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

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  1. The Evil Dead

    The Evil Dead Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    I'll picking up the Kindle edition of this when it's available.
     
  2. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Mine is on the way. Maybe by next week I can start it.
     
  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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

    Good to know. The sudden dropping of the TCW was probably my least favorite part of the last season of ENT.
     
  4. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    I wonder if Braxton's involved... :shifty:
     
  5. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Are there lesser changes requested in 24 century novels, because CBS does not expect to visit that time period in film or television at any time in the near future?
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    I can't speak for CBS's licensing department. I don't know their policies for sure. But I'm not aware of any plans to revisit any century in the Prime timeline on film or television, and as far as I can tell there's not much difference in the approach for any Prime-Trek tie-ins.
     
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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

    Bought it today and read the first eighty pages. Definitely sitting on the fence so far.
     
  8. JWD75

    JWD75 Commander Red Shirt

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

    Hopefully my bookstore will have it tomorrow. I'm watching Trials and Tribbleations tonight in preparation.
     
  9. timothy

    timothy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    I am getting mine tommarrow via the nook all ready pre paid for it. I am going to be counting this a tng book. so I'll read it right after IFM.

    currently on mere mortals I have 45 pages to go will finish it today.
     
  10. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    ^Why TNG? If you absolutely have to shoe-horn it into a previously established series, I would think that DS9 would be better as that's where the characters Dulmer & Lucsly originally appeared.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    I guess you could say that overall, Watching the Clock draws more on elements of TNG than elements of DS9. Still, it's a DTI book, not a TNG book.

    And chronologically speaking, DTI:WTC takes place well before IFM. WTC covers March 2381 through February 2382 (approximately the same span as Rough Beasts of Empire), while IFM is January to March '83.
     
  12. timothy

    timothy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    okay so I read rough beast of empire dti:wtc and then ifm? would that be right chris^?
     
  13. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Just finished. :) Random natterings below:

    I've just finished it, and I very much enjoyed it. A lot of satisfactory answers to a lot of questions. I'm pleased that the studio allowed it all through, because I've been quite eager to get those answers. I can't tell you how pleased I am to have the Temporal Cold War finally explained. I agree with JD that while Enterprise Season Four was a success, it's irritating that they had to drop the TCW to achieve it. The silver lining was, of course, that it meant the novels could eventually deal with it, and hopefully in a better-plotted manner than the show did. And Christopher was the right choice for this topic; tying all those time travel stories into a reasonably coherent plot must have been quite a headache, and given his previous work on the galactic ecosystem and distant Trek history it makes sense that he'd be suited for this one. And, of course, he explains the science well.

    The characters were interesting, and since they're almost all new creations or minor guest stars it's definitely worth noting as a success of the novel. Seeing how the established canonical information for the two leads is all variation on the basic theme of "they're dull", it's impressive how Dulmur and Lucsly were made so likable. It must have been challenging, but using their slightly aggressive blandness as an advantage (demonstrating how and why it suits them to their jobs, etc) worked quite well. Of course, D and L are doing that themselves, aren't they - cultivating their dullness as something beneficial? I particularly liked the note that Ranjea's demeanor was that of the glamerous "secret agent" that D and L "aggressively deconstruct".

    Its also a point worth making that, as I assume is true of most people, I think of them as "Dulmur and Lucsly", but the novel made it more "Lucsly and Dulmur".

    There was some good humour in there, too. "Madams President" snarking at one another. The calendar dates near the climax (which I particularly liked because Lucsly would have a fit if he saw them. I hope he was too busy in those chapters to notice...). The best line in the entire book was Lucsly's "that was the advantage in having a partner".:guffaw: How very Lucsly. And I hope the "Day of Release" doesn't mean what my mind keeps insisting it means. It's a spiritual or emotional release only, right Risans? There were also parts that were darkly comical in their way; there was something bitterly amusing about poor Cyral Nine and her inevitable sense of betrayal. No wonder she's now a drunken mess. That was a memorable scene - although I do have a soft spot for Cardassians, which helps. And it served the purpose of reminding us that "preserving the timeline" can't help but leave a fair number of losers in its wake.

    I liked (as always) the little continuity tie-ups and unexpected links; explaining the Endicor anomaly and linking it to an earlier episode, etc. And I guess some Caitians are Regulans after all. Good one :). Oh, and, Christopher, would I be right in assuming the Shirna are the "Bucktooth" aliens, they of the infamously hated makeup?

    It was nice to see the Vomnin again, and I appreciated the hints that they're going to become a part of the extended community in known space; it gives added meaning to the exploration stories to see the discoveries followed up on elsewhere. Having the political situation change and grow, even in minor ways, is an important part of that.

    The Axis races weren't as developed as Bennett's aliens usually are, but I acknowledge that they're not the main focus, they're more a side mission. And I must say, I quite liked Evil!Giriaenn ;) - Christopher said he wasn't too pleased with her for that very reason (she's close to the Giriaenn character in some regard) - but I actually enjoyed the parallels. Having her come close to an "evil cackle" was good; you see, I ended up thinking that she was a great character for someone familiar with Christopher Bennett's work - precisely because she's a familiar character in several ways while also having a far more straightforwardly villainous motive than usual. It could almost work as a self-parody if you read it the "right" way.

