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. Plaristes

    Plaristes Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Loved it! Thrawn said this is Destiny-good. I disagree. This book is better than Destiny! I'll have to think about it for a while, but WTC is a serious contender for my favorite Trek novel ever. The explanations/retcons for various onscreen time travel stories are great and I loved the references to other written events, especially the Millennium trilogy and the Aegis material.
    I only have two complaints.

    I thought the big reveal of Future Guy was a bit rushed, since it shows up at the very end. It's like the book was slowly building up to a resolution of at least part of the TCW, but then quickly tells us most of the secrets in a couple pages at the end
    Why no Kang the Conqueror? A sly reference to the TNG/X-Men story would have been awesome.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Articles was definitely a major inspiration for me here. I even talked about it that way at Shore Leave last year, saying that if Articles was The West Wing in the Trek universe, DTI:WTC was like an FBI procedural in the Trek universe. Although unlike AotF, WTC did end up with more of an overarching plotline.


    Wow. Speechless.


    To the former point:
    The reveal of Future Guy was problematical for me. The very nature of the story, with its viewpoint characters limited to the 24th century and not time-travelling themselves, precluded doing a "fair play" mystery where the culprit was a character previously introduced. All I could do was try to play fair with the mystery of why Future Guy did what he did, laying clues and groundwork for that so the audience would have a fair chance to deduce it, with who he was being a secondary issue. But I can definitely understand why the reveal would feel rushed. I wasn't completely happy with it myself. I don't know, maybe I could've worked in a flashback sequence after the big reveal, something to fill in more background. But the book was running quite long already.

    To the latter point:
    Never even occurred to me to reference the X-Men crossovers. They made no pretension of being anything other than "imaginary stories" relative to both Trek and Marvel continuity. Besides, the Trek/X-Men comic was literally the only story about Kang the Conqueror I've ever read. Since then I've seen a couple of episodes about him on the Avengers cartoon, but he's not a character I'm very familiar with. And referencing a character named Kang in a Trek context would just be confusing.
     
  3. TerraUnam

    TerraUnam Commander Red Shirt

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

    Question Christopher, why did you feel motivated to explain humanity's Great Jump from the dumps of the Post-Atomic Horror, WWIII and the Eugenics Wars to the Federation in terms of the influence of time travellers?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Are we not coding spoilers anymore? Isn't it a bit premature for that?

    Anyway, it was Greg Cox's Eugenics Wars novels that explained humanity's technological progress in the Trek universe's late 20th century as a result of reverse-engineering of alien technology left over from incidents like "Little Green Men" and The Voyage Home. The only thing I added to that was the suggestion (which, I should point out, was never conclusively verified within the novel) that
    the Eugenics Wars might've been the result of Temporal Cold War intervention. I did that because it fit logically with Future Guy's use of Suliban and Romulan Augments, and because it served to explain the improbably rapid advance in genetic science that would've been required to make Project Chrysalis possible. Also because I wanted to expand the TCW beyond the incidents depicted in ENT and tie in other elements like the Aegis -- since Howard Weinstein's seminal depiction of the Aegis in DC's Star Trek comic foreshadowed the idea of the TCW by a good decade, and since the original Assignment: Earth pilot proposal did much the same even earlier. So it all just sort of fit together neatly.
     
  5. Plaristes

    Plaristes Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Right, those crossovers were never intended to be serious. Still, it still would have been cool for Lucsly or Dulmur, in the section about their interviewing Picard about the events of First Contact, to mention offhand something about them finding it more difficult to return from the past than they first thought, or something like that.
    Another question:
    I didn't notice, but were there any references to "The Counterclock Incident"?
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    This one's not worth spoilering:

    Oh, gods, no. Stupidest episode ever, totally incoherent. Even "Threshold" made more sense.
     
  7. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

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

    Was totally expecting Faunt to be the Sponsor. I'm glad the real solution wasn't that obvious.

    Fantastic read, if a bit over my head sometimes. But that's really only an excuse to read it again soon, so no big loss.:)
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  8. trash80

    trash80 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Just finished, enjoyed the book which i thought was really good though did take some time to get going (no pun intended).

    One question though, i haven't come across the Aegis before have they cropped up in Trek before? From some of the earlier comments it seems so.
     
  9. Astraea

    Astraea Commander Red Shirt

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

    TOS, "Assignment: Earth." Also seen in TrekLit; the Eugenics Wars books are the first that come to mind.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Gary Seven was introduced in "Assignment: Earth," but his organization wasn't named. The name "Aegis" was coined by Howard Weinstein in issues 49-50 of DC's second Star Trek comic book series, in which he also established the idea that the Aegis is involved in protecting the timeline from alteration by rival factions (an idea which may have been based on Roddenberry's original A:E pilot proposal). Greg Cox picked up these ideas in his Gary Seven novels Assignment: Eternity and The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Parts 1 & 2.

    By the way, I explained the origins of the term "Aegis" in the Acknowledgments at the end of the book, specifically the last paragraph on p. 492. A lot of questions about the concepts in the book have their answers in the Acknowledgments.
     
  11. trash80

    trash80 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Thanks for that, the Gary 7 TOS episode is one of the few i've never seen. Should have checked the Acknowledgements but thought it would be just "And i'd like to thank my agent..." :)
     
  12. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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

    I, on the other hand, loved the chance to get to look at the Federation from a different point of view than we usually see in Starfleet characters. I loved seeing the Federation from the POV of political leaders in Articles of the Federation, and I loved seeing the Federation from the POV of a civilian law enforcement agency -- albeit a weird, science fiction-y law enforcement agency -- in Watching the Clock. But, hey, different strokes for different folks. :)

    You're looking at it the wrong way.

