Greater Than The Sum Review *** POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Mike Winters, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I finally got the book(!!!), and after reading about it here I decided to go ahead and start it instead of trying to finish reading Before Dishonor (which I haven't like on my second attempt anymore than I did on my first). I'm only a few pages into it, but I'm already liking Trys.
     
  2. Julio Angel Ortiz

    Julio Angel Ortiz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  3. fleetcaptain

    fleetcaptain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    He sure does. I'm almost finished myself. I'm in the middle of Chapter 11 right now. Hopefully I will finish tomorrow or friday. Just the long wait til Destiny. Grr...
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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  5. Dancing Doctor

    Dancing Doctor Admiral Admiral

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    I'm on page 115, and that little bit I've read has been better than the entirety of Before Dishonor and Resistance. :bolian:

    Also, the Mabrae are back! :D :D :D I *loved* seeing them here, even for the small bit that they were. I loved what you had done with them in The Buried Age, and I loved that they're back.

    I was waffling a bit about Trys, but I have to admit, she's one of my favorite characters so far. Quirky, but in a believable way (believable considering that the Star Trek universe isn't exactly real...yet). Part of why she's so fascinating is that she's almost Spock's complete opposite, on the surface.

    It's still a bit too early to say whether or not you've redeemed the TNG Relaunch, but the signs are definitely promising.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I hadn't planned on using them again, but they just happened to be in the direction the Enterprise was going.

    Thanks!
     
  7. Dancing Doctor

    Dancing Doctor Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't been this excited about finishing a TNG Relaunch book since Q&A.

    One thing I'm appreciating about GttS is how the science is kept at a fairly understandable level, something you've done in most (if not all) of your books.

    (I also have to admit thinking Awww.... during that entire scene between Geordi and Dina.)
     
  8. tenmei

    tenmei Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I managed to grab this from a store in Canada before my flight and whilst the info-dumping came off a tad awkward in the first couple of chapters, once the ship got onto the mission I began enjoying the mission more. Christopher, you advised me to read the book before I commented on the cast shake up - and, now, halfway through the novel, I have to say that whilst the story is good, I think that it would have been nice to see T'Lana remain onboard the Enterprise. Partly because she had an interesting dynamic with Picard (and the fact that Worf's subconscious attraction to her was more fun than his attraction to Jasminder) and partly because I think it would have been interesting to see Trys react against such a character as T'Lana.

    The one thing that annoys me is that, at times, when Trys is in a scene some of the other characters are made to look like idiots just to make her look clever - and I'm not sure this was completely necessary, or if it was, necessary to the extent that it was done.

    I also realised, after the above-mentioned (and, in-novel-mentioned) thing about the Enterprise crew being female heavy - it's also "Asian" Ancestry Heavy. Choudhry (Indian), Elfiki (Egyptian), Kadohata (Japanese), T'Rys (Japanese) and Joanna Faur (Israeli ?) which is kinda pretty cool too.

    I may be wrong about Faur but an internet search reveals Faur seems to be a popular Israeli surname.
     
  9. DeeEss57

    DeeEss57 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Me too. And I read the entire thing yesterday. Took six hours. :) Couldn't put it down!

    I enjoyed the story and I'm getting to like the new crew. They're beginning to mesh well with one another and Picard. Had to feel sorry for Picard, though. Here is he trying to deal with another Borg incursion and new senior staff and Beverly is all over him about procreation. Burdens of command, I suppose.

    I liked Necheyev's apology, it was definitely in the vein of TNG. I think a lot of TNG fans don't like her much because on the series she came across rather cold and demanding. But she had a job to do, too, and I don't think she really enjoyed the more unpleasant aspects of her job. Thanks for lightening her up, Christopher!

    Guinan's anger towards Picard sort of caught me by surprise. But she never did mince words with anyone, let alone Picard. And he needed the kick in the ass. I guess Guinan was the only one who could get away with that.

    The battle tactics of Choudhury was pretty inventive, I thought. I liked it. Using one's head instead of overwhelming force. Kinda cool!

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading the Destiny series and, finally (I hope) putting the Borg to rest. And, then, getting on to seeing the new crew dealing with other things.



    DES
    Save one life and you're a hero.
    Save 230 million and you're a Starfleet officer.
     
