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. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Only because I discovered after the fact that the euphemism "'fresher" for "bathroom," which has been used in Trek literature since the '80s, actually originated with Heinlein. And I only know that because it occurred to me to look up the term in the SF Terminology Citations database when I came across it in a Star Wars novel as well. (I usually don't read SW novels, but I came upon Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry at the library, and I was curious.)


    I thought it was pretty effective and interesting, a successful melding of Wells pastiche with modern quantum theory. Though there's one really big plot hole that bugs me -- if every time travel sends you to an alternate timeline, then how did the folks in the time-travelling tanks end up getting back to the same early-20th-century timeline they originated in?
     
  2. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    Sites like that make me happy there's an Internet.

    Hmm. I don't know...at least I'll have something to think about while I suffer through a viewing of Something Borrowed at the movie theater tonight.
     
  3. ToddCam

    ToddCam Captain Captain

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

    Great book! I do hope you get some sequels.

    Also, thanks for the annotations. Love them.

    The first appearance of a Selenean, as far as I am aware, is in "Chiaroscuro" from Prophecy and Change, in which one of Jadzia's former superiors was one. It was by Geoffrey Thorne.

    I am so glad you used an original character (Jena Noi) as opposed to Daniels. Like you said, he is boring. SO boring.
     
  4. OverlordSpock

    OverlordSpock Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    I rated the book "Average". Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I've enjoyed Christopher's other books so much more.

    Honestly, although I did enjoy the book overall, it was a bit hard to slog through it from...er...time to time. I normally enjoy books with very complex plots that interweave back and forth with many disparate parts that eventually tie together, but this one lost me more than once, forcing me to go back and re-read certain sections. It took me two weeks to read this book and I normally finish most books in four to five days.

    The other thing that hurt the book in my mind (and something I didn't enjoy about the Temporal Cold War in Enterprise and so many episodes of Voyager) is that it just makes time travel look so easy. I am, personally, very uncomfortable with that idea (for a wide variety of reasons that I shall not go into here). But these agents from different centuries and different timelines showing up and leaving at a whim just...frustrated me. Don't get me wrong though: I knew this kind of thing was going to happen in this book going in.

    That being said, I really liked the character of Jenna Noi. I really liked how ambiguous her loyalties were for her first few appearances in the book (and kinda wished they had stayed ambiguous). I liked Lucsly's and Dulmurs reactions every time she showed up. I loved how she mercilessly teased Lucsly.

    The book was a good solid offering by Christopher. I just really liked his other books better.
     
  5. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    I had to watch Trials and Tribble-ations after finishing the book and the author expanded the characters in a very believable fashion.

    My only (slight) criticism? I think Dulmur's origin story should have been saved for another book. It's an interesting story that felt a bit rushed, if only because there was so much material that needed to be covered.

    The ending? Brilliant. Asimov would have been very proud.

    The DTI concept could easily be made into a book series...I hope that happens. It would be great to see other authors' take on the expanded concept.
     
  6. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    Really? I gobbled it up in about a day. It was convoluted, but not like Stephen Baxter's books. The Time Ships took about a week to read...felt like a year.

    I think that in the Trek universe, time travel is absurdly easy...hence the need for the DTI and other uptime agencies. I mean, you can get thrown back in time just by sneezing around some spatial anomalies.

    It's funny, I have lurked long enough to know how Mr. Bennett posts (don't get on his bad side, basically, and don't make easy mistakes). This was the first of his books I read, and it was amazing how different his fiction prose is from what he posts here. His online persona is easily Lucsly, but the guy writes like a Dulmur.
     
  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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

    I'm reminded of a quote from today's Doctor Who episode:

    "Are all people like this?"

    "Like what?"

    "So much bigger on the inside."
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Interesting. And here I made such an effort to establish that time travel wasn't easy, at least not for people in the 24th century. That something like a slingshot maneuver was exceedingly dangerous and unlikely to succeed except by a fluke, and that nobody in the novelverse era had reliable time-travel technology yet.

    It is true that future technology makes time travel more attainable, and makes it look easy. That's just following the lead of the screen canon. But the danger and complications resulting from that ease of time travel are pretty much the source of the driving crisis of the novel.



    Well, it's hard for me to see another way I could've approached it. I needed to give these guys some character growth, explore their relationship, yet they seemed pretty settled into their roles by "Trials." I knew I wanted to do flashback chapters showing TNG/DS9/etc. time-travel episodes from a DTI perspective, and it seemed natural to tie them together into an arc exploring Lucsly & Dulmur's history, how their relationship began and evolved. I wanted Dulmur to be more of an open book than Lucsly, an audience identification character with Lucsly kept as more of a black box, so it made sense to start with why Dulmur joined the DTI.

    Aw, shucks. Thank you.


