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Old July 23 2008, 07:30 PM   #31
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

^ I didn't mean to imply anything, Christopher.
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Old July 24 2008, 12:44 AM   #32
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

According to my spys, GTS is out in stores in Toronto, which means it should be arriving next week, possibly even tommorow, in Vancouver - either way before I go back to the UK hopefully.
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Old July 24 2008, 03:26 PM   #33
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Interestingly my local Borders has said they're no longer carrying Trek novels due to low sales. They now have to be special ordered.
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Old July 24 2008, 04:07 PM   #34
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Wow, that sucks.
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Old July 24 2008, 04:15 PM   #35
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Well, then special-order them. That will show Borders that there is still an audience for the books.

Besides, the books on a store's shelves are always just a fraction of the books you can buy from the store. A lot of any store's business is special orders.

Anyway, I figure the sales for Trek books might just go up again come next May...
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Old July 24 2008, 07:11 PM   #36
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

My store I worked at when Casino Royale came out wasn't carrying any James Bond novels so I had to get my manager to order in the whole set of them - and I made it my mission to sell them.

So, yeah, sometimes it's manager discretion on what the store stocks so you can always make suggestions that they continue to stock the Trek novels - as the release of the movie comes round, if they're still not stocking any Trek, a polite reminder might be in order too.
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Old July 24 2008, 10:16 PM   #37
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

This book was excellent. It "rehabilitated" the characters that it could and introduced some great characters and ideas. Christopher is really good at tying seemingly wildly contradictory ideas together. The way he explained all the different versions of the Borg was very well done. I was very happy with this book. And, 1) I love T'Ryssa Chen, and 2) Thank you for bringing in Rennon Konya. I even sympathized with T'Lana again.
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Old July 24 2008, 10:32 PM   #38
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

^^Thank you!
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Old July 25 2008, 02:18 AM   #39
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

The book is most definitely on the shelves in Toronto. In great numbers as well. Normally each store gets 4-7 copies of a new Star Trek book. Most stores in Toronto are listed as having 8-12 copies of GTTS!

I'm 80 pages in, and liking it quite a bit. The book has set up a lot of mysteries that I want to find out the answers to. I really want to find out more about the Noh-Angels. I loved the little moment with the angel mirroring the borg assimilation.

I'm not sure if I'd say I *like* T'ryssa Chen, but I enjoy reading about her, and the reactions of others to her.

Well, enough from me. I wanna get back to reading!
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Old July 25 2008, 03:39 AM   #40
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Mine just arrived today via amazon. Looking forward to it!
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Old July 26 2008, 04:23 AM   #41
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

I *love* the new security officer. Very awesome. I'll be quite sad if she dies in Destiny, as I'd love to see her approach to security explored more. So far, the major 'wow' moment of the book has been Worf's conversation with her after he's seen her fight from a tactical station for the first time.

I also really appreciated this scene, because just the other day, the island I work at hosted a 'Festival of India' day, and, in the midst of eating some absolutely fantastic vegetarian food, I got a chance to talk to a woman selling copies of the Bhagavad Gita. I tried to understand her faith, and learn about her spirituality, but it seemed very... static and self-centred. I left feeling a bit disappointed. What attracts me to my particular mode of Christianity is it's altruistic nature, and the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of the world. What this woman was telling me about reminded me too much of the health and wealth gospel, and the concept that one should do good for personal rewards, rather than for the sake of increasing goodness in the world.

Reading Choudhoury reflecting on her faith, especially mere days after talking to this woman has helped remind me that one woman's perspective on a faith shouldn't sour me on the religion as a whole, just as I wouldn't want Lee Strobel or Pat Robertson to cause someone else to dismiss all of Christianity. (Or, to get closer to my personal roots, I wouldn't anyone to dismiss Anabaptists because of the group of radical violent Anabaptists that took over Munster) It's also made me much more curious about Krishna and Hinduism. Choudhoury's faith is one I find much easier to engage and explore than the bookseller's, even though I do still find parts of it difficult to... not understand, but... I guess, I take issue with the idea that according to the story Choudhoury tells, action must be violent, when it seems to me like someone who has such a holistic concept of 'security' would also realize that action can be non-violent. Though I don't know what action could be taken against the Borg that would be succesful as well as non-violent, what with the Borg being the Borg.

