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

View Poll Results: Grade Lost Souls
Excellent 130 72.22%
Above Average 35 19.44%
Average 12 6.67%
Below Average 1 0.56%
Poor 2 1.11%
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Old July 6 2009, 11:27 PM   #616
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
By spreading to the Caeliar the values of diversity, of sharing knowledge, of equality, of mutual partnership -- by spreading to the Caeliar Federation values -- Hernandez saved the Caeliar from extinction.
Yes. This.

This was not a story about Picard saving the universe; it was a story about the ideals of the Federation saving the universe. A ton of characters were caught up in it, and were affected by it, but this was ultimately a story about the value of morals more than characters.

Hernandez was the hero, if you want one.

I admit it was an unexpected creative choice to remove the agency of most of the main characters in the conclusion, one that at first did put me off a bit, but I don't think that lessens the force of the message or the heroism of the characters, as many get chances to show that heroism in other circumstances throughout the trilogy.
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Old July 6 2009, 11:30 PM   #617
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
No one was claiming that the specs were in the Collective's database. The claim that Christopher and I made was that if one cube, denuded of drones, could adapt to its situation by inventing the absorptive technology, all cubes have the potential to adapt in that manner.
Indeed. It's rather naive to argue that they needed the "specs for grey goo," because given what's been established about Borg nanotechnology, the potential for a "grey goo scenario" is intrinsic in their nature. If anything, it's implausible that they haven't been depicted that way all along (although of course their use of nanotech was a retcon introduced in FC). All the Borg technology really had to do in order to achieve its "absorption" ability was to stop holding back. If Borg nanites could transform humans into drones all by themselves, or create a whole Borg drone from the Doctor's holo-emitter and a crewman's blood (as seen in "One"), then they already have the potential to convert any matter into Borg tech, and it's a wonder it took them as long as it did to start.


Christopher then went on to point out that even if that particular adaptation is not utilized, the controlling artificial intelligence of the cubes remain, and the cubes remain capable of operating and of exterminating the Federation as they had previously been doing whilst crewed, which I hadn't considered. The thalaron weapon would quite literally be useless -- it wouldn't even delay the extermination of the Federation.
Well, that's an overstatement. We know that the default mode of the Borg is for the technology to lie dormant without the organic half, and that it took unusual circumstances for the remaining tech to adopt a new strategy. My point is that the thalaron weapon couldn't be assumed to be a magic bullet, that depending on weapons at all is a failure to understand the big picture. All this quibbling over the technical questions is missing the point that Destiny wasn't about weapons and technology. It was about ideas, and one of the core ideas of the whole post-NEM Borg sequence is that the Borg couldn't be defeated by weapons, that a paradigm shift was needed if the cycle of attacks was to be broken once and for all.
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Old July 7 2009, 12:39 AM   #618
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Sci wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Santayana said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results. By acknowledging the failure of brute force and finding a better option, the heroes of Destiny took the sane course. They rose above repeating the same endless conflict with the Borg and found a whole new paradigm for dealing with them, one that finally resolved the problem once and for all. I don't see how that can be seen as an undesirable outcome.
Because, apparently, the main characters of a story should never ask for help, because then they aren't "heroes." And if they get help, then that renders them subservient to the people who help them.
Now you're simply making gross oversimplifications. I've never said people shouldn't ask for help, nor that we are subservient (indebted, perhaps) if such help is extended. But this was not one of those situations. The Caeliar swooped in, waved their wand, and fixed the intractible problem with little effort (except for Hernandez). Taking what Christopher said, the problem is that the characters didn't find a better option, that they didn't find a new paradigm. Somebody else stepped in at the end, did that for them, then left. Compare to "All Good Things...": Q helps Picard by doing the temporal shifting thing, and Picard does thank him at the end, but that doesn't really change the underlying narrative, in that the risks and discoveries were still Picard's to make. Q didn't solve the problem for him.

No, it's actually more like a return to the Star Trek of the TOS era: A more realistic universe, but with an underlying optimism lacking in most every other sci-fi universe out there.
I've never liked TOS. TNG was the Trek that drew me in. I can't say I've much interest in seeing the TNG era turned into another version of TOS; that's what the TOS era is for.