    Well, the problem with doing it regularly is that it would be hard to avoid the cliched kinds of time-travel stories that have been done countless times before. Also it would run the risk of cheapening time travel as a threat, making it too commonplace. I really like the DTI characters, but I wouldn't like to see DTI overused. Best to save it for when there's really a story worth telling.
     
  9. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    I do like the idea that...

    The 29th-century Starfleet method of 'reintegrating' temporal copies is a direct descendant of that which was established in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". In general I was not happy with the decision to turn the 29th century timecops into some kind of fascist state, but I did like this bit.
     
  10. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    Yeah. It was a neat trick. I just finished rewatching Star Trek '09 and I was thinking of how cool it would have been if that had occurred with the two Spocks. Then again, maybe they were better off as separate.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Hey, the show did that, implicitly. "Future's End" showed a TIC officer attempting to destroy a starship on suspicion of its involvement in a disaster, guilty until proven innocent, with no attempt at due process. "Relativity" showed the TIC blithely punishing a man for a crime he hadn't yet committed. Those are both gross miscarriages of justice, horrific abuses of civil rights. The show may have ignored the ethical implications of what it established because its writers were more interested in temporal weirdness, but the bottom line is that an organization that would allow such practices has some serious problems with its morality. All I did was confront what the show implied but glossed over.

    Besides, it's logical that the Federation would lose its way from time to time over the grand sweep of history. No society is static and unchanging, and even the best societies have periods where they lose track of their ideals and fall prey to corruption. We've seen how close the Federation came to abandoning its ideals under the strain of the Dominion War, how enticing the "ends justify the means" philosophy was in the face of that threat. Given the even more profound existential threat of the Temporal Cold War, it's not unreasonable that a Federation or Starfleet time agency in the future might suffer a similar erosion of principles, in the sincere belief that the magnitude of the threat they faced justified such extreme measures. (But "fascist state" is an exaggeration, since I only established that this was true of the TIC, not the broader Federation of their era.)

    But at the same time, I established that it doesn't last -- that eventually the TIC is replaced with a more ethical agency. So the overall optimism of the Trek universe -- combined with its realistic recognition that sometimes things get worse before they get better and eternal vigilance is the price of freedom -- remains intact.


    Those two Spocks were 129 years apart in age, and would've had few actual particles in common anymore, not to mention the larger-scale differences between their physiologies as a result of the aging process. Indeed, since Spock Prime died and was regenerated on Genesis, he probably doesn't have any of his original subatomic particles anymore. So the two Spocks aren't the same physical entity on a quantum level, and thus their bodies couldn't be reintegrated through the process I described. (Yes, in "Relativity," Braxton was integrated with an older version of himself, and implicitly the same happened after "Future's End," since the Braxton seen at the end of that episode had no memory of his stranding on Earth but the one in "Relativity" did -- implying that Crazy Street Person Braxton was retrieved and reintegrated with his alternate self. But that's a difference of only a few decades, so there'd still be a fair number of shared particles, especially in parts of the body where cells aren't periodically replaced, such as the brain. It's a myth that the body undergoes a complete turnover of cells every seven years.)
     
  12. OverlordSpock

    OverlordSpock Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Yup. I kept having to put the book down to give me time to process and wrap my head around some of the things presented.

    I suppose I wasn't quite clear in my statement above. I know that you were simply following and expanding on what was established in Voyager and (to a lesser extent) Enterprise. That wasn't really a condemnation of DTI:WTC. But, that aspect did sour me on the book a bit because how easy it has become to time travel in the future, no matter where that was established.

    I enjoy a good time-travel story—and Trek has had quite few ("Yesterday's Enterprise" and "City on the Edge of Forever" to name a few). But Voyager seriously overdid it and, again, made it too easy (and I would argue that The Voyage Home also made it too easy). With as easy as it seems to have become in the future to travel in time, it almost makes it seem that time really has no meaning anymore. That disturbs me, especially when confronted with consequences that you've presented. Again, as I said before, it just frustrated me. :scream:

    That all being said, I do hope that DTI has some followup books. I love what you did with the characters. It was other (non-controllable) things that didn't make the book rate as high for me.
     
  13. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    That can be blamed on Braxton alone. He was obviously insane - suffering from the temporal equivalent of psychosis when he did this. Indeed, we would later learn exactly that.

