takes a handful of the Federation's best doctors a single week to solve the greatest medical mystery of their time, why are there any medical problems at all in the universe? I mean, do they spend the rest of their time twiddling their collective thumbs?
Well this was only possible because they had unimpeded access to the entire Shedai Meta-Genome. Since the whole thing is basically classified at a level where only the UFP President can even think about declassifying it, the information remains out of reach even for major research projects.

That said you'd kinda think during Destiny they might've tried tapping into that info for a weapon to use against the Borg. I suppose they simply didn't have enough time.
If I remember Paths of Disharmony correctly, they didn't even know that they had that data - it was so heavily classified that Bacco and Akaar were actually surprised by it.
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Old November 3 2013, 08:58 PM   #107
JeBuS
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

That's all really neither here nor there on my point. It took a handful of scientists a week to solve an extinction.

In regards to the classified data, I think that Starfleet may need to change the way it manages its classified data at this point. As said in the book, just because something was once classified, doesn't mean it should be in perpetuity. Whichever division is their curator of classified data seems to be dropping the ball a lot lately.
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Old November 3 2013, 10:23 PM   #108
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

JeBuS wrote: View Post
That's all really neither here nor there on my point. It took a handful of scientists a week to solve an extinction.

In regards to the classified data, I think that Starfleet may need to change the way it manages its classified data at this point. As said in the book, just because something was once classified, doesn't mean it should be in perpetuity. Whichever division is their curator of classified data seems to be dropping the ball a lot lately.
I think it's safe to say that one of the themes of A Ceremony of Losses is a skepticism towards the necessity of state secrecy. I couldn't help but compare it to the Chelsea Manning leaks as I read it.
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Old November 3 2013, 10:31 PM   #109
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

And this followed on (deliberately or not) from the same issues of state secrecy in The Crimson Shadow. I think the issues were less clear cut in that novel (the pull out agreement, the idea of a free press causing havoc at points), so I think that novel did not condemn or condone secrecy per se. But still it continues to be an important theme, which of course finds resonance with the Snowdon revelations in each novel.
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Old November 3 2013, 10:33 PM   #110
Elias Vaughn
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

JeBuS wrote: View Post
That's all really neither here nor there on my point. It took a handful of scientists a week to solve an extinction.
No.

It took a handful of the Federation's best geneticists a week to solve an extinction after being given all the research the Andorians had spent years doing AND having access to the unaltered Meta-Genome data that, in a heavily redacted form, got the Andorians to within spitting distance of the finish line in the first place. It was not a team of five random scientists, nor did they solve the issue apropos of nothing.
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Old November 3 2013, 10:39 PM   #111
Nob Akimoto
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
And this followed on (deliberately or not) from the same issues of state secrecy in The Crimson Shadow. I think the issues were less clear cut in that novel (the pull out agreement, the idea of a free press causing havoc at points), so I think that novel did not condemn or condone secrecy per se. But still it continues to be an important theme, which of course finds resonance with the Snowdon revelations in each novel.
The Crimson Shadow seemed a lot harsher on the press running with leaks and manipulating incomplete information for their own ends, and in particular for partisan/nationalistic purposes. Granted that also has a resonance with some of the leaks being presented from the Snowden files, but you're right that it's definitely more ambiguous in TCS. It might have been more interesting if the Tholians had reacted somewhat more harshly or Ishan's office carried out the threat on the Genesis Device to show that even well intentioned leaks can be problematic at times.
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Old November 3 2013, 11:42 PM   #112
star trek
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

This was outstanding!.

It was fast paced, exciting, and culminated into a change in the Star Trek universe. I never really was satisfied with how and why Andor seceded. It just seemed to abrupt especially for one of the founding members. I'm pleased to find out the book resolves this.

I also thought Mack did Bashir's character well. You understood how he was feeling and why he chose to take certain actions, without it plodding along ... unlike other author's portrayal of Sisko and his whole family/prophet thing. Bashir is one of the few Trek characters I dislike, but in this novel I liked him a lot more.

The Fall series just keeps on getting better. The following authors have a lot to live up to.
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Old November 4 2013, 12:45 AM   #113
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I'm only about 2/3 of the way through, but man, Mack sure can pace a goddamn novel. This thing is *flying*.
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Old November 4 2013, 08:39 AM   #114
Mage
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

JeBuS wrote: View Post
That's all really neither here nor there on my point. It took a handful of scientists a week to solve an extinction.

In regards to the classified data, I think that Starfleet may need to change the way it manages its classified data at this point. As said in the book, just because something was once classified, doesn't mean it should be in perpetuity. Whichever division is their curator of classified data seems to be dropping the ball a lot lately.
It only took them a week after they had ALL the data AND a genetically engineered doctor who could only put all the pieces together thanks to the help of other experts who had also never seen ALL the data before. If you want to solve a riddle but don't have all the info you need to figure it out, you're not going to find the answer either. When you do have it all, the answer is staring you in the face and all you need to do is see it. Which they did. It's what scientists always do.
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Old November 4 2013, 08:50 AM   #115
JeBuS
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Compared to an actual geneticist, I know very little. But one thing I do know is that you can't simply look at a strand of DNA and go, "Oh hey, that bit right there makes for a self-repairing genome!" And yet, in a few days, this handful of scientists discovered not just that, but the rest of it too. This leads me to believe that if they're able to identify what the genes do so quickly, they probably could have figured it out on their own given a bit more time. In order to know the effects those genes would have, they would need to recognize them for what they are. If they can do that, why couldn't they have done it using their own research? As far as I can tell, the only reason they didn't is because of a blanket ban on genetic engineering. And so I ask, what do they do the rest of the time, twiddle their thumbs?
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Old November 4 2013, 08:58 AM   #116
Wally
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Elias Vaughn wrote: View Post
It took a handful of the Federation's best geneticists a week to solve an extinction after being given all the research the Andorians had spent years doing AND having access to the unaltered Meta-Genome data that, in a heavily redacted form, got the Andorians to within spitting distance of the finish line in the first place. It was not a team of five random scientists, nor did they solve the issue apropos of nothing.
Exactly. I like how this was handled. In the TV series, there would be some miracle cure developed by the end of the episode. Here, it has been years of hard work that has spanned several novels, and it finally wrapped up in this one only after some extreme sacrifices were made.