  10. SiorX

    SiorX Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just wanted to stick my head in and say how much I enjoyed this book. I didn't have the highest expectations in the world (no reflection intended on you, Christopher. I hadn't actually read any of your previous books, since I really only read Next Gen novelisations). I was really pleasantly surprised.

    One of the things I was a bit skeptical about was the Picard & Crusher storyline. There's always a danger that when you pair up two characters, and one of them's the focus of most stories, the other just becomes fodder for emotional angst - the generic wife'n'kid whose pictures the hero can carry around and anguish over. (One thing I've really liked about the relaunch has been the extra page time Crusher's gotten as a character in her own right. I think there's still a great deal of potential there, and I'd hate to see that get lost in the shuffle.)

    Of course, we don't know yet how that's going to play out in later books, but I like the way it was handled here. What I got from Picard's story arc was that he had to learn to nip those tendencies in the bud. If later books give us a Picard who remembers this lesson, then I think GttS's set their story on an excellent trajectory for proving Picard doesn't have to be a lone wolf to be a hero, and that his family don't have to be a liability. Not to mention making the Crusher-Picard dynamic an interesting new heart to the crew's interaction.

    I was also a bit wary when I read this thread and heard Trys described. Spunky young girl with a wacky sense of humour and a problem with authority sets off all my alarm bells in Star Trek, because nobody does an obnoxious Mary Sues quite like Trek. That's why it pays to withold judgement, because she ended up being one of my favourite things in the book; likable without being irritating. I enjoyed her very much. She's a total tonic to the stick-up-arse syndrome to which so many Starfleet officers are prone. I do hope future books can keep her on the endearing side of exasperating though. GttS managed it; it lays down the gauntlet to the next set of books to do the same.

    In fact, I really love the new crew. I feel like we're going forward into the next round of the relaunch with a set of characters about whom I'm really interested in learning more. Hope we're in it for the long haul with them this time 'round.

    I did notice this book had a lot of work to do in meshing together the previous relaunch books into a coherent starting point for what's to come. There were, I think, some serious holes that needed to be darned, and that wasn't an enviable task. In that sense, it did feel like a bridging work. But one that made me very hopeful for what's to come.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow, lotsa reviews all at once. Here we go:

    Yeah, that would've been nice. But characters sometimes don't end up going where they're originally expected or intended to, and it was felt that T'Lana's and Leybenzon's actions in Before Dishonor pretty much made it unfeasible for them to remain part of the crew (unlike Kadohata, who came around and redeemed herself).

    Personally I wouldn't have found a Worf-T'Lana romance all that interesting; they basically would've just been trying to out-stoic each other. As for a potential T'Lana-Trys interaction, that could've been interesting, but also it would've been a little too on the nose to have a judgmental Vulcan constantly watching over Trys. Plus I don't think I would've been allowed to have two Vulcan (or half-Vulcan) women in the same bridge crew. That, and they have somewhat overlapping jobs.

    Could you specify which scenes you think that's happening in? I certainly wasn't trying to do anything of the sort. Naturally I had to demonstrate why this new character was worth having on the crew, but I didn't want it to be at anyone else's expense.

    T'Ryssa Chen is of Chinese ancestry, not Japanese. Never been a Japanese person named Chen, as far as I know. She may also have a bit of Greek in her, given that her mother's name is Antigone.

    And given that the majority of the human race is Asian, it's nice to see that better-represented in Trek for once.

    No idea. I was actually spelling it Farr in my first draft until I reread Q&A. That's how clueless I am about her.


    Well, I think there's reason to feel sorry for Beverly, too. Here she is, all ready to start a long-overdue married life and become a mother again, and her husband, a man who theoretically cherishes his family lineage and has every reason to make fatherhood a priority, lets his neuroses and fears get in the way of that and uses the burdens of command as his excuse. Frankly, I think the only way I was able to make him sympathetic was by coming up with a deeper motivation that had nothing to do with the Borg. (And it was a good chance to show something TNG never did: long-term consequences of "The Inner Light.")

    I was just building on what TNG itself established in "Journey's End." That episode put Picard and Nechayev on a friendlier footing, yet for whatever reason, the novels took her back in a more adversarial direction. I thought she was more interesting once she became a little more sympathetic -- it helped see her as more than just your stereotypical hardnosed admiral, as someone you could respect even when you disagreed with her priorities or methods.