    As for "Relativity":

    Ducane arresting Braxton for crimes he's going to commit...well, I chalked that up to an entirely new kind of criminal law having to be invented, to deal with a society like this which is so dependent on time travel. It may be incomprehensible and draconian to US, but not to them. :shrug:

    And besides, just how do we know exactly that the version of Braxton who is arrested, truly IS innocent? Of course he claimed to be. But who's to say that a search of his quarters didn't later turn up incriminating evidence? And since the Braxton who *was* a criminal was clearly showing signs of temporal psychosis, isn't it logical that the present Braxton also would be? (Remember, the later version of him did experience the events of "Relativity" that we see not-criminal Braxton do. So in a very real sense, not-criminal Braxton was destined to become criminal-Braxton.) Finally, I admit I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but Braxton said that he was relieved of duty and forced to retire, but he did NOT spent a lengthy time in prison or anything like that. That would seem to indicate that the TIC is not quite as evil as they are made out to be.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  14. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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

    I'm surprised Christopher hasn't mentioned it yet, but he does have a DTI prequel coming out that deals with the origin's of the DTI during TOS next year.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    No, the text doesn't support that interpretation. The "present-day" Braxton who recruits Seven in "Relativity" remembers the events of "Future's End," but he hasn't yet fallen prey to the temporal psychosis that affects his future self. Indeed, the very fact that he's still a TIC captain after "Future's End" demonstrates that his actions there were not the result of insanity and were not in violation of TIC regulations. (Again, while the Braxton at the conclusion of FE had never committed that act, the Braxton in "Relativity" remembers it, so the Braxton who did commit the act must've been reintegrated with the other -- and going by the views of culpability manifested in "Relativity," that reintegrated Braxton would've been held culpable for the actions of either of his temporal copies. Thus, since he's still a captain, the only logical conclusion is that his attempt to destroy Voyager was not deemed to be illegal, unethical, or insane by TIC standards.)


    Yes, obviously there are new laws in place, but the question is whether those laws are ethical. I don't care how you rationalize it, punishing someone for a crime he might commit in the future is just plain inexcusable. Certainly it's irreconcilable with the morality of the Star Trek franchise. Sure, maybe you could tell stories in which such compromises of individual freedom are treated as justifiable -- it would be no different from something like 24 presenting torture as justifiable -- but such stories have no place in the Star Trek universe. There are certain ideals that are fundamental to Star Trek, and one of them is the primacy of individual rights.



    That very question is incompetent. One of the most fundamental principles of justice is that everyone is presumed innocent unless they are proven guilty. No one should be required to prove their innocence against a presumption of guilt.

    Besides, it's right there in the text. When Ducane places Braxton under arrest, he explicitly says, "I'm sorry, sir. I'm taking command of this vessel, and I'm relieving you of duty for crimes you're going to commit." Not "on suspicion of crimes you might have committed already," but "for crimes you're going to commit." It doesn't get any more explicit than that. Since it was a formal declaration, he can't have been speaking figuratively or imprecisely. The only reasonable conclusion is that the regulations of the TIC/29th century Starfleet allow arresting people for future crimes -- i.e. arresting people who are, as of the present, completely innocent, and who, due to the shifting nature of time in the Trek universe, may never actually commit any crime.


    Wrong. As I already said, the ST universe makes it very clear that the future is highly mutable. There is no predestination. Every future we see is just one possible future, not a guaranteed one. So even if you have a criminal Braxton from the future in your custody, even if you actually watched him commit an act of terrorism, it doesn't mean that the present-day Braxton standing next to you now is certain to commit the same crimes in the future. Just witnessing the acts of his future self could be enough to change his own path. So you're arresting him for something he may never do, which is ethically indefensible.


    He said he was "sent into rehabilitation," which we know to be the Federation equivalent of prison. Naturally we can expect their penal practices to be relatively humane. But that doesn't constitute an excuse. The presumption of innocence is absolutely basic to justice. A state that can justify arresting people for crimes they haven't committed, regardless of the excuses they make for it, has crossed a line into corruption. Because if you can justify such an act for one reason, it opens the door for justifying it for other reasons. Okay, so you can arrest that guy because time travel showed you that he'll commit a crime in one possible future? Okay, so why can't we arrest this inconvenient political protestor who hasn't broken any laws yet, but who we really really think might break a law in the future? Why can't we lock up that child who was born with a neurological disorder that predisposes him to violence and is thus likely to become dangerous when he grows up? Really, what's the difference?

    There is never an excuse for presuming people guilty, let alone punishing them for things that you actually know they haven't done. I shouldn't even have to explain that.

    Does that make the TIC "evil?" No. It makes them Well-Intentioned Extremists. But still, they represent a Starfleet that's lost its way, that's made too many sacrifices of freedom in the name of security.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  16. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    Or maybe Voyager just really mucked up the concept of time travel, and the whole series was just the daydream of an autistic child.
     
  17. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    I admit I am biased, because Jay Karnes (who played Ducane) is a fellow Omahan. :techman: :D
     
  18. Glitch

    Glitch Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    He was really good on The Shield, too.
     
  19. ToddCam

    ToddCam Captain Captain

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

    Also, bisabuela means great-grandmother. Grandmother is abuela.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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

    Though bisabuela is a perfectly defensible choice, since Clare is, after all, their many, many times over great-grandmother. :)