DTI: Watching the Clock by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Apr 18, 2011.

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Rate DTI: Watching The Clock

  1. Outstanding

    97 vote(s)
    59.5%
  2. Above Average

    44 vote(s)
    27.0%
  3. Average

    13 vote(s)
    8.0%
  4. Below Average

    3 vote(s)
    1.8%
  5. Poor

    6 vote(s)
    3.7%
  1. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I've been encouraging people at the st.com boards to read DTI, which is difficult as there are few readers over there. If I had to pick one book from '11 to read (or in fact the last few years), it would be DTI. Though it wasn't my favorite read, it made sense of so much and gave me new perspectives on space-time and sensuality (the Deltan's speech about possessions). Few books have done as fine a job smoothing out rough spots in the shows and I hope this book will one day be considered among those that stand the test of time.
     
  2. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I see what you did there. ;)
     
  3. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    :cool::beer:
     
  4. GHS

    GHS Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I don't think the lack of detecting dawned on me at any point while I was enjoying the read, but it is kind of like the series Twin Peaks (where Agent Cooper's murder mystery is ultimately solved by his dream, not his detecting) although Lucsly and Dulmer worked out more pieces of the puzzle than poor Cooper ever did.

    Yeah, that's a great take on the villain.

    If had he succeeded with the most elaborate scheme in all of Trek history, he still wouldn't have a leg up on any of his peers (it's like having a plan to blow up the entire Berlin Wall - there's no way to restrict the benefits to yourself). He doesn't personally reap any more than anyone else in his century.

    I think the book worked great with Lucsly and Dulmer as the main characters. It's just the indirect nature of their involvement that got me wondering about that. If they're so dependent on the uptime characters, they are kind of in a Daniels/Archer relationship, where Archer is clueless and Daniels could have picked any upper echolon officer in Starfleet to solve his problem. So, for your plot, Jena Noi could have potentially been visiting Picard or Calhoun or Nog and you could tell the same story.

    Or what if....the story was told from the point of view of the 29th century nosey old lady who lived in the apartment next to FG?:)
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    True, I have seen some detective stories where the detective character didn't really live up to the name (like The Ruby in the Smoke, at least the TV version -- supposedly the first of "The Sally Lockhart Mysteries," but all Sally did was stand around while her supporting cast figured out all the clues). But I think Lucsly, Dulmur, and the rest did a good job at deducing things insofar as they had the information to do so. Past a certain point, yes, their only possible sources of information (about events that often literally hadn't happened yet) were temporal operatives from uptime, but seeing the pattern in the fragments they did have, and even realizing that some larger strategy was playing out at all, was a pretty solid piece of analysis, I'd say. And on page 461-2, it was Lucsly who recognized the key piece of evidence that let them resolve the whole crisis.

    Still, my model wasn't so much "mystery" as "procedural." If you look at something like Law and Order, finding the culprit is often just a matter of talking to the right witness or getting the right piece of forensic evidence, rather than the result of some clever deductive leap. In mysteries, the story is fundamentally a puzzle to be solved, or a battle of wits between criminal and detective. In procedurals, as the name implies, it's more about the mechanics of the job.


    Well, yes he does, because the defense grid is a tool of the Accordists as well as their primary means of preserving their own existence. The analogy you want is not the Berlin Wall (which was not a military defense so much as a means for the Eastern Bloc to prevent its own population from fleeing), but the DEW Line, the distant early warning radar system to warn the US and Canada of incoming missile attacks. Or whatever equivalent system the Soviets had to warn them of attacks from the West. Taking out one side's key line of defense would definitely give the edge to the opposite side.

    Yes, technically, the temporal defense grid protects the Interventionists' history as much as it protects the Accordists' history. The difference is that without the grid, the Accordists wouldn't try to attack the Interventionists by altering their past, because their whole driving philosophy is that the past shouldn't be altered, for better or worse. So the Interventionists' past is safe either way (and indeed they may not want that, because they'd want the freedom to modify their own history to their advantage), whereas the integrity of the Accordists' past depends on the defense grid. Thus, preventing the grid's creation would definitely shift the balance in the Interventionists' favor.


    It wouldn't have been the same story, because the story wasn't about the Temporal Cold War, it was a procedural novel about the Department of Temporal Investigations. I didn't start off thinking "How do I explain the TCW?" and then decide "Oh, I'll do it from the DTI's point of view." I started off thinking, basically, "What if Lucsly & Dulmur were stars of their own procedural show with a whole supporting cast who had their own subplots?" -- using that format as a way to explore the full range of the Department's activities and responsibilities, from the mundane to the profound -- and it followed that, alongside stuff like dealing with temporal anomalies and negotiating with other governments and counseling temporal displacees, there should also be a plotline about Lucsly & Dulmur dealing with the shenanigans of time agents from the future, and it made sense to tie that into the TCW. But that was only ever meant to be one of several parallel plotlines following the various agents. However, it ended up dominating the novel more than I initially intended, with all the subplots except the Axis of Time turning out to be facets of it.


    That could be fun. What if Future Guy had just been some time-travel nerd in his mom's basement? Of course, now that you've suggested it, I couldn't use that idea anyway. (Although I'm wondering what the 29th-century nosy lady is doing next door to a guy who lives in the 28th century...)
     
  6. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I just finished reading it last week and it was a very entertaining well written novel. :techman::techman:
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    Thanks!
     
