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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    Sorry to hear that. I read your review, and I wanted to clarify one thing:

    I think you've misconstrued the purpose of the book. The Borg were not the "actual" plot of the novel. They were the McGuffin. We'd already had two novels centering on the Borg and were about to have a trilogy driven by them, so I was going for a change of pace, a more character-driven and exploration-driven tale. The hunt for the Einstein was just the means to set the character and exploration storylines in motion.


    Well, that's the goal -- to make each book accessible to the reader without requiring them to be familiar with any previous works. Sure, that runs the risk of feeling redundant to those who have read those works, but it wouldn't be fair to exclude newcomers on those grounds.


    Thank you!
     
  2. Thespeckledkiwi

    Thespeckledkiwi Vice Admiral

    You did a very good job tying in the loose threads left by Voyager and TNG with the Borg. I liked the small throwaway lines on how some of the Borg came from Battle Wolf 359. It made perfect sense.
     
  3. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think I've used the wrong word when I wrote "plot", I actually meant the "event" of the novel (as in what is physically happening in the novel beside the recapping and character stuff). I like character stuff, too, but, unless it is a short story, only in a healthy mix with "action" (not in the the fights and deaths sense, but in the sense that something is actually happening), and for me in GttS the character stuff was just overshadowing everything too much.

    ETA:

    Don't sweat over it. Every author has at least one "Get out of jail" card with me, just make sure I like your Titan book more and everything is fine. ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  4. EnochRoot

    EnochRoot Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Finished GTTS last night. Enjoyable, solid read. Good character development, leisurely pace, tied up some lose ends with the Borg that had been floating around from TNG and VOY both on screen and in the books. I'm a fan of Miyazaki's films and I definitely recognized his influence on this book.

    The novel focused mainly on the characters and their relationships, so will my review.

    I was glad to see that the Picard/Crusher wedding was "off-screen". The main focus on their relationship was more properly the issue of having a child from a thematic viewpoint so Christopher correctly focused there.

    The way Christopher tapped into Picard's "multiple personalities" (not in the clinical sense) of Sarek, Locutus, and Kamin was inspired. I hope to see more writers explore what it means to have 3 or 4 different lives in Picard's head from which he can draw experience and insight.

    Worf and LaForge were not the focus of this novel, but both got a good scene. Worf discussing honor with Choudhury was the kind of observation about Klingon culture I expect to see in a KRAD novel (I mean that as high compliment). I got an ironic chuckle when Elfiki worried that LaForge would judge her based on her appearance.

    Of the three "mutineers" I was glad Kodohata was the editorial/authorial choice to remain a cast member. I would have picked her if I could only have 1. Too bad Leybenzon had to go though. KRAD did a nice job establishing his character in Q&A. Was there any thought given to allowing him to stay on serving under Choudhury? It seems her peaceful nature could have been a good influence on him over time. Oh well. I suppose his fate reflects Christopher's opinion of Leybenzon's world-view. T'Lana...well she didn't work especially well for me but she leaves with some dignity intact.

    Of the trio of newcomers I was most interested in Choudhury. She has a personal philosophy unique among other Trek regular cast members. The tactics she employed against the Borg were well considered. Its fun when the heroes are using new tricks against the villains. I look forward to Choudhury being a window into a culture I have little personal experience with and it makes me interested to consult non-fiction resources to learn more about it.

    Chen seems to fit nicely into the "kid" archetype. Its a nice touch that just as Picard has begun forging a new family of his own this foundling comes into his life obviously in need of a strong family support system. Not every one of her wisecracks worked for me...but lets face it Spider-Man and Buffy have some misses in the humor department too.

    Elfiki was the character I got to know least which was strange considering the scientific/exploration bent to the tale. Hopefully David Mack will have more to say about the character and hopefully he'll do as a good a job establishing her as KRAD did with Kodohata/Leybenzon and Christopher did with Choudhury/Chen.

    So all in all nice job Christopher. Despite being an encounter with the Borg this felt like a calm between storms. A Time to Kill, Heal, For War/Peace brought a very strong close to the pre-Nemesis TNG storyline. It reinvigorated my waning interest in the TNG cast. So far both Q&A and GTTS have continued to leave me with a positive outlook on the future of TNG. I'm very excited where Destiny and Losing the Peace will take the Enterprise crew and for Christopher's next work in Over a Torrent Sea.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!

