My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS!!!

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by AustNerevar, May 16, 2014.

  1. AustNerevar

    AustNerevar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Go easy on me, this is the first time I've reviewed anything in a long while. And this is the first Trek book I've read since I was about 16 or 17.

    It's been a while since I'd read any Enterprise books, which is why I wasn't certain whether or not the relaunch series would do a good job of making me feel like I was "seeing" the characters that I know and love actually move through the story. I was pleasantly surprised.

    First of all, Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels' writing leaves a good deal to be desired. Throughout the book there are around twenty instances in which the authors punctuates a character's dialogue by using the idiom "at length", which I can only guess the author believes to be an alternate way to express "he said" or "she said".

    "I understand." Trip said, at length. are one of the many examples of this particular idiom being used incorrectly. At first, it was an amusing error. After fifteen times of reading this mistake, it actually caused me to put the book down from agitation.

    Suffice it to say that the writing isn't stellar. But the story is good. I had a little problem seeing the motivation that one of the main characters had to drive the plot forward. In this case, Charles Trip Tucker finds himself in the employ of the proto-Section 31 organization. Trip is convinced that he needs to leave the Enterprise, undergo severe cosmetic surgery to make him appear to be a Romulan, then infiltrate the Romulan Empire in a mission to kidnap the Romulan version of Albert Einstein.

    In this situation, I have a difficult time believing that Trip actually has to do this. Sure, he is convinced that if he doesn't then Starfleet won't take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the Romulans. And, sure, Trip is eager to put some distance between himself and T'Pol after their recent "breakup". But Section 31 is asking him to wildly alter his appearance through some unknown alien surgery. At what point does Charles Tucker, the Chief Engineer of the fleets flagship, find himself to be the most qualified man to become a spy and infiltrate the Romulan Star Empire? Wouldn't this be a more suited job for, say, Malcom Reed, the chief Security officer onboard Enterprise and a man who has actually worked with Section 31 before??

    It seems a tad contrived. But, that's probably because it is. You see, The good That Men Do is not just a relaunch novel. It's the series finale of Enterprise, *rewritten*. Many fans felt cheated with the actual finale. Riker and Troi decided they needed to reenact the recorded death of an officer they've never met from two hundred years prior. The ending of Enterprise is one big holodeck simulation. That features the death of Trip Tucker, which was probably the most senseless, cheap death in the entire franchise, indeed, one to rival the death of Tasha Yar. Trip's death was entirely contrived in the finale. So this novel's contrivance to get Trip where needs to be to explain the falsification of history is acceptable. It is definitely the lesser of two evils.

    Now that I have harped on about the novel's bad points, let's discuss it's strengths.

    In spite of the writing and lack of motivation, the characters feel genuine. I felt like I was reading about Trip, Archer, and T'Pol and not some rewritten characters with their names and histories slapped on for brand recognition. I was enjoying new stories with some of my favorite characters. Enterprise was back in space, again, doing what it does best. We also saw the return of the rowdy Andorian, Shran, one of Archer's close alien buddies.

    The book feels like Enterprise. And, despite it's positive portrayal of a rogue spying element in the Starfleet government (seriously, any government who doesn't know what it's right hand is doing, is corrupt), the book feels like Star Trek.

    I enjoyed reading the book very much. In fact, I finished it in just a few days, because it was hard to put down. I usually spread books out over a longer period of time, so that I can savor them. However, this was one that I sped through.

    I'm currently reading it's sequel, Kobayashi Maru, written by the same authors. So I expect to see some of the same character elements, flaws, and "at length"s as I did in the previous one.

    I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves Enterprise and hated the finale. Even with it's problems it is a MUCH need retelling of that story. We do have the writers of the finale to thank though. Even though it was so terribly executed, by making the episode a holodeck simulation, it was possible for a writer to say "History has been falsified!" and throw out the real ending to Enterprise. This plot device wouldn't have worked with any other episode, but it works pretty well, here.

    Sorry if my wording is confusing or jumbled. It's been a long while since I've done anything like this and my writing has degraded much over the years, sad to say. Let me know what you think, if you've read the book.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2014
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    Actually, "at length" can mean "finally" or "after a time" as well as "extensively" or "for a long time." So that would be a valid way of saying that there was a long pause before Trip said "I understand."

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/at+length?s=t&path=/
     
  3. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan "Down with this sort of thing!" Premium Member

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    Good to see you're picking him up on one word usage and have nothing to say on the actual review itself.

    Me, I've never read the book so can't pass comment, was a nice indepth review though and welcome to the board AustNerevar.
     
  4. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    When was the last time you left a comment that even related to Star Trek literature? All of your posts are just you picking fights with people or making passive-aggressive comments about, ironically, the supposed uselessness of other peoples' posting.
     
