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. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Is the book floppy like the first one was?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Mar 15, 2001
    I gather it can vary within the run of a single book, but my copies seem pretty sturdy.
     
  3. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Ottawa, Canada
  4. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hopefully Amazon sends me a sturdy one. The floppy one keeps slipping out of my hands.
     
  5. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Just picked up my copy this afternoon, and reading it as time allows...
     
  6. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan Living the Irish dream. Admiral

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    Given my opinion of Chris' last few (six or so) novels and it seems, my opinion being counter to everyone elses around here, I'm passing on this.
     
  7. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Jun 17, 2007
    Been so busy the last few days, that I completely forgot to order this one. Just placed my order, now the waiting begins.

    Can't say I have been disappointed by mr Bennett sofar, so let's hope that streak holds. ;)
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yesterday I talked to a bookstore employee, and according to him, his store gets strict orders from their distributor not to shelve new Trek novels (and others) before their release date. I was surprised to hear that. So maybe it is unusual now for the books to be available early.

    In any case, though, it should be available on Tuesday.
     
  9. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I ordered this book awhile back I hope it will come in the mail in the next few days. Barnes&Noble sometimes will have the book come out a day or so earlier than the announced released date.
     
  10. Odona Kirk

    Odona Kirk Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My copy is on its way from Amazon and should arrive tomorrow. I look forward to reading it, as I do all of Christopher's work.
     
  11. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

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    I do wish there was more flexibility with the release of the digital book, since I always have to wait. But it's almost always worth the wait these days with Trek books. Crossing my fingers for another NYT best seller!
     
  12. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    It's here. :) I'm off to read it now.
     
  13. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    One more day until kindle download. Best of luck to Chris on the new novel. I hope it is a big success.
     
  14. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I know the thread says 'spoilers', but I'm just warning readers anyway - there'll be spoilers here, and in subsequent posts. I'm going to jot down my thoughts as I read through, which I've not done for a while (the last time was Zero Sum Game, I believe). I'm going to guess that this book warrants it, though. The Rise of the Federation series fleshes out a previously unknown but inarguably essential period of Trek-verse history, and there'll likely be a lot to digest.

    So, we open with a quote from Thoris, about the Tower of Babel myth, which of course gives its name to both the Conference Planet(oid) and the novel itself. Thematically, it speaks to the contradictory urges toward unity and fragmentation, the desire to reach out to others and build something with them, wrestling with a fear that many don't want to face up to - the difficulty in trusting, in finding common ground, the excuses and justifications peoples make for holding back. Implicitly, and beyond its general relevance, I find it very interesting that an Andorian is given the quote - being scattered by the All-Knowing deity into separate camps as punishment for hubris, and having to reassemble in unity those sundered pieces; a familiar legend, no? Are you talking about your own people as well as the humans, Thoris? We shall see, I assume.

    Thoris speaks of humanity having 'conquered the heavens', which leads in nicely to the prologue, which opens on a Klingon-eye view of the new political status quo. We have an overview of recent developments filtered through Klingon expectations and cultural perspectives; in this version, the crafty, duplicitous Humans have overthrown the Vulcan Empire and taken power themselves, incorporating the Andorians and Tellarites and being ever hungry for further prizes. This is useful in setting up the conflict that will define the 23rd Century - that of the Klingon/Federation cold war, which always seemed from the Klingon side at least to be a specifically Klingon/Human cold war. The Klingons look to the strongest or the supposed strongest and identify power and worth there and there alone; as Martok will one day say, Klingons don't embrace other cultures, they conquer them. There can only be one in the Klingon worldview, a leader and those who are led. Here we see the genesis of the discourse we'll later see threading its way through 23rd Century novels - that of the noble, war-like Klingon Empire facing its rival, the ever-expanding Human Empire, which in supposed contrast to the Klingons is two-faced, hypocritical, cowardly, deceptive and unable to be honest even with itself. Intolerable in the affront it represents, its foundations immoral and dishonourable.

    We also see how the QuchHa'/HemQuch divide is deepening, setting up the other major Klingon issue of the century to come - the urge by those who bear the appearance (and, some argue, the psychological traits) of the devious enemy to regain power or prove that they are in fact 'real Klingons'. This examination of who and what is a real Klingon will in turn, as we see in the Errand Of... books among others, feed into a wider cultural examination that sees the revitalization of the Warrior Ethic as promoted by Kahless.

    For a short scene, there's a lot acknowledged here; I, at least, read it in part as an exploration, however slight, of how the Klingons that re-emerge at Donatu V many decades from now lead on from those in the Enterprise era.

    Anyhow, the Klingon captain cheers himself up by shooting at some Lorillians. (Hello, Lorillians! You do exist, and were another neutered Vulcan protectorate, apparently. Earth apologises for the MACOs who are even now headed to Erigol, causing your world to be annihilated two centuries uptime. The humans will pre-emptively make up for that by trying to save you from Klingons).
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually I was originally going to attribute the epigraph quote to Azetbur at the Khitomer Conference, but I figured that if that were immediately followed by a Klingon-centric opening scene, it would create false expectations that the book would be Klingon-focused. Thoris seemed like a good alternative, since Andorians are also a "warrior culture" so the point of view wouldn't be dissimilar.

    Also, the Klingon captain was originally going to be the bad guy from "Marauders," but I didn't want to overdo the continuity porn.
     
  16. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Due to bad weather I will look for a copy Thursday. If the B&N does not have one I will have to order it from Amazon.
     
  17. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Andrew Timson
    Who are you, and what have you done with Christopher L. Bennett? ;)
     
  18. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Some character work with Mayweather, Dax and Kirk's great-grandparents (this sounds a little like the lead-in to a joke ;)), and a sense of discontent/uncertainty over the Federation's role as interstellar police, which it can't or shouldn't embrace as readily as some of its members might wish it to.

    Next, we have T'Pol and crew responding to a dispute between Tellarite settlers and Human 'Space Boomer' colonists. This part of the prologue, I assume, sketches in the major conflicts that are going to be explored in the novel and the rest of the series. Centralized authority and permanent, strict rules VS flexibility and freedom; the frontier giving way to a settled infrastructure; the good, the bad and the neutral regarding the firming of interstellar commerce and the political unity that have resulted from the Federation's founding. There's a lot of meaty stuff brought up here, if not explored in any depth yet (it's only the prologue). This is why Christopher is a good match for this project; he's good at spinning a sense of a large and complex universe with many personal and interpersonal perspectives, which is just what this series needs. The rise of the Federation is a massive game-changer that will have knock-on effects in every area of life; politically, socially, culturally, economically. It needs a large scope. The whole idea of what the Federation is and means, what is changing and how various people are collectively and individually responding to it, is brought into play here. I assume the rest of the book will tackle most of this in more detail.

    Interesting continuity stuff: Brantik. I peeked at the acknowledgements, which confirm that there is an intentional link between the captain and the major Tellarite colony mentioned in Articles of the Federation - Iota Pegasi is Brantik? Also, Tellarite ships are Arkonian designs in-universe as well as out. Finally, Archer seems to make a cute 'anticipating-the-Neyel' comment.

    On to chapter one! Which I've already read, but there you are.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, that was just in reference to the various weird human-offshoot colonies we've seen in the shows and books, such as the Paragon colony in "The Masterpiece Society" or the Dragon Empire from Dragon's Honor.
     
  20. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Ah, okay. It just made me think of the Neyel - it's the combination of colonial offshoots striking out into deep space and asteroids on the move, no doubt. :)