ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Jun 16, 2013.

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Rate A Choice of Futures.

  1. Outstanding

    54 vote(s)
    50.5%
  2. Above Average

    39 vote(s)
    36.4%
  3. Average

    10 vote(s)
    9.3%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    1.9%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    1.9%
  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    As for the "small universe" charge, I think that overlooks the sheer breadth of the story I'm telling. If all these characters were on the same ship participating in a single adventure over the course of a few days or weeks, then you could validly argue that it was guilty of small-universe syndrome. But the whole purpose of the book was to give an overview of the whole large universe that the Federation encompasses and engages with. The novel features three ships having largely separate adventures, each of which could be its own self-contained work, as well as showcasing various political, military, and diplomatic leaders; and it spans eight months of story time.

    I was required to keep the focus on the Enterprise cast, because that's the banner the book was to be published under. I didn't have an option there. Now, if I'd forced matters so that they all ended up on the same ship again, that would've been small-universe syndrome. But instead, Archer is settled in as an admiral; T'Pol, Hoshi, Phlox, and Cutler are on Endeavour; Reed and Mayweather are on Pioneer; and Trip is off doing spy stuff. So that's eight characters distributed across four different settings. Plus Soval and Shran were in prominent political and military roles that brought them into play in the events of the story, though Soval's arc never overlapped directly with Archer's or Shran's. I had to feature familiar characters for the sake of audience interest and investment, but I tried to cast my storytelling net broadly enough that those characters wouldn't all be clumped together in one place and time, to make the scope of the story wide enough that it could reasonably encompass so many familiar faces.

    As for Mayweather deserving a first officer's post, the Romulan War novels did establish that he served on a number of different ships in the war, and clearly gained a lot of experience, even if those books didn't have room to highlight it. And yet Travis himself acknowledged in the book that he wasn't sure he'd earned the post. So I did at least lampshade the issue.

    I used several alien characters or species who were only in one episode of the series, but I brought them back because I felt they were worth bringing back, that what those episodes set up was interesting and deserved followup. That's one of the things Trek tie-ins have been doing for decades: picking up on dangling story and character threads from the shows and films. The previous post-finale ENT novels were all focused on the Romulans, so that left a lot of other dangling threads that hadn't been touched, characters and ideas that I was curious about and motivated to do more with.
     
  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I'm Currently reading the novel and am enjoying this look at the rise of the Federation. I understand why this book has to come under the show title, but it would make more sense now to almost come up with a new title for the series like Star Trek: Federation. Since the Enterprise is Mothballed and it's crew is spread out throughout the story, why not go for something different, it worked for the Titan series.
     
  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Didn't it start out without the Enterprise title? I swear at one point it was just Rise of the Federation.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    That's what my original outline was titled, but by the time it was publicly announced, it had the ENT banner attached.
     
  5. MNM

    MNM Captain Captain

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Well yeah, in universe, as I said, you can justify it. It was just too much for me personally.

    What I remember from the Romulan Wars books (average that they were) was that Mayweather got bitchy with Archer and then spent the books on various ships that seemed to all blow up. As an aside, did those books reconcile Archer and Mayweather? If they did, fine, if they didnt then that animosity gets handwaved away very quickly in this book.

    Its not just Mayweather, Reed should never have been made captain at this point either (he wasnt ready or experienced for it), but I felt that was done much better and was ok with it at the end.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Then maybe books as broad in scope as these aren't the right ones for you. Given how the crew has scattered, I can't very well focus on just a single ship and a single story for the duration of the narrative, because then a lot of the ENT characters would go unseen in each volume.


    They were reconciled by the end of To Brave the Storm, yes.


    I think the compactness of the Romulan War books may have created a misleading impression about the time interval between ENT and ROTF. The fourth season of ENT, finale aside, concluded in January 2155. A Choice of Futures begins in September 2162, over seven and a half years later. That's nearly twice as much time as the show itself covered. These characters are considerably older and more experienced than they were on the show. They've changed and grown from who you remember them to be.

    At the time Reed is made captain, it's over 11 years since he first became armory officer on Enterprise. We know he'd been in Starfleet for several years before that, long enough to make lieutenant. So he's got maybe 15 or more years of Starfleet experience when he makes captain. That's more than Kirk had when he became captain of the Enterprise. It's more than twice as much experience as Riker had when he was offered his first command and turned it down to serve as Picard's first officer. It's comparable to the amount of experience Janeway had when Voyager started, and we know that wasn't her first command. If anything, Reed's overdue for a captaincy at this point.
     
  7. MNM

    MNM Captain Captain

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Or maybe, just maybe, try not to use so many familiar names in one book ;)

    If you're going to use a Kirk dont also use a Paris and a Dax and so on...

