DTI: Forgotten History by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Apr 15, 2012.

?

Rate Forgotten History.

  1. Outstanding

    56 vote(s)
    50.9%
  2. Above Average

    39 vote(s)
    35.5%
  3. Average

    10 vote(s)
    9.1%
  4. Below Average

    3 vote(s)
    2.7%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    1.8%
  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I'd never heard of that gentleman before.
     
  2. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    My review:

    I’m left with mixed feelings regarding Forgotten History. As a Star Trek fan, I enjoyed how well this book made sense of Original Series and Animated Series episodes just as Watching the Clock made sense of Enterprise’s Temporal Cold War and time travel in general. However, as a trek literature reader, I found the book a little dry and the characters not very engaging.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I have enjoyed all of Christopher Bennett’s novels, especially how well he handles complex science fiction subjects, but with regards to the Department of Temporal Investigations as a series, I was afraid it would be a one trick pony. Through the entire read of Forgotten History, I was never able to get into the DTI characters like I did with Watching the Clock. The new characters Grey and Delgado were interesting original characters but for some reason, they weren’t as engaging as Garcia and Ranjea were in Watching the Clock. I also had a problem getting hooked with the Original Series characters largely because their story often jumped through spans of months or years.

    Even though I wasn’t gripped by the story or characters, Forgotten History was still interesting because of what it took from and added to the Star Trek saga. What significantly impressed me was how well The Animated Series episodes and elements were incorporated into the novel. Often TAS stories are ignored but Bennett did a great job making some of the strange TAS stories fit into a modern novel targeted to adults. For example, the Animated Series life support belts are mentioned as is why what appeared to be a great technology would have been discarded by Starfleet.

    Though these details are of interest to a Star Trek fan, they tended to bog down the flow of the story. The book has several pages of what I would consider rambling where a character’s thoughts are described, gaps in the Trek timeline are filled in, or large swaths of time in the novel are covered which sometimes left me thinking, “Get on with it.” Many of these ramblings or musings added depth to the franchise, such as supplying a back story to Saavik and Spock’s relationship, but it often made for a dry read.

    Forgotten History not only added to my appreciation of a fictional universe (er, multiverse) but to my perspective on real history. The book has left me questioning my view of historical events and persons, showing me the need to be objective and wonder how much of what I know is colored by those doing the documentation and what is left out of the history books.

    Although I didn’t enjoy the reading experience, I did appreciate the depth Forgotten History brings to Star Trek. It is definitely worth reading and I recommended it to all fans of Star Trek: The Original Series. I look forward to future works by Christopher Bennett but I have less enthusiasm for DTI books after reading Forgotten History than I did when I began.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Thanks for the thoughtful review. I'm sorry it didn't work for you overall, but I'm glad you found some things to appreciate.

    That's a fair criticism. It could be I was so eager to use this book to advance my post-TMP continuity plans that it divided the focus too much. Then again, the DTI side of the story necessarily took a while to unfold.


    That's the most gratifying thing I've ever read in a negative review of one of my books. If you take nothing else away from the book, I'm proud if you take away that insight.
     
  4. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    That is something I appreciate about you as an author, there is an introspective quality about your books that always force me to reexamine my perspective. That is what sci fi, especially Star Trek, should do.

    Though I didn't particularly enjoy the reading expereince, I feel I have grown as a Star Trek fan and as a student of history for the experience which makes me glad I picked up the book.

    I honestly can't criticize Forgotten History too much because I honestly can't say there is much that I would improve. Much of my negativity is just that it wasn't my personal taste.
     
  5. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    There's a reason why you are warned of spoilers in the title of ALL review threads.
     
  6. Lanny77

    Lanny77 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Location:
    Ireland
    I picked up a copy of this early yesterday morning and read through it in a day. On the whole, it was a very interesting story.

    The idea of the Enterprises engines being special as reason for their proclivity to time travel was interesting. Aslo, the concept of a non-insane admiral being the cause of all DTI's headaches was fun
    And Lucsly being the cause of his own grievence with Kirk was jus great.

    However, the novel lacked the same Omph as Watching the clock, the same energy pushing the story foreword and content to waddle along at it's own pace. This isn't always a bad thig but here, it made it a little difficult to immerse yourself in the story.

    Aslo, Miri's earth being from an alternate universe felt extremly week. I had always immagined her world as part of some great experiment by the Preservers to preserve humanity like they did in Paradise Syndrome

    I did pick this up just prior to going to see Avengers so I may be a bit spoiled when it comes to fast pasted stories.