Although, it's that very argument that I always refuse to kowtow too when people challenge my pacifism with 'Well, the Nazi's had to be fought. Hitler had to be stopped through violence' when I believe that isn't necessarily true, looking at a number of examples of succesful non-violent actions against the Nazi's in Europe. I believe that if people were to bring the same level of sacrifice and discipline to peacemaking and non-violent resistance that has always been brought to bear in war and violent solutions, that we would see that peace by peaceful means isn't just an idealistic pipe dream.

Maybe I'm saying this too early, having not finished the book, but my one disappointment so far is that it seems violence is being shown as the way to beat the Borg, even by a character like Choudhoury, when one of the reasons I was really looking forward to reading a book with Borg in it by Christopher Bennett was because I wanted to see how Bennett would craft a creative, non-violent solution to the dilemma of the book, as he so often does.

But, that's a very small complaint from me. One I won't even know is valid until I've finished it. As can be seen by this post, this book has already made me do a lot of thinking and soul-searching, which is the important part of what I was expecting and hoping for from a Bennett book.

Heh, I thought that was going to be the end of my post, but I just remembered something else.

I'm also intrigued by the portrayal of Worf, and his discription of Klingon honour. It almost reminds me a bit of more Anabaptist or Christological views of the Old Testament. That all the violence of the Old Testament was merely God controlling and making less 'bad' the violence that was swirling out of control at the time. Like, the statement 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth' was not God's ideal, but God compromising, so that punishment would not be hugely out of proportion to the crime.

But similar to the way Anabaptists explaining away Old Testament violence makes me uneasy at the way it doesn't seem to let the text speak for itself as a product of it's time and culture (even if letting that text speak for itself also makes me uncomfortable at it's bloodthirstiness and, in my eyes, evilness) so too does Christopher's explanation of Klingon honour. I like it. A lot. Very much. Like Chaudhoury's faith, I can have a lot more respect for this sort of Klingon honour then what I've come to see it as through the show... but it doesn't really ring true to me with previous portrayals of Klingons, or even Worf. I can't back this up, though. And I'd like to be wrong, and see that Christopher's way of looking at Klingons be very valid and in line with what we've seen before. I'd be very curious to see what KRAD thought when he first read Worf's statements on honour and Kahless wanting to limit and control war.

Looking over this post as a whole is making me wonder if maybe I think way too much about Star Trek... but that's the main thing that I love so much about Star Trek. That these fictional stories about fictional worlds and aliens and characters cause me to think so much about the world I actually inhabit.

Last edited by bennyrex; July 26 2008 at 04:26 AM. Reason: changed 'Borg book' to 'book with Borg in it'
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Old July 26 2008, 05:06 AM   #42
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

bennyrex wrote: View Post
I *love* the new security officer. Very awesome. I'll be quite sad if she dies in Destiny, as I'd love to see her approach to security explored more. So far, the major 'wow' moment of the book has been Worf's conversation with her after he's seen her fight from a tactical station for the first time.
Cool, thanks. Yeah, I really liked doing that scene.

I also really appreciated this scene, because just the other day, the island I work at hosted a 'Festival of India' day, and, in the midst of eating some absolutely fantastic vegetarian food, I got a chance to talk to a woman selling copies of the Bhagavad Gita. I tried to understand her faith, and learn about her spirituality, but it seemed very... static and self-centred. I left feeling a bit disappointed. What attracts me to my particular mode of Christianity is it's altruistic nature, and the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of the world. What this woman was telling me about reminded me too much of the health and wealth gospel, and the concept that one should do good for personal rewards, rather than for the sake of increasing goodness in the world.
She had a pretty odd understanding of the Bhagavad Gita, then. The goal is to act without attachment, without desire for reward or personal gratification.

Choudhoury's faith is one I find much easier to engage and explore than the bookseller's, even though I do still find parts of it difficult to... not understand, but... I guess, I take issue with the idea that according to the story Choudhoury tells, action must be violent, when it seems to me like someone who has such a holistic concept of 'security' would also realize that action can be non-violent.
Choudhury wasn't saying that all action is violent, she was merely discussing an act of violence in the context of what the Gita said about action. What Krishna said was a broader principle pertaining to all actions, to anything that has an effect on the world, and it guided Choudhury (and Arjuna in the Gita) in their approach to the specific action of combat.

