Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by nx1701g, Nov 16, 2008.

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Grade Lost Souls

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  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    If you pay attention throughout the trilogy, I'm sure that one of the things you might have noticed was that one of the main themes of the trilogy was the duality of life and death and of the past and the future. Deanna's pregnancy serves as a symbol of that theme; as the Federation is facing its imminent demise at the hands of the Borg, so too is Deanna's child facing death before it even has a chance to live. Deanna and Will have no real future together (as symbolized by their child) if the Federation falls -- because no one has any real future if the Borg win. I would suggest that it is not unintentional that the same source that redeems the Borg saves Deanna's child. The Caeliar, by intervening, by helping others instead of hiding amongst themselves, prove the key to saving the Federation and redeeming the Borg. They give the Federation its future back -- and therefore save Deanna's child. The Federation has a future, and so too now do Deanna and Will.

    Well, there have been plenty of novels that picked up where VOY and NEM let off. There's the VOY Relaunch (Homecoming, The Farther Shore, and Spirit Walk, Books I & II). There's the Time To... miniseries set in the year before NEM. And there's the Titan series and the post-NEM TNG novels, all of which are set after NEM. Destiny is part of that post-NEM cycle.

    And the idea that the Federation can be rebuilt "really quickly" is just absurd. 63 billion people were slaughtered. Vulcan, Ardana, Rigel, Andor, Tellar, and Qo'noS suffered devestating attacks. By my count, at least twenty-seven worlds were exterminated, at least three more attacked with an unknown status, and at least six more targeted with unknown status.

    I put together some numbers and guestimated that the Federation probably lost at least 5% of its total population, and that's being very, very conservative. But even if we're talking five percent of the total population, there's no way they'd be able to rebuild quickly.

    You're talking the equivalent of the United States losing 15 million people if you're talking losing 5% of the population. That's like losing New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston all at once. Or, to put it another way, like losing Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, and New Mexico.

    There's just no way you recover from that quickly. Hell, the U.S. only lost 3,000 people on 9/11, and we still haven't completely recovered.

    And, sure enough, the new novel A Singular Destiny and the upcoming Losing the Peace make it clear that the Federation will be recovering from the Borg invasion, and dealing with the fallout from it, for years to come.
     
  2. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    ^ I just want to compliment you, Sci, for doing an excellent job of sussing out the symbolism and themes in the trilogy, and in the rest of my work. I wish that I made heaps more money than I do so that I could put you on my payroll as a PR person. :)
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    Aw, shucks, 'tweren't nothin'. ;)

    Thanks!
     
  4. Semah

    Semah Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    Incredible book, Mr Mack. Here I was ready to write a scathing bit about how Picard was acting woefully out of character, and you go and not only explain why, but retroactively explain why he always acts that way when the Borg are around. Good stuff. I may have to read your post-apocalyptic book you were talking about before.
     
  5. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    The evil of the Borg originally was that they/it was a hive mind pursuing perfection and assimilating everything because that was the proper thing to do. They didn't hate those they assimilated. Sort of like Moby Dick - impersonal, but dangerous. (Roddenberry is actually ambivalent about the Borg in the last interviews. Had to make them scary for tv, but thought some gestalt/group consciousness might be our next step, into SORG-dom (social organism).

    The author of Destiny really changes the character of the Borg. Perhaps the damage was already done in First Contact. Nevertheless, in this trilogy, the Borg drones are slaves, not fully integrated, really. And, the mind/spirit guiding the whole thing is more "evil" by intent, rather than as a consequence of pursuing perfection. In fact, now they're not even pursuing the beauty of perfection; the Omega Molecule is revealed just to be an amazing power source that wil make them ever more powerful (muwahaha!). It just sort of un-cools the Borg for me and makes them/it somehow a bit more ordinary.

    I DID like the non-violent resolution, for what it's worth.
     
  6. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I wouldn't call any of my upcoming work "post-apocalyptic." If you're referring to The Calling, it's a modern-day supernatural thriller set in New York City. Nothing apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic about it. :)
     
  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that Destiny and Greater Than the Sum both establish -- and so does Before Dishonor, for that mater -- that while a portion of an individual drone's pre-assimilation personality remains intact, most of that individual's consciousness is re-shaped and altered by the assimilation process. You become, in essence, the victim of mind control and then your mind-controlled mind is linked to the others via the Collective. So the full integration thing is still intact.

