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. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    Some more thoughts.

    I admit, part of what I enjoyed about this book is how Trip is acclimating to S31. While S31 is "evilllll" *Mister Burns fingers* in a lot of books, it's obvious Trip thinks they do more good than evil and that their criminal lack of oversight is a necessary part of their job. Which, IMHO, is bupkiss but I've seen stated with far too frequency in many works of spy fiction.

    Amusingly, it's also the premise of "The Campus" which is Tom Clancy's group of anti-terrorist assassins that answer to the previous President, Jack Ryan, and not the present one. They consider themselves legal even if they're manifestly not.

    If there were more Trips in S31, I think you could probably do a decent spy fiction series about them. It also explains how the organization was able to maintain itself for long. I'm a mind that if the group was mindlessly malevolent, it would have collapsed under its own weight long ago. Here, you could imagine the group drifting away as time passes.

    In a way, I think that Archer's (sort of) ties with the group also explains the relationship between Starfleet and Section 31. I'm imagining people like Archer know and pass it along to people they know who create a culture of normality around the use of a black ops quasi-terrorist organization. Which allows the group to continue to exist under people like Admiral Ross with tatcit Starfleet approval.

    Which is a sad but understandable part of Admiral Archer's legacy.

    I do wonder, however, if Archer saying for Section 31 to stay out of things like the Orion problem made things worse. Idle hands are the Devil's Workshop, after all.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    My perception of S31 is that they started out in the 22nd century with reasonably benevolent motives and goals, but 200 years having no accountability to others and focusing on maintaining their own secrecy above all else had the inevitable effect of corrupting them and warping their priorities. So the S31 of the 24th century is far more "evil" than the one that recruited Trip.

    Even so, I think you misread Archer's role in this. He's hardly an enabler. He tolerated Trip's intervention up to a point, but he feels that extralegal methods like S31's should be a last resort when all else fails, not an automatic go-to response to any crisis. He recognizes the dangers of S31's methods and believes -- correctly -- that their lack of accountability will lead them down a corrupt path.
     
  3. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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

    I just bought my copy, and was surprised to find that it seems to be on sale at Kobo - only 5,94€.
     
  4. Reanok

    Reanok Commodore Commodore

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

    I finished reading this book yesterday and really enjoyed the fact this story tied in directly to certain Startrek Enterprise tv shows.
    I really like the fact we got to see Trip investigating behind the scenes that the Orion syndicate and the malurians were trying to cause problems with the federation and it's allies.I hope Trip's investigations will be shown in the next book.It looks like Garos wants to get revenge against T'Pol for fouling up his plans to start a war with the federation causing problems and sturring up trouble ceratin political figures was well written.I look forward to seeing in what happens next to the Enterprise crew in Tower of Babel
    It was nice to see T'Pol and Malcolm's different command styles and seeing actual space exploration in this book
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    ^I think Garos would agree with David Xanatos: "Revenge is a sucker's game." Although if he could achieve it as a fringe benefit of a more practically motivated plan, he wouldn't say no.
     
  6. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    Oh some more thoughts since I think we all actually love discussing books around here, for some reason.

    I liked Shran's reaction to the fact Archer is trying to baby him and how annoying he is. I think a lot of us went into this expecting Archer to be the "messiah" of the new Federation who lead everyone into the light and watching the fact that plenty of other characters are fully capable of making informed moral decisions was a nice deconstruction of how dumb an idea that is. There's no way the Federation could have survived that way.

    In that, you're smarter than Tom Clancy.

    I feel kind of bad the prominence of humans in Starfleet is the result of humans lucking into being the big dogs in the Federation, but it makes sense. They're the new kids around the block and no one has any real informed opinions while everyone distrusts everybody else--which, combined with Earth having a bunch of bodies, allows them to get a leg up over the other species. A leg up which never really went away.

    Did you make it so the nascelles are of Andorian origin? I little about Star Trek tech. If so, it's a nice nod that not everything is Earth-based.

    The nod towards Archer eventually becoming President is great but I feel very nervous about poor Hoshi, knowing what eventually happened to her in the original plans. I'm still hoping she somehow doesn't end up on Tarsus IV. It's such a tragic ending for a character who, with a lot of courage in this book, prevents a war.

