Spoilers Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within (ebook) review thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. timothy

    timothy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked the typhon pact all the way through even though you're book was the shortest it was the best in the series.
     
  2. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    Hello all! Long-time lurker, first time poster, will try my best not to look foolish...

    (Also, I hope The Powers That Be don't mind my resurrecting an old thread, but I did want to throw in my two cents.)

    I just finished reading TSW and I have to say, I really quite enjoyed it. While I agree that it would make a fantastic full-length novel, I think there's something to be said for this shorter length format. Feels a bit like the difference between, say, a late 7th season DS9 episode and a mid 5th season DS9 episode. Yeah, these long, detailed, epic stories are great (I love 'em, can't get enough), but these shorter, more contained, more episodic stories are really quite nice, too.

    I'm reminded of lvsxy808's teleplays of stories set after The Soul Key, particularly "Steppin' Out," which had a great self-contained story about Vic that we would never have gotten in a novel, because it was both too insignificant to make an A-story, and would've lost its punch if it were drawn out over the length of a full novel. TSW had that nice, compressed punch to it, I thought. (Mods, please feel free to remove the spoiler tags if you feel them unnecessary.)

    Reading Christopher's annotations, I was interested to see that he considered the Talarian story to be the A-story; the Kinshaya narrative seemed to be slightly more prominent and more compelling. But that may have just been me.

    I was also a little bit surprised that Picard was left in the dark about the nature of his officers' mission at the end of the novel. I would have thought that, with his presumed security clearance and general "He's Captain Jean-bloody-Luc Picard"-ness, he would be permitted to know about it. Worf not being allowed to know I could see, but Picard surprised me. But maybe I missed the subtext of that scene. Will have to go back and reread.

    Given the pace at which we are moving through the 2380's, I would be glad to see more novel(la?)s like TSW, electronic or not, come out. Eventually Picard will have to retire (logically), eventually Romulus will be destroyed, eventually we will reach The Good That Men Do's Pax Galactica... we have such a great set of in-universe circumstances right now, so many story opportunities, so I hope the authors get as much time as possible to play.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!


    Well, as far as I was concerned, the Kinshaya plot was definitely the A-story, the one I was more intrigued by and that came to me first. But I knew I had to give Picard and the other familiar screen characters something to do in order for the story to be marketable, and I knew that plotline would get more promotion and get treated as the A-story. And it was -- the cover blurb doesn't even mention the Kinshaya side of the novella.


    In a situation like this, the fewer people who know, the better. Picard didn't have any operational need to be read in on this mission (as they say on spy shows), not at this point, anyway.
     
  4. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    That's very true about Picard; now that I think about it, this was actually a very sensitive operation (as Jasminder correctly points out) that Picard doesn't actually need to know about. I do suppose that this is one drawback of the short format; it's harder to communicate the gravity of this mission (compared to, say, Bashir's mission in Zero Sum Game).

    On another note, I really liked the scene between Crusher and Jono where she takes responsibility for the allegations of abuse. Though I think she was perhaps being just a touch overly self-critical for the purposes of gaining Jono's trust, it was a really nice reframing of the Federation vs. Talarian cultural conflict, moving it away from Picard vs. Jono/Endar, and back to what it really was: everyone looking out for what they perceived (correctly or not) as Jono's best interests.

    Also really liked the retconning of smooth headed Romulans as being specifically working class from colony worlds. I assume this was a reference to Nero "having lived a life of honest labor." That's the sort of thinking that reminds us that Trek "inconsistencies" are often just story ideas in disguise. :) Also appreciated the incorporating of Countdown's explanation of Nero et al.'s tattoos. Nice touches.

    As I said, really quite enjoyed this work and hope to get to see more like it.
     
  5. datalogan

    datalogan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I enjoyed this. I liked how the Talarian story was resolved mostly by just a bunch of people talking it out in a back room. Seems real to me. And a little less preachy that the Kinshaya story.