    Anyway, like a good TOS episode, I rate this as Above Average.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, as I explained above, what interested me was telling a story about a parallel timeline in which the Trek history we know unfolded without humanity, and using the Onlies' Earth was just a means to that end.

    And I'm resistant to the tendency of many fans and some authors to ascribe immense and arbitrary powers to the Preservers. The only actual evidence we have about the Preservers showed no sign that they had any technology more advanced than what the 24th-century Federation had. They moved a few small populations of Native Americans from one planet to another and they built a big repulsor beam generator, and they had some technology that could induce memory loss if misused. And apparently they were so mindbogglingly inept that they thought a good way to preserve an endangered population was to stick them in the middle of a dense asteroid field with only one lousy ray gun to defend them (what if the asteroid came in from the other side of the planet???). Surely there must have been safer planets. Or if they were capable of reshaping an entire planet into a duplicate of Earth, it should've been child's play for them to clear the asteroidal debris out of that system. The fact that they settled for that system as is and provided such meager defenses argues that their resources and power were actually quite limited.

    Also they can't be the immeasurably ancient race that some people seem to imagine. Spock said Miramanee's people were partly Navajo, who didn't exist as a distinct culture until the 17th century -- and of course the indigenous peoples of North America were not an endangered population until European colonists arrived and their diseases spread across the continent, so the Preservers would've had no reason to relocate them until the 16th or 17th century. So that would make their technology no more than 700 years more advanced than the Federation's, and either their judgment or their resources considerably more lacking.

    So there's just no basis for the idea that the Preservers were a superrace capable of terraforming entire planets, and no reason why they'd want to create an exact duplicate of Earth if all they wanted was to keep the species alive.

    Also, everything about "Miri" indicates that the whole planet was an exact double of Earth up until the life prolongation experiments 300 years before the episode (at a time when that world's technology level matched the 1960s on our Earth, which would mean they were chronologically in synch). It doesn't make sense as some kind of preservation enclave. If the population had been taken centuries before, its subsequent development wouldn't have duplicated Earth's so exactly. And if the population had been taken in the 20th century, not only would we have noticed the mass disappearance, but that would mean the population was struck by a global pandemic almost immediately after transplantation, which would be an even greater example of Preserver incompetence than the whole asteroid-field thing. It's just not credible.

    Not to mention that if the planet has been populated only by children for 300 years -- children who still act like children or feral primitives rather than learning responsibility, cultivating farms, building infrastructure, etc. -- then the death rate must be staggering. Even without aging, they'd still be prone to disease, accident, starvation, predation by wild animals, etc. If there's still anyone left alive after that much time, the population of children must have been much greater 300 years ago when all this started, so logically the planet's population in the 1960s would've had to be very large -- not just a small enclave settled by aliens, but a whole planetary population that would've needed thousands of years to grow to that size.

    So the only feasible interpretation of Onlies' Earth, and the one clearly indicated by the episode's script, is that it's a duplicate of Earth that developed identically up until the 1960s. And the only way that makes sense is if it's from a parallel timeline. And that led to the question, how would the absence of humanity have affected the interstellar history we learned about in Enterprise? And that was a story worth exploring.
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    The visitor's bullpen
    One of my favorite lines in the whole book: "If the Vulcans don't like you...then I do." :klingon: :techman:
     
  9. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    Some other random thoughts of mine on the book:


    What is the Earth Centroplex? Is that a predecessor to Spacedock?

    I thought it was interesting how the Chronal Assessment Committee was formed then later became the Department of Temporal Investigations. It reminded me of the NACA, the committee which later became NASA.

    I would love to see the USS Everett encountering Timeship Two in an upcoming SOTL calendar.

    If resurrecting characters diminishes the drama and emotion created by his/her death, doesn’t the same thing happen when characters from an alternate universe appear and give someone chances to correct missed opportunities and tragedies. The scene with T’Pring made me think Spock’s tragedy in Amok Time wasn’t so bad since he was given a second chance to become intimate and connect with T’Pring a few years later. I’m left thinking that Amok Time really wasn’t a tragedy for Spock since he later had the opportunity to be with an even better T’Pring and change an entire alternate Vulcan society and quadrant.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    It's the lovely space station from the TMP drydock sequence that was then amputated, flipped upside down, and recycled as Regula 1 in TWOK. Memory Alpha calls it the orbital office complex, but it was called Centroplex in the novelization and that's how I've always thought of it. (In fact, I hadn't even realized until now that that wasn't its official name.)