    The second thing to keep in mind is that, well, Mack didn't actually make the decision to make the Borg, in your words, "slaves, not fully integrated." Nor did he make the decision to make them "more 'evil' by intent, rather than as a consequence of pursuing perfection." The decision to reveal that Borg drones are actually slaves was made in "The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I & II" and in Star Trek: First Contact. The decision to make the Borg more evil by intent came from First Contact and VOY, as did the Borg's worship of the Omega Molecule. And I don't think that the Borg in Destiny are not pursuing perfection; they are. It's just that Mack made explicit what the writers of First Contact and VOY had made implicit: That the Borg Collective defined "perfection" as the possession of unlimited power.

    Another example is emotion. The Borg were originally described in "Q Who?" as being creatures devoid of passion, acting only rationally in their own self-interest. It was never personal, as you note. What FC and VOY did, though, was reveal that the Borg do have emotion and that, for them, it is personal: The Borg take pleasure in assimilating new life-forms ("Dark Frontier"). The Queen can develop emotional attachments to certain drones ("Endgame"). The Borg experience religious impulses, such as the worship of the Omega Molecule ("The Omega Directive").

    And the Queen feels lonely (First Contact).

    What Mack has done in Destiny is take those elements of the Borg that VOY and First Contact established that contradicted what "Q Who?" had established and put them in a new context. Instead of seeking to ignore them or minimize them, Mack has taken them and put them into a new context that speaks directly to the larger themes of life, death, and community. We discover that all of these aspects of the Borg -- the desire for power, the constant desire to consume and assimilate, the feelings of emotion -- are all the result of the Borg originating from a desperately lonely, miserable creature that was in a great deal of pain, facing both the loss of its entire civilization and its own imminent demise, who could not accept her fate. Instead of allowing herself to die and to have lived by a moral code, she made the choice to lash out at the universe, desperately seeking to live, constantly driven by her own fear of death, violating everyone else's rights in the process, and eternally driven by an inconsolable sense of loss and loneliness and pain. Like Hegel's Master, who sought recognition for his achievements from his Slave but who could never truly receive genuine recognition because his Slave could never give him anything but, Sedin seeks companionship, but is condemned to eternal loneliness because the Queen, her avatar, leaves no one's minds intact.

    In short, where the VOY writers -- and, let's be frank here, it's mostly the work of Brannon Braga, who wrote the Borg Queen sections of First Contact and wrote or co-wrote the majority of Borg episodes of VOY -- where Braga took an interesting, if impersonal, antagonist and turned them into very traditional, emotional villains, Mack takes those Braga elements and places them in a much deeper, much more philosophical context that owes more to Hegel or Camus than it does to Snidley Whiplash (who is, frankly, the Braga Borg's true antecedent).
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I don't think you can take the Queen's professions of emotion as being genuine. I always perceived them as calculated and artificial, just tactics she employed in her efforts to manipulate and use other beings.

    I also don't think the books portray the Borg as "evil by intent." People don't think of themselves as evil. Everyone's trying to do what they believe is the right thing, even if they define that purely in selfish terms. The Borg are simply goal-oriented, that goal being the assimilation of all life into the Collective. And they are ruthless toward anything that threatens that goal.

    I mean, from the Borg's perspective, their actions in last year's TNG novels and Destiny were acts of self-defense. The offshoot Borg in Resistance et seq. were in a "kill first" mode because they were protecting their nascent Queen. And the main body of the Collective invaded the Alpha Quadrant in Destiny as retaliation for Voyager and Admiral Janeway's destruction of their transwarp hub and Unicomplex. That was the first time the Federation had caused destruction to the Borg on such a massive scale, and so that made the Borg see the UFP as an imminent threat they could no longer tolerate. All very logical and pragmatic.
     
  9. Silversmok3

    Silversmok3 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    So ,you can take the drone from the Borg,but you can't take the Borg outta the drone,right?

    In a different topic,look what Mack's books have created-40 pages of deep philisophical and idealogical exchange.I vote for a VH1 episode,'Behind the Epic', using this thread lol....
     
