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

View Poll Results: Rate The Light Fantastic.
Outstanding 36 57.14%
Above Average 17 26.98%
Average 8 12.70%
Below Average 2 3.17%
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Voters: 63. You may not vote on this poll

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Old June 29 2014, 04:43 PM   #46
E-DUB
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Greatly enjoyed the book. A worthy continuation of the earlier "installments".

I don't think it constitutes a "spoiler" to mention that the Voyager EMH and Vic Fontaine make appearances. I wonder, though, about differences between them, Moriarty, and each other.

I think, owing to the circumstances of his creation, that Moriarty is clearly sentient. I'm not so sure that the same could be said of Vic. Oh, he knows he's a hologram, all right but he's programmed to. Basically, I think he's just programmed to fake it really well.

All of this does beg the question that if the computers of the 24th century, specifically in this case the computers of the Enterprise D and Voyager, are able to create sentient holograms, would that not necessitate them being sentient in and of themselves?

Not meaning to sidetrack the review thread but this does seem a good place to ask the question.
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Old June 29 2014, 05:04 PM   #47
Christopher
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

E-DUB wrote: View Post
All of this does beg the question that if the computers of the 24th century, specifically in this case the computers of the Enterprise D and Voyager, are able to create sentient holograms, would that not necessitate them being sentient in and of themselves?
Not really. Human DNA molecules are not sentient, but they contain the necessary instructions for creating a brain that can become sentient. By the same token, a non-sentient computer could contain the instructions for creating a more complex, sentient computer.

Of course, the difference is that the Moriarty and EMH programs have to run within the computer mainframes of their respective ships, so both vessels' computers do have the necessary processing power and complexity to run a sentient program. But sentience isn't just a matter of size. Sentience literally means, not intelligence, but consciousness, self-awareness, the ability to perceive one's own existence and feelings and responses. This is a particular type of cognitive architecture, one in which a system has feedback loops that make it aware of its own activity. One recent theory is that consciousness is the brain's simulation of its own activity and awareness -- it runs a model of itself inside itself so that it can be aware of where its attention is focused and predict where its attention should go next in order to cope best with its environment.

So a Starfleet vessel's computer may be more than large enough to house a self-aware, conscious neural architecture -- i.e. to run a simulation of a neural system that contains a simulation of itself in turn -- but not normally be programmed to process information in that way. Figuring out how to make that kind of recursive, self-aware neural net operate stably was apparently a persistent difficulty within the Trek universe, given that Flint could never crack the problem and Soong was only able to do it twice, with the first one becoming psychopathic and the second having to be emotionally hobbled.

Also, it seems probable that Starfleet didn't want its ships' computers to be self-aware. I'm sure that in the wake of the M-5 disaster (and perhaps the "Practical Joker" incident), Starfleet decided that it wanted its ships' computers to be reliably mindless and devoid of independent initiative. So there wouldn't have been any incentive to figure out how to program ships' computers with conscious architecture. They made them large and powerful enough that they could potentially host such programs, but did so for other reasons.

Then again, you'd think that, given the M-5 disaster, Starfleet would have safeguards in place to prevent the spontaneous creation of a self-aware program within them, so Moriarty and the EMH shouldn't have happened. Maybe it's because they both arose from the holographic systems, which would've been programmed separately and without such safeguards, thus allowing an end run around them.
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Old June 29 2014, 07:16 PM   #48
Deranged Nasat
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

If human or other scientists succeed in creating an accurate model of the universe, and thus there has been created within the universe a model of the universe, then has the universe, in running this model of itself within itself, become conscious? After all, the universe will then have parts of itself monitoring and interpreting its self-model in order to learn what the universe is doing and when and why. We will know it and as we are it, it will know itself. Are we part of the ongoing process of the universe becoming self-aware?

I mean, we're conscious parts of the universe, but could we make the universe itself conscious? I say we try, and see what it does then.
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Old June 29 2014, 07:33 PM   #49
Paris
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^Like.
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Old June 29 2014, 07:34 PM   #50
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
If human or other scientists succeed in creating an accurate model of the universe, and thus there has been created within the universe a model of the universe, then has the universe, in running this model of itself within itself, become conscious?
Well, as Carl Sagan said, "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."


Are we part of the ongoing process of the universe becoming self-aware?
Well, as Willard Decker said, "We all create God in our own image."


I mean, we're conscious parts of the universe, but could we make the universe itself conscious? I say we try, and see what it does then.
I was going to suggest that maybe that's what the Q Continuum already is. But then, as Jean-Luc Picard said, "The universe is not so badly designed!"
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Old June 29 2014, 09:23 PM   #51
Ronald Held
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I want to know what is happening to Shakti? Has she been reprogrammed or is evolving to meet Data's needs versus that of Noonien? Is Data's wealth coming from Noonien's prior software jobs he did via aliases? About 70% done.
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Old June 30 2014, 03:18 AM   #52
Jeffrey_Lang
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I think your take on Shakti is correct: she evolved. Whether it was to meet Data's needs or simply for her own satisfaction remains to be seen. As for Data's wealth - this may be one of those things you shouldn't overanalyze just now. As they said on MST3K, "I should really just relax." Depending on how circumstances evolve, this may or may not continue to be the case,

Last edited by Jeffrey_Lang; June 30 2014 at 03:18 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old June 30 2014, 09:37 AM   #53
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I enjoyed it, it was a breezy read. Well done on avoided making Moriarty a villain, rather a (justified) antagonist. Very good! However, it did feel like no one responsible for M's imprisonment ever took responsibility for it (and the 'deaths' of his daughter and his world). The eventual meeting involved Data repeatedly shouting 'you took my daughter' and tricking the hologram again. Whilst M may have got his wishes (off-screen, however - I disliked this), it felt like Data did not recognise (consciously at least) his symmetry in M, and his responsibility for him. I liked the suggestion of the close communications and potential darkness of the holographic community, especially Vic - what is this dark side in him?? One would love to see more of that!