Solving the Andorian problem thankfully was not the result of a Deus Ex Machina.

I thought this novel was great. Though it was another example of a darker universe and Starfleet behaving badly (well, some of it) and the politicians were played a little too 2-dimensional, our heros really have been redeemed. Bashir had a fantastic heroic sacrifice. Dax really felt like Dax. Our characters are doing the right thing, sacrificing themselves rather than others for the great good. It's very uplifting.
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Old November 4 2013, 10:19 AM   #117
JeBuS
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Wally wrote: View Post
Solving the Andorian problem thankfully was not the result of a Deus Ex Machina.
WHAT?

How is this not Deus Ex Machina?
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Old November 4 2013, 10:28 AM   #118
Mage
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

JeBuS wrote: View Post
Wally wrote: View Post
Solving the Andorian problem thankfully was not the result of a Deus Ex Machina.
WHAT?

How is this not Deus Ex Machina?
Several people already explained, that the reason a handfull of GENETIC EXPERTS were capable of finally solving the mystery, was because of missing data. It was also explained early on in the novel that the Andorian scientist were already aware that data was missing. And they had the data on the metagenome for a few years already. So it didn't all just fall from the skies, it was something that being worked towards for years.

Even then, Bashir's group didn't just start from scratch, they worked with data from that Shar's team had already put together over a few years. That, combined with the missing data about the genome, and a fresh look by (again) EXPERTS developed a cure. Nothing about this was done in a week. It was the gathered intell spanning a few years that solved the problem.
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Old November 4 2013, 10:46 AM   #119
JeBuS
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Mage wrote: View Post
JeBuS wrote: View Post
Wally wrote: View Post
Solving the Andorian problem thankfully was not the result of a Deus Ex Machina.
WHAT?

How is this not Deus Ex Machina?
Several people already explained, that the reason a handfull of GENETIC EXPERTS were capable of finally solving the mystery, was because of missing data. It was also explained early on in the novel that the Andorian scientist were already aware that data was missing. And they had the data on the metagenome for a few years already. So it didn't all just fall from the skies, it was something that being worked towards for years.

Even then, Bashir's group didn't just start from scratch, they worked with data from that Shar's team had already put together over a few years. That, combined with the missing data about the genome, and a fresh look by (again) EXPERTS developed a cure. Nothing about this was done in a week. It was the gathered intell spanning a few years that solved the problem.
This was exactly what a classic Deus Ex Machina is.
Wikipedia wrote:
A deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has "painted himself into a corner" and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring a happy ending into the tale, or as a comedic device.
In book after book we're repeatedly hit over the head with the fact that the best and the brightest cannot solve the Andorian fertility crisis. Then, we get:
  1. Shedai-Meta Genome revelation.
  2. Bashir finally decides to use his talents as a scientist after twiddling his thumbs for years.
  3. Section 31 magically/mysteriously provides the Genome.
  4. Group of scientists take a single week to wrap it all up.
But I can see what you mean...
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Old November 4 2013, 11:58 AM   #120
Nob Akimoto
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Re: TF: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

JeBuS wrote: View Post
Compared to an actual geneticist, I know very little. But one thing I do know is that you can't simply look at a strand of DNA and go, "Oh hey, that bit right there makes for a self-repairing genome!" And yet, in a few days, this handful of scientists discovered not just that, but the rest of it too. This leads me to believe that if they're able to identify what the genes do so quickly, they probably could have figured it out on their own given a bit more time. In order to know the effects those genes would have, they would need to recognize them for what they are. If they can do that, why couldn't they have done it using their own research? As far as I can tell, the only reason they didn't is because of a blanket ban on genetic engineering. And so I ask, what do they do the rest of the time, twiddle their thumbs?
From what we've been told of the Shedai Meta-Genome throughout Vanguard is that it's essentially a giant data storage system for scientific knowledge encoded in an absurdly large genome so that it could be preserved through organic creatures over the time they would be in hibernation. (Presumably they did this to avoid the errors that crop up in computer storage that happened to the other ancient civilizations as noted in The Buried Age and as a way of creating a large number of backups)

What the Tholians did for the Andorians is that they fed them segments of the Shedai's "database" that contained information on genetic engineering. We know that they only fed them some parts of it at first, and that the Andorian government later started filtering the data the scientists received so they couldn't have all the necessary pieces.

Essentially what Bashir and co. were doing was sorting through the sections of the meta-genome that they knew contained information for genetic sequences. They also were aware of how to read the information present there, hence they were able to find out techniques on how to do things like telomere repair or brain tissue regeneration and/or creation of ultra-strong immunity.

They were being given genetic engineering techniques through the meta-genome which must've been in formats. But this would be like being given a giant csv file that has a lot of values and formulae, but without a legend on what they're for. If you assemble enough say physicists with an understanding of the complicated math involved, they would be able to tease out the meaning of the formulae if they knew in advance that the formulae pertained to say high energy physics, and they had a pretty beefy computer to help them do pattern recognition and cross-reference the patterns with known formulae along with their own expertise.
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