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

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ooh, neat summary:
    With a few tweaks, that would've made a good back-cover blurb.

    Very flattering review. Thanks!
     
  2. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Commodore Commodore

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    There really isn't much more I can say about "Greater than the Sum" than has already been said, but I'll offer some quick observations:

    1. I thought there was a bit too much exposition in the novel. Yet, looking back on it, neither am I sure how to get around the issue. After all, one cannot assume that a reader will have read prior Star Trek novels.

    2. I liked the character of T'Ryssa (sp), probably because she has an outlook on life that's somewhat similar to mine — using humor and irreverence a lot to handle life's burdens, but at the same time masking an all-too-serious core. I'm glad she avoided assimilation ... not once, but twice!

    3. Good riddance, Leybenzon. My only regret is that his final act inadvertently gave the Borg Collective insights into countering the Federations' multi-vector agent. I suppose that's punishment enough for him, though, dying while knowing what he'd done. Hmpfh. Yes, Leybenzon, there are stupid, swaggering, flabby officers. But there are also stupid, swaggering, flabby grunts. It's a two-way street, buddy.

    4. I hope Picard and Beverly have a girl. After all, Wesley would love to have a half-sister, wouldn't he? ;)

    5. Amazons in Space (i.e. the female-centric Enterprise-E bridge crew)! Need more be said (or desired)?

    6. Maybe it's just me, but I've got a sneaky feeling that we haven't seen the last of Hugh.

    7. The epilogue was very intense. That said, in the upcoming Destiny trilogy, I hope a good deal of attention is paid to the impact such devastation is having on hearts and minds of the peoples of the Federation.

    Gatekeeper
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I thought there was too much exposition too. But it was kind of unavoidable given the need to follow up on previous books and clarify some lingering issues from them. This is the least standalone Trek novel I've written to date, the one most dependent on prior (and subsequent) works.

    In retrospect, maybe I could've been less detailed in the discussion about the previous crew changes, but I felt it was necessary to define the problem clearly.

    Well, he was kinda blown up real good...

    That impact is sure to be felt in Destiny and beyond.
     
  4. Man of Steel

    Man of Steel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I am not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said but I will try:

    1) This is, in my opinion, the best book written by Christopher and it was way, way, way better then the shit that was Before Dishonor. I was very happy the way Christopher tied up all the loose ends (mostly) from that book.

    2) Lebyenzon, well I was happy to see him go although I don't understand why Christopher would allow him to screw up and allow the BORG to find out about the MVA technology.. What was the point of destroying them if that's the case? Speaking of which, introduce more BORG in hiding? Why? Have we seen the last of Lebyenzon?

    3) I loved the character of Chen. She was funny, perky, and something the E crew needs in times like this.

    4) For the brief moment he was seen, I really like the new counsleor. In fact, much better then T'Lana who I felt was a bit of a prick and stiff. I'm glad she's gone.

    5) Why so much theme of family? I liked it but I thought you overdid it just a bit... Will the pregnancy affect whatever events happen in Destiny? By that I mean Picard and Beverly?

    6) It seemed to me like you were setting Destiny up in the Epilogue.

    7) So is this the end of The Liberator and Rhea or will they return at some point?

    8) I was very surprised to see Hugh back in the picture. Wasn't expecting that though I had wondered what had happaned to him since the events of I Borg.. Is he officially dead or will he be back?

    9) To much exposition.

    All in all, this was a terrific book that was quick, easy and fast to read. This new crew is better then what we have seen until now and I hope this is the final crew that is official.

    This book had it all. Action, humor, heart, emotion, reunion and family. I thank Christopher for a very well written book. It's hard to imagine how he can possibly top this but I can't wait to find out.
     
  5. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

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    Next to Q&A this is the best of the TNG-R. I felt like the first third of the book was completely justified with the discombobulation that the rest of the series has been. There has not been enough focus on the characters and how all of this has been affecting them and Chris does a great job of laying that out. The TNG characters are starting to feel real and human and I love that. I truly love that Picard is dealing with the issue of family and the repercussions of Inner Light. It was one of the best from TNG and it gets almost completely glossed over in the series. It is nice to see the affects, and how they have informed his relationship with Beverly. Thanks also for finally tying the knot between Crusher and Picard!

    I really liked Thrys, she reminded me of Jadzia and Ezri. By Jadzia, I mean her proclivity to sleep around and be unconventional in her approach to solving problems and her attitude towards authority (by that I mean that Jadzia had a way of not always playing by the rules and staying true to herself). By Ezri, I mean her youth and inexperience. Just really liked seeing such human characters that have flaws on TNG. This is something that has been lacking for far too long in TNG.