    The credit for that decision goes to Margaret Clark, my editor on this book.


    Keith DeCandido already explored that to a degree in his comics miniseries Perchance to Dream, which was an influence on me in writing this.


    Interesting thought, but no, that was never considered as far as I know.
     
  6. Idoliside

    Idoliside Commander Red Shirt

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    I finished GTTS last night, after getting not much sleep and sleeping in the day i ploughed through the novel whilst being over-tired and couldnt sleep...

    The writing style here def reads like a Chris L Bennett novel, it was very similar to Orions Hounds in my opinion. Not just because they were covering some of the same area as the Luna class but for exploring the unknown, which Chris does very well.

    The amount of scientific theory behind everything is brilliant and it's good to read an exploration novel after all the borg scares, mirror realities and divergant universes. And not just exploration of space, but also of life and people. Having this being mirrored in what was happening to the star cluster was nice, especially since it revolved around pro-creation.

    A couple of things bugged me though. Namely with the sudden appearance of Hugh and having Picards memories revived all at once.
    With Hugh it would have been nice to have a few chapters following what he was doing before he appeared to the enterprise rather than have him suddenly appear out of the blue.
    Also having Picards memories of Kamin effect his judgement makes good sense, but seemed a bit too momentary. It seemed as though it was only effecting him for this one choice and seemed to come and go far too quickly. Maybe it was just his reaction to his own pro-creation that brought it on but it did feel a bit rushed.

    Other than those two little things the rest was fantastic. I liked bringing back the Mabrae from The Buried Age. I liked the new officer Trys, it's always good to bring in something new and immature into an area of officers and strict regime. Like a breath of fresh air (and probably why picard chose too keep her, deep down).

    Great book with a fantastic epilogue. Looking forward to more of your work! And Destiny of course.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!

    But that would've taken the surprise out of it. Also, I was hired to write an 85,000-word novel, not a 100,000-word one.

    Well, that couldn't be helped. Realistically, the events of "The Inner Light" were something that should've changed Picard forever, but the producers of the show and films chose to sweep it aside and revert him to normal. The best I could manage was to attempt to retroactively justify why it hadn't had a major effect on his life.

    And I certainly hope it won't just disappear again. Now that he's allowed himself to confront these issues and embrace his Kamin memories, I feel those memories should inform him as he becomes a parent in real life.
     
  8. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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  9. Idoliside

    Idoliside Commander Red Shirt

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    Agreed, i suppose to work it into the story in a melodramatic way it would have to be 100,000 words (as you said earlier) or cut out other important part and make the whole book about Kamin.
    Damn episodic TV!
     
  10. haubrija

    haubrija Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    While I agree with you all that TNG didn't do enough in following up The Inner Light, I just want to say that Lessons at least gave it some followup, which I enjoyed. Not at all like the great work Christopher did here, but it wasn't entirely swept under the rug either. The fact that there was any followup at all for TNG is somewhat rare.

    I haven't chimed in yet, and just want to say that I loved the book Christopher. I love the TNG characters so much that just having things slow down a bit and have them talk about what is going on with them was great. Again, kudos.
     
  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It took me a while to purchase this novel because I was really disappointed with Before Dishonor and the general direction of the TNG relaunch. I had pretty much decided that this book would be the make or break one for me regarding the relaunch, and after finishing it, I will continue with the TNG relauch.

    I liked this book quite a bit. Mainly for the Picard-Crusher marriage, which I thought was a long time coming and the pregnancy was icing on the cake. In the Trek universe, even in our own, Picard's age wasn't too old to start a family and I'm glad the writers, or Mr. Bennett recognized that.

    I also thought the crew was starting to gel much better. I don't know if it was by design now, but I appreciate the growing pains experienced by Picard as he tried to put together a new crew in Resistance, Q & A, and now Greater than the Sum, to finally arrive at an interesting group that seems to be meshing together.

    T'Ryssa is a love or hate character, but I like her. She's pretty atypical and a nice change of pace without resorting to T'Lana's icy nastiness. Though I did like T'Lana. T'Lana was one of the few people on the ship that didn't go along. She pushed Picard, challenged him, and I think that's necessary, but I also think that PAD made into too much of an obstructionist.