  8. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I finished it a few weeks ago, it is quite good, enjoyed reading about the DTI. I'm ashamed that this is the only novel I've read by you, Christopher. :(

    One great scene was interviewing (questioning) Janeway after the Endgame episode.
    Hoping now to read Ex Machina and The Buried Age soon!
     
  9. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    ^ They're both outstanding; you'll be pleased.
     
  10. GHS

    GHS Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    If there's any doubts about how daunting a task this book must have been, check out all the other attempts to rationalize the Temporal Cold War and Future Guy's identity...make that other attempt. You'd think over the last 10 years, there'd be dozens of at least fan stories taking a stab at explaining the motivations for the TCW, but I only came across one sole brave enough, and even then TCW wasn't the main plot.

    Has any S&S author besides Mr. Bennettt even used Agent Daniels? Memory Beta's non-episode/non-Watching the Clock references for Daniels: zero. Memory Beta's non-episode references for Silik: zero. Memory Beta non-episode/non-Watching the Clock references for Temporal Cold War: one, for the 80's TOS video game Judgement Rites (?!)

    It's hard to imagine such an inviting target for story ideas left tangling out there for years and nobody going anywhere near it (even if peripherally, by using Daniels or Silik). I'd argue that that the entire cosmic purpose of a Star Trek book line was so that it could eventually address the Temporal Cold War. Thank God they gave it to the right author when they finally did
     
  11. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    Can we start considering DTI as a series now - Christopher, do you have ideas for a third (and fourth) ?
     
  12. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    The third should be a Deanna Troi novel and be called:

    This Is No Time To Be Arguing About Time, We Don't Have The Time!

    (what was I saying?!?)
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I think it's premature to call it a series. Whether I'm asked to do a third remains to be seen. I wouldn't mind returning to these characters someday, but after doing two in a row, I'd like to do something else next.
     
  14. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    Titan. TITAN! Pleeeeeeeeeease write another Titan.
     
  15. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    Didn't you write The Struggle Within between them?
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    ^I meant two consecutive novels.
     
  17. TenLubak

    TenLubak Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I just finshed reading this book, and damn theres ALOT going on here. Being so buzy with work, and reading this over the course of 3 months made it difficult for me to keep everything straight at the end, but it was a neat read, I enjoyed Mr. Chris's efforts to link it with a lot of episodes and characters of the past, and tie up the whole future guy nonsense in a way that wasn't nonsense at all. But this was not light reading by any means. It was very good.
     
  18. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    I just finished this book a few days ago and absolutely loved it. I've always loved Time Travel stories (in and out of Trek) and have to say that my #1 pet peeve is authors who don't have coherent "Time Travel rules" established for their fiction. The rules don't have to be based in real science, of course (Though sounding scientifically plausible is a plus!) This whole book is about retroactively establishing Trek's Time Travel rules, which must've been challenging given the number of stories and authors involved over the last few decades of Trek time travel stories. And I very much enjoyed the novelty of a Time Travel book where the main characters aren't themselves time travelers.
    From the moment I heard this title announced I had a feeling that it was a perfect fit for Christopher's style, which more and more reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke or Stephen Baxter (whose Time Ships is one of my all time favorite Time Travel books, aside from--of course--H.G. Wells' original Time Machine).

    A few comments/questions:
    I very much liked how you touched on pretty much every Trek time travel story in some way. Are there any that you didn't get to address as fully as you would have liked?

    I also liked how you made the Slingshot method much more difficult that may be apparent in televised Trek. Given that the 1701 was able to do it due to modifications made by Spock/Scott, do you feel similar modifications were made to the HMS Bounty in STIV?

    In Ex Machina you made reference to the ringship Enterprise being an unmade prototype, yet here you refer to it as a real ship. Was this a conscious contradiction?

    I especially loved how you addressed the Time Travel in ST09 and how it differs from other Trek examples without actually referencing the event itself, which is in the "future" and which the Prime Time Line DTI would have no knowledge of anyway.

    Thank you for such a great book!
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    Glad to hear it!


    No need for spoiler boxes in the review thread, so:

    I don't really remember. If there were, I probably said something about it in the annotations on my website. But I did get to elaborate rather more on the TOS time-travel episodes in my upcoming DTI: Forgotten History. In fact, there are one or two things I would've left out of Watching the Clock if I'd known I'd get the chance to cover them in FH.


    The credit for that goes largely to David A. McIntee, author of Indistinguishable from Magic. That was part of his thought process in developing that book, and when we compared notes about our respective time-travel novels, the idea made sense to me and meshed well with my existing ideas, so I used it as much for consistency with IFM as for its own sake.

    Forgotten History will have some new things to say on that subject.

    My ideas about the ringship have changed (because the material about it in the Ships of the Line 2011 Calendar was so cool I couldn't resist alluding to it), but actually ExM said it was an "unused prototype," not "unmade," so it's ambiguous enough that it still works. "Unused" could just mean that its design never went into widespread production.
     
  20. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: DTI: Watching The Clock Review Thread

    That is very good news! TOS is my personal favorite Trek era, so I'm very excited to hear about more elaboration on those Time Travel incidents.


    Well, kudos to both of you then! I'll have to as David's book to my "to read" list.
    Its going to be a long wait for that book!

    Another thought: I really enjoyed how some of the DTI agents hold a dim view of how Starfleet officers operate. It makes perfect sense given how different their respective jobs are and I think its a nice contrast to how Starfleet is often portrayed in Trek.

    I'm really looking forward to Forgotten History! I was before now, but the couple of mentions you give in your post make me all the more excited for it.