    I like the setup for Destiny although I am not sure I am ready for more Borg, but hey if the writing continues to be this good I will not care. Thanks for another great book Chris!
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!

    EDIT: I finally got a copy of GTTS, and the annotations for the book are now online.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks for putting those up, they're very helpfull, as annotations almost always are.
     
  8. D Man

    D Man Commodore Commodore

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    Enjoyed the annotations, thanks Christopher! I always love the links you provide to those absolutely gorgeous nebulae. :D
     
  9. Man of Steel

    Man of Steel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Are those things hard to do? I can imagine them taking you a few hours.
     
  10. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I usually like most of Christopher's Stuff, but Greater than the Sum didn't work for me at all.
     
  11. ronny

    ronny Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    WOW!!! I was going to say it was good not being a minority of one any more but I at least liked the last third of the book.

    When comparing books we're probably going to rank them in the roughly the same order. Well, except I guess I like Martin & Mangels a lot more than you and I thought Sword of Damocles was just fine. At least you didn't rank that lower than GttS. :lol:
     
  12. tenmei

    tenmei Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My TNG Relaunch rating (1 being best, 4 being worst) would go as follows:

    1 - Before Dishonor
    2 - Greater Than The Sum
    3 - Q&A
    4 - Resistance
     
  13. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    This is my review of "Greater than the Sum". It contains spoilers:



    “Greater than the Sum” has been announced as the lead-in to the probably biggest Trek literature event so far, the “Destiny” series as well as numerous related books. That alone made me very curious from early on. But I was also curious how the author would deal with the aftermath of previous books, especially of “Before Dishonor”. A lead-in book into a big event has to provide the basics on which such a story event can build and what happened in “Before Dishonor” didn`t make that an easy task.

    I think Christopher L. Bennett did the best that was possible although it was not always convincing to me. A lot of it smelled of damage control and finding excuses. It worked best in the case of Kadohata. I remember that Kadohata didn`t give up the mutiny easily. She only did so after it was obvious that she couldn`t win. But if you want to redeem one of the three instigators, she is the best candidate. I was willing to give her that chance and just assume that in between books, she indeed understood her error. Also, she is the most likeable of the three and adds an interesting dimension to the character mix on board, especially in this book which looks at the topic family and how to raise children from different angles. I haven`t quite managed yet to forget and forgive what she has done but I am confident that she will redeem herself in time. I am sure, “Destiny” will give her plenty of opportunity.

    When Leybenzon was first introduced I didn`t consider him to be likeable but I thought he is interesting. I could see that this character could go either way: He could grow and learn from his experiences, his strengths and weaknesses. Or it could end very badly for him. “Before Dishonor” didn`t leave any doubt in my mind that this man has missed his chance. To me, he was irredeemable. I am glad that the author didn`t even try to find any excuses in this case. I wouldn`t have wished him such a bad end but it certainly wasn`t out of character and it makes sense. Having said that, I won`t miss him.

    T`Lana was worse. I barely tolerated her when she was first introduced. After “Before Dishonor” she was even less redeemable to me than Leybenzon. I am actually surprised that the author tried to do a lot of damage control here and in my case, it didn`t work at all. None of the arguments impressed me. T`Lana was not insane, she was completely responsible for her actions and this had nothing to do with “stubbornness”. A woman, Vulcan or not, with so many problems and such attitudes is not fit for duty. At least I agree with that. I still think – good riddance and hopefully that was the last time I met her in a book!

    My favourite part of dealing with the mutiny aftermath was Picard`s meeting with Admiral Nechayev. After “Before Dishonor” arrived I made clear that I had a lot of problems with the mutiny but during discussions I got some reactions also from professional writers who defended it. I was dreading to read more about the importance of the chain of command, that orders are orders and that Picard was wrong although he was obviously right at the end. I was very pleasantly surprised. This time, I had no problems whatsoever with the arguments the author provided. Everything made a lot of sense. I loved the idea that Nechayev offered Picard her peace meal, if I may call it that. I am also glad that I am now reasonably sure that what happened in “A Time to…” and the recent books won`t be repeated – at least not in the near future.

    “Before Dishonor” is a flawed book. It is also the probably most frustrating book I have read so far because there is a lot in it I enjoyed very much but also a lot I am not happy with. Many people also mentioned how Worf was written as another flaw. In this case, I don`t agree. I think Peter David portrayed him very accurately. What Christopher L. Bennett explained in his book was exactly what went through my mind when I read “Before Dishonor”. Maybe this should have been spelled out by Peter David himself but I still think, that wasn`t a fault.