    (Nice job giving something for Hoshi to do)

    Possibly my favorite part of the novel now that I think about it is Doctor Phlox's talk about how one of the biggest things you have to do is let go of the past. A lot of fiction glorifies revenge or utterly crushing one's enemies. In RL, though, you just have to let go the memories of war and move on. It's probably why Living Witness is my favorite episode of Voyager.

    Also, a good bit about how his race disagrees with the genetic engineering ban and how Earth got that done with everyone but them. It's a nice bit of political truism that, sometimes, things get pushed on through without any serious debate that only hurt people who aren't large enough to argue.

    Are the Space Whales related to the ones from Star Trek IV?

     
  7. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    Uh, no, it's canonical that Earth's warp drive technology uses outboard nacelles, q.v., the Phoenix.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    How unfortunate.

    I guess I was excited about important Trek stuff being from other cultures than Earth.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    As stated, Cochrane warp drives have always been twin-nacelle designs since the original prototype. Andorians also use twin nacelles, but theirs are close in to the centerline of the ship and vertically stacked. I like to think that future Starfleet designs with vertical nacelles like the Constellation class, or with centerline-positioned ones like on the Kelvin, are Andorian-influenced.

    I established in the book that Federation technology gets deflector shields from the Andorians and tractor beams from the Vulcans. Also the TOS-era bridge layout, with outward-facing consoles and twin helm/nav stations in front, is implied to be based on Andorian bridge layouts (e.g. the Kumari bridge in ENT's "Proving Ground"). I like to think that some of the less glamorous tech used in life support, food processing, etc. is of Tellarite origin. And ENT itself established that holodecks were a Xyrillian invention and implied that photon(ic) torpedoes were obtained from the Vissians (whereas Klingons already had photon torpedoes according to "Sleeping Dogs"). A lot of Federation medical knowledge, meanwhile, probably comes from the Denobulans through Phlox, and (according to Vanguard: Open Secrets) from the Vulcans, mainly through the efforts of a doctor named Sobon.


    Well, that's decades beyond the timeframe I'm focusing on.

    First off, there weren't any space whales in ST IV. There was an alien probe that sought to communicate with Earth whales, but we don't know who built it. Second, there are no space whales in ACOF either. There are sky whales who live in the atmosphere of a gas giant.
     
  10. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    I stand corrected.

    That's some really impressive attention to detail, Christopher re: technology.
     
  11. Ktrek

    Ktrek Captain Captain

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    Apr 21, 2003
    Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

    I wish the polls were public. I'd like to know who the two jokers are that rated this book as "poor"! This is the only Trek fiction book released this year that I am actually enjoying. In fact I love it so far. I'll add my vote when I read the final page and have had a day or two to digest it.

    Kevin
     
  12. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    Clearly one was Mirror Universe me, since I loved it.
     
  13. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Well unless Stalin got any ideas. I mean the guy was a douchebag.

    Or the Great Depression still screwed up Germany enough that Hitler still managed to come to power.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013
  14. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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

    More like 'One needs to leave a few (and that means FEW) men alive to pay taxes'.
    Genocide to the last man/of a very large percentage of the population was a standard, institutionalized part of his regime.

    As for the ones who surrendered and never once disobeyed him - one habitual way to test their fidelity was to send a mongol trooper into the town/village/etc; said trooper would start killing people indiscriminately. The town was not to react in any way. This was as mild as it got by mongol standards.


    Christopher, above, put Genghis Khan and Alexander Macedon on the same level.
    They're not.
    Macedon used genocide as well, but it was the exception, not the rule; with Khan, it was the rule.
    Macedon spread greek culture, which benefited many; and Khan?
    The overall effect was positive - on a historical scale - for Macedon. Not so for Kahn - just ask any russian; any person whose nation Khan conquered. Look how the conquered regions looked before and after Khan was done with them.

    Charles Phipps, the options would be:
    -fight
    -surrender
    -non-violent resistance (the option you advocated)

    If you fight, you may win or lose. As I said, humans can't predict the future with any reliability.
    Unless the chances of events happening/not happening are very high - for example, humans could predict reliably that Khan almost certainly won't die by next year, or, if he did, it's almost certain an equally nasty successor will inherit the throne.

    If you surrender, you and your family will have a life that many consider worse than death - until release by death by means of malnutrition/overwork/disease/some mongol trooper having his version of fun.
    If you're a woman/girl you can look forward to being constantly raped by the ones you surrendered to.