    If I stayed away from Trek books that didnt use small universe syndrom to some effect I wouldnt read many!




    You dont have to defend the Reed stuff, I liked it overall. He wasnt ready for a captaincy, admitted that himself, only took the position after Archer played on his pride a bit, struggled a bit then started to improve. All fine stuff.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    As I've explained, the point of these books is to give an overview of the early history of the entire Federation, not just a single crew. They're supposed to be broad and inclusive in their focus and to resonate with events and characters in the later series. It's a feature, not a bug. If you don't like it, don't read them, but the approach I've taken to these books is not thoughtless or accidental. I put a lot of thought into deciding what established characters or ancestors to use and not to use.


    No, I certainly don't have to "defend" anything to you. But I did need to explain some chronological facts that you seem to have missed. You said he shouldn't have the experience for a captaincy at this point, when the simple arithmetical fact is that he has more than enough years under his belt. No, Malcolm didn't think he had enough experience, but he was wrong. He's always been insecure and modest.
     
  9. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I didn't see anyone accusing you of being "thoughtless" or the choices being "accidental". You chose to overload (in my opinion) the book with continuity references and some simply didn't agree with the choices you made.

    From the Malurian to the Orion triplets to the "Mutes" to the wormhole to the catwalk to Dax to Kirk to Paris not much in the book felt "fresh".

    I also don't think being critical of the book on those grounds is "thoughtless". I also don't think that a book about the founding of the Federation is required to hop from one wink-nod to the next.

    Like I said in an earlier post, I thought they had the right writer for this particular material and that it was a slam-dunk that this book was going to be great. The book seemed to be entertaining for most, which is all you can really ask for as an author but also I wouldn't dismiss the criticism.

    YMMV.
     
  10. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    The eBook felt just as good as the other Star Trek eBooks since S&S seemed to take interest and actually care about them once again.

    There was a time when S&S went from LIT to ePub and didn't seem to care about the quality. It was not good. Then all of a sudden, S&S decided to care and it's been quite good overall.
     
  11. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    S&S used the same font for the eBook and it does look like an I for the number 1.
     
  12. Shane Houston

    Shane Houston Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    For me personally, I think Reed making captain makes perfect sense. Like you pointed out the man has been in Starfleet for quite some time now, and was even foreshadowed in the episode Twilight.

    And let's face facts, despite this being about the history of the Federation, I think that focusing on characters other than the Enterprise's crew wouldn't make this as good a story as it turned out. Most of us watched Enterprise when it was on to see the story of how this crew and it's adventures lead to the founding of the Federation. We have an investment in these characters, not just some random crew on a random mission in the early years of the Federation.

    And I like the fact that Dax is in the book and will be a part of Reed's crew. After years of Ezri Dax's adventures, it's nice to see a Dax host that isn't so perfect. The reason I liked Ezri on DS9 and not in the novelverse is that she was quirky, you know what I mean? Like it was fun to watch her stumble her way into living with Dax when she was never meant to be joined to it in the first place. Tobin is a lot like that and his place on the crew makes since. I don't really care for Dax as captain, and this makes up or that.

    As far as the Paris and Kirk ancestors being in the story, I could take them or leave them. They certainly didn't make it feel like small universe to me. As long as the story makes since for them, and in this case it has, then they make the story better in my opinion.

    As much as I disagreed with Christopher in regards to Janeway's return, I've never doubted that he is one author with a genuine love for Star Trek. It shows in this novel and everyone he's written. He did an amazing job with this book and I look forward to the next installment.
     
  13. Antni

    Antni Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Got my copy from Amazon UK this morning so look forward to reading it tonight.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Right. And did anyone notice my reference to Reed now sporting a goatee, like he did in "Twilight"'s alternate 2165? Since ACOF is just two years before that, it felt appropriate.


    Right. While other readers are invested in characters like Kirk, Spock, Dax, and Tom Paris, so it makes sense to give them points of identification as well.
     
  15. FatherRob

    FatherRob Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

  16. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    ^ While I'm not quite as enthusiastic as you about the book as whole, I agree that the Reed/Pioneer parts were the strongest.

    I toyed with giving the book an above average, but in the end I went with average, because I thought the Archer parts of the novel weren't strong enough to warrant an above average.

    I have sent my review to USF's editor a few days ago and hope it's up sometime soon.
     
  17. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  18. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Christopher, when will your annotations be available?
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    ^I'm busy finishing up book 2 (deadline is Monday) and then Shore Leave is just days later. I haven't had an opportunity to do the annotations yet.
     
  20. Stoek

    Stoek Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    Okay, who had July 24th at 13:22 CDT in the annotations begging pool? ;)