A Singular Destiny review thread (possible spoilers)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Brendan Moody, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. Ayelbourne

    Ayelbourne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, actually, I nearly burst out laughing, when I read that Chris Metzen apparantly bought it in the Treklit-verse.
    What did he do to you, KRAD? :lol:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as it was giving me exactly, what I yearned for after Destiny - a detailed survey of the current political and econimic state of both Alpha- and Betaquadrant after the Borginvasion.
    Seeing Ezri play a big part too, is another thing that I was grateful for, since I really dig her as captain of the Aventine. I've also come to like Kedair alot.

    The forming of the Typhon Pact makes sense to me. With two of the "superpowers" being severely crippled, its no wonder the smaller powers sense their opportunities.
    I just hope this won't turn into yet another fullscale war in the near future. I think we've had enough of that after the Dominion and the Borg.
    Both the Federation and the Klingons have suffered immense losses over the past years, but were given almost no time to replenish their fleets and troops.
    They can only take so much before my suspension of disbelief fades.
    Give those guys some air to breathe. Say...10 to 20 years or so.

    Until then, I'm hoping for a classic "Cold War"-scenario. With the Romulans taking on the role of Germany after World War II this, to me, seemed like the intended direction anyway.


    One minor nitpick:
    With Starfleets ressources spread thin, I have a hard time believing, that they would send Titan back on their original misson, especially after they turned Ezris request down (yeah, I know she's got the fastest ship out there). I hope, this gets elaborated on more in Over a torrent sea.
     
  2. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    The hilarious thing is that on this very day I finally met Chris in person for the first time. We've known each other and worked with each other on and off for the past four years, but we didn't meet until we did a joint signing (with Micky Neilson and Grace Randolph) at TokyoPop's booth at New York Comic-Con today. :)


    It does, in fact, get dealt with in OaTS.
     
  3. LightningStorm

    LightningStorm The Borg King Commodore

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    I'm slowly making my way through this. Slow due to my lack of time to be able to sit and read like I'd like (not due to any lack of quality or ability to gain my attention).

    Anyway, I just got up to Chapter 10 and wanted to comment at how amazingly well written the Personal Log of Counselor Brian Ellis was. WOW. For whatever reason that one actually made me stop before starting Chapter 10 to sit back and say "Damn, that was good." (And yes I actually said that out loud).
     
  4. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    ^ Thank you so very much, LS.
     
  5. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Some thoughts, spoiler-coded for length.

    There are a lot of stories in the Star Trek universe that we never see, because our viewpoint is usually restricted to Starfleet officers. But Starfleet officers can't do everything, especially during a crisis that's more political than military. In the wake of the events of Destiny, political connections are being broken and new ones made. If you're going to see what's happening at the highest levels, you need someone other than a Starfleet officer.

    So that's who we get here: Sonek Pran, history professor and diplomatic troubleshooter. He's been shut out of political/diplomatic work during the Bush administration, but now that Obama -- I mean, he's been shut out during the Min Zife administration, but with Nan Bacco as president, his skills are once more recognized by a less ideological leadership and he's called on to serve the Federation. (Sorry... dunno if KRAD meant to make any parallels there, but it works for me.)

    Sonek Pran is the lead character of the story, but given the way it draws on sinister events happening in various places, we get to see a number of familiar faces, including characters from SCE/COE and IKS Gorkon/Klingon Empire, and, more prominently, President Nan Bacco from Articles of the Federation and Ezri Dax, captain of the U.S.S. Aventine, as seen in the Destiny trilogy. Some major developments have happened in the lives of some SCE/COE and IKGS/KE characters since their last appearances, and they're handled well; the developments are plausible, as is their being part of this particular story. Just as important, if you haven't encountered the characters before, I doubt you'll find yourself lost or wondering what you missed. Bacco and her staff are handled well, as you'd expect from the author who created them, but they don't get enough screen time to make this a full sequel to Articles of the Federation. Nonetheless, fans of that book will enjoy this. Ezri Dax gets some important character moments that almost seem as though they were written with the knowledge that some fans would have issues with her in the Destiny trilogy. I didn't; several years have passed between her latest appearance in the DS9 books and the beginning of Destiny, and in that time she obviously progressed on the command track and came completely to terms with her joining, which gives her centuries of experience to draw on. And she received command because of a crisis situation. In A Singular Destiny, though the details are already fading from my memory (why didn't I write this a week ago?), there were scenes in which Dax seemed to tackle the issue of her suitability for command head-on. I'm curious what her detractors think of her characterization here. I think their concerns have been addressed.

    Speaking of various people and places, KRAD uses a classic literary technique to give us much more of a sense of how the Federation's been affected by the Borg invasion, using short news articles, correspondence, log entries, and reports between chapters to show how much more has happened than this one story can focus on. I think the first book I read that did this sort of thing was Joe Haldeman's Mindbridge, which included in its dedication "Johns Brunner and Dos Passos pro forma". Not long after that I read John Brunner's classic SF disaster novels Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, which use that technique, and years later I finally read the USA trilogy by Dos Passos, one of the best literary examples of the technique. It's really effective for giving snapshots of the wider context while focusing on a more intimate story. Heck, I wouldn't have minded if there'd been more of that kind of thing in this book. Given its position as sort of a linking volume between Destiny and what comes next, and its not being about one of our regular sets of characters, it's the most suitable choice for this kind of storytelling.