Because it's not wrecking it. Trek was actually wrecked when Roddenberry tried to Utopianize it in TNG; this is more a restoration of Trek to its best and strongest form, the completion of a task undertaken, arguably, by DS9.
Nonsense; TNG demonstrate that it was possible to tell entertaining and engrossing stories without having to rely on darkness or on having your central characters acting like assholes; that discovery alone was enough to engage the mind. It's a feat unequaled since, at least in the visual medium (a lot of literary science-fiction still manages to thrill mainly on the joys of exploration...)

Because Utopia is a lie. It's a fundamentally dishonest portrayal of humanity and its potential; for Utopia to function, it would have to be a dictatorship. There is no Utopia and never will be, and the pseudo-Utopian elements of Trek always gave the Federation a very sinister and dishonest edge.
I disagree. I have never found the Federation sinister or dishonest, and while, as I said, I do not believe in utopia, I enjoyed the exercise of the Federation as a near-utopia in no different a fashion from the 'dishonest' portrayal of physics or biology on the show. (And a distinction you seem to be glossing over is that the Federation was near-utopia; no one's ever said there weren't problems, just that the big ones--war, poverty, pollution, etc.--had been resolved. You find this dishonest? Can only a world of warfare, misery and callousness be true?)

By spreading to the Caeliar the values of diversity, of sharing knowledge, of equality, of mutual partnership -- by spreading to the Caeliar Federation values -- Hernandez saved the Caeliar from extinction.
The Caeliar had endured for ages, and likely would have still. Unless your suggestion is that the Caeliar are now immortal, for constantly bringing in new people, but that would seem to run counter this idea about the joys of surrendering to death, wouldn't it?

As for Federation values... You know who had Federation values? The Federation. Didn't save them. In Mere Mortals, Bacco organizes an interstellar alliance including most of the local powers in known space, a mutual effort constructed along Federation values of partnership and diversity. Didn't save them. Federation values spent the entire trilogy getting its ass kicked, because the Borg were more powerful. And in the end, it was because the Caeliar were even more powerful, with near-magical levels of technology, that the situation was resolved. Might ruled the day.

Thrawn wrote: View Post
Hernandez was the hero, if you want one.
Certainly she is. I said as much in my initial review: this was, in the end, Hernandez' day to shine, and I thought that the whole story would have been much better had it just been the story of the Columbia, the Caeliar and the Borg. Then there wouldn't have been all these other characters taking up space without giving anything back.

I admit it was an unexpected creative choice to remove the agency of most of the main characters in the conclusion, one that at first did put me off a bit, but I don't think that lessens the force of the message or the heroism of the characters, as many get chances to show that heroism in other circumstances throughout the trilogy.
Agency, yes; that's a good word for what ails me (not what you were getting at, I know, but I like it nonetheless). I suppose one could say that the Federation was the swooning, weepy, helpless damsel in distress, the Borg the many-headed hydra seeking to devour her, the Caeliar the arrogant, hard-hearted wizard, and Hernadez the moral sidekick who finally convinces him get his wizardly tuchus into gear and take responsibility. A retrograde scenario, in my opinion, one I find to be unsatisfying.

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Old July 7 2009, 03:13 AM   #619
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Trent Roman wrote: View Post
The Caeliar swooped in, waved their wand, and fixed the intractible problem with little effort (except for Hernandez). Taking what Christopher said, the problem is that the characters didn't find a better option, that they didn't find a new paradigm.
Well, of course they didn't find a better option. The only options are to attempt to defeat the Collective militarily, which is doomed to failure, or to persuade a more powerful civilization to intervene on the Federation's behalf. Really, that's always been the only real option.

The Borg, as established canonically, are simply too powerful to defeat otherwise. In the canon, a single cube consistently proved nearly impossible to defeat even by fleets of ships. Even the supposedly Borg-defeating Voyager really never managed to destroy a single Borg cube on its own efforts -- the only Borg vessels it ever managed to destroy (prior to the future tech in "Endgame") were the small support ships at the beginning and end of "Dark Frontier." When Voyager tried to go one-on-one with a cube in "Unimatrix Zero," it got its ass handed to it.

When faced with an armada of over 7,000 cubes, it's simply not realistic to depict a military solution as being a viable option. To do so would to be an absurdity, and the Borg have been firmly established to be so much more technologically advanced -- and now, so much more careful about internal security aboard their ships -- as to render attempts to use Federation resources to hack into the Collective again ineffective.

