ENT: Tower of Babel by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Mar 19, 2014.

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Rate Tower of Babel.

  1. Outstanding

    15 vote(s)
    22.7%
  2. Above Average

    30 vote(s)
    45.5%
  3. Average

    19 vote(s)
    28.8%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    3.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. trash80

    trash80 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    I enjoyed the book a lot, it had a definite campy prototype-TOS feel about much of it
     
  2. Killie

    Killie Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    Another enjoyabe entry in the series from Christopher and I am sure to read the next.

    I posted the review here if anyone is interested.
     
  3. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    My review:

    This novel is a solid read. Beginning, middle and end? Check. Great world-building? Check. Good character work? Check.

    But it doesn’t exceed the sum of its parts.

    The novel was billed in some parts as essentially a primer on the Rigel system. And that it does pretty damn well. It felt like a lot of Rigel was told and not shown, and I would’ve enjoyed getting more from the colonials, but that’s all nitpicky stuff. Christopher has created a fascinating super-civilization and it promises many great stories to come.

    But beyond describing Rigel, it felt a bit “by the numbers”. The plot had little momentum, and the character work was hit-or-miss. Nice stuff from Williams, Kirk and Trip, and some nice moments from Reed and Archer, but none of it is breathtaking. (I was frankly disappointed that it was another instance of a woman seducing Archer for duplicitous purposes. I realize Archer is being saved for Danica, but it just felt boring at this point. And Archer didn't spend that much time in hot water, as things go, so it didn't feel worth it in the end.) I appreciated the Sato-Thanien story, but it felt too quickly resolved, almost fable-like in its lesson. It's not that it's bad, it's that it's "only" nice.

    The Three Sisters are interesting in an academic sense, but I don’t find them particularly engaging to read. I share Deranged Nasat's ambivalence about the Maras revelation, but I come down more on the dislike-end of the spectrum. I understand Christopher's concern about propagating misogynistic stereotypes, but I think he doesn't give himself enough credit. I think he could've navigated that balance quite handily. The problem arises when a sexually active female character is assumed to be unintelligent because she is a female, and a sexually active one at that. There certainly are unintelligent people out there, there certainly are sexually active women out there, and there certainly are individuals who are both. Setting aside, for the moment, the sex and gender components, there's a lot of untapped storytelling potential (especially in Trek) in situations such as the apparent one faced by Navaar: how do you deal with an ally, a friend, a family member, who is totally not on your level? That was an interesting component of the Triumfeminate's story, and I wish it could've been maintained.

    Garos– he’s good. Really good. Very enjoyable to read. Looking forward to more of him.

    The Saurian story is coming together very well. Christopher is definitely building to something huge with Maltuvis, and he's doing it very, very well. Looking forward to the story being continued.

    The Federation's early years being characterized by threats from criminals and pirates is a good angle, and a nice contrast to the threats from 150 or 225 years later. I worry a little bit that stories will get tiresome, but I think Christopher will be able to keep it interesting.

    I share the feelings articulated upthread that it sometimes felt like there wasn't much plot-driving conflict (outside of Williams/Kirk/Grev specifically and Sauria), but I don't think the solution would've been to make us fear for the characters lives. I'm frankly looking forward to enjoying (most) of these characters for some time now. In all of the Star Trek television series, exactly two main characters were killed off during the actual run of the show. Star Trek is not and never has been about telling stories in which you fear that your heroes won't survive. Yes, it happens sometimes, but it's best used very sparingly.

    In any case, we’ll see how this book changes in the light of its sequels; it certainly wouldn’t be the first Trek novel to be improved by the stories which came afterwards.

    And it’s not a bad book by any stretch. It wasn’t painful to read, and it was satisfyingly resolved. I think it’ll have good re-read value.

    But for having such potential, it just didn’t quite bring it home. The themes articulated and issues raised are great, very timely and thought-provoking. It's a nice story that's enjoyable to read– which just makes me wish it could've been a little more.

    From what he says on his website, it sounds like Tower of Babel had a bit of a rough writing process. (That card trick, Christopher!):bolian: ) That's a shame. I feel like this book was really close to being among the best TrekLit out there; it just needed a like more time in development.

    Still, I did enjoy it and I can't wait for the sequels! Despite all I've said, the series definitely is in good hands.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Ahh, but that component is still very much in play, just not the way you thought -- since Maras is a lot smarter than Navaar or D'Nesh. They're nowhere near her level.


    There are some more variegated threats ahead, I assure you. And bigger ones.




    Honestly, I'm not entirely satisfied with this book myself; I was too rushed and there was too much that I didn't work out in as much depth as I should. And I really have no one to blame for that but myself, because I made a point of arranging for plenty of time but then made poor use of it. I fell badly behind on the outline due to a health issue, and so it was kind of a cursory outline and not a good foundation to build the manuscript on, so I got very stuck on portions of the manuscript, and had to basically improvise new plot threads in a number of portions, with very little time left to finish them. I did what I could to clean it up in revisions, but I can't disagree with the comments that it's not all it could've been.

    But it's motivated me to try harder to make Uncertain Logic a stronger tale.
     
  5. Braxton

    Braxton Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
    The early years of the Federation, even the first 100 years, should be ripe with story possibilities. Maybe it's just me, but I feel that this part of the Federation's history should be more than capable of creating stories and making them interesting.
     
  6. NX-01ftw

    NX-01ftw Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2014
    Will be picking this up soon. I am very excited to get to this one as A Choice of Futures is an excellent read so far. Christopher is a great writer.
     
  7. Cap'n Crunch

    Cap'n Crunch Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    While it's a good book, I still enjoyed A Choice of Futures more. I think that is because I really liked the exploration of the aliens (the Mutes and the ones in the Intrepid storyline) in the first book. While Tower of Babel certainly does a good job of exploring the Rigel system and it's cultures, I feel like it's not quite the same type of exploration, if that makes sense. I'm not sure I can explain it very well. I'm not saying I disliked Tower of Babel or anything, it's very good, I just liked A Choices of Futures more.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^I get it -- it's not quite a "where no one has gone before" situation, it's just getting to know a neighbor better. Not to worry though -- there will be a number of strange new worlds in Uncertain Logic.
     
  9. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Christopher can you refresh my memory as to when "Uncertain Logic" is due out?
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    When I find out myself, I'll let people know. All I know is that it's for sometime in 2015.
     
  11. Cap'n Crunch

    Cap'n Crunch Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Glad to hear it!