Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by sosolidshoe, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I find that an odd question. Borg intelligence is and always has been collective. We're not talking about a single AI, a single program or server. Borg ships aren't like Starfleet ships with a single central computer, but more like the Internet, a decentralized network made up of millions of individual processing nodes that work collectively. The Borg Collective is a compound intelligence made up of countless organic and cybernetic parts. All of those parts contribute to the intelligence of the whole, just as all the neurons and glial cells in your brain contribute to your intelligence. A Borg cube is sentient because of the combined processing power of all its individual organic and cybernetic components. Take away the organic components -- the drones -- and you've only taken away half of what made up its sentience in the first place. What results is like a human brain that's undergone a lobotomy or even had a whole hemisphere removed. But there are documented cases of human beings who've remained alive and intelligent even after suffering such severe brain damage -- although their thought processes and abilities were profoundly changed as a result.


    Autonomy of individual components, yes. But we're not talking about a single processor, we're talking about the collective, decentralized intelligence of an entire cube. A cube is a colony unto itself, the size of a city. And this was a supercube, the biggest single Borg cube ever encountered. It was a respectable-sized mini-collective in its own right.


    He said that they've always had the potential to mutate into this, but never have before.


    My recollection is that the book DID NOT say cubes have always been sentient, at least not in this active way. It said it was a latent potential that never before had to be realized. Like the Moriarty or EMH examples I gave before -- the cubes didn't think autonomously, but they had the capacity to evolve that ability under the right circumstances.


    No. Wrong. He said the potential for this mutation to occur had always existed. Mutation is not inevitable. It's a chance event. If, say, a primitive fish has a gas bladder for flotation, it has the potential for that bladder to mutate into a lung and enable it to live on land. But most of the individual fish that have that potential will not actually get that mutation, because that's not how mutation works. Potential and realization are two different things.

    It was not inevitable that the Borg supercube would mutate in this way. It was just the Federation's rotten luck that it did. The building blocks were there, just as the building blocks for sentient holograms or "Emergence" intelligences were in the Enterprise computer, just as the building blocks for life exist in the primordial ooze of an uninhabited planet. But it takes the right spark, the right chance concatenation of events, to turn that potential into actuality.



    Yes, but by the same token, the cybernetic components are equally a core part of their consciousness. And we know the organic components (the drones) can function as intelligent life when separated from the cybernetic components, so isn't is asymmetrical to assume the reverse can't possibly be true?


    Not a failsafe. A fortuitous (for the Borg) and entirely unanticipated mutation.




    The whole point of the book is that this was a new, unique, unprecedented variation on the Borg, a freak mutation. Of course it was different. That was the whole idea.

    And it's misunderstanding the Borg to think of a cube as a single unit like a starship. It's a component of the collective whole and is itself a collective entity. The Collective is uniform, decentralized. A cube is merely a detached component of the whole, a large enough one to function as an autonomous collective even in isolation from the greater mass.


    No such distinction. The cube is a subset of the Collective and is a collective in its own right. It's not a starship, it's an ant colony.


    And they are equally within the capabilities of fundamentally nanotechnological systems. One possibility does not disprove the other.


    Because of the limitations of television budgets. Why should books limit themselves without need? Should Titan have an all-humanoid crew just because the makers of the TV shows didn't have enough money to populate their ships with nonhumanoids? Arguments based on the shows' limitations don't make sense when applied to the novels.

    And you're limiting the issue by focusing only on repair. What about growth? What about the growth of Borg technology on the assimilated crewmen in First Contact? What about the "future drone" in "One," grown by Borg nanites out of the Doctor's mobile emitter? There is certainly more evidence besides "Q Who" that this is at least possible. All you can do is demonstrate that an alternative interpretation exists. You can't show that it disproves BD's interpretation.


    I don't know why you think that. It's a standard "grey goo" nanotech scenario, and it's established that the Borg employ nanotech. It's simply extrapolating that established fact to one possible conclusion.

    I mean, let's talk about your "Constructor" nanites. They have to get their raw material from somewhere. They have to be able to take existing matter apart and transform it into the compounds and molecular structures they need to build. So what you insist on treating as two mutually exclusive possibilities are nothing of the kind. The one you reject is actually implicit in the one you argue for.


    Another straw man. The depicted mutation is not remotely so extreme.

    He did explicitly say they were new. That was the whole damn point of the book -- to reinvent the Borg into a new, scarier form. You're entitled to say you didn't find that new form scary or satisfying. But it's simply false to claim he was saying the Borg have always been like that, because the whole damn point of the book was that this was something entirely new.


    They're the exact same Borg. Literally, the same individual Borg drones that we saw assimilated in Before Dishonor, aboard the same ship that Admiral Janeway was on when she and its crew were assimilated. They have the same mutant abilities and traits that BD introduced. So how can you see them as acceptable in GTTS and unacceptable in BD when they're the exact same thing?


    You didn't see such a connection. I did. Perceptions differ. No writer's choices are going to satisfy every reader. But a lot of your specific arguments here just don't make sense or are based on incorrect recollections of the book.
     
  2. sosolidshoe

    sosolidshoe Ensign Newbie

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    Frankly, I think it's pretty cheap of you to accuse me of strawmen, considering the amount of times you strawmen my arguments in the last post. I also really don't appreciate the attitude.