    So, back to Sonek Pran. I think in a couple of respects he wasn't quite 100% successful as a character. He seems a bit too perfect, and some things come a bit too easy to him. The business with him being a great communicator who can't talk to his own son also seemed a bit cliched. On the other hand, he's a new-to-us character in a novel with a hell of a lot to do; there's no time to really build him up. From an in-story perspective, there's no time for him to learn his skills because the Federation needs him to do his thing, do it right, and do it right now. From an out-of-story perspective, he's not going to be a lead character in a series of books, so we don't have the luxury of a few stories to see him become the perfect communicator he is. (Not that I'd mind if he reappears occasionally in future books.)

    After all, the importance of communication is what this book is about. Part of the mysterious plan going on in the book proves to revolve around false information, others on diplomacy, others on withheld information. Sonek Pran is needed to get people talking again after the disruptive catastrophe of the Borg invasion. Sonek talking to his son near the end of the book reinforces the message. In a more sinister development, we learn that the catastrophe has led to other people communicating, too -- and forming a new alliance, one that's set to play a key role in many future novels.

    Writing a book like this is a bit of a thankless task, I suspect. It isn't all about action. It's about what happens afterwards: trying to make sense of the new world you find yourself in, and only starting to realize that the end of one problem is just the beginning of a new set of a problems. KRAD takes on the challenge of telling that story -- and of using some new characters to do it -- and meets it, crafting a story that kept me reading, eager to learn what would happen next; a story that puts pieces in motion for what comes next, and raises whole sets of new questions for readers paying attention (hope you didn't just skim through that casualty report). It's a big satisfying read that takes care of your first set of "what happens next?" questions and gives you some new ones.
     
  6. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Going to read it one more time before I comment.
     
  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    For the record, Nan Bacco first appeared (and was elected President) in A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith RA DeCandido, which was published in September of 2004. Meaning, of course, that it was actually written long before then -- I'd presume that the manuscript probably wasn't finished until March or April 2004, and that the novel and its key characters, including Bacco, were probably conceived and written some time in late 2003. For the record, KRAD lives in New York City.

    President Obama, by contrast, was nationally unknown until he delivered the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 as a candidate for US Senator from Illinois. He had been serving as an Illinois State Senator from a district in Chicago since 1997 at that point, of course, but, as I noted above, KRAD is a New Yorker.

    When Articles of the Federation was published in June 2005 -- a publication date only 9 months after War/Peace, BTW, which indicates he probably began working on it soon after he finished W/P, and, thus, probably began writing it before the 2004 DNC -- some comparisons were made between Bacco and Hillary Clinton. That seems like nonsense to me, though; the only thing they have in common, really, is being female and human. Bacco has always reminded me more of Molly Ivins or Anne Richards. And KRAD has gone on record on this BBS and others saying that he based her primarily on his great-grandmother.

    As such, I think it's highly unlikely that KRAD based Bacco on Barack Obama. ;)
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, mainly because cover blurbs need to sound dramatic. But I guess you could say that the events of Destiny awakened these powers' interest in forming a cooperative alliance -- and taking advantage of the relative power vacuum created by the Federation's weakened state.

    It's pretty much a standard practice to start chapters on the right-hand page. I've usually seen exceptions only in really long books that had to save space.


    Some fans have assumed that because the name "Tzenkethi" bears a vague resemblance to "Kzinti," they must have been meant to be the Kzinti or something similar, so some fan works have depicted them as felinoid. However, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who co-created them, explained online (when I asked him) that he had imagined them as "heavily armored lizard things," similar to Tyrannosaurus rex in appearance. As far as I know, no licensed fiction has used either description.

    Okay, I've seen "Typhoon Pact" and "Typhoid Pact," but this is the most creative misreading yet. "The mystery of the Tyson Group?" You mean like how they got so good at making poultry products? :D
     
  9. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Steve, thank you for that review.

    As Sci indicated, the Bush:Zife::Obama:Bacco analogy was fortuitous, but unintentional. Bacco was created in late 2003 shortly after my great-grandmother died at the age of 98. Articles was written in mid-2004, in the midst of the presidential election (and finished in October, so I didn't know the outcome of that election when it was being written).

    That there are parallels between President Obama and President Bacco is something I'll take as a happy coinky-dink. :)
     
  10. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Guess I wasn't clear enough. I didn't mean there was an implicit Obama/Bacco thing going on; I was commenting instead on a certain administration's tendency to throw out career professionals and replace them with unqualified appointees with the right party background.
     
  11. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, the Tzenkethi have been described within the fiction. The short story "Infinite Bureaucracy" describes a Tzenkethi as "a feliform biped with gray-and-black striped fur, including long, stringy whiskers and tall (if slightly bedraggled) pointed ears." A later reference indicates they have slitted pupils. Sounds like a cat to me.
     