    But my favorite part was probably T'Ryssa. I especially liked the conversation between Trys and Jazz towards the end of chapter 1. Trys talking about the Holy Order of the Kinshaya, who she compairs to griffins. And then, while talking about the "peacenik" movement, refers to them as "hippie-griffs". I see what you did there, Christopher. Hippogriff indeed ;)
     
  6. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I really liked it, (was the first thing I bought for the new kindle). Both stories were very good, the Kinshaya story was a nice, timley story. I liked how T'Ryssa & Jazz both came a way a bit differently from the events they witnessed. It will be interresting to see how T'Ryssa comes to terms with it.

    The Talarian story was also a story that was topical, with woman protesting their lack of rights around the world. My only complaint is I would have liked a bit of a longer story but I came away pleased. Thanks for another good read Christopher.
     
  7. DeafPoet

    DeafPoet Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I got a shiny new tablet for Christmas so I finally have a decent way to read e-books. This is one of the first things I picked up. I thought it was pretty great.

    I agree with people who think it feels like an episode of the series. The novels, while often really entertaining, seldom have that je ne sais quoi that the shows do. I think this comes really close to capturing that. But it's not really the length. At least not solely. The best episodes of Star Trek are tight and focused, like this story. The emotional punch at the end is effective because we haven't spent too much time bullshitting around and diluting it.

    That said, the Kinshaya story is the clear standout here. It was really cool to go behind the "Iron Curtain" and get a look at what the Pact is doing to the civilizations involved. It didn't hurt that Trys was in there heavily. She's one of the very few novel-only characters that seems to pop enough on a regular basis that I don't get her confused with the rest of them.

    The Talarian stuff was okay, but I found it less compelling. I only really have two gripes with it. First, when the extent of the Tzenkethi plot is revealed at the end, I kind of rolled my eyes. It's an example of a ridiculous plot like the Joker's plan in The Dark Knight: actually pretty enjoyable until you think about it too hard and it's contingent on way too many events happening in precise and unlikely ways.

    My second beef is with Picard's characterization. I get that he's a family man now and Beverly's extraordinarily important to him. But the story tries to score points on Picard's willingness to be reckless on that count, even though I don't buy that he'd be that blinded by familial attachment. In many ways, Picard's the ethical centre of the whole franchise. If you can count on anyone to be dispassionate in the face of doing the right thing, Jean-Luc's your guy. I guess you could believably take him to a place where he'd make the choice he makes here, but I'm not sure a story this compact is the place to do it.

    Anyway, that's a little bit of bitching but I'm a Trekkie, it's how I roll. For the most part, even though it's short, TSW was a great read and well worth the few bucks I shelled out for it. Thanks Christopher!
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks!


    As T'Ryssa's creator, I'm glad to hear that.


    I actually felt the same way at first, and my outline had Picard arguing with a Starfleet Admiral who was pushing for intervention while Picard urged caution. But my editor convinced me it would be a better character beat if Picard were the one tempted to rash action by his familial attachments. The thing is, parenthood can change a person. Yes, the Picard we've known in the series and movies would be that dispassionate as a rule, but that Picard wasn't a husband and father. In fact, we have seen that Picard is capable of irrational excess when it comes to something that affects him powerfully and deeply -- see "I, Borg" and First Contact. Sometimes even he loses perspective and needs others to pull him back.

    And I stand by Worf's assessment in the story -- however tempted Picard might be to let his passions guide him, the very fact that he was aware of that impulse and skeptical of it proved that he was still a man who could be trusted to make the right choice.
     
  9. DeafPoet

    DeafPoet Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Fair enough. I stand by my point, but that scene with Worf does kind of save it. I had kind of forgotten about that while I was writing my post ;) Still, that scene only briefly touches on a point that, while interesting, might have benefited from a more in-depth exploration of the theme. I realize that's not really your fault. You were contracted to write a story of X length, not a much longer tale that might have done a more thorough job with the idea.

    Your original idea is far more interesting to me. Picard's arguing for caution in direct opposition to his own personal interests. Jean-Luc's always found that doing the right thing is not easy. That's where a lot of the Prime Directive stories from TNG came from, dramatically speaking. But has he ever had his duty conflict so directly with something so important to him? I guess "Lessons" is the closest we get to that off the top of my head, but it's obviously not in the same league.