    You're thinking of the gay marriage issue in contemporary terms, as an ongoing debate between two large segments of society with good people on both sides, who each have philosophical reasons for supporting the side they support. But by the 24th Century, it's NOT an ongoing debate anymore -- it's a settled fact of social mores that gay people can marry and it's not a thing. To Clare's relatives, her being opposed to same-sex marriage is the equivalent of someone being opposed to equal rights for Catholics or freedom for black people -- it's not only settled that Catholics have equal rights as Protestants and that black people are free human beings, but it's been settled for so long that the idea that anyone would seriously disagree seems alien and absurd. This isn't Obama vs. McCain or even Bush vs. Gore -- this is Elizabeth vs. Mary.

    It's literally ancient history to them -- we know from the ENT Relaunch novels that same-sex marriages were already a normal, accepted part of life on Earth by the 2150s, so it's been over two hundred years since anyone on Earth seriously opposed same-sex marriages. So to them, this isn't a matter of ongoing political dispute to which the opposing side is entitled democratic courtesy -- this is literally the equivalent of someone from the 1600s showing up and saying that she's uncomfortable living next door to a "papist" or that black people ought to be enslaved.

    Further, you're also mis-construing the attitudes expressed by Clare's family. The text makes it very clear that they DON'T treat her with disrespect, and that they're willing to treat her with affection and respect even when they think her attitudes are very outdated.

    And furthermore, being tolerant is a meaningless phrase -- everyone is tolerant of *something.* What matters is what it is one is tolerant *of.* Being tolerant of a diversity of sexual orientation, for instance, does not imply an obligation to be tolerant of intolerance of sexual diversity. Being tolerant of a diversity of political opinions does not imply an obligation to be tolerant of *all* political opinions -- in fact, in a true democracy, people would have an obligation to be intolerant of any political philosophy that seeks to take away rights from their fellow citizens, since doing so inherently undermines the entire concept of democracy. Any democracy by definition can only be tolerant of a certain spectrum of political opinions -- those opinions which rest on the premise that all people are equal and free and have certain inalienable rights which cannot be taken away. A genuine democrat (lowercase-D) has no obligation to be tolerant of opinions like, "Black people should be in chains" or "Gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry," even if she has an obligation to allow such ideas free expression.

    While I agree that a STAR TREK book ought to treat the CHARACTER of Clare with respect, I utterly reject the idea that the narrative or that other characters are obligated to treat all of her beliefs with respect. In the 1960s, the question of whether or not blacks should have equal rights was an on-going political debate, and there were good people on both sides of the issue. But that didn't stop the creators of TOS from including scenes where racial prejudices were denounced as outmoded, primitive thinking. There are plenty of good people who oppose same-sex marriage, but they're *wrong,* and while those *people* are entitled to respect and tolerance, not all of their opinions are. A franchise that advocates for equal rights, like STAR TREK, has no philosophical obligation to treat a philosophy of discrimination, which is what opposition to same-sex marriage is, with respect. The character, yes; the idea, no. Clare wasn't sent to an indoctrination camp. She saw what a society that embraces equal rights for LGBT persons looks like, and she realized that she had been wrong, that's all.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    I should point out that the above dispute is rooted in a misreading of the text. I didn't actually specify that Clare's family reacted negatively to her discomfort at the idea of a male descendant marrying another man. What I actually wrote is that they were "mystified" that she was more uneasy with the idea of a marriage between two humans of the same sex than she was with the idea of a human marrying an alien of the opposite sex. "Mystified" is not a description of a value judgment, merely surprise and puzzlement at the relative intensity of her reactions to the two things.
     
  14. RTOlson

    RTOlson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    I liked this book, I thought it built to a great climax that made sense (even with all the timey-whimey stuff).

    I liked how the DTI agents are mostly humdrum bureaucrats toiling away and how Lucsly used that to their advantage at the end of the novel. I reminded me in a way of David Brin's "Foundation's Triumph" about why the Foundationers needed to bring down the Galactic Empire — there was a class of seemingly unimportant Imperial bureaucrats that may devise solutions that run contrary to the future and greater Second Empire.

    I liked how the DTI referenced Asimov's "The End of Eternity." I imagine it might be cited as a cautionary tale about meddling with timelines.

    Oh, and speaking of references — was the Verity a reference to Verity Lambert?

    Finally, I was curious about:
    What happens when DTI agents/researchers leave the service? Do they get mind-wiped like in "Men in Black"? Perhaps the retirement is different for people who leave the service voluntarily and those who don't?

    Anyway, thanks for a great book.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Yup. And that was far from the only Doctor Who reference.

    Yikes, there's no reason for anything that drastic. I'm sure it's the same as anyone who works in a top-secret occupation today -- they sign the Official Secrets Act, and if they reveal classified information, it constitutes treason and the full force of the law descends. The Federation is a civilized society, and civilized societies rely on the force of law to regulate their members rather than obscenities like violating the integrity of the mind. MiB makes for a fun comedy, but it would be rather hideous if anything like them existed in a more serious, realistic context.

    You're welcome! And thanks for thinking of it that way!
     
  16. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    I just finished it. Not certain how I rate it, but I will reread it.
     
  17. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    I can't find it in any bookstore. I was even going to buy it--and I have never, ever bought a new Star Trek book.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    ^You can ask the bookstore clerks to special-order it for you.
     
  19. T'Ressa Dax

    T'Ressa Dax Captain Captain

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



    And I went to school with someone who had the same name as the heroine of Murder, She Wrote. Even had red hair, though hers was darker and curlier.


    Also there's at least one author named Christopher Pike.
     
  20. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

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

    Best Star Trek book since Destiny! Wow, makes me believe in ST books again. Thanks Chris!