    Besides, after Picard defied Starfleet orders and saved the Earth twice in three months, it would've been unbelievable if the admiralty had continued to distrust him.

    It took some doing to figure out how to apply martial-arts principles to starship combat.


    Sounds good to me. (I like the avatar, by the way.)

    Glad to hear it. I was aware there was a risk of her being perceived as a Mary Sue, and I tried to avoid that. (I'm still puzzled by one fan's reaction in the comments of the TrekMovie.com review, jumping to the conclusion that she was a Mary Sue because, allegedly, a name ending in -yssa is a warning sign of Mary Sue-ness. Huh?)

    I hope so, too.
     
  12. Stag

    Stag Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ad my voice to the chorus if cheers for this book. Christopher you may have outdone yourself this time. This was really an enjoyable read. I especially like the way throughout the novel you seek to address and solve (or attempt to solve) every Borg question or discontinuity between the various Borg appearances among the TV series - i.e. How did Starfleet Borg get to the Delta quadrant before VOY, what happened to the Ent-D personnel in the section of hull removed from the saucer, etc... - it wasn't much but little tidbits that made the reading that much more enjoyable.

    I love the new character of T'Ryssa but for some reason she reminded me alot of Trance Gemini from [gasp]Andromeda[/gasp] and I don't know why, maybe because both were younger characters?

    Anyway, great book!! Now stop perusing these boards and get back to writing. I know you have to be working on a draft of some future TREK novel!!
     
  13. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    One might also note that Egypt is not an Asian country.
     
  14. The Evil Dead

    The Evil Dead Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I am a big fan of Christopher's work (I read and loved Ex Machina and The Buried Age) but haven't been keeping up with the TNG books since the end of the "A Time To..." series.

    Could I pick up this book and follow what's going on? I know the broad strokes of the current TNG books, the ongoing Borg storyline, but have heard the last couple of books weren't exactly home runs... I'd like to read the Destiny trilogy, would Greater Than Sum be a good jumping on point?
     
  15. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    At least you didn't do it *literally*, like B5's Legend of the Rangers. :lol:
     
  16. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes.

    The first 100 pages of GTTS are half setup for this book, half detailed summary of the last few with lots of plot hole spackling and continuity fixes. It'll probably make more sense if you just read this one than if you read the others first.
     
  17. Dancing Doctor

    Dancing Doctor Admiral Admiral

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    It'll also be a much better read than the other Borg books in the TNG Reluanch.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    GTTS is designed to be a fresh start of sorts. It does have a lot of loose ends to tie up, but it's mainly a distinct story from what comes before. And it's also designed to be a prologue for Destiny.

    I actually liked that aspect of LotR. Sure, maybe there were some conceptual problems with the execution, but there's real-life research going on into gestural control systems, and we've already got the Nintendo Wii out there as a practical application. The usual panels of buttons and switches are probably going to look totally obsolete to viewers a generation or two from now. At least JMS tried to bring some imagination to the idea of a control interface.
     
  19. D Man

    D Man Commodore Commodore

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    I thought this book didn't quite make it to the soaring heights you reached with The Buried Age and Orion's Hounds, but it was still a very good read, Christopher. It's unfortunate that the previous TNG post-Nemesis books had such a wacky revolving door of characters, characterizations, and Borg plots, but I think GTTS did an admirable job of tying everything up. Every once in a while I wished I hadn't read the previous books so recently...that way some of the exposition here wouldn't have felt so redundant.

    That being said, I understand why the first third of the book was necessary, and I think you did an admirable job of cleaning up the craziness. It certainly would have been FAR worse if everything was immediately swept under the rug and never mentioned again.

    The story itself was terrific, and as I've come to expect and look forward to in your novels, you explored a very intriguing and evocative sci-fi premise with the carbon planet intelligence. I enjoyed how "Qing Long" never spoke, instead using imagery and Trys's perceptions to communicate. The crew's gradual understanding of the entity was nicely done.

    The slipstream angle was a good hook, and I really expected that the "big ending" was going to be the Borg getting their hands on the technology and zipping away. I hope this tech is returned to in future novels, but for now it seems the Einstein (or Frankenstein, I think I'm with Worf on that name :D) plot has no direct connection to the main collective's new attacks. At least, that's the impression I get now, but I'm sure it'll all be dealt with in the Destiny books.

