Read & Reread "Greater Than The Sum"- My Opinion (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Dayton3, Aug 20, 2008.

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  1. OptimusPete

    OptimusPete Captain Captain

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    I read your reponse earlier and have been thinking aobut it all evening trying to put into words a reply. Fundamentally I think I completely disagree with your reasoning. I find and always have found the notion that those who keep their heads down and try their best in an unflashy manner should be passed over for (in my opinion of Chen, a slacker) I mean what then becomes the point of training to be the elite in your field if your not going to get the top gig anyway? And lets not forget that in terms of the story the very survival of the Federation was potentially at stake It shouldn;t have been a question of giving the other 70 more highly qualified and disciplined officer help it should have been a question of getting the best of the best. Obviously in the termsof the story Chen's experience with the Noh Angles WAS a deciding factor but that's a hell of a gamble by Picard.

    In more general terms I find the idea that the school system should effectively punish you for trying hard rather unfair. Certainly efforts should be made to draw out potential and help children with special needs but not at the expense of those who simply do the right thing anyway.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    First off, Trys isn't a slacker. Maybe she was a bit at the start of the book, but that had very clearly changed by the time Picard interviewed her; she was passionate about bettering herself and making a meaningful difference. Just because she was loose about protocol and prone to informality doesn't mean she wasn't trying.

    Second, I think that people in the 24th century have outgrown the idea of elitism and competing to be "the top." Their goal is to fulfill their potential to the best of their ability, and they don't define that in terms of how many other people they can climb over and shove into second-class status. The societal goal is to encourage everyone to fulfill their potential.

    Third, you totally misread what I said. I'm simply talking about being fair: giving everyone an equal chance to succeed by their own efforts. Nobody's ever entitled to succeed; it has to be earned. All Picard did was to give Trys the opportunity to prove herself. He brought her along on one mission, in a trial capacity. It was then up to her to demonstrate she had the skill and dedication to be worth keeping around permanently. If she hadn't earned the position through her own efforts, she would've been off the ship and replaced with someone more dedicated as soon as they got back into port. But she did prove herself to be intelligent, dedicated, and able to learn and work to better herself. She has a loose, informal style, but that doesn't reflect on her competence or dedication.

    You're making the mistake of assuming that discipline and qualification are the same thing. Her qualifications as a scientist and contact specialist were clear. The main marks against her on her record were that she hadn't previously tried hard enough to live up to her great potential. But in her interview, she convinced Picard that she was finally motivated to try hard enough.

    Besides, when dealing with first contacts with aliens, you can't make any assumptions about "discipline" being beneficial in any way. An alien species might have a totally different way of thinking and interacting. A rigid personality hidebound by conventions of duty and protocol would be a poor choice for a contact specialist, if you ask me.

    That is absolutely not what I said. You're twisting my words. It's not punishing one person if you give other people a fair chance. I'm simply saying that it doesn't make sense to give extra help to the people who are already strong enough to manage on their own while denying it to the people who could benefit from a little assistance.

    Besides, I'm saying this as the one who was offered the extra attention as a reward for doing well. It never felt right to me that the teachers kept encouraging me when I was already ahead of the curve, and in the process paying too little attention to other students who were behind the curve and could've benefitted from a teacher engaging with them more, working with them to bring out their potential. Education isn't supposed to be about creating a hierarchy, it's supposed to be about helping every student learn and achieve. And I felt uncomfortable about being doted on by my teachers (mainly English teachers) while plenty of other students who needed a helping hand got neglected.
     
  3. wew

    wew Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shelby seemed determined to compete at a pretty high level, I believe her comments to Riker showed that the competition to be on top still exists.
     
  4. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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  5. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    No. If she "pawned off" her bridge shift so she could sit in her quarters and listen to music, then she'd be a slacker. Instead, she asked her superior officer to give her a different assignment more to her interest. Unprofessional? Yeah, but more for the fact that she wheedled like an eight-year-old to get switched. But the slacker label does not fit.
     
  6. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    I would like to add a few more comments:

    Christopher said: “I think that people in the 24th century have outgrown the idea of elitism and competing to be “the top”. This is not what I remember from episodes or stories dealing with the Starfleet Academy. Have institutions (or whatever you want to call it) like Red Squad and other elitist groupings been abolished? It doesn`t look that way to me. From what I also could read in “Stone and Anvil” it seems bullying by older students who not only give orders to younger ones but abuse this system is widespread.

    Chen in that situation had experiences and insights no other officer had and was therefore valuable for the mission. Picard put her on probation and saw potential because of his personal experiences with officers like Barclay, Worf and Calhoun. He could see that with proper guidance, patience, tolerance and, of course, also work on their part, all of them became excellent officers. These are or were people who were a challenge for Starfleet but whose unique or rare talents made it worth it for Starfleet. I like it a lot that Picard, who is a very experienced captain, is mentoring another young officer with a lot of potential.

    Of course, the (I hesitate to use that word) average officer who is working hard but doesn`t stick out should not be disadvantaged. Therefore I found the scene showing Picard in an episode with Q in which Picard never had the opportunities to shine and was kept in a repetitive job disturbing. This showed again that at the very least, competing for the “top” is taking place in Starfleet and if you don`t participate you don`t get the opportunities. Or they are harder to get.
     