There simply wasn't any way to defeat them with the means at the Federation's disposal, and for Starfleet to keep trying to do the job itself would be fundamentally irresponsible -- an act of hubris rather than a responsible action taken to defend the Federation, which is what asking the Caeliar for help was.

And they did find a new paradigm. Hernandez fundamentally changed the nature of the Borg and the Caeliar. That's not nothing.

Somebody else stepped in at the end, did that for them, then left.
I suppose this is my second problem with your criticism of the trilogy: I reject the idea that the Caeliar are "someone else." The Caeliar are as much the main characters of this story as the Federation, and for a reader to alienate themselves from them as the "other" who aren't as legitimate of protagonists as the Federation, I think, is unfair. Destiny is as much about how the Caeliar as the Federation. They're the main characters, too.

I've never liked TOS. TNG was the Trek that drew me in. I can't say I've much interest in seeing the TNG era turned into another version of TOS; that's what the TOS era is for.
Totally disagree. TOS is what real Trek is, and it was TNG that was a perversion of what Trek is supposed to be.

Nonsense; TNG demonstrate that it was possible to tell entertaining and engrossing stories without having to rely on darkness or on having your central characters acting like assholes;
And no one is asking for a reliance upon darkness or characters being assholes. But TNG under Roddenberry didn't do that -- TNG under Roddenberry, with rare exceptions, provided shallow, two-dimensional characters spouting ethnocentric propaganda and using mindless technobabble to solve their problems.

Something like TOS managed to tell entertaining and engrossing stories without relying on darkness or asshole central characters, and did so with real characters that weren't perfect but were still admirable.

I disagree. I have never found the Federation sinister or dishonest,
How on Earth can you watch "The Last Outpost," in which the smug Federates pass judgment against the foreign society of "primitive" Ferengi that they have only just encountered, declaring them to reflect an earlier, inferior period in Human evolution that needs to be kept alive so as to spread Federation culture to them ("If you kill them, then they will learn nothing!") and thereby civilize them, and not get a sinister vibe off the Federation? How on Earth can you listen to Picard spouting self-serving propaganda about how much more evolved Federation Humans are than, say, 21st Century Humans even as he's engaging in an obsessive revenge quest that only one of those "primitive" 21st Century Humans can shake him out of, and not realize how fundamentally dishonest the Federation is about its own supposed enlightenment? How can you watch the TNG-era Federation condemn entire civilizations to war, isolation, or extinction in the name of "non-interference" (while conveniently preserving Federation technological and military dominance over its neighbors) and not notice how self-serving the UFP can be in spite of its propaganda?

The Federation of Roddenberry-TNG (Michael Piller-TNG was much better, but still disturbingly prone to goodthink and doublethink) was little better than colonial Europe, gazing up the nations of Africa and declaring them primitive and unevolved and in need of European culture and European dominance. It's certainly not a society that has any respect for cultures that differ from its own.

The Caeliar had endured for ages, and likely would have still. Unless your suggestion is that the Caeliar are now immortal,
Not immortal. Just that if they learn to bring new people in, to unite in diversity, that they're no longer doomed to certain extinction. And it was only by recognizing that they were NOT immortal and that they would inevitably go extinct if they refused to start creating a polyglot society comprised of Caeliar and non-Caeliar -- by accepting their own mortality, in other words -- that they created an actual future for themselves.

for constantly bringing in new people, but that would seem to run counter this idea about the joys of surrendering to death, wouldn't it?
I never said anything about the joy of surrendering to death. As I noted above, acceptance is not submission. And as I just said, it was only by accepting their own mortality that the Caeliar managed to prolong their civilization's life.

And they only did so after being persuaded to by someone representing Federation values.

As for Federation values... You know who had Federation values? The Federation. Didn't save them. In Mere Mortals, Bacco organizes an interstellar alliance including most of the local powers in known space, a mutual effort constructed along Federation values of partnership and diversity. Didn't save them. Federation values spent the entire trilogy getting its ass kicked, because the Borg were more powerful. And in the end, it was because the Caeliar were even more powerful, with near-magical levels of technology, that the situation was resolved. Might ruled the day.
Might used for Right saved the day. No one has ever argued that Right will always win and that Might never has a role. But Federation values ensured that Might was used for Right. Federation values saved the Caeliar, and saved the Federation.