  10. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    Well, where I wrote "evil by intent," please note that I had just the word evil in quotes. I am aware that evil can certainly be in the eyes of the beholder. It is the "intent" part, I guess, that is actually different from how the Borg were originally presented. They are more intentional or conscious now rather than just going about their business. Destroying rather than just assimilating whoever happens to be in the way with good skills or tech.

    I would still argue that the drones' retaining some individual (trapped) consciousness does make them less than "fully integrated," but that is just how I see it, I guess. I would also argue that if they're pursuing Omega as a power source, that weakens the case that they are pursuing perfection for perfection's sake, which I liked about them, frankly.

    Overall, I just prefer my Borg less personal. Somehow that is scarier - an enemy who is just doing what it does, which happens to be abhorrent to us. Now as to who started watering that down (e.g. Braga, etc.), I will bow to you other folks' historical expertise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I disagree.

    1. The fact that the Queen allowed Voyager to survive instead of just neutralizing this pest makes no sense unless her profession to favor Seven is true.

    2. Krige's performance in First Contact struck me as being far too angry at Picard for his having spurned her for it to be false. The Queen could easily have just had Picard killed before entering Engineering if she was coldly pragmatic. She obviously wanted to cause him harm in part because of his having spurned her. Plus, it was Picard's memory from having been Locutus and having touched her mind that let him know she wanted him.

    3. We saw the Queen feeling emotions in her internal monologue in Destiny.

    No, but they do portray them as being deliberately malicious, enjoying causing harm and desiring power.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    As stated, that was a response to a specific need. If your survival is threatened, then taking action against the threat is "going about your business." Most animals behave differently when faced with a threat than they do under normal circumstances. So it's not a change in the way the nature of the Borg is being presented, just a change in the circumstances.

    Why can't it be both? The Borg are pragmatists. They value that which is functional. To them, perfection would require utility. Their idea of perfection wouldn't just be something elegant they can look at or think about -- it would be something that was perfectly useful, something that at once represented the perfection they aspired to and gave them the power to work more effectively toward achieving it.


    Not at all. As explained in "Dark Frontier," she arranged for Seven to be planted aboard Voyager so she could study humanity and learn its secret to resisting assimilation. The ship's survival was simply a means to that end, and her "favoring" of Seven was merely because of her value as a tool to the Queen. Besides, the Borg are secure enough in their power that they see no need to eliminate Voyager, any more than they see a need to attack intruders who aren't attacking them.

    Granted that the Queen is capable of responses that aren't entirely pragmatic. My point is that you can't assume she's being honest about what her feelings and motivations actually are. When she tried to seduce Data and Picard in FC, she was clearly working toward a goal, manipulating them with lies. There and elsewhere, whenever she's professed feelings toward anyone, she's always had an agenda, always been trying to get something out of them. So her claims cannot be taken at face value. What's motivating her is not sentiment toward others, but self-interest. Her claims of sentiment are tools of seduction, not insights into her true motives.


    I think that's anthropomorphizing them. They're being deliberately aggressive, but as I said, that's a response to a perceived threat. They're not "enjoying causing harm," but are satisfied when their goal of neutralizing a threat is achieved. And power isn't so much something they desire so much as something they assume they're entitled to. It's not so much a ruling passion as a guiding paradigm.
     
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    The problem is that Picard's suppressed memory of the real reason the Queen wanted him as Locutus is revived. It's a memory formed when he was already Locutus, when there would have been no reason for the Queen to be dishonest about her goals towards Lotcutus since he was already a part of the Collective. He distinctly remembers that she wanted Locutus to be a partner, an equal -- which implies loneliness.

    Add to that her absolute fury at Data for betraying her, and we have what is clearly an emotional being.

    It's really not. Even if we didn't have the Queen's urging Seven to take pleasure in the assimilation of others, as she does, in "Dark Frontier," there are these passages from Destiny that clearly depict an emotional Queen experiencing pleasure at harming others, and experiencing anger when that harm is disrupted (I'm afraid I'm referencing the eBook edition and so have no stable page numbers to give you):

    If the evidence from the canon wasn't conclusive enough, the evidence from Destiny is: The Borg experience emotion and lust for power. It's more than just a guiding paradigm -- it's an emotional act when the Borg seek power.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    You're still not listening. I'm not saying the Queen is incapable of emotion. I'm saying that just because she professes a certain emotion, you can't assume she's telling the truth about what her real motivation is. That goes for any person in any context, regardless of whether they're Borg, human, anything. If someone has an agenda, if he or she is trying to manipulate someone or achieve a goal, you can't just blindly assume that they're telling the truth when they express a certain feeling. People lie to manipulate other people. And I think the Borg Queen is a very skilled liar and manipulator.
     
