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

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Old August 7 2008, 10:01 PM   #1
Rush Limborg
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On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Good evening, Trekkers, Trekkies, Trecknecks, and Conversationalists all across the fruited plain! It is I, El Rushborg, with a semi-review of a certain book written by a truly AWESOME author!

Hey Chris-- excellent book! Great story, great dialogue, thought-provoking and complex (just the way I love it)... WELL DONE!

However, I have a... minor problem....

Some of the new charachters behave, well, disrespectful to their superiors. Near the beginning, there's a Vulcan lieutenant who all but chews out Spock for being "without logic", because he chose to allow emotion into his life. Problem? Spock is her superior. She is being insubordinate. Is this logical? And why doesn't Spock seem to notice this?

There's also that nurse who actually does chew out McCoy. Not to mention Zaand....

So... why the insubordination? And why do their superiors ignore it?
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Old August 7 2008, 10:46 PM   #2
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Ex Machina is my favorite Trek novel. I agree with Rush up there, Chris, excellent book! I felt totally immersed in the post-TMP world while I was reading it, and I have reread it may times since then.

As to your point, Rush, I chalk this up to one of the differences between Starfleet and a true millitary organization. While discipline is required in Starfleet, there a certain amount of leeway given to it's members. The odd hybrid of a scientific/exploratory organization and a defense organization has always provided us with some unusual juxtaposition of rigid discipline and relaxed organization. Does this sound reasonable?
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Old August 8 2008, 12:52 AM   #3
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Hey Chris-- excellent book! Great story, great dialogue, thought-provoking and complex (just the way I love it)... WELL DONE!
Thanks!

Some of the new charachters behave, well, disrespectful to their superiors. Near the beginning, there's a Vulcan lieutenant who all but chews out Spock for being "without logic", because he chose to allow emotion into his life. Problem? Spock is her superior. She is being insubordinate. Is this logical?
Logic is a religion to Vulcans, and people tend to be irrational when their doctrines are challenged. That's the paradox of the Vulcans.

T'Hesh's reaction to Spock is consistent with the way we've seen Vulcans react to other Vulcans who accepted their emotions. The V'tosh katur from Enterprise were looked on with scorn and contempt. Sybok was disowned and exiled just for saying that emotion was okay.

And why doesn't Spock seem to notice this?
That's a matter of Starfleet discipline -- an alien thing. This was a matter between two Vulcans. He dealt with it in those terms rather than hiding behind his rank.

There's also that nurse who actually does chew out McCoy. Not to mention Zaand....

So... why the insubordination? And why do their superiors ignore it?
Starfleet has never been a rigidly military organization -- more a pseudomilitary outfit like the Coast Guard. Anyway, McCoy isn't the type to pull rank on someone just because she had the courage to speak her mind; that would be downright hypocritical for him of all people. As for Zaand, it's been a long time since I read the book, but I don't think he criticized the captain to his face until Kirk invited him to do so. Permission to speak freely and all that.
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Old August 8 2008, 10:26 AM   #4
Therin of Andor
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Christopher wrote: View Post
As for Zaand, it's been a long time since I read the book, but I don't think he criticized the captain to his face until Kirk invited him to do so. Permission to speak freely and all that.
Not to mention Uhura chewing him out with a glance and a cool remark in TMP-SLV and TMP-DE.
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Old August 8 2008, 06:15 PM   #5
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

I'm sure Vulcans would hold Vulcan philosophy above Starfleet regulations any day and most nights. However, I'm also rather convinced Spock would not be above using Starfleet regulations as a blunt weapon in case the opponent became too arrogant or intrusive...

As for Starfleet being easygoing, it's probably that mainly in terms of camaderie between the participants of five-year exploration missions. Rank and discipline would be supremely important when integrating a newly assembled crew into a working whole, as in Ex Machina. But acerbic and regularly out-of-line medical personnel are of course a cliche of the classic war movie, and McCoy's underling could simply have been on her way to developing into another McCoy. The exchange happened in private; had it been out in the public, McCoy might have needed to impose discipline.