It may not be the kind of agency you want your "heroes" to have, but that doesn't make it less legitimate.
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Old July 7 2009, 07:46 PM   #620
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

TNG was a perversion. Right. Thanks for the chat, Sci.
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Old July 8 2009, 01:07 AM   #621
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

Trent Roman wrote: View Post
TNG was a perversion. Right. Thanks for the chat, Sci.
I dunno, Trent. I mean, he was only talking about the first two seasons, and I think his characterization was pretty spot on. Exaggerated language, "perversion" is a bit strong, but that's a fairly valid critique.
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Old June 14 2013, 04:46 AM   #622
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Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Lost Souls - Discuss/Grade

JD wrote: View Post
I'm thinking this would pretty much have to be life for some of the highest ranking members. I'm mainly talking about the people who would have actually descided to try to wipe out the entire Changeling race, and murder the Federation President.
The Changeling plague always struck me as informed villainy. Due to the circumstances of the setting, Odo is the youngest member of their race and all of the Founders are guilty of war crimes (specifically unprovoked invasion of sovereign nations--which most of the Nazis were charged with) given their mind meld means ALL of them approved of it but Odo.

Thus, genocide against the Founders is merely a legitimate act of war since their entire race (but Odo) is involved. It's not as cut and dry as murdering the Daleks but it's a far more complicated action than people make it out to be. It also renders the Female Changeling's lone war crimes trial to be a farce of justice given she's nothing more than the Fall guy for hundreds of millions of deaths IN ADDITION to the genocide of Cardassia.

Anyway, a beautiful beautiful ending to the Borg War.

Bravo!
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Old June 14 2013, 05:29 AM   #623
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Uh, Riker was right in "The Last Outpost" regarding the Ferengi as idiots. Don't romanticize diversity. Their whole society is based on swindling those they couldn't steal from or conquer or oppress or, well, eat - remember, the Ferengi weren't supposed to be comical at first. Just because they managed to develop warp doesn't make them equals any more than Nazi Germany was just as valid at mid-century America. If you're saying that it's just their way to be...basically assholes, and they can't change being that way, I find that a perverse interpretation of cultural diversity. Is there something special about us humans that we can let go of slavery and treating women like property that other beings simply can't come to?
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Old June 14 2013, 06:18 AM   #624
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Arpy wrote: View Post
Uh, Riker was right in "The Last Outpost" regarding the Ferengi as idiots. Don't romanticize diversity. Their whole society is based on swindling those they couldn't steal from or conquer or oppress or, well, eat - remember, the Ferengi weren't supposed to be comical at first. Just because they managed to develop warp doesn't make them equals any more than Nazi Germany was just as valid at mid-century America. If you're saying that it's just their way to be...basically assholes, and they can't change being that way, I find that a perverse interpretation of cultural diversity. Is there something special about us humans that we can let go of slavery and treating women like property that other beings simply can't come to?
It's the "It's easy to be perfect in a world of Replicators and Holodecks" as that's the Bread and Circuses of the 24th century. I like to think Season 1 reflects a time in Star Trek when humans have gotten slightly arrogant about their place in the universe. Q, in his Omnipotent TeacherTM role, shakes them out of this complacency. The Borg, Dominion War, and so on teach them humility.
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Old June 14 2013, 07:06 AM   #625
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Hmm. Re-reading that post of mine from 2009, I've got to say that I've reconsidered some of my opinions about the Federation. I still think it's often ethnocentric and patronizing to foreign cultures, but I'm less inclined to be as judgmental towards it as I was. I don't necessarily agree anymore that it's a fundamentally sinister culture -- but it I do think it has some very sinister elements.

Arpy wrote: View Post
Uh, Riker was right in "The Last Outpost" regarding the Ferengi as idiots. Don't romanticize diversity. Their whole society is based on swindling those they couldn't steal from or conquer or oppress or, well, eat -
Riker barely knew anything about Ferengi culture in "The Last Outpost." He'd interacted with the Ferengi crew for all of a half-hour, and knew only the briefest of brief summaries of how their culture worked and what they believed. He didn't know about their belief in the Great Material Continuum. He didn't know about the role of the Ferengi Commerce Authority. He didn't know about the role of Ferengi dissidents and Ferengi feminists; he didn't know about the roles of Ferengi Socialists, or about the inner conflicts of Ferengi society. He didn't know that for all the oppression caused by Ferengi Capitalism, the Ferengi had never had a history of mass violence or genocide. He didn't know the ups or the downs of their culture.