    And now, for the third option - non-violent resistance:
    You have no chance of victory. Khan will just kill all such resistors - and then laugh at their imbecility. Finally, he'll treat the rest of the population as if they resisted.
    By far, the worst of the three options.

    No side really wants war or is a bad person.
    Guess what? Khan, Macedon, many others in the past and present DO WANT WAR.
    And this is why "The corbomite maneuver"/associated game theory is irrelevant in such situations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013
  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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

    That was the real root cause of World War I: the leaders of ALL the principal combatant nations DID want war. And the root cause of the situation that allowed Hitler to come to power was that most of those leaders, when the true horrors of war with 20th century WMDs came to light, didn't want to admit that they'd wanted war, and so they blamed it all on the nation that had been the most effective among the losers.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    I fail to see how "they want war" is a good argument in favor of giving them war. If war is what they want, isn't it better to find a way to keep them from getting it?

    Sure, one can argue that there are situations where force is necessary to ensure the survival of your nation or its population. What's dangerous and self-destructive is jumping to the conclusion that that will always be the case. That was the whole point of this novel. Earth and its allies had just come out of an inescapable war for survival. That was a case where a military response was necessary. But does it follow that the same response would be appropriate in a different context, in response to a different astropolitical environment and a different challenge? It's always dangerous to fight the last war, to assume that what you did in a previous case is the appropriate response in a new situation.

    And as I've already said, there's no sense turning this into some ideological debate about the legitimacy of war in real life. This is a story about the history of the Federation, and we know that the Federation did not become a warlike military state -- that even though it was born out of war, it ended up going in a more peaceful direction. It's silly to argue about whether that "should" have happened; it's what did happen, and the question is how and why.
     
  17. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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

    About WW1 - not really.
    The nations entered war for fear of becoming second rate powers, engaging in a game of chicken and starting something they couldn't finish without a lot of bloodshed. There was romantic militarism in the air, yes, but that's not enough to start a war as large as WW1.
    If not for a serbian nationalist with a lucky day, the alliances were bound to shift again soon.

    About WW2 - yes, Hitler DID want war. And all the appeasement of the other nations only made things worse.
    This applied to many, many conquerors throughout history.

    About your attempt to shift the blame away from the aggressor by invoking one cause among many - I do not find it convincing: the conditions imposed after WW1 (many of which - like the reparations - were never really applied) are not even close to what the axis did, nor are they a valid excuse/justification for such actions (meaning they do not lead automatically to ~WW2; there's such a thing as choice on the part of the aggressors).
    If they were a valid excuse, every single serial killer would have to be acquitted by invoking what a bully did to him in his childhood; that his mom didn't love him; etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013
  18. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    I'm actually of the school that had Britain gone to war straight away, it would have been crushed. Appeasement, loathsome as it may appear on the surface, bought time to repair their military enough to face able to fight Hitler.

    I also agree with your interpretation of WW1--but this is offtopic and we should do it via PM if we're to continue.
     
  19. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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

    I really applaud a lot of the nuances considered in the book regarding the Federation's geo-political situation. It's interesting to see Archer's advice includes not expanding the group as fast as possible lest it anatagonize the "big dog" of the Klingon Empire.

    Even so, we know it's not going to be entirely peaceful as the Federation of TOS still functions as a wartime Navy. The next few decades are going to be interesting to chronicle, showing how things are changed by the interaction with new powers and groups.

    Given there's only the "Big Four" at present, I'm going to be interested in how the balance of power changes as the group starts taking in new members. It'd be very easy to fall into a "UN Security Council" sort of situation where there's "these guys who decide everything." We know it doesn't but the shift from four votes to 140 votes seems like something that'll be interesting to chronicle.

    BTW, was it intentional to set up a sort of fun parallel to modern war-profiteering criticism with Sauria? By which I mean, it's sort of amusing you have dilithium (oil) coming from a kingdom (not naming any names but the name is appropriate) yet the Federation spurns them for their more egalitarian neighbors. Despite the fact they're so useful and a strategic resource. It shows how the Federation is a new kind of government, to me--even if unintentional.

    (I also loved the Farpoint callback where the Admiral more or less says, "I hope they find you as tasty as their last clients" when they talk about taking their business elsewhere)
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    ^That was Captain Shumar, I believe, not an admiral. And any resemblance to that scene from "Farpoint" is purely coincidental.
     

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