  15. Semah

    Semah Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)


    Huh. I have no idea why I thought that it was. Guess you'll just have to write one. I hate being wrong. ;)
     
  16. elaithin

    elaithin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)


    Because of who the author is?
     
  17. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I misunderstood that, and apologize for that misunderstanding. In particular, your argument that it was anthropomorphizing the Borg to attribute malice to them was one that I had thought was arguing that they weren't experiencing emotion (and in particular emotions such as sadism and malice); in quoting the passages above, my intent was to demonstrate that the Borg do experience pleasure from causing harm to other beings.

    In certain contexts I would agree that the possibility that she is lying is greatly increased -- such as when she's trying to persuade Data to join the Collective and give them the Enterprise computer codes in First Contact, or when she's trying to persuade Seven of Nine into rejoining the Collective in "Dark Frontier."

    In other contexts, I'm of the opinion that the possibility that she is lying is negligible. There is no reason whatsoever to think that she was lying to Locutus about wanting him as an equal -- Locutus was already part of the Collective and absolutely loyal to her. She would have had no reason to lie to him. In addition, the amount of spite that she displayed towards Picard upon his entry into Engineering at the finale of First Contact is something that makes no sense -- she had nothing to try to take from him, no need to manipulate him in any way. The Queen's behavior only makes sense if she wished to cause him emotional harm by displaying Data's apparent betrayal in response to his refusal to willingly submit to her and become Locutus.
     
  18. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I will say that I do agree somewhat; the version of the Borg as, basically, a really successful hive of insects on a galactic scale was terrifying in a very impersonal way.

    But, for the record, that was already starting to be eroded when Locutus happened; there was already some amount of empathy projected there ("the species will come easier if we speak to them more personally"), regardless of the existence of a queen.

    Either way, once the queen was introduced, the Borg had a personality; they weren't truly alien to our way of understanding. There was a sentience there that could relate to and communicate with people in real terms. Everything since, including Destiny, I feel has been necessary extrapolation from that fact.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    Well, there's a middle ground. Maybe the Borg aren't completely dispassionate (at least when sufficiently provoked), but neither does that mean it's valid to interpret their motivations in purely human emotional terms. I still think it's an exaggeration to use words like "pleasure" and "malevolence" for them. I don't think they're sadists. Yes, the Queen was described as having "murderous fury," but not just out of the arbitrary desire to do harm for its own sake. That fury was a response to the specific threat that the Federation had proven to pose. The Borg adapt when faced with an obstacle, and this was a problem that required an aggressive response; therefore, this new Queen adapted by embracing an aggressive mentality. It's not the gratuitous evil of a B-movie villain, it's a response to a specific stimulus. As Dave said, it was a mandate built into her consciousness. Aggression is a fundamental drive which serves a purpose -- it motivates life forms to pursue prey or to compete for territory or to defend against predators. Of course it's an emotion, but it's also a drive that serves a function. If a tiger kills a wildebeest, you can't anthropomorphize that as an act of malevolence or cruelty.

    And I didn't see anything in the passages you quoted about the Queen taking pleasure in others' suffering. I saw descriptions of homicidal fury, aggression, hatred -- all of which are responses provoked by the damage Voyager did to the Collective. "Endgame" was the Borg's Pearl Harbor. It's natural they'd respond to that with aggression, and with an intense desire to see that enemy destroyed, a desire that could be characterized as "hate." But that doesn't mean they were always driven by hate; it was a reaction to the specific context.

    So just because I'm saying you can't anthropomorphize the Borg doesn't mean they're incapable of some form of emotion. Animals have emotion, after all. I'm just saying that you can't assume their motives can be described purely in human terms, or explained in terms of innate malevolence or sadism.
     
  20. Sxottlan

    Sxottlan Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

    I keep trying to find time to write something about the trilogy, but can just never find the time.

    So for now, very good, but really uneven in Book 2.
     

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