    Speaking of the Selakar, there was a strong reoccurring interest throughout the novel of exploring empathy and connection with others (the Deltans, Clare Raymond's role in the DTI, the Selakar's perveted version) that was very interesting to consider alongside the DTI aggressive blandness. Emotion and raw empathy is celebrated so often in the novel that it makes a fascinating contrast with Lucsly's narrow, objective, just-the-hard-facts clockwork mindset. And yet Lucsly is of course extremely passionate in his own way, and you might even say he has something comparable to empathy with time itself. As the novel says, his highest purpose and goal is protecting the timeline. And of course the DTI agent essentially sacrificing connection and unity with others in order to be effective at their job resonated with the Deltan sacrifice in leaving home for any number of offworld duties. It seems such an odd pairing - Deltans and DTI - but it really works when you consider that common thread of empathy, unity, contact and the sacrifice of it.

    It was also nice to have a Suliban character, though I suppose given the nature of the book it was (happily) inevitable...It would have been nice to have a Suliban character; shame we didn't. Oh well. :shifty:

    I appreciated the general portrayal of the DTI, the sense of dignity and purpose in their work and their approach to it, particularly given the frequent reminders that it isn't a glamerous or exciting job. If you're doing more than filing paperwork and interviewing people, you've scewed up (I was going to say "already screwed up", but DTI complicates this too much that I won't risk the "always"). And the ending (which was also really the whole point of the plot) was hopeful and inspiring, a fitting monument to the idea of the "unsung" worker, the unglamerous labour that gets things built and maintained. It made the point well without being direct about it, and without taking anything away from Trek's celebration of the exploratory spirit and urge for discovery. Hopefully, if I might be so bold, this will further weaken the impression some readers have that post-Nemesis Trek is all doom and gloom. I found the ending a very satisfying nod of appreciation to the harnessing of dedicated minds to building something great. To cross sci-fi universes for a minute, I'm reminded of a reoccurring phrase on Babylon Five: "What is built, endures". That seems quite fitting to the novel's conclusion, in more ways than one. :) Also, the conclusion contributed further to the idea that the 25th century is going to be a time of peace and prosperity (as the Enterprise relaunch promised). That just reinforced the positive feelings.

    Oh, and Christopher...

    I recall you mentioning how you generally dislike time travel in Trek. So now you're setting up a situation where before too long there won't be any time travel shenanigans in known space, because everyone will be protected by the Grid. :lol: Felt the time had come* for drastic measures, eh? ;)

    * That wasn't actually a pun. don't sic Lucsly on me.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    It doesn't matter what order you read WTC and IFM relative to each other, because they have virtually nothing to do with one another. WTC does contain one small spoiler for RBoE, but otherwise they have virtually nothing to do with each other either.


    As far as licensing approval goes, I don't think there was ever any realistic expectation that the TCW would be revisited onscreen. Heck, the makers of ENT never even wanted to use time travel in the first place -- the network (or was it the studio?) insisted because they weren't comfortable with a prequel and wanted something that kept things moving forward in time. So the producers apparently never had a specific vision behind it beyond making their bosses happy, which is why it didn't seem to have much of a plan to it, and (I imagine) why they dropped it once it became clear it wasn't really going anywhere.

    But yeah, that made it quite a challenge to make sense of it all, and I'm still not entirely happy with what I came up with. It's still a reach that they'd start a civil war in the 2150s just to wipe out a single scientist in the 2380s, for instance. But I did what I could.


    Well, I think that's a little unfair to the writers and actors in "Trials and Tribble-ations." I found that Lucsly & Dulmur's 3 minutes and 45 seconds of screen time gave me essentially everything I needed to get a handle on their personalities. Their dialogue and the performances of James W. Jansen and Jack Blessing told me that while Dulmur was more talkative and outgoing, Lucsly was the more knowledgeable, senior agent to whom Dulmur deferred; that both men were good at quickly calculating dates, but Dulmur had to think about it while Lucsly did it better and with savantlike ease; that Lucsly knows temporal regulations by heart; etc. A critical bit was that last moment where Dulmur told Sisko he would've spoken to Kirk too, and Lucsly just glowered. That told me that they were both serious on the job, but the difference was that Dulmur could turn it off and be more human.

    And pretty much the rest of the work was done by Bill Leisner in "Gods, Fate, and Fractals" in SNW II, which basically portrayed Lucsly as Joe Friday. That plus the episode gave me the template for the characters.

    Although I drew on a lot of similar character types for Lucsly -- there's a lot of Joe Friday in him, but also a lot of Phileas Fogg, some Sherlock Holmes, some Egon Spengler, and some Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. Dulmur is more simple, basically Jack Blessing's own screen persona plus some Bill Gannon plus maybe some Lennie Briscoe. I cribbed the idea of his divorce from Dayton Ward's "Almost, But Not Quite" in SNW II, and his whole character arc grew out of that tidbit.


