Memorable space battles in TrekLit

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Star Trek is, fortunately and famously, not all about the action. But a good space battle is still a lot of fun!

    Putting a space battle on the page is surely among the hardest tasks for a writer. A good grasp of Trek technology - i.e. the capabilities and the limitations of the ships involved - is necessary, but is just the framework of rules that have to be exploited smartly and ingenously to make for memorable action: The author has to be at least a good tactitian as the best tactitian in the book. Then there is the challenge of communicating effectively what is happening: complex motion in three-dimensional space must be related without the luxury of visuals. Last, but not least, is the need for action to have meaning - the stakes are only as high as the reader's involvement with the characters.

    What are some of the space battles throughout TrekLit that you find the most memorable, and what makes them stand out? Is it a gripping portrayal of the characters, clever exploitation of the universe's rules, the location of the battle, something else?
     
  2. nickyboy

    nickyboy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The battle at the beginning of Rough Beasts of Empire is one I remember.
     
  3. 8of5

    8of5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    One that persists in my memory I think was in Greater Than the Sum, and if I'm remembering right took place a above a planet. CLB got into how orbits and gravity had to be taken into account for the tactics of the battle, which I thought was a really interesting and lesser explored side of space battles.
     
  4. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    ^ agreed.

    another i liked is the Excalibur VS the Beings in Being Human and the Bombay VS the Tholians in Vanguard: Harbinger
     
  5. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, the battle in Harbinger, which I read recently, was actually what made me open the thread. It's a good one because Mr. Mack is skillful at relating the movement and relative positions of the ships without taking up a lot of space, allowing the characters to shine due to little distracting from them, yet the reader still knows exactly what's going on in terms of the maneuvers.

    The battle in Greater Than the Sum sounds interesting, looking forward to that one. I love it when TrekLit takes the opportunity to fill in gaps that the shows can't cover due to lack of time or the nature of the television medium, but make the universe feel more real. To explain what I mean, although it has nothing to do with space battles, at some point I read a story that has a character notice how the air rushes in to fill the void left behind by someone else beaming out. It's a small detail, but made me go "right, that would happen - never considered that" and put me in the moment. Space battles in TrekLit have a similar opportunity to go deeper into the details of what it means to move one of these ships around.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  6. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I liked that one, too. :) It approached space combat as another intellectual puzzle, and an opportunity to showcase Starfleet's ingenuity and the realities of the environment it works in, rather than making battle itself the issue. It used the conflict to enhance the readers' appreciation of the setting rather than simply progress the plot, and the fact that time was taken to justify what was being done and why made the whole thing seem more real than if it were just the standard ships-in-open-space-firing-at-each-other.

    Both of those were good too. Special notice to the Harbinger battle. We already knew Calhoun and co so investing in them emotionally during their fight was easy. But Bombay's captain and crew were new, while still managing to be just as engaging.
     
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    "The Wounded Sky" has a memorable space battle at the start. But, it doesn't much resemble TV/film Trek space battles. And some of the stuff that happens, like warping in the vacinity of a star causing it to go supernova instantly, is at odds with subsequent Trek canon.
     
  8. scnj

    scnj Captain Captain

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    I'll be honest, none spring to mind right now. I am however, looking forward to the next Voyager books, given the revelation at the end of the last one.
    My favourite writers of space battle scenes have been Timothy Zahn in the Thrawn Trilogy and Aaron Allston in the X-Wing books, so it'll be interesting to see how 'starfighter' combat plays out in the Trek universe.
     
  9. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have yet to read a good space battle in TrekLit. Most of them are told from the perspective of one character who misses most of it, I hate that. Worst offender was the novelization to First Contact, where it goes something like "Picard says fire and closes his eyes because everything turns so bright and when he opens them again the Cube is gone." That really annoys me. To be fair, it's a novelization and the author didn't know what the VFX looked like, but battles in original Trek Lit novels are just as bad.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks to you both. I always try to find some creative approach to a space battle, to make it an exercise in problem-solving with the characters using their wits to figure out a way of using the environment or resources around them. That's because the zap-pow-bam stuff just bores me. The only space battles I find interesting are ones that are more about strategy and problem-solving than gunplay and explosions, so I tend that way in my own writing. (The only onscreen Trek space battle I really like is the climactic one in Nemesis, because it's a well-choreographed chess match between two evenly matched minds and personalities.)
     
  11. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ No love for the Battle in the Mutara Nebula? :)
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I find it very sluggishly paced (and I'm saying that as someone who likes TMP) and far too bloody for my tastes. It's trying too hard to be a Hornblower movie with sailing ships firing cannons into each other's masts, albeit with a touch of submarine combat as well (which we already got plenty of in "Balance of Terror"). And really, treating "Hey, space is three-dimensional, we can move up and down!" as an inspired strategy is setting the bar ridiculously low. That's not a chess match in space, that's like a couple of 5-year-olds playing checkers and only one of them understanding that the pieces can jump each other.
     
  13. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've always considered the feature films to somewhat be Star Trek Light due to playing up the action to connect with a wider audience (TMP being the exception, and Undiscovered Country to a degree - unsurprisingly my favorites among the set), so the "space is three-dimensional" thing doesn't grate me so much. Rather I think it was a good idea to keep to the basics to make the battle interesting also for those in the audience who don't take that stuff for granted like we do :). And I really liked the naval feel and pace, and Montalban's and even Shatner's performances definitely make for a high involvement factor.

    The Nemesis battle I actually don't remember very well, or that there even was an extended battle prior to the ramming.
     
  14. Cybersnark

    Cybersnark Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The battle against the Null in "Titan: Synthesis," with the auto-targeting torpedoes and Titan having to manoeuvre around and through the Null as it was moving. The auto-torpedoes were a nice touch that I'm surprised Trek hasn't used more often (drop them and let them select their own targets).

    The starfighter battle as Sarina & Bashir were escaping Breen in "Zero Sum Game." Like scnj, I'm a starfighter fan, and I enjoyed Sarina's grasp of tactics and psychology when fighting multiple bogeys.

    And I can't remember the book, but there was a DS9 novel where Sisko figured out that he could use the station's tractor beam like a baseball bat to swat away incoming missiles. A solution that only he could've come up with.
     
  15. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Didn't one of Diana Carey's DS9 novelizations have descriptions of explosions as vegetable related? Like cabbages or cauliflower maybe?
     
  16. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    "The Return" had pretty good descriptions of battles from the bridge and the outside of the ship.
    (Like the USS Monitor/Enterprise jamming herself between the Romulan Warbird's wings, spinning inside, and ripping it apart).
     
  17. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    The only ones that really stick out in my mind have already been mentioned, Bombay v. Tholians in Harbinger and (I think it was) Enterprise vs. Einstein in Greater Than The Sum. There were also some pretty impressive battles in Destiny, although the majority of them didn't end well for the Starfleet ship(s).
     
  18. Destructor

    Destructor Commodore Commodore

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    I really enjoyed the space battles in the Shatnerverse novels, the Reeves-Stevenses seem to have a very handy way with describing them.
     
  19. Kirks_Flying_Wig

    Kirks_Flying_Wig Commander Red Shirt

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    Aside from the battles in Harbinger and Greater Than The Sum already mentioned, I like the battle between Stargazer and Seventy Fifth Rule in The Buried Age (as short as it was) and the Aldrin vs the Vestian ship in Burning Dreams. Simple *pow pow kaboom* battles are fine on screen but I find the better ones in the novels are the ones that offer descriptions of what is going through the characters' minds at the time.