    As a lead-in book to a direction that has a lot to do with the Borg, the author also provided a summary of a lot of back history about the Borg like the various abilities, splinter groups and about treknology. Treknology has never been one of my strong points but I understand that the author had to make an effort to explain this background, too. I must admit, as I expected I lost that part of the plot very quickly. My eyes glazed over sometimes and I quickly started just to take such descriptions as a given and concentrate on what I could understand, like does it work or doesn`t it instead of the why or why nots.

    It is not treknology anyway that makes me a Star Trek fan. What I am mainly interested in are the characters. “Greater than the Sum” is offering a very rich tapestry of characters I very much enjoyed. I liked the discussion between Worf and Geordi very much when it was mentioned that they are in a minority now as Deanna and Dr. Crusher were in the past. I am certainly not complaining. Also because I am female I welcome this change but first of all I welcome it because I like these new female characters. (Not all of them are brand new, but anyway) After the bumpy start before this book, I hope these people will stay around and be allowed to be developed. With the Borg around, a continuation of a revolving door feeling is possible. It would even be realistic. But I wouldn`t like it.

    Having a female-heavy crew, I think it is important to have some good recurring new male characters too. Rennan Konya is not brand new either but he feels like a new character to me. Please keep him around! He is a fascinating character and I like him a lot. His relationship with T`Ryssa is something I welcome and I am curious how it will develop.

    The Saurian Captain Bazel is of course not part of Picard`s crew but a male character in this book I enjoyed reading about. I certainly wouldn`t mind meeting him again.

    That brings me to Hugh. I welcomed it that the author provided such a comprehensive background about what we know from TNG on TV and what happened afterwards. I think it was about time to remember this character and this splinter group. His sacrifice touched me a lot but didn`t leave me with any resentment because of that decision. Thanks to Christopher L. Bennett`s excellent character developments in which he skilfully led the readers to the conclusion that Hugh is the natural choice for this sacrifice I am not left with resentment but with surprise. I would never have guessed that Hugh would be removed so early in this Borg event. I think it would have been nice to have Hugh around in Destiny or even longer than that but on the other hand, it is good that the authors and editors keep us readers surprised and guessing.

    From the new female characters, T`Ryssa certainly left the biggest impact on me. After reading first comments I was sceptical but when I started reading the book myself, I immediately liked her. I have a weakness for free spirits, original thinkers and in general officers who are determined to say what they think and do what is right. Some people will call me crazy but I think in some ways, T`Ryssa is a lighter version of Calhoun. Calhoun is my favourite Star Trek character. Therefore I am not surprised any more that I enjoyed reading about her so much.

    T`Ryssa is much more than a “class clown”. She is fun but this is paired with intelligence and often some interesting insights. A good example is changing the name of the ship Einstein into Frankenstein. It is funny but at the same time, I was aware of the seriousness behind this change and that it was even an appropriate decision.

    Her origin adds to what makes this character so interesting and gives her so much potential. She is indeed the opposite of Spock and it is a good idea to explore what that could mean. I didn`t know that the ability to mind meld is automatically part of each half Vulcan even if that person is completely untrained. That was very interesting, also how Picard guided her when she contacted the cluster entity. It made me smile when it became obvious that Picard is somewhat of a father figure to her. During that meld T`Ryssa showed a combination of intuition and intelligence combined with original thinking I found admirable. Her style is certainly not Picard`s when dealing with aliens but in this case, it worked so well. I don`t think his criticism was entirely justified because I don`t think what she said was really wrong. A Borg people without the ability to assimilate others, consisting of individuals but with a huge amount of knowledge could be the complete opposite of the terrifying Borg we know now. Hugh`s group was a beginning. I think it would be great if T`Ryssa could be proven right.

    I think T`Ryssa brings some fresh air into the TNG crew and I already like her very much. I hope to read much more about her in future.

    The cluster entity was fascinating. I also enjoyed it to read about an alien being to whom life is so precious. This forced everyone to reflect very carefully about motives and not to just go after the Borg as the “bad guys”. I liked that a lot.

    My first reaction when I learned that Picard and Dr. Crusher are married was: finally! That was about time. But I understand that changing attitudes takes time and I remember the controversial discussions well when New Frontier arrived, a crew in which “fraternization” was normal and with a Captain and first officer who are a love interest without exactly being lovers. How times have changed! Titan broke the last remnants of the ice and marrying Picard and Dr. Crusher is the natural next step.