    I'm mildly interested to see what comes out of the Borg saying they will "welcome" resistance, but at this point the escalation has become a little ridiculous. In Reistance, it was "The Borg attack on sight!" In Before Dishonor, it was "The Borg have an enormous cube that eats planets!" And now it's "They're going to annihliate rather than assimilate!" I don't think anyone wants to restart the "too much Borg" circular discussion/argument that happened in the Destiny thread, but that's my two cents on the issue.

    I was suprised to see Hugh killed off, especially since a few chapters later his noble sacrifice turned out to have been in vain. Nevertheless, his last scene with La Forge was terrific. I was thinking the same thing as Geordi about the seeming futility and circular nature of Hugh's existence. Freed, used as a weapon, remained free, only to again be used as a weapon years later. Hugh's impassioned declaration about how meaningful his life as an individual has been was really quite moving, and it rang truer than similar scenes done over and over and over with Seven on Voyager.

    Speaking of ex-Borg drones, I honestly thought Picard's reasoning behind his reluctance to have children had something to do with the alterations the Borg made to him. I remember thinking the same thing in "Generations" when he said "Now there be will be no more Picards" after his brother and nephew died. I guess his organs are just fine, though.

    Picard's actual explanation turned out to be my favorite part of the book: the "Inner Light" connection. The scene where Picard finally broke down to Beverly about such unimaginable grief (a thousand years ago is a long time) was remarkable and perfectly in character. I thought of Patrick Stewart in "Sarek" and most of the scene came out in his voice in my head as I read. VERY well-written. I loved "The Inner Light" and wished we had seen ramifications on the show, but this was the next-best place to do it. The sly explanation about his "present" memories being immediately accessible to him after the Kataan probe severed the connection was a clever way to explain why the show didn't have much fall-out.

    Overall, I'd give the book somewhere around an 8 or 8.5 out of 10. As a bridge between the previous TNG books and Destiny, GTTS gets the job done, while also showing off a very respectable "stand alone" story with some great character themes. I'm ready to see just how much of the status quo David Mack is going to shatter, and once again I eagerly await the next CLB Trek novel.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!

    I would've liked to wrap it up more concisely, but there were a lot of loose ends to tie up.

    Yeah, I'm glad at how that turned out. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pull off a totally nonverbal alien in print, but it worked itself out.

    Yeah, it's all kind of a big coincidence, really -- they defeat one Borg threat, and then another unrelated, far more massive one crops up less than two months later. But it's all in the name of irony and Picard angst -- just when he finally thought it was over, it turns out it hasn't even started yet.

    As for using the name Frankenstein, I sincerely meant what I had Nechayev say. I just couldn't bring myself to use Albert Einstein's name for a hostile ship. To a science-y type like me, that's practically blasphemy.

    Well, they're all aspects of the same thing, aren't they? The Federation has done a lot of damage to the Borg, and that's put them on the defensive, forcing new adaptations and strategies. The "attack on sight" behavior from Resistance was a defense of the nascent Queen, being generated to replace the last one Starfleet destroyed. The nanotech absorption ability of the cube in BD was a last-ditch adaptation of the technological facet of the Borg when stripped of its organic facet in its latest defeat. And as for Destiny, really, what else would you expect the Borg to do once it becomes clear to them that an enemy is a genuine threat to them rather than merely a nuisance? Once Janeway cripped the Borg's transwarp hub, it made this level of retaliation inevitable; the only reason it's taken three years for the payoff is that the Borg can't get here quickly anymore, aside from isolated cubes like the one from Resistance. Or at least they couldn't get here quickly...

    I wasn't sure about killing Hugh off. It actually took some contrivance to explain why they couldn't rescue him. And I didn't like blowing up all those drones on the Frankenstein rather than saving them along with the others. But it was dramatically necessary that it be a suicide mission so that Picard's decision would carry the necessary weight.

    And if they weren't, Beverly could fix them. (Insert innuendo here, if you must.)

    Thank you. Stewart's performance in "Sarek" was one of the main things I drew on to imagine how Picard would express himself here. He's really, really good at playing a total emotional breakdown. I only hope it was as powerful on the page as it was in my head.

    Yeah... it's always bugged the hell out of me that the experience not only didn't fundamentally change him as a man, but barely even got referenced again. But I'm a big believer in turning a negative into a positive. (Well, at least in my writing. It's not always as easy in real life.)

    Much appreciated!