    Most people probably read too much into the "Mulder and Scully" allusion in their names. Like I said, the clear sense I got from the episode was that Lucsly was the senior agent.


    Risians don't draw much distinction between the physical and the spiritual. The double entendre was intentional.

    I really enjoyed the Cyral Nine scene, and I regret not getting to do more with the character. I don't know how it came to me that it would be interesting to examine a failed Aegis agent, but I'm glad it did.


    No, but you're in the right ballpark. They're these guys:

    http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Unnamed_humanoids_(24th_century)#Aliens_with_large.2C_triangular_head


    Intriguing. I never thought of it that way. It just kinda happened. Although I guess
    I did want the Ranjea/Garcia stuff to be sexier and more passionate to balance out the Lucsly/Dulmur stuff.

    As for the
    Deltans, my idea was that, as I said in the book, Deltans aren't just more emotional, but more emotionally mature than humans, and thus less likely to be stressed out or made unstable by the disturbing aspects of the work.


    Heh-heh-heh.

    In fact,
    I didn't put a Suliban in just because of the Temporal Cold War link, but because I've been wanting to do something with the Suliban since I started doing pro Trek fiction (there was one in the first draft of Aftermath, but he got changed to a Vulcan for fear of contradiction since ENT was still on the air). Since I was creating a whole new cast here, this was my chance to throw in things I've wanted to do like a Deltan character and a Suliban character. The TCW tie-in was just a bonus.


    Wow. Nicely said. But yeah, I definitely wanted to embrace the mundanity of their work and make it a virtue. The title Watching the Clock is meant to convey that sense of a humdrum, 9-to-5 routine as well as the sense of monitoring and protecting the timeline -- so it's combining the mundane and the profound in the same three words, which pretty much sums up the DTI right there.


    I'm not sure that's quite right.
    I believe I established that the grid didn't come online until near the end of the 25th century, well beyond the flashforwards in The Good That Men Do. I didn't want to close off any potential for time-travel stories in the near future.


    That wasn't my motivation at all.
    The grid does allow authorized time travels, and you never know whether someone might find a way around it. Also, I left it ambiguous whether the future in which the grid exists even survived the events of the climax. Again, I didn't want to lock anything down, since it's a shared universe and what happens in its future is out of my control.

    Actually the temporal defense grid was my initial idea for the plot of my Abramsverse novel -- I figured it'd be something a Vulcan survivor designed as a defense against future attacks from, well, the future. But I couldn't get a sufficiently action-oriented, standalone story out of it, so I moved on to something different and put the defense grid idea aside for some later project, maybe something original. But then this project came along and I had the idea handy, so there you go.

    Great review, very thoughtful. I appreciate it.
     
  15. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Sadly, it's been a long time since I watched the episode and the characters sort of faded into a gray blur. Maybe I even "flanderized" them somewhat; exaggerated their dull humourlessness, making them truly drone-like and ignoring all those personal cues you mention. I suppose that's the danger with minor characters - they stick in your head due to certain memorable traits and you reduce them to those traits, forget the complexities. I guess many fans like myself who haven't rewatched the episode for some time have an idea of Dulmur and Lucsly as two dull men in suits, little more. As you just demonstrated, that's evidently unfair, but I get the feeling its reasonably common. All I can say is, with those observations you listed informing the novel we're now reading, the characters (and the actors' performances they're based on) are presumably finally getting the recognition they deserve. :)

    Yeah. I should really get round to watching the episode again...

    I should have guessed. :lol: Yes, I suppose that is a very Risan outlook. And I should have known you did that quite deliberately...

    Ah, yes. I think I neglected to consider that the final scene concerns the beginning of the project, and it's explicitly mentioned that it'll take decades to complete. My mistake.

    Sorry, that was pretty much a joke. ;) I didn't really mean to suggest you were "shutting down" time travel out of mild personal pique. :lol: Again, apologies.
    Thank you. And thanks for taking the time on those lengthy replies and explanations. Very interesting.
     
  16. Saul

    Saul Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Sounds like my kinda book and even more interesting if it goes into TCW.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Well, no, they were "two dull men in suits," essentially; that was their role in the story. The details I'm talking about are subtle, the sort of thing you might not notice unless you're specifically poring over those 3 3/4 minutes of material in search of characterization cues. But the hints were there. I wasn't making up their personalities from scratch, but extrapolating from what the writers and actors gave me.
     
  18. bfollowell

    bfollowell Commander Red Shirt

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

    Is DTI: Watching The Clock a stand-alone or does it fall in the same reading order as we've seen lately?
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    It's a self-contained book in the post-Destiny timeframe, covering roughly the year after Destiny. It is not a TNG book or a DS9 book or a VGR book or a TTN book or a Typhon Pact book; it is a DTI book. It's an independent work that draws on the same continuity background as the rest. And you can read it in whatever order you feel like.
     
  20. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Christopher, how long before you have annotations for this novel?
     

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