  5. dansigal

    dansigal Captain Captain

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    Whoa boy. Let's just say if you have an issue with the Trip stuff from The Good That Men Do, you're going to have a rough go reconciling the Trip story lines from the rest of Enterprise Relaunch. Of the first 4 books in the relaunch, Trip's story in this one makes the most sense...
     
  6. AustNerevar

    AustNerevar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    Well, that's disappointing. I hate when a writer just makes something unfeasible up just to set up all the pieces for the plot.

    Is it the *entire* relaunch? Is this specific to the authors of these books or is this more of a widespread phenomenon with Trek lit? I've only read a handful of Trek books over the past fifteen years or so.

    One author that I've always enjoyed since I was a kid is John Vornholt. He wrote the TNG book Masks which I vaguely remember reading in junior high, as well as the Genesis Wave series, but I haven't read anything of his since. It may just be that he wrote simply enough for me to understand as a kid.

    I've contemplated reading the Abramsverse novelizations and it's sequels after I finish Enterprise. Either those, Section 31, or Department of Temporal...can't remember the rest of the name. There are just so many to choose from.
     
  7. dansigal

    dansigal Captain Captain

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    It's just these authors and only through the Romulan War duology. I haven't read any of Christopher's Birth of the Federation books yet which are under the Enterprise banner, but I think they are pretty well regarded, as is most of his stuff. There's a ton of great Trek lit happening right now, it really is hard to go wrong. If you are enjoying the Enterprise stuff, by all means, keep going with it, there are certainly things to like about Kobyashi Maru and the the Romulan War books, I just don't think the Trip storyline is particularly well done.
     
  8. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    IMO the post-ENT novels (excluding Christopher's Rise of the Federation re-relaunch) are the weakest link in Trek Lit. I gave up on book 1 of The Romulan War.
     
  9. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS


    How is it "unfeasible" that Tucker would go into a spy career. Every year there are a number of people who change career paths during their lives. Why couldn't Trip change careers?
     
  10. voyager1

    voyager1 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    What makes them weak?
     
  11. voyager1

    voyager1 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    The Trip plot made perfect sense considering he was trying to sabotage or steal something that utilizes his skill set as a starship engineer.
     
  12. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    Primarily and most damningly, I find them dull. They read like a string of events, without any emotional investment in the characters or situations.

    The rest of my issues are to do with...
    ...massive discontinuities (the ENT-TOS tech downgrade, contradicting ENT's MU episodes), a lack of common sense (they fight Romulans with the lights off, thus preserving canon in the flimsiest, stupidest way imaginable), poor characterization (Archer's use of "fuck"), fanwank at the expense of continuity (the Kobayashi Maru backstory borrowed from a fanzine blueprint pack, makes no sense in the ENT framework where Klingon first contact occurred only 4 years earlier, and then there's the Romulan ships from "Minefield" immediately blowing up off camera) etc.
    I've enjoyed the author's other work (even their much-maligned Titan entries), but their ENT stories are, IMO, not good.
     
  13. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    "The Romulan War" books haven't been received that favourable due to their 'outline' feel. Originally the Romulan War books had been announced as a trilogy, but then it was cut to a duology, which really only gave the books time to touch on certain points. Really we were expecting a full course meal, but ended up with just the bones and a few scraps.
     
  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    I recall liking this book at the time. I really liked Last Full Measure. But with TGTMD I thought it was neat that Trek Lit. was altering something we saw in the ENT finale, which I was not fond of. Trip wasn't my favorite Trek character but IMO he was the main character of Enterprise in how he grew and changed on the show. He had a better character arc than Archer. So I didn't mind them bringing him back. In hindsight it probably wasn't the best idea because I began to feel they had to contort things for his storylines and to keep him in the new ENT stories.

    Things began going off the rails for me in Kobayashi Maru. I couldn't get through Beneath the Raptor's Wing and didn't even try the follow up. I have enjoyed Christopher's two Enterprise novels though.
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: My review of "The Good That Men Do" - Enterprise Relaunch SPOILERS

    I enjoyed The Good That Men Do and Kobayashi Maru, both by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin.

    I didn't enjoy The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing, solely by Michael A. Martin, nearly so much. Neither its sequel, The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm. I don't find Martin's characterization to be particularly strong, and his prose is often pedantic to the point of being painful to read. To be fair, his basic plots, while sometimes convoluted, are usually decent enough, and he's fairly good at worldbuilding.

    On the whole, however, I find that Christopher's two Rise of the Federation novels (A Choice of Futures and Tower of Babel), which followed the Romulan War duology, are much stronger on every level: The prose flows better, characterization is stronger, the plots are less implausibly convoluted, and the worldbuilding is excellent.