Riker has every right to be weary of extreme Capitalism, but he has no business passing judgment on a culture of billions based on a half-hour's interaction with a few guys. That's like deciding you can pass judgment on all of Brazilian or Arab culture because you once stood in line behind a guy from there at the bus station. It's absurd.

And it's just fucking creepy hearing him tell the Tkon that the Ferengi shouldn't die "because then they would learn nothing." Not because their lives have intrinsic value -- no. They should live so that we can spread Federation values to them. Disgusting.

Just because they managed to develop warp doesn't make them equals any more than Nazi Germany was just as valid at mid-century America.
But that illustrates my point perfectly -- by what right would someone pass judgment on all of German culture based on the Nazis? What about the role of German dissidents during the Nazi era? What about understanding that the Nazi era is one historical era in German history, not the defining historical era? What about understanding the role Germans played in the Enlightenment? In developing social democracy and the welfare state? Etc.

It would be unfair to judge all of German culture based on a half-hour's interaction with a Nazi. It is unfair to judge all of Ferengi culture based on a half-hour's interaction with the Ferengi crew in early TNG.

If you're saying that it's just their way to be...basically assholes, and they can't change being that way, I find that a perverse interpretation of cultural diversity. Is there something special about us humans that we can let go of slavery and treating women like property that other beings simply can't come to?
No. What I am saying is that a half-hour with a few guys is not enough time to get an adequate -- or even honest -- sense of what an entire culture is like, and that even if you object to some of their philosophical values, you shouldn't act like they themselves as unique individuals are necessarily inferior or that their lives only have value insofar as you can convert them to your beliefs.

I mean, hell, I'm a leftist in real life. I think unregulated Capitalism is pure evil, and I like that Star Trek depicts Capitalism as an oppressive era in Human history -- because it is. But if I'm Riker on that away mission? I'm gonna be weary of Ferengi Capitalism. I'm gonna stand up for the equality of my female crew members. I'm gonna defend my people and Federation property against Ferengi incursions, and I'm gonna make sure the Ferengi don't take control of Tkon technology or have the upper hand in influencing the Tkon sentinel. But I'm also gonna stop myself from coming to any final judgments about the nature of a society I've only just encountered and do not truly understand. I'm gonna stand up for the equal rights of those Ferengi crew members when the Tkon offers to kill them.

And I'm gonna bear in mind that, hell, maybe the Ferengi might have something to teach us, too -- because the whole point of exploration and seeking out new life is understanding that we don't know everything, and that wisdom can come from sources that defy our prejudices.

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Thus, genocide against the Founders is merely a legitimate act of war
There is no such thing as legitimate genocide. Ever. Species have a right to exist, full stop.

since their entire race (but Odo) is involved.
Except that we know both from the canon, which established the existence of Founder infants, and from novels like The Dominion: Olympus Descending (which established the existence of Founders with minds not fully-developed and unaware of the outside universe) that the Founders are not all involved in the Dominion decision-making process, and are not all guilty of war crimes. There are in fact, what can only be described as Founder civilians, just like any other society. And we don't know that there aren't Founder dissidents who opposed policies but didn't carry the day.
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Old June 14 2013, 07:28 AM   #626
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Sci wrote: View Post
There is no such thing as legitimate genocide. Ever. Species have a right to exist, full stop.
And what if a race consists of a single (remaining) person who is a mass murderer and attempting to kill others? Which capture is not an option? By killing him, you have committed genocide. *

Which is the essential problem. The Founders as a political organization are evil, repressive, cruel, and genocidal. Odo is not a Founder but he's a Changeling. The Changelings not involved in the Founders are blameless and infecting Odo to infect the Founders is an act of murder on Odo.

I liken it to the Doctor's destruction of the Gallifreyans who, during the last period of their life, decided as a group to destroy everyone else in the universe with only 2 objections. Every Gallifreyan is a criminal with intent to commit genocide on a massive scale. It's just so they're the last of their race.

