TF: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Dec 22, 2013.

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Rate Peaceable Kingdoms.

  1. Outstanding

    18 vote(s)
    19.6%
  2. Above Average

    37 vote(s)
    40.2%
  3. Average

    31 vote(s)
    33.7%
  4. Below Average

    5 vote(s)
    5.4%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  1. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    One thing I never saw explained was how Ishan knew he'd become President Pro Tempore once Bacco was killed. Or did he just have her murdered for the hell of it?

    Also, why doesn't the Federation government have a Vice President role? In a civilization as vast as the Federation, one would think we'd want someone in the role for, at the very least, delegation purposes. Or, y'know, for exactly what happened.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  2. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always like when a character from from other books/short stories is brought back by an author; in this case the author brought back the Cardassian doctor Daret from "Acts of Compassion" from The Sky's the Limit. The only problem is that the first name was "Ialona" in "Acts of Compassion" and "Ilona" in Peaceable Kingdoms. Not a big mistake I admit.
     
  3. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    Jan 4, 2011
    I'm 69% through, and not really enjoying. It reminds me of the dulled reaction I had when I read Summon the Thunder after Precipice, for example. It has been repetitive (of both Poisoned Chalice) and itself. Why is everyone's particular history repeated so much! Everything feels extremely unnecessarily explained. This is the fifth book in a series: really, the reader can - should - be trusted to know who most people are and recall events from the prior 4 (for example: really, Dygal's history? A major character in book 2 needs re-introduction? Or Sakoura needs another mention? Or Tom Riker needs a reintroduction after the rather effortless introduction of such a major player of Book 4? Etc). Some things have been great or ok ('I'm not Will', for example), but I do feel disjointed from what has being going on in prior novels. Also must every character regret an enemy's death in such repetitive fashions?

    My biggest plot-versus-chracterisation bug has been that I really cannot believe that four days of public arguing could convince many people that Jean-Luc and Beverly were having a major crisis. It's too rushed.

    Maybe I will be happier by the end. I hope so!
     
  4. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    I noticed that too. It is as though the book was going out of its way to be as much of a standalone book as possible. Perhaps the publisher put pressure on the author to include these passage so that the book would be more accessible to new readers who had not read the previous books?

    I thought the first chapters were a bit slow. But I did enjoy the second half after the E starts chasing the other ship.

    So why was the series called "the fall"? I can only assume it is a reference to the Federation's fall from its core principles. But I was hoping for something more epic like seeing the collapse of the Typhon Pact.
     
  5. Mimi

    Mimi Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    From what I understand, each book of The Fall was intended to be stand alone. Except in reality, there's clearly a progression of information being given to the reader. I feel like writing each book like it was its own little island was a huge mistake for this kind of story.

    Since Peaceable Kingdoms has to wrap up all loose ends, it ends up going through tedious amounts of over explaining to cover all its bases.

    I also got the sense that some storylines were pushed to the side so that not a lot had to be explained about them.
     
  6. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dec 26, 2002
    I've read five chapters so far and I like the way the story is unfolding and how Picard and Riker and their allies are dealing with trying to find any way to stop Ishan being elected Federation President.
     
  7. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    I didn't notice as much restatement from earlier books as I did restatement from earlier within the book (as I mentioned in my review). Overall, the whole thing felt like it needed some more careful editing, both at the fundamental level of the prose and at the higher level of the pacing and story focuses.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: "Standalone."

    I think one of the things we're hitting up against here is a lack of definitions. What, exactly, does it mean to say that a novel is "standalone?" What does it mean to say that it's "serialized?" What are the degrees by which elements may be serialized or not before a book is firmly in one category or another?

    One of the criticisms leveled at Revelation and Dust was that it was too serialized -- too much of it involved plot elements that either drew from or would be followed up on in other books. Now, we're seeing criticism that Peaceable Kingdoms is too standalone -- that it goes to too much trouble to make sure that those who might not have read other books can follow what's going on.

    For my money, I thought it was pretty clear from previous Pocket Star Trek crossover "events" how their standard serialization model works -- usually each novel tells a complete story in its own right, but also draws upon and advances story elements that will then get passed on to subsequent books. This is how it usually works; this is what I expecting when I picked up each book. I had no reason to expect anything different this time around. Cold Equations did the same thing last year.

    Completely disagree here. Crusher was clearly the main character, and her relationship with Daret was the most important one of the book. And the Ishan/Baras flashbacks were just as important to the story as anything else -- they were the scenes that really revealed to us what kind of man Baras/"Ishan" really is. Not his literally identity -- I mean his moral character, his fundamental drives, his haunted past, his sublimated guilt.

    Well, it takes all sorts, but I think that it's pretty clear that there was no "conspiracy" within Starfleet per se. Rather, what we come to realize is that "Ishan" was taking advantage of the "new warhawks" within Starfleet to use them as pawns -- subverting the chain of command and issuing illegal orders he knew they'd be ideologically predisposed to accept. But there was no active, organized conspiracy within Starfleet the way there was in Star Trek VI or "Homefront/Paradise Lost." There were just officers being used and letting themselves be used, without themselves necessarily knowing the big picture.

    I think Peaceable Kingdoms established fairly early on that Crusher would be the character central to unraveling the plot. That was clear the instant she left the ship.

    All I can say here is that with the Federation presidency held hostage by a murderer and a conspirator with no respect for the rule of law and a militaristic outlook on life, I certainly felt plenty of tension whether or not there was emphasis on the special election. (I will, however, admit that I would have liked to have heard more about the other candidates and their platforms... but that's the political science geek in me. ;) )

    I mean, you're not necessarily supposed to care about every minor member of zh'Tarash's staff. But zh'Tarash was an important supporting character in A Ceremony of Losses -- we have a clear sense of who she is and what she wants, and we're supposed to view her in the epilogue, I suspect, as being a sort of "audience surrogate," who's missing Bacco and talking about what the Federation is supposed to stand for (aka, what Star Trek is about at its most optimistic). I rather like zh'Tarash, and I liked that epilogue quite a bit. :)

    Completely agree here.

    I think the key element of those sequences was threefold. One, it established Crusher's and Daret's relationship. Two, it established for us why we the audience should trust and feel invested in Daret as a character. And three, it established a thematic concern -- the idea of enemies overcoming their animosity, of people learning to cooperate and becoming friends who would risk their lives for one-another. This stands