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

  1. Excellent

    72.1%
  2. Above Average

    19.1%
  3. Average

    7.1%
  4. Below Average

    0.5%
  5. Poor

    1.1%
  1. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    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.
     
  2. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Destiny: Lost Souls - Discuss/Grade

    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!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2013
  3. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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?
     
  4. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    There is no such thing as legitimate genocide. Ever. Species have a right to exist, full stop.

    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.
     
  6. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    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.

    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.
     
  7. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    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."
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    Nope. This is canonically inaccurate. Re-watch the DSN Season Four finale. Disagreement exists within the link.

    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:

    :bolian: Agreed completely.
     
  9. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    And thanks!
     
  10. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/2013/06/star-trek-destiny-lost-souls-review.html

     
  11. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Surely that's what prevents it from being a deus ex machina, full stop?
     
  12. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    DEM, I'd argue is not a bad thing. Greek theater wasn't necessarily bad just because Zeus showed up at the end to sort things out. But, perhaps you're right and I'm simply wrong.

    :)
     
  13. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Technically, the role of the Caeliar is not that of a DEM; their role has been established and foreshadowed throughout the trilogy. A DEM is a force that, without prior establishment or involvement in the narrative, appears at the end to resolve the story. The Caeliar's participation in the story is directly impelled by the actions of Erika Hernandez as well as Picard, Riker, and Dax.
     
  14. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Thanks! I corrected my review.
     
  15. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How would replicators and holodecks by themselves make it easy to be perfect? Couldn't replicators make it more difficult to understand the worth of things, and holodecks make it easier to become unsocial and alienated? Wealth and leisure alone do not make one a moral a person.

    Exactly why Riker argued for their survival against the Tkon who was ready to kill them.

    Plus Riker was telling the Tkon to spare the lives of the three Ferengi that actually were "Nazis."

    This may be off-topic but what exactly do you believe are Federation values are that shouldn't be spread?

    Riker was arguing that they be permitted to live in the hopes that they'd naturally evolve (you suggested the Federation teach them anything) to something other than what they'd showed themselves as: thieves and killers. In fact Riker says though the Ferengi [Alliance] may one day destroy [the Federation], that's a chance his people are willing to take in the hope that the Ferengi will change their ways. That's a pretty damn admirable, if a little too idealistic.

    It's episodic television. Riker cut to the chase. He wasn't wrong about them. That they were farcically simplistic and loathsome wasn't the issue; that was the conceit that set up the moral dilemma actually being discussed - what to do about such a people.

    Regarding the "intrinsic value of all life," here's a brain teaser, if the Ferengi were incapable of being anything but thieves and killers (if they were like the xenomorphs from Alien…alive but anti-life) should the Tkon have permitted them to be a perpetual threat or should he have eliminated the threat? As Hicks said queasily comically, "nuke them from orbit"?

    Finally, Phipps, if the remaining survivor of a race is a mass murderer, I say it is genocide and wrong to kill them in the 24th century. Given their level of psychiatric and genetic-engineering/cloning tech, I'm sure both the murderer and their race could be saved. Not that most people would want to.
     
  16. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    It's more the issue that I am a believer that "civilization is needed to be civilized." It's not that people are necessarily more primitive but it becomes easier to be compassionate and peaceful when there's less concern about day-to-day survival. I don't see this as a flaw, merely a state of reality that absence and struggling to survive makes it hard to care about things other than survival.

    I'm not a believer in the death penalty nor do I approve of WMDs. However, I enjoy postulating questions that put us in tough places. In the case of our hypothetical, "last surviving member of a race is a scumbag" I actually do believe there's a point that the loss of something unique in the universe is something to be avoided (so says Data in MOAM).

    My point was more a "devil is in the details" sort of question. Genocide is the most horrific crime in the history of the world but operating from the assumption that every single Founder is a consenting adult in a campaign of mass murder and conquest--makes the thing more questionable than I thought DS9 was meant to do. I'm actually rather glad to find out I was wrong since I always felt that was troubling.

    As I mentioned in my review of the book, I want Star Trek to always come down on the side of peace-making.
     

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