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Old August 8 2008, 06:41 PM   #6
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Timo wrote: View Post
I'm sure Vulcans would hold Vulcan philosophy above Starfleet regulations any day and most nights. However, I'm also rather convinced Spock would not be above using Starfleet regulations as a blunt weapon in case the opponent became too arrogant or intrusive...
I think that would be petty of him, and it would make him seem defensive. It would've proven to T'Hesh that she was right about him. It is often better to turn the other cheek and not sink to the level of your opponents.
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Old August 8 2008, 06:48 PM   #7
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But it would be good for the future of their relationship if T'Hesh knew her place. An outburst like that out in the public might jeopardize the ship or at least the discipline aboard, an issue Spock should be concerned with - perhaps even over winning the argument at hand.

It's not merely due to the prevalence of certain personality types that people in leading positions tend to be assholes. It's actually a survival trait and a desirable feature in them - especially in strictly hierarchial organization. Approval just plain isn't required, just obedience.

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Old August 8 2008, 07:11 PM   #8
Trent Roman
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

That may have been true in the past and today, but that's not how Starfleet works. Outside of a crisis situation, it goes against the grain of the organization's principles as peaceful explorers to shut down a discussion by an appeal to authoritarianism.

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Old August 8 2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Timo wrote: View Post
But it would be good for the future of their relationship if T'Hesh knew her place.
What future? She'd already transferred off and was packing to leave the ship for good within a few hours. And what relationship? They'd only been serving on the same ship for a couple of weeks at that point, and I doubt a lowly sensor technician would've had much interaction with the first officer of the ship. This was almost certainly the first non-work-related conversation the two of them had ever had, and it was almost certainly the last conversation they ever would have.

An outburst like that out in the public might jeopardize the ship or at least the discipline aboard, an issue Spock should be concerned with - perhaps even over winning the argument at hand.
What outburst? She made a couple of passive-aggressive observations in a condescending tone. Hell, that could describe half the lines we've ever heard uttered by Vulcans.
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Old August 8 2008, 08:34 PM   #10
Rush Limborg
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Logic is a religion to Vulcans, and people tend to be irrational when their doctrines are challenged.
Don't I know it. You woudn't believe the "debates" I've gotten into lately.

By the way, I've often noticed how Spock tends to ignore insubordination, public or private. Remeber Boma? Or Stiles?

Look, I'm all for "Turning The Other Cheek", but still.... Does Spock have some kind of personal problem? Perhaps he himself chewed out a superior some years back (Tuvok-style), and doesn't wanna be a hypocrite?

Not to mention Uhura chewing him out with a glance and a cool remark in TMP-SLV and TMP-DE.
Ahhhh... SLV? DE? Ya kinda lost me there....
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Old August 8 2008, 08:44 PM   #11
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

DE=Director's Edition
SLV=?
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Old August 8 2008, 08:56 PM   #12
David cgc
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Special Longer Version. You know, the one where you can see the soundstage when Kirk leaves in his spacesuit.
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Old August 8 2008, 08:57 PM   #13
Rush Limborg
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

DE=Director's Edition
SLV=?
I'm... reasonably certain it stands for "Special Longer Version", now that I think about it....
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Old August 8 2008, 09:02 PM   #14
Rush Limborg
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

Thanks, y'all!

And I'll say it again, Chris --I LOVED THAT BOOK!

Soooooooo... any thoughts on a sequel? Some more Spock-exploring-humanity, perhaps? Or that nurse making amends for her attitude towards McCoy?

Hmmm... did you, by any chance, intend to use those two Vulcans (T'Hesh and the ambassador) again?
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Old August 8 2008, 09:07 PM   #15
Trent Roman
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Re: On "Ex Machina" & Crew

David cgc wrote: View Post
Special Longer Version. You know, the one where you can see the soundstage when Kirk leaves in his spacesuit.
They made a longer version of TMP? What, did somebody feel they weren't getting enough sleep as it was? Yikes.

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