Star Trek, of course, dodges this issue entirely and the Founders presumably learn from Odo how to be happy and peace-loving beings--which is probably a more realistic ending to the war and reflects what might happen in real life. In RL, you have to forgive and sometimes let bad people off the hook if it means more people are saved in the long run. That's how peace gets made and cycles of revenge are ended.

However, saying Section 31 is absolutely evil for their actions also ignores that the only reason the Cardassians are alive is the THREAT of the plague. The Founders didn't learn reason or compassion, they learned surrender.

Except that we know both from the canon, which established the existence of Founder infants, and from novels like The Dominion: Olympus Descending (which established the existence of Founders with minds not fully-developed and unaware of the outside universe) that the Founders are not all involved in the Dominion decision-making process, and are not all guilty of war crimes. There are in fact, what can only be described as Founder civilians, just like any other society. And we don't know that there aren't Founder dissidents who opposed policies but didn't carry the day.
I'm merely going from the DS9 series and my observations of it. Odo's position as a being divorced from the Great Link means he has a different perspective from the other Founders. That, other than themselves, they are unified in their opinions and ideals. I took them to be a Gestalt intelligence by the Female Changeling's description they are an ocean and only become drops by conscious will. In short, they're a hive mind like the Borg. Odo's individuality is a unique concept (or semi-unique) because he and the other Changelings "cast into the wind" are different from the other Founders.

The lack of dissent being based on the fact no changeling has killed another (or seemingly disagreed) until Odo.

Point taken, however, on the novels. I don't LIKE the message that Section 31 is justified in creating a WMD bio-weapon but I thought it was ambiguous since the only way to save billions of lives was through it's use. The mercy shown at the end of the series seemed "tainted" in a way that's never really acknowledged. For me, it seemed, "We can destroy you at any time. Stop attacking us."

* I'd like to also clarify in RL, there's no such thing as "tainted blood" and genocide is the vilest crime in the world. Any human being, no matter his parents or their actions, can learn to be a good person and "sins of the father" is nonsense. Thus questioning whether it's right or wrong to kill "purely evil" races like Daleks or destroying the Borg is a fantasy ethical question, of no real relevance in RL.

However, the issue of WMDs and the threat of their usage as well as letting war criminals go seems to have been papered over in the episode and intrigues me.
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Old June 14 2013, 07:40 AM   #627
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I'd also like to add that this ties into what's good about Lost Souls. The Borg as cybernetic zombies is dealt with in a respectful manner. The Borg, like the Daleks, are treated both seriously in their concept (they are a race of "pure evil" because they're each without free will) but that destruction of them is evil in itself.

J.R.R Tolkien, frequently accused of being a racist in his own life, was actually troubled by the concept of "purely evil" Orcs as they were the first real race of note created solely to be cannon fodder for our heroes to effortlessly cut down. He was aware of the troubling consequences of this as it conflicted with his Catholic faith and, in all likelihood, reminded him of the kinds of arguments he heard in the 1940s.

Star Trek created one of the best "cannon fodder" races in the Borg for these fantasy ethical discussions and the best use of the Borg after BOBW was the merciless deconstruction of this. "Hugh" showed the Borg who grew up in the Collective were not evil or malicious (like the Founders) but simply mislead as to the nature of their situation. Seven of Nine ran with this premise and the "Cooperative" indicates that without the merciless driving will of the Queen, the Borg might actually be something people could willingly join.

Star Trek Destiny is all about the redemption of the Borg and the Caeliar is a necessary deconstruction of their role as absolute evil. It's a tight balance to walk but addresses the issue of universal slavery, "innate evil", redemption, and so on without failing. That's probably the biggest accomplishment of Lost Souls.

It nicely says, "No, Picard was RIGHT not to kill the Collective. He might have saved sixty billion but he'd have killed trillions."
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Old June 14 2013, 07:53 AM   #628
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

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There is no such thing as legitimate genocide. Ever. Species have a right to exist, full stop.
And what if a race consists of a single (remaining) person who is a mass murderer and attempting to kill others?
1. Could you possibly come up with a more ridiculous scenario? "What if there's a nuclear bomb that an Orc is planting in downtown Manhattan, and the only way to stop him is to go to Mount Doom to re-create the One Ring?!"