    I cribbed the CAC from All Our Yesterdays: The Time Travel Sourcebook from Last Unicorn Games.


    Me too. We've seen a lot of ship designs in canon and fan blueprints that used the saucer without the engineering hull (like the Miranda or Constellation classes or Franz Joseph's scout ships), but the reverse, a ship based on the engineering hull without the saucer, is very rare. The only instance I've ever seen was the fan-created Balclutha class.


    I'd hardly say "Amok Time" was a tragedy for Spock, or even a missed opportunity. On the contrary, it was more like a dodged bullet. He was much better off not marrying T'Pring. She was a cold, manipulative person who attempted to turn Spock into a murderer just so she could keep screwing her preferred boy toy -- which, by her own admission, she would've kept on doing anyway even if she had married Spock.

    This T'Pring, as I went to some lengths to establish, was not the same person as the T'Pring from "Amok Time," but a distinct contrast from her. She'd been through different life experiences that had made her less selfish, more empathetic. She wasn't just a second chance for Spock, she was a better alternative.

    As you saw in the book, Spock had no unfulfilled yearning to be with T'Pring; what he had was deep-seated resentment toward her for what she almost made him do to his best friend. He had to overcome that resentment and accept that this T'Pring was a very different person despite her physical equivalence. She could be what T'Pring Prime could never have been -- a source of generosity and support, a friend when Spock needed one most.
     
  11. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    Spock resented T'Pring but it seemed that there was still a deep attraction or need there. He mentioned how there is a connection when Vulcans are arranged to be mated as children. Spock's thoughts revealed the scent and appearance of T'Pring was arrousing to him. I got the sense that if she had been any other Vulcan, nothing would have developed between the 2. I perceived that Spock got closure by having intimacy with another version of T'Pring. However, I may be the only one who felt this way.

    As to seeing Timeship Two, the only time I've seen a saucer seperated Connie was in an issue of Marvel Comics Star Trek Unlimited. It would be cool if the SOTL calendar would have more images from trek lit. I would love to see the authors work with the artists to visualize key scenes from the past year's literature.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    That wasn't what I meant to indicate. His response to her was physiological; he was in pon farr, and his body and brain reacted to her reflexively because her pheromones and telepathic signature were identical to those of the person he'd been bonded to as a child. It was hormones and instinct; I didn't mean to imply they were soulmates or anything.
     
  13. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    I ended up picturing Roger Delgado as Admiral Delgado, and it totally works.

    I really liked the Admiral Delgado character. He was an interesting twist on the "Evil Admiral" cliche. While definately an antagonist with his own agenda, he isn't really evil. Manipulative, at times a bastard, but he never once came off as villainous. Easily my favourite character in the book.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    For what it's worth, I kinda had Hector Elizondo in mind as my mental image of Delgado.
     
  15. Cy-Fox

    Cy-Fox Cadet Newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2012
    I nearly lost it
    Picturing the look on Lucsly's face at the end realizing that he was the reason why Kirk could slingshot in other ships. [​IMG]

    Loved Watching the Clock and it was well worth the wait for Forgotten History. Going to have a lot of inspiration on hand for Immortality Protocol Cy-Fox thanks to your style, Chris.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  16. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    The visitor's bullpen
    ^ Somebody please make a threadbomb out of that Lucsly pic! :guffaw:
     
  17. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Perhaps I missed a post, but with there be annotation for this novel, Christopher?
    After ~100 pages, the story seems to be going well.
     
  18. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 9, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    Yep, you missed a post:

     
  19. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    How T'Pring manipulated Spock was a horrible thing but Spock would not have committed murder and thus not been a murderer. Murder is specifically the unlawful, premeditated killing of another human being. Assuming that Vulcans would be considered humans for the sake of the law you could argue that Spock could not have committed a premeditated act in his mental state. However, the fact that koon-ut-kal-if-fee is a rarely used but still legal challenge, any death resulting from it would not be murder. We may consider it to be but the act happened on Vulcan and wes conducted under Vulcan laws.

    A case could be made for prosecuting McCoy for fraud however.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Spock's own words once he returned to the ship: "There can be no excuse for the crime of which I'm guilty. I intend to offer no defense." So he certainly considered it an act of criminal homicide. Perhaps legally it would constitute manslaughter, but I wasn't talking about the law, I was talking about how he would feel about the situation and thus about T'Pring.