    I think they were always made for each other and I am glad that after a long personal struggle especially for Picard, he has embraced the idea of not only being a husband but having his wife with him on board. I could understand his personal struggle until his final decision of having a child with Beverly after all very much. I very much felt for him. The references towards “Inner Light” were beautiful, bittersweet and very thoughtful. I thought Beverly put too much pressure on him. They just got married after all and the return of the Borg is certainly not “just” another crisis. Of course Picard is afraid of loss, not only because of “Inner Light” but because of the bitter irony that his brother and nephew died in a house fire on Earth after Picard was always afraid of taking loved ones with him on his ship because of the dangers.

    I am happy for Picard and I am happy for Beverly. I am sure they will be good parents. Beverly did a good job with Wesley and Picard has a life time of experiences. He also was a good mentor when he took Calhoun under his wing and from what I could see, he will do the same with T`Ryssa. Picard can certainly also deal with young people who are more of a challenge. I wonder what kind of person that child will be but on the other hand I am not in favour of doing some aging trick because writing about a teenager is more interesting than writing about a baby.

    I expected the wedding but not that they will start a family so quickly afterwards. But as I said, surprising readers now and again is a good thing. I would have thought that Riker and Deanna would have a child first. It is ironic and sad that they struggle so much. I am sure, when they learn about this baby, they will be happy but it must be hard for them as well to be reminded of what is missing in their lives. Our daughter didn`t arrive quickly and easily and she will most probably always be an only child. We were very lucky and I hope that eventually Riker and Deanna will at least have one child together. If it doesn`t work naturally, of course there is also the possibility of adoption.

    The book also has good scenes with Worf and Geordi. Both of them added more variations to the theme family and children.

    “Greater than the Sum” is one of the most enjoyable Star Trek books I have read recently and my appetite for “Destiny” is growing.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Reposting my reply from PsiPhi:

    Insanity had nothing to do with it. Neurosis is not insanity any more than, say, tendinitis is a life-threatening disease. The brain is like any other part of the body -- it can have plenty of degrees of health, and it needs occasional maintenance to keep it in good condition.

    To me, it wasn't just about redeeming her; it was simply about approaching the issue plausibly, evaluating how someone with her skills and professional knowledge, and her previously established personality, would deal with the situation. The T'Lana of Resistance was an officer who had doubts about her own competence; therefore, her behavior in BD could only have been overcompensation for those doubts. The T'Lana of Q & A was a smart, capable therapist who fully understood that Vulcans were capable of error and neurosis; therefore, she should have been able to question her own actions and recognize that overcompensation -- if not in the heat of the moment, then later, after time to reflect. For that matter, even BD showed her recognizing at the end that she'd been wrong about Worf, so we saw there that she was already beginning to question herself. It was simply a matter of fitting everything we knew about the character into a consistent, logical whole.

    So while I did want to redeem her, I did so because it made sense in light of her established characterization that she was redeemable.


    Keep in mind that Dave had Destiny fully outlined before I was even hired for this project. He had his own story to tell, and one of the things I wanted to do was to revisit the aspects of the Borg that hadn't been revisited in previous books, to deal with them before Dave overturned the whole chessboard with his trilogy. Hugh was one of those dangling threads, as were the Unimatrix Zero resistance and the various technology and continuity issues I touched on. (I wanted to involve the Borg Cooperative from "Unity" as well, but I couldn't work them in.)

    I'm very surprised by the comparison. I don't think they're much alike at all. Calhoun is basically Wolverine; Trys is more like, ohh, Spider-Man or the Human Torch.


    Yeah, but she was glossing over a lot, like the fact that a lot of Borg would be killed if the entity set the Enterprise free to act. The vision she spun for Qing Long was a nice fantasy, but it was a scam.

    I appreciate that.

    If she put pressure on him, it was because she knew that he cherishes his family lineage and places great importance on its continuation, and that he was on the verge of proposing that they have a child when the Borg mission came along and brought back all his fears. So it's not like she was being selfish. She just didn't understand why he was running from something she knew he wanted and needed.

    Actually Picard has two lifetimes of experiences. He can draw on his 40 years of life as Kamin, now that he's not hiding from those memories anymore. So technically he has decades of experience as a father.
     
  15. Rabid Trekkie

    Rabid Trekkie Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Finished the book yesterday, which means I read it in three days. That may not be that quick to a lot of people, but as a comparison Heinlein is my favorite sci-fi author and the fastest I've read one of his books is two days. So I was really into this story. Just a wonderful story and has given me a lot to think about with my relationship with my own family and friends.