2. That race is already extinct in any meaningful sense. Killing one guy in an act of immediate self-defense is not genocide; that culture no longer exists, because cultures need more than one person.

However, saying Section 31 is absolutely evil for their actions also ignores that the only reason the Cardassians are alive is the THREAT of the plague.
The only reason the Female Shapeshifter ordered the genocide of Cardassia was that she was driven to irrationality by the virus and the knowledge that her people were dying. Had she been in her right state of mind, she would not have so ordered the extinction of the Cardassian people.

Except that we know both from the canon, which established the existence of Founder infants, and from novels like The Dominion: Olympus Descending (which established the existence of Founders with minds not fully-developed and unaware of the outside universe) that the Founders are not all involved in the Dominion decision-making process, and are not all guilty of war crimes. There are in fact, what can only be described as Founder civilians, just like any other society. And we don't know that there aren't Founder dissidents who opposed policies but didn't carry the day.
I'm merely going from the DS9 series and my observations of it.
DSN canonically established the existence of Founder infants and of dissent within the link -- remember the debate over what to do about Odo's killing another Founder? So canonically, all DSN established was that the Founders mind meld, that not all Founders make decisions, and that the Founders who do make decisions can disagree with one-another. Hardly reasonable to decide they all deserve death.

Odo's position as a being divorced from the Great Link means he has a different perspective from the other Founders. That, other than themselves, they are unified in their opinions and ideals.
Nope. This is canonically inaccurate. Re-watch the DSN Season Four finale. Disagreement exists within the link.

Point taken, however, on the novels. I don't LIKE the message that Section 31 is justified in creating a WMD bio-weapon but I thought it was ambiguous since the only way to save billions of lives was through it's use.
Not really. The Dominion lost the war through conventional means, not through the virus. Their forces had been beaten and forced to mass at Cardassia. Had the Female Shapeshifter been thinking rationally instead of facing imminent species mortality, she almost certainly would have surrendered and left the Alpha Quadrant -- her order that the Jem'Hadar and Breen stand their ground was the result of her irrationality from the virus, not the kind of cool, calm, calculating decision she'd normally make. The virus damn near cost the Federation thousands more lives than the war would otherwise have cost.

ETA:

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
I'd also like to add that this ties into what's good about Lost Souls. The Borg as cybernetic zombies is dealt with in a respectful manner. The Borg, like the Daleks, are treated both seriously in their concept (they are a race of "pure evil" because they're each without free will) but that destruction of them is evil in itself.

J.R.R Tolkien, frequently accused of being a racist in his own life, was actually troubled by the concept of "purely evil" Orcs as they were the first real race of note created solely to be cannon fodder for our heroes to effortlessly cut down. He was aware of the troubling consequences of this as it conflicted with his Catholic faith and, in all likelihood, reminded him of the kinds of arguments he heard in the 1940s.

Star Trek created one of the best "cannon fodder" races in the Borg for these fantasy ethical discussions and the best use of the Borg after BOBW was the merciless deconstruction of this. "Hugh" showed the Borg who grew up in the Collective were not evil or malicious (like the Founders) but simply mislead as to the nature of their situation. Seven of Nine ran with this premise and the "Cooperative" indicates that without the merciless driving will of the Queen, the Borg might actually be something people could willingly join.

Star Trek Destiny is all about the redemption of the Borg and the Caeliar is a necessary deconstruction of their role as absolute evil. It's a tight balance to walk but addresses the issue of universal slavery, "innate evil", redemption, and so on without failing. That's probably the biggest accomplishment of Lost Souls.

It nicely says, "No, Picard was RIGHT not to kill the Collective. He might have saved sixty billion but he'd have killed trillions."
Agreed completely.
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Old June 14 2013, 07:58 AM   #629
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Point taken and conceded on the Dominion War. I was incorrect.

And thanks!
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Old June 14 2013, 08:20 AM   #630
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Re: Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Here's my final review, which was inspired by this discussion:

http://unitedfederationofcharles.blo...ls-review.html


Note: This review goes into a VERY long digression on ethics in science fiction.


The planet-shattering, literally, conclusion to the Star Trek Destiny story arc. The Borg have finally brought the entirety of their military assets to the Alpha Quadrant and are exterminating the whole of the Federation. Faced with oblivion on all sides and an Andromeda-esque ending as the best seeming outcome, our heroes must figure out a way to guarantee civilization's survival. Part of what has made Star Trek Destiny so appealing is its avoidance of the usual Star Trek-esque deus ex machina that characterized the series--can it keep it up?