    I'm done, but I do suggest you do some research into nanotechnology, because most of the terms you use don't mean anything close to what you think they mean.
     
  3. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't let christopher scare you off. He does this a lot, but the attitude is unintentional. He's just passionate in a way that doesn't come across well online sometimes.
     
  4. j3067

    j3067 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Exactly...to me, the Borg are defined by a homeostasis between the organic and synthetic enhanced by the assimilation newly discovered species and their technology.

    Independent of any organic component the Nanoprobes created an incubation/maturation chamber out of the mobile emitter and the compartment on Voyager. To me, this canonically demonstrates that the Borg Tech can operate independent of an organic component, but with an imperative to re-incorporate the organic (seeking homeostasis).

    To a certain extent, I also think this follows to First Contact. When the Borg captured Data they attempted to assimilate him by adding organic components to him.
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    About sapient Borg cubes... if the Enterprise computer can come to life and make a baby that flies off into space at the end (as we saw in that bizarro holodeck episode), then similar can happen with the Borg, too.

    In the fanatasy world of Trek (and it is fantasy, in the crudest "science fiction" dress up), anything's possible.
     
  6. AuntKate

    AuntKate Commodore Commodore

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    Good comment.

    I don't care who a poster is or what he/she does for a living, there is no "nerd chief" who is the arbiter of all things Trek, no matter what their attitude or passion. Every person's understanding of Trek is valid to them and should be respected. Posters can have their say without becoming arrogant or condescending. So, yeah, don't be put off by anyone here.
     
  7. zar

    zar Captain Captain

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    That's a silly accusation; he didn't use any terms that actually exist in real-world nanotechnology, unless you count "nanotech"/"cybernetics" itself. This isn't hard sci-fi...
     
  8. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My honest feelings about Before Dishonor are that, although people are of course free to dislike it, the fervor with which that dislike tends to be expressed is grossly overblown. The book, IMO, is not nearly as problematic as majority opinion would make it seem, and I honestly had no problems whatsoever with how Peter David handled Janeway and Seven, even though he has admitted that he personally doesn't like either character.

    As for my own opinions about the book itself as opposed to the dislike that it genders, I enjoyed it, although I don't think it's quite as good as PD's New Frontier stuff.
     
  9. j3067

    j3067 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My main problem with the book is that it felt more like an amalgamation of Superman 3 & 4 than Star Trek to me.

    You've got a beloved character turned evil by an outside force, plus a lady who gets turned into a cyborg by the super-computer at the end. When the cube plunged into the sun all I could think of was the solar creature Lex made in Superman 4. It made it very hard for me to take the book seriously as Trek.

    Nobody ate Pluto in those movies, so I guess BD exceeds those films in absurdity.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  10. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. I also think we should emphasize that, as per Star Trek: Destiny, the Collective's desire to assimilate biological lifeforms is not a rational drive.

    Rather, it's a psychological imperative impressed upon the Collective by the deeply traumatized, irrational remnant of the mind of the Caeliar Sedin.
     
  11. Deano2099

    Deano2099 Commander Red Shirt

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    I enjoyed BD for what it was: a fun knock-about romp through Trek. It's good silly fun.

    The problem was the positioning of such a light-hearted OTT approach to the fiction in the middle of an ongoing narrative that took it a lot more seriously, and also the fact that said book was dealing with some very serious events with major repercussions, including the death of a much loved character. It didn't quite fit for me. But it was fun.
     
  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^I agree with all of this.

    Without placing blame, my understanding is that communication between the various parties involved in the production of the books was suboptimal, which doubtless didn't help. In fact, reading all of the books in series makes it seem rather obvious that either there were communication failures/omissions or the writers are far less competent than one would tend to assume based on their prior works.

    In any case, while PAD surely is somewhat responsible for any perceived shortcomings within the text, I don't believe he likely deserves the demonization he tends to receive regarding BD.
     
  13. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    Taken by itself, I thought it was a pretty fun read. Nowhere close to PAD's usual level, though the blow was softened by the death of a character I can't stand in the least, which made me chuckle.
     
  14. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Also, PAD has his own following. People who read all of his comic titles and any novels he writes, originals and media tie-ins, and even his "David Peters" titles ("Psi-Man"?) - yet these readers may not call themselves Star Trek fans. I recall many people being surprised that BD turned out to also be a sequel to "Vendetta".
     
  15. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't know why anyone complains about this book, beyond Janeway lovers being upset their captain died. It was a great plot and well executed. Sure it had its light hearted moments but I think they were good for off setting the tension from the seriousness of the events. And remember, now we don't have to debate about what to call Pluto!


    PD was given a tough assignment. I appreciate how he handled it and not actually killing Janeway. I honestly don't think another writer would have handled the editorial assignment better and delivered as enjoyable and gripping a read.
     
  16. j3067

    j3067 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^Not if Janeway convinces Q to send Pluto back with her...:bolian:
     
  17. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    If it were me I would have plumped for the ending being Q jailing Janeway for being a dangerous, savage child(Tuvix, future timeline in Endgame, passim).
     
  18. j3067

    j3067 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^That reminds me of how I always wanted "Murder She Wrote" to end. I used to get stuck at my Grandparents house every week and I was always hopping that they would reveal that Angela Landsbury was framing people for murders that she committed every week.
     
  19. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Janeway comes back as Pluto.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Gee, first a salamander, now a dog...