    So there's some serious dramatic conflict and something new for Picard that had the potential to be at least as good as what was on the page. And it is arguably more traditionally in line with Picard's character, to boot.

    I find myself respectfully disagreeing with your editor.
     
  10. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    There's also Generations, were we saw just how important his family was to Jean-Luc, and how sad he was that he might be the last Picard. So that desire to see the family continue might also make him more determined to keep his son out of danger.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But I think that's what Picard eventually did, though it was "off-camera" between scenes. Still, the scene with Worf let me dramatize that conflict between his sense of the greater good and his personal feelings. A confrontation with an admiral might've covered much the same ground, but it's more emotionally satisfying if it's between two beloved main characters and illuminates their relationship, rather than being between Picard and some guest admiral with Picard's dilemma being strictly internal.


    Which strikes me as the best reason not to do it that way. Why settle for a "traditional," predictable way of writing Picard when I could do something more fresh and unexpected that reveals a new facet to the character?
     
  12. DeafPoet

    DeafPoet Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Eh, you're not wrong. I don't know what the hell I'm bitching about. I enjoyed it quite a bit, after all.

    And if this new facet of the character ends up paying off down the line, then we'll be better for it, IMO. I think my niggling problem with it lies in the fact that stuff like this isn't always adhered to in Trek literature. Writing Picard in the "traditional" way may be the obvious choice, but you can be reasonably certain that whoever's going to be writing him five books from now will be working from the same template.

    On TV, I like stuff like Breaking Bad. A character might do something perceived as wildly out of character, but then we get to spend a couple episodes dissecting the whys and hows. I don't know if you can make big changes to characters in Trek Lit without having it all be pointless when the next novel's released. Not that I'm saying you drastically altered Picard or anything because you obviously didn't. But how does that work? Can you monkey with these people at all? I know that the editors work out the big plot beats a few novels in advance but how much obligation does the next guy have to write Picard consistently with how you wrote him in TSW for example?
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's the editor's job to keep track of. But as far as I know, the next person writing Picard/TNG is Dave Mack, and he and I tend to compare notes on our Trek projects pretty regularly. In fact, I daresay I was pretty much following his lead from Destiny when it came to exploring how parenthood has changed Picard.
     
  14. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Read The Struggle Within on the Kindle that I got for X-Mas and really enjoyed. It did seem a little rushed, as if either story could have held its own novella and the two together should have been a full-length novel. I caught the reference to thye novella's original title, The Courage of Conscience, and actually thought that that was a more appropriate title.
     
  15. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I wonder if it would still make sense to graft a poll onto this like we did with the Rings of Time thread?
     
  16. Nick M

    Nick M Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I agree. I was telling a friend that the novels are such a large canvas, and the stories are, well, a lot of them epic in scope. I said I really enjoyed this because it had the feel of a single episode in a series, and in the best possible way. Well done Mr. Bennett.
     
  17. Nick M

    Nick M Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I am going to be discussing "The Struggle Within" this week (Jan. 22) on The G and T Show, in case you want to listen in. It airs at 9 a.m. EST/6 a.m. PST. at http://www.livestream.com/cerberusfilms

    I'll be talking about it's place in the Typhon Pact series, some views on the characterizations and some other thoughts. :)

    All the best,
    Nick
    @Gettysburg7
    http://www.gandtshow.com
     
  18. Fer

    Fer Commander Red Shirt

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    Really enjoyed it! The shorter format and the A& B plots focusing on different characters made it feel very much like a modern day TV episode of Next Gen. Great job! I'd love to see more ebooks like this one.
     
  19. BrentMc

    BrentMc Commander Red Shirt

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    I would read this, but I do not want to pay $6 for such a short eBook. My local library doesn't have it either. I was hoping they would print it at the end of one of the next Typhon pact paperbacks. Maybe if an ebook seller has a coupon one of these days I will get it. Did anyone find a discount on this short story?
     
  20. BrentMc

    BrentMc Commander Red Shirt

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    I sometimes get Barnes and noble coupons in email. Has anyone here used a coupon on an ebook?