    I'm glad this novel pushed things forward by getting rid of T'Lana and Zelik Leybenzon, though I wished it had went for the trifecta and gotten rid of Kadohata too. She's the one relaunch character I really don't like, because she has been depicted as a pretty boring character so far. So what she has children, that doesn't make her a readable character to me. That conflict has been touched on to some extent in Trek before, and the idea that she was on the E-D doesn't do anything for me either since she wasn't on screen or in a previous TNG book before the relaunch to my knowledge.

    Leybenzon came across somewhat as a gung ho clone of Worf, without the honor, Sara Nave was a Mary Sue, T'Lana was made overly difficult, Battalgia was axed before much was done with him.

    However, I do like how this novel at least gave Kadohata an interesting relationship angle with T'Ryssa.

    I also like how this novel at least addressed Geordi's desire to be in a relationship. His character growth has often totally been overlooked in the movies and the many of the novels, and at least Mr. Bennett touches on it. Now, it remains to be seen if the other writers will follow that somewhere. I mean, Elfiki's on board and Aquiel Uhnari, Astrid Kemal, or Leah Brahms are somewhere out there.

    This novel wisely pulled back on showing the Borg. They were in the background and retained a menace of aura unlike in Before Dishonor when we were given Borg overkill. The return and sacrifice of Hugh was nice too, but sad. I always liked him.

    The entity was also well written, and I really got a feel for its alienness. I'm glad that it didn't talk or have an evil agenda or anything like that. And it's reluctance to allow the E-E to blow the Borg to hell led to a great Picard speech, which have been far too lacking in the books, and also in the TNG movies.

    Overall, a very solid book.

    Though my major gripe is a familiar one. I'm tired of the Borg. TNG, and 24th century Trek have other great villians that are dying for some attention.

    Guys like the Breen, Tholians, Gorn, Tzenkethi, Sheliak, Jarada. Also, there are the Son'a, Talarians, Nausicaans, Orions, "Schims" aliens, Sphere Builders, and Chalnoth that could all be made into more major threats. Not to mention the Vaadwaur, Species 8472, Voth, or Hirogen.

    The Trek universe has an overabundance of good adversaries. I would love to see more of them in future works.

    CB, a nice set up for Destiny. You have restored my faith in the TNG Relaunch.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, sure. Beverly's age is a bit trickier, though. She's 56 as of Greater Than the Sum, which would be post-menopausal for most (though not all) women today. We can assume, though, that she used medical means to prolong/restore her fertility. There are already such techniques around today, I believe, at least to an extent.


    Yeah, I'm hoping there will be some further series-era TNG books, stories, or comics that will allow authors the chance to retcon Kadohata into the E-D crew.


    Thanks, I appreciate it!
     
  13. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Already done: Kadohata appears as a relief ops officer in Slings and Arrows. :)
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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  15. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't Slings and Arrows set on the E-E? :confused:
     
  16. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Yup, it is. *looks back at the older posts* Oh, he said E-D, didn't he? Whoops..... :alienblush:
     
  17. Stephen!

    Stephen! Captain Captain

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    Is the numbers of words an approximation when writing a novel? Or does it have to be that exact number?
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's a very rough target, a general indicator of the desired "weight class," so to speak, of the book. As long as you don't come in ridiculously over or under it, it's not a problem. My Buried Age contract said 100,000 words and it came out 132,000. Conversely, my Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder contract said 85,000 and it came out 71,000. If it had been the other way around, like getting contracted for 85K and turning in 132K or giving them only 71K for a 100K contract, that would be a problem. My other books have all been closer to their targets, but naturally what's best for the story is going to take precedence over arbitrary mathematical exactitude. Especially since any word count is a rough estimate anyway.
     
  19. Jack Bauer

    Jack Bauer Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Christopher...another homerun! T'Ryssa is a great addition to the TNG series.
     
  20. Sxottlan

    Sxottlan Commodore Commodore

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    A very good book. The best of the TNG-R so far.

    Now admittedly, it doesn't take much to be the best of the TNG-R so far, but that doesn't take away from the book.

    More later if I can think of anything.
     

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