There were some seeming continuity errors - the events of all three Cold Equations books seem to have occurred in a few days in the book, rather than over several months (twice characters refer to the events of Data's resurrection/Noonian's death and Rhea's death occurring with days of one another) and at another point it is said by the old man that an android assassinated the president, rather than the Breen attempted assassination with her death happening the following year. Doddering age, perhaps.
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Old June 30 2014, 12:50 PM   #54
Paris
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
...There were some seeming continuity errors - the events of all three Cold Equations books seem to have occurred in a few days in the book, rather than over several months (twice characters refer to the events of Data's resurrection/Noonian's death and Rhea's death occurring with days of one another) and at another point it is said by the old man that an android assassinated the president, rather than the Breen attempted assassination with her death happening the following year. Doddering age, perhaps.
Wow. I just finished, and I don't remember any of these errors. Can you provide page #'s?
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Old June 30 2014, 04:11 PM   #55
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^^ Regarding the time shrinkage, i may have misinterpreted, but the first is during the conservation the Lagavulin, and Data remembers 'over the past few days, during the crises of the Tholian/Breen terrorists and the great, galaxy-consuming Machine [...]'. It happens again when Lal I think remembers about Data lossing Rhea and his father within days of one another, but I can't find it right now.

As for the Breen assassination attempt, it's when they are talking with Albert. 'The remote contol device - the one they used to assassinate the President...'. Slip of the mind, maybe, but given that Bacco is only two or three months dead ... anyway, it doesn't matter, such things happen
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Old June 30 2014, 04:34 PM   #56
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^I took that to be a generic 'they', not referring to any specific group of people - like you'd say 'I'd go to the park, but it's raining'. The implication there is not that the park is raining but that there is rain falling from the sky. Similarly, the 'They' here seemed generic, as though the person in question didn't know who assassinated the President, and didn't want to make a judgement of gender/number/species.
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Old June 30 2014, 04:36 PM   #57
Paris
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^I don't remember those parts that way. I guess I'll need to check out my copy when i get home. Thanks
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Old June 30 2014, 05:20 PM   #58
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I did note the implication near the beginning that Silent Weapons and The Body Electric took place within a short timeframe, rather than months apart, but I can ignore the occasional small blip like that. It doesn't directly state it, anyway, so I can read it as "over the past few days, (and) during the crises of..." . As for Albert's use of "used to assassinate the president" rather than "used to try to assassinate the president", it was a bit odd, but I assume it was a slip of the tongue from the character if not a slip from the author - after all, Bacco was assassinated a year later, so talk of assassination and presidents is going to come up against that fact. When it's just occasional odd blips like those, I can easily gloss over or rationalise them, especially with all the other nice nods to Cold Equations, Indistinguishable From Magic, the stuff on the new DS9, etc.

I noticed too that Zibalian was misspelled Zabilian the first two times, though the third time spelled it correctly, so clearly it was just an editing error.
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Old June 30 2014, 06:34 PM   #59
Ben
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I just finished this over lunched and loved it! Data's definitely my favorite character in Star Trek. I think the best science fiction on TNG has come from his scenes, even the small ones. This book was no exception. I'm really interested in AI/Artificial Life topics in scifi (and just recently watched Her and started reading the comic book Alex + Ada, so I'm on a roll!), so this was just a ton of fun for me and gave me a lot of stuff to think about.

On the other topic, whether Data's in the uniform or not, I think he definitely needs to rejoin the main cast in some capacity on that ship. Starfleet ships have civilians on-board, so I don't think he needs to re-enlist for this to happen.

I'm also kind of disappointed that we never saw much of pre-emotion Data commanding a ship. Do any of the novels feature that?
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Old June 30 2014, 09:09 PM   #60
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Re: TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

This was great. It was a very good follow up to Data's part of Cold Equations, and it was just great overall. I didn't really like how it just tried to paint Alice as a bad person at the end though, even glossing over her fate. I mean, I don't think she would have hurt Lal, and I can't blame her for both not wanting to see Mudd and not wanting to be forced to go home after escaping decades ago.

Also, it was interesting to see Geordi with Leah again. I'm kind of hoping every book with geordi now switches between him being with Leah and him being with whoever that generic love interest he left her for was (a starfleet doctor, I think?). Heck, they should really keep people guessing. Maybe a different love interest every chapter Honestly, I kind of hope that some book just establishes Leah as his love interest and just leaves it at that. I think Geordi's love life isn't a particularly compelling plot for a book anyway, and generic made up starfleet officer #3456 isn't going to be as interesting as Leah, who at this point is decently established as a character from what I've read.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I hope its story gets continued someday. Leaving the sequel bait of a Data/Moriarty team up without a continuation would really suck.
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