    Here's a small review I did over on another message board for any interested: http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showpost.php?p=7345789&postcount=4198
     
  16. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    Thank you for your interesting comments. There is not a lot I can add, just one point or two:

    Your explanation about T`Lana makes sense but still, I don`t want to meet that woman again and don`t see how she can ever be a counsellor I would like to discuss my most private thoughts and fears with. I am not a scientist. I understand now that “insanity” is not the word I should have used but something more general like “mental issues”. T`Lana has a lot of them and combined with the limitations her personality has, it would be better for her and everybody else if she would find a new career.

    Calhoun as Wolverine and Trys as Spider-Man or Human Torch – that is amusing. Well, they are all super-heroes and therefore in good company. As I said, they are both free spirits, original thinkers and not afraid to say what they think and do what they think is right. They also have a very open attitude towards sexuality and a sense of humour. They are dark and light but have a lot in common I like.

    Thank you again for this enjoyable and interesting book.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, of course no one would ask you to choose a therapist you couldn't trust or feel comfortable with. The patient-therapist relationship depends entirely on trust. And T'Lana's professional enough that she should be able to recognize that, which is no doubt part of the reason she realized she needed to transfer off the Enterprise.

    And you're right that her problems make her currently unqualified to function as a therapist. But as a therapist, she would never assume that someone's personality problems are incurable. After all, her problems are a direct result of the traumas she suffered in the Dominion War, so it would be illogical to assume they're permanent parts of her nature as a person. Nog wasn't born with an artificial leg, and T'Lana wasn't born with her neuroses. They're just different kinds of war wounds. T'Lana has a lot of work to do, a lot of healing and introspection to go through, before she can be qualified to work as a therapist again. But she could emerge as a better, wiser therapist as a result.
     
  18. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    I wish that were true that no one in the Star Trek universe, meaning Starfleet, would ask an officer to go to a therapist he or she doesn`t trust or feel comfortable with. “A Time to…” was showing an extreme when that counsellor “treated” Picard in ways against his will that were nothing else but torture. He had no say whatsoever when that happened. I can`t give specific examples right now but I remember there were cases when the captain or another high ranking officer ordered someone to go to the counsellor on board and talk about the problem in question. If I would have been ordered to go to T`Lana or even that counsellor from hell in “A Time To…”, I would be extremely careful what I say and that conversation would not be helpful, it would probably even cause more stress and anxiety to a person who already feels vulnerable. I could see that Counsellors have a lot of power and are able to remove a person from duty.

    OK, I am hoping that T`Lana will handle her problems better than Leybenzon did.
     
  19. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

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    I finally got in touch with Borders about the copy I ordered since they have stopped stocking Trek books in my area. They ordered it about eigth days ago and it still hasn't come in. I'm heading into Pittsburgh tomorrow so I'll, hopefully, find a copy then.
     
  20. dukesman

    dukesman Commander Red Shirt

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    Hello Chris,

    It's been a long time since I've reviewed any Trek literature in the fourms. It's not that I haven't been reading any, just no time these days. GTTS was very entertaining and made me want to say some nice things about it, though, so here goes...

    I first have to admit I have not read The Buried Age, Q&A, or Before Dishonor...so the recaps of previous storylines didn't bother me at all...in fact, I appreciated the fact that these little notes filled in the gaps for me without dragging the story down, a very hard thing to do!:techman:

    I'll be honest, I expected a lot of Borg action but what I found was very rewarding. Several key scenes between various characters - Picard and Beverly, Geordi and Elfiki, Hugh and Rebekah, Worf and Choudhury (did I spell that correctly?) - served to deepen my understanding of them and raised my enjoyment of this story. I esp liked Worf's speech with Choudhury about honor. Well done. And even though there could have been some romantic implications there, I like the fact that he thinks of Jadzia at that moment.

    Choudhury's "pendulum attack" against the Borg ship.:bolian: Excellent imagery - movie quality!

    Very interesting aliens as well - you certainly do like gigantic multifaceted lifeforms don't you? (Orion's Hounds is my favorite Titan novel by far!)

    I never got the feeling of "here we go again" with any facet of the story - even with the inclusion of Hugh and Guinan. Everything had that "moving forward" quality to it and it seems Picard's new crew (and family life) are finally starting to gel, despite all of the quirky and uneven parts. One can't help but smile for the captain! Until the end anyway...damn, damn damn!!!

    I'm interested to see where this all goes and Destiny has a great setup!

    Thanks for a great novel!