  7. LightningStorm

    LightningStorm The Borg King Commodore

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    "pawning off" menial work to get a bigger assignment is exactly the opposite of a slacker. She considered her original assignment to be boring, so she wanted something MORE, not less. A slacker wants less work not more.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Both true. She wanted to be on the away team, in the thick of the action, rather than sitting at a console monitoring other people's work. Although it's true that she was doing that out of a desire for activity and excitement rather than a sense of responsibility.

    But as I said before, her characterization in the Prologue of the novel does not represent the way she was throughout the entire book. She started out being less than an ideal officer, but her survivor's guilt made her want to change. She feared that her selfishness and tendency to retreat from rough situations had condemned another person in her place, and that motivated her to change. Didn't I make that extremely clear in the text?

    Red Squad was not a standard group within the Academy, but more of an aberration. While it's true that there will always be people who fall short of their culture's ideals, I think that the institutions of the 24th-century Federation aspire to be fair and give everyone a chance to fulfill their potential, rather than being consciously designed to create an unjust hierarchical system in which a few people's advancement comes at the expense of the majority. If there are people who miss the point and try to advance on the backs of others, that's a breakdown of the system, not an embodiment of how it's supposed to work.

    Besides, what we're specifically talking about here is Jean-Luc Picard and why he gave T'Ryssa Chen a chance. And Picard has made it very clear in the past that he believes the purpose of our existence is to better ourselves, to strive toward our full potential. He saw that Trys was willing to try to do that, and all he did was give her an opportunity to do so.

    After all, it's that fire and determination that make a great officer, not what's written in the record. Someone who's "kept their head down" and met all the formal requirements and never made waves might look impressive on paper, but would probably just be an average, uninspired follower. Alternatively, someone who's always been a golden child and breezed through all obstacles might feel a sense of entitlement, of expectation to succeed, and might not have that extra strength and imagination needed when the ship encounters an unprecedented situation and that officer is thrown totally outside their comfort zone. So you can't assume that the best person for the job is the one with the best on-paper qualifications.

    Yes, that's a good point. I was just about to make it with other of Picard's past crew choices. Data was someone that most people in Starfleet dismissed as a piece of hardware and tried to shove aside so they didn't have to think about him (according to The Buried Age, anyway). But Picard recognized his wish to grow and better himself, and he encouraged Data to pursue opportunities to do that. Wesley was an arrogant brat that nobody took seriously, but Picard recognized his engineering genius and chose to nurture it by giving him a bridge posting, no doubt a position that many older, more experienced officers were thus passed over for. Ro Laren was a convicted mutineer, but with a little nudge from Guinan, Picard came to appreciate the passion and sense of principle that drove her, and so he gave her a post in his crew so that he could guide her in a more constructive direction. Picard is as much a teacher as an officer, and he has a canonical history of taking problem cases under his wing to help them fulfill their untapped potential.


    Picard had the same opportunities in that reality as he had in the main one. He just didn't take those opportunities because he'd been too cautious, because in that timeline he lost the youthful fire and arrogance that led him to seize the opportunities that came to him.

    That's the key. Equal opportunity doesn't guarantee equal success. An opportunity is just an open door; you have to choose to step through it, and you have to live up to what's expected of you once you do step through. But everyone should be given the chance to step through that door.
     
  9. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    I think there should've been less of T'Ryssa in the book. Less of Picard and Beverly's baby planning. And more time with Picard doing what he is supposed to do best.

    That is in the command chair leading.

    In the final analysis, all the time spent on T'Ryssa strikes me as an attempt by a writer to create their own Trek character and make them important to the story.

    And yes, I think the term for her "slacker" still applies.

    Unprofessional certainly does.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Into a war, if you had your way. But I don't write the kind of book you want to read.

    :confused: :wtf: Uhh... yeah, that's what I was hired to do. In most of the post-finale series, and obviously in the book-only series, the authors have created their own Trek characters, and naturally they had to make them important to the stories, or what would be the point? I created Trys and Rennan Konya. Keith created Miranda Kadohata. Dave created Dina Elfiki, and he and I jointly created Jasminder Choudhury. And all of them have been made important to various stories, just as the author-created characters in the DS9 and VGR post-finale series, and those in the original-to-books series, have been made important to various stories. That's what they're there for -- to have stories told about them.

    So basically, you're accusing me of doing my job.
     
  11. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Should've been a slacker instead...
     
  12. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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  13. HappyDayRiot

    HappyDayRiot Commodore Commodore

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    Plenty of people do.

    They just don't have 'Star Trek' written on the cover.
     
  14. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    I don't care for most Star Wars novels.

    Honor Harrington stuff is good but it isn't Star Trek.

    Battletech jumped the shark years ago.
     
  15. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

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    Write your own, perhaps? Create a coherent universe and tell stories within it that fit the parameters you want to read...
     
  16. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    It sucks when the world doesn't revolve around you, doesn't it?
     
  17. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    There is the saying:

    "Happiness is great food,

    cooked by someone else"
     
  18. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

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    There's also a saying: "Some people are never satisfied!"
     
  19. LightningStorm

    LightningStorm The Borg King Commodore

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    Just because there is a saying, does not make any given saying: good, accurate, quotable, or even applicable in any given circumstance. :vulcan:
     
  20. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    I hear that.
     
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