Although, it's that very argument that I always refuse to kowtow too when people challenge my pacifism with 'Well, the Nazi's had to be fought. Hitler had to be stopped through violence' when I believe that isn't necessarily true, looking at a number of examples of succesful non-violent actions against the Nazi's in Europe. I believe that if people were to bring the same level of sacrifice and discipline to peacemaking and non-violent resistance that has always been brought to bear in war and violent solutions, that we would see that peace by peaceful means isn't just an idealistic pipe dream.
I like the idea, but I'm not sure how practical it would be. Even Gandhi, the great man of peace, declined to suggest that his methods of nonviolence would be effective against Hitler. They were effective against the British because the British thought they were the good guys, the civilised ones helping save a violent, savage people from themselves. Gandhi showed them that the Indians were not violent savages and that, in fact, the British were themselves inflicting violence on people who'd done nothing to deserve it; and that shamed the British into ending their occupation. But those tactics would not have worked on Hitler, who actually did want to inflict violence and destruction. Gandhi would not fight the Nazis, but he never condemned anyone else for choosing to do so.

Although who knows? If he'd applied himself to the problem, maybe he could've found a way to do it -- say, to bring the truth to enough of the German people that the Nazis wouldn't have been able to get enough support. It would've been difficult, though, given how effective Hitler was at winning mass support. (It's always struck me as remarkable that these two mirror images, Gandhi and Hitler, lived at the same time -- both extraordinarily charismatic figures able to rally mass movements, but to totally opposite ends.)

Of course, the challenge of nonviolence becomes even greater when faced with something beyond reason like the Borg, but that didn't keep Jasminder from confronting the question and seeking solutions. And the exploration of these questions will continue into Destiny.

Maybe I'm saying this too early, having not finished the book, but my one disappointment so far is that it seems violence is being shown as the way to beat the Borg, even by a character like Choudhoury, when one of the reasons I was really looking forward to reading a book with Borg in it by Christopher Bennett was because I wanted to see how Bennett would craft a creative, non-violent solution to the dilemma of the book, as he so often does.
Well... no comment, yet.

As can be seen by this post, this book has already made me do a lot of thinking and soul-searching, which is the important part of what I was expecting and hoping for from a Bennett book.
Wow. That's a really great thing to hear.


I'm also intrigued by the portrayal of Worf, and his discription of Klingon honour. It almost reminds me a bit of more Anabaptist or Christological views of the Old Testament. That all the violence of the Old Testament was merely God controlling and making less 'bad' the violence that was swirling out of control at the time. Like, the statement 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth' was not God's ideal, but God compromising, so that punishment would not be hugely out of proportion to the crime.
Hmm. I've never come across that idea before.

But similar to the way Anabaptists explaining away Old Testament violence makes me uneasy at the way it doesn't seem to let the text speak for itself as a product of it's time and culture (even if letting that text speak for itself also makes me uncomfortable at it's bloodthirstiness and, in my eyes, evilness) so too does Christopher's explanation of Klingon honour. I like it. A lot. Very much. Like Chaudhoury's faith, I can have a lot more respect for this sort of Klingon honour then what I've come to see it as through the show... but it doesn't really ring true to me with previous portrayals of Klingons, or even Worf. I can't back this up, though. And I'd like to be wrong, and see that Christopher's way of looking at Klingons be very valid and in line with what we've seen before. I'd be very curious to see what KRAD thought when he first read Worf's statements on honour and Kahless wanting to limit and control war.
First off, I agree about acknowledging a text as a product of its time and culture. As for Worf, I'm aware it's a bit revisionist, but I'm not really saying that it's the way most Klingons we've seen onscreen interpret things. After all, the original teachings of most spiritual leaders get endlessly reinterpreted by later generations. As for Worf himself, I figure his four years as a diplomat have led him to become more introspective and scholarly. He's probably spent a fair amount of time in conversation with the Kahless clone, I would imagine.

I could say that it just seems logical to me that a belief system predicated on glorifying cruelty and destruction could never be a viable basis for a civilization -- that in order to be effective and enduring, it would have to be able to manage and regulate the extremes of behavior and minimize the losses suffered by society and individuals. A culture made up solely of berserk killers could never survive as a culture. So I could say that I was trying to move beyond the caricature of the Klingon warrior and get more into how the Klingons could be a functioning civilization within the bounds of what's been depicted. I could also say that I was looking for a way to create common ground between Worf and Choudhury. And all of that would be true.

But the most fundamental reason, I have to admit, is that I can't really wrap my mind around the mentality of anyone who'd glorify killing, and I couldn't sympathize with Worf if his mentality were simply that. I had to find some way to approach Klingon beliefs in a way that could make some semblance of sense to me.
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Old July 27 2008, 04:19 AM   #43
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

I'd just like to comment on the irony of Leybenzon's last assignment being a starship named Bhutto.
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Old July 27 2008, 07:21 PM   #44
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

I think I can easily say this is my favourite TNG-R book of the 4 so far (or 5 if Death in Winter counts). I've enjoyed all of them a lot, but whereas Resistance had me sighing with exasperation every few pages and Before Dishonor was full of awful, awful humour (particularly that unnecessary sequence with the 'peace in our time' ambassador), Greater Than the Sum had me smiling throughout.