No, no it can't.

What prevents this from being bad is the ending is entirely consist with the themes of Star Trek, carefully laid out, and worked for by our heroes from beginning to end. Furthermore, it has an ending which nicely wraps up the "Paradox of the Borg." The Paradox of the Borg is something that my fellow Trekkies and I discussed long and hard over Doritos, once. Basically, the Borg are innately anti-Trek in their theme.

If you believe the Borg are based on Doctor Who's Cybermen, you might actually believe this is by design. Doctor Who frequently has its protagonist run into purely-evil aliens. These aliens serve as personifications of Nazism, communism, and various other political ideologies so the idea of obliterating them is not quite so disgusting as it might be were they Klingons.

Even so, the show has the Doctor debate over these acts of xenocide as they challenge his brain that mass murder of an entire species could ever be justified. It's a brain teaser more than an ethical question, undermining arguments for genocide by showing the ridiculous lengths you'd have to go to in order to justify it in RL. Unfortunately, this bit of satire is frequently lost on fans who just think it's a justification of genocide (even if only in a fantasy environment). Warhammer 40K is less subtle about its satire but equally mishandled by its fans.

The Paradox of the Borg is that in a series that is about finding the value in differences, there is a species with no value. The Borg exist only through enslaving others and destroy all that is different about people. They are the ghostly specter of the Other brought back to life and the only rational response to them is hatred. Hatred for what they stand for, hatred for what they represent. In a series about understanding, compromise, and peace--there can be none with the Borg.

Which, when you think about them, makes them crap villains since they undermine the series' entire theme. If forgiveness and love is not an option, Star Trek's Federation is painfully naive and wrong about the universe. Yes, the Feddies can make peace with Klingons and Xindi but THOSE guys? Yeah, not happening.

I think Star Trek's writers must have realized this on a subconscious level because the best episodes of the Borg are actually about trying to find the good in them. "Hugh", "Unity", and Seven of Nine's entire arc are about finding ways the Borg might peacefully co-exist with the Federation. I love Star Trek: First Contact but but the Borg are zombies and exist to be shot at with a Tommy gun.

Star Trek Destiny: Lost Souls is about solving the riddle of how to live with the Borg without violating every ethical principle you hold dear. If you destroy the Borg, you're murdering trillions and justifying xenocide. If you leave the Borg alone, you're sanctioning the slavery of trillions. They're a race which exists on the violation of the soul and are seemingly impossible to reconcile with the Federation's values.

There's a bunch of stuff I could address in this book about Erika Hernandez's role, Captain Picard's breakdown, and Geordi LaForge making a principled stand in the face of genocide. I don't always agree with the characters, Geordi's refusal to build a super weapon based on Data's sacrifice to stop a similar one sounds good, but to refuse to do so even to save countless lives--it borders on sophistry. I had similar problems with Insurrection as a fairly typical, 'stop people taking the locals' stuff' story becomes problematic when the 'stuff' in question is medical supplies.

I'm a fan of ethical dilemmas in my science fiction. "In the Pale Moonlight" has Sisko not only murder two people to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War on the Federation side, it also has him directly responsible for the thousands of Romulans who will likely die as a result of his actions.

Section 31 using a biological WMD on the Founders has been argued at my table many a time between my fellow fans--asking whether the Founders are a legitimate military target if their entire race is a gestalt. However, any fantasy fiction which justifies genocide has gone down a very slippery slope. In RL, George W. Bush used 24's contrived, "what if there's a nuclear bomb that needs to be stopped" to justify torture.

The book's heart is a reaffirmation of the Federation's values of tolerance, respect, and understanding in the face of an absolutely unthinkable situation. Maybe it ended on a deus ex machina but the circumstances which precipitated it were ones as contrived as the resolution.

In real life, there is no such thing as purely evil human beings. There are people who choose to be evil and who are damaged, broken, or insane. We can only meet these people with compassion, refusal to submit, courage, and even forgiveness (if so warranted). I may not like the final choice of the book's central protagonist but the rest of it is a breath of fresh air in a world of very dark science-fiction.

10/10
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