  12. foravalon

    foravalon Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    w00t! I finally get to read this thread!, I just finished the book and I have say Thank you KRAD! Once again you've created an exceptional piece of fiction that is just truly awesome. As much as I loved Articles of the Federation I have to say this one has surpassed it in my personal reckoning. Right on sir. :bolian:

    Yeah, after all the mentions in the book and the other Duane references I was hoping they were Hamalki as well, but then Sara described A'l'e'r'w'w'o'k 's tentacle at one point and it didn't really ring true to me anymore , big glass spiders and tentacles don't fit in my head. Though I'm curious where else the nameless species has been mentioned and if KRAD can give us any further description of them. Anyone who can play lively rendition of Emrak sil var Emrak is cool in my book.

    Couple random questions though:

    -We know Sonek was born around 2316, but I found it very interesting that his grandmother was a Bajoran, there's gotta be a story there. Around when did Tolik meet his wife and have T'Nallis? Definitely in the TOS neck of the woods...

    -Why Typhon? If Star Charts is any indication this area seems kind of off the beaten path for anyone but the Romulans. Where did the idea for the name of the Typhon Pact originally come from?

    -I know Keith is a Doctor Who fan and literary contributor as well amongst his many other realms of geekery; were the "Thals" of Thalezra an homage to a certain lovable race from Skaro or just a coincidence?

    -The Janus Mining corporation, I'm guessing there's some kind of reference to Janus VI here, if there is, I'm wondering if it was the intention to imply that this company somehow evolved from the lucrative situation that came about on this world, or if the implication was that Janus VI was a name bestowed on just another world being mined in the 2260's by the Janus Mining Corporation. Ala Dytallix B and the Dytallix Mining Company.

    -About the Tholian grudge. I imagine that there was some kind of communication with David Mack regarding this Taurus Reach business, but I'm just curious if the "sins of the Taurus Reach" that Tezrene brings up once again and which Nan refers to as having happened in the Gariman sector is a specific reference to events we've already seen in Vanguard or if it was a portent of events to come in that series.

    -Not a question so much as a lament for the late great Capt. Sanders, we'll miss you George Francisco!

    Thanks for the Blast Keith! Once again, you rock! :D
     
  13. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

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    Yeah - but they'll be damn good fighters, just don't let them get too near your ears!
     
  14. RonG

    RonG Captain Captain

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    The only thing that comes to mind Trek-wise, is the Typhon expanse (from the TNG episode with Kelsey Grammer.. Cause and Effect?

    ..But it's probably an allusion to the greek god Typhon, who according to Wikipedia :"Typhon attempts to replace Zeus as the king of gods and men. Typhon was described as the largest and most grotesque of all creatures that have ever lived, having a hundred serpent heads"

    Which begs the question - why would the TP races choose a Human mythological reference? Could be a story there...:devil:

    This is IMO another general reference in the same vein as the DS9 \ MU reference put in by Marco (as per Mack's account). A shout out and a "tease" to the already-classis Vanguard series :drool:
     
  15. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Thanks!


    Nope, not Hamalki. Beyond that, we'll see. :evil:


    The background I created for Sonek when I created the character is that his grandmother was a Bajoran who was raised on Vulcan. There doesn't have to be a story there -- Bajorans did have warp travel, after all, and sometimes people leave their homeworlds. :)


    Marco and I went through about a billion different names for this thing. :lol: We actually went through Star Charts trying to find a good location where the six powers could get together to meet regarding their new alliance. We decided the Typhon Expanse was as good a place as any, and we liked the sound of Typhon Pact. (If you'll notice on page 215, there's a reference to a lot of warp activity in and out of the expansse....)


    An unconscious coincidence. I realized it later, but I kept it anyhow. :)


    *shrug* Pick one. I just liked the name. :)


    Little of both. :evil:


    Indeed......


    Thanks so much!
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That was a Strange New Worlds story, right? So yeah, it appeared in licensed fiction, but it's unlikely to be binding on the novels.
     
  17. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Yes it was in SNW, but you only stipulated "licensed fiction", and SNW is as licensed as anything else Pocket Books puts out. :)
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^^All right, I already conceded that. Sheesh.
     
  19. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Captain Captain

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    I have to say, the famous (infamous?) casualty list was definitely KRAD's Patrick O'Brian moment. It was nearly as bad as when P'OB
    killed off Bonden as an aside.
     
  20. Elemental

    Elemental Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I read last night the page of a casualty report from the events of Destiny. Two very surprising names stood out - B'Lana and Miral Torres!! You mean to say another Voyager character has been killed off?? Wow, I really hope we get more info on this in the coming Voyager novel (or maybe later in ASD). Tom has already lost his father... did he really need to lose them as well? I'm only midway through the 3rd VOY relaunch novel so I don't know exactly what happened later. I think that anytime a character is killed it had better be for a good reason. Not saying this couldn't be a great storyline but I just hope it wasn't done willy-nilly.