Whether it was the introduction of the new crewmembers, Elfiki, Choudhury, the Bajoran counselor and T'Ryssa (who I personally thought was brilliant), the sudden appearance and development of Hugh and his Liberated, the incredible new lifeform or the addressing of basically every Borg loose-ends, I absolutely loved it. And marrying off Crusher and Picard? It's about time! And they may even beat the Trois to having the first senior officers' baby!

Speaking of crewmembers, I thought Christopher did a good job with T'Lana, Leybenzon and Kadohata. Okay, the semi-redemption of the universe's least popular counselor didn't evoke any sympathy from me, I was glad she was shipped out in a slightly more dignified fashion than she could have been. Leybenzon, well I never really liked him to start with so his role in the epilogue turned that grin I'd had on my face for the last few hours into a massive evil smirk. And Kadohata... well, I liked her anyway, glad her family/flirting was sorted out and now she's back to the likable lady she was in Q&A - fantastic!

I think the only question I have after reading it all is about Guinan. I know she's experienced with Borg matters and is a great friend of Picard and probably the best person to have his family vs career debates with, but was there any particular reason she wasn't brought back before GTTS? I don't mind that she's left again too much, it just seems a bit odd to bring back this classic TNG character for just one book.

So overall my favourite Trek book of the year so far, slightly edged above Fearful Symmetry. I expected nothing less from Christopher of course after Orion's Hounds but those expectations were shattered.

Finally, am I the only person who laughed like a idiot when the Borg appearred on the E's bridge and Picard, trapped between seats/consoles, thought "Bad bridge design..."?
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Old July 27 2008, 08:07 PM   #45
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Re: Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

HappyDayRiot wrote: View Post
I think I can easily say this is my favourite TNG-R book of the 4 so far (or 5 if Death in Winter counts). I've enjoyed all of them a lot, but whereas Resistance had me sighing with exasperation every few pages and Before Dishonor was full of awful, awful humour (particularly that unnecessary sequence with the 'peace in our time' ambassador), Greater Than the Sum had me smiling throughout.

Whether it was the introduction of the new crewmembers, Elfiki, Choudhury, the Bajoran counselor and T'Ryssa (who I personally thought was brilliant), the sudden appearance and development of Hugh and his Liberated, the incredible new lifeform or the addressing of basically every Borg loose-ends, I absolutely loved it. And marrying off Crusher and Picard? It's about time! And they may even beat the Trois to having the first senior officers' baby!
Thanks! Glad to hear it! (Especially since I just read the first Amazon.com review and it's not very flattering. But then, I need to remember that's Amazon.com for ya. On the plus side, GTTS is currently the #14 top seller in Science Fiction and #3 in Space Opera on Amazon.)

As for who wins the baby race first... well, you'll see.

Speaking of crewmembers, I thought Christopher did a good job with T'Lana, Leybenzon and Kadohata. Okay, the semi-redemption of the universe's least popular counselor didn't evoke any sympathy from me, I was glad she was shipped out in a slightly more dignified fashion than she could have been. Leybenzon, well I never really liked him to start with so his role in the epilogue turned that grin I'd had on my face for the last few hours into a massive evil smirk. And Kadohata... well, I liked her anyway, glad her family/flirting was sorted out and now she's back to the likable lady she was in Q&A - fantastic!
Well, I did what I could with T'Lana in one scene. My hope was that maybe someone else might further her redemption in the future. As for the others, I appreciate your reactions.

I think the only question I have after reading it all is about Guinan. I know she's experienced with Borg matters and is a great friend of Picard and probably the best person to have his family vs career debates with, but was there any particular reason she wasn't brought back before GTTS? I don't mind that she's left again too much, it just seems a bit odd to bring back this classic TNG character for just one book.
I couldn't tell you why she wasn't included before this. As for why she's only in this book, my intent was to have her stick around at the end, but when Dave found out, he told me that would really complicate things for him in Destiny. Given what a tight deadline he was on for that enormous piece of work, I didn't want to cause him any problems. And it worked out better, really, because it fit with the idea that by the end of the book, the crew had meshed well enough that Picard didn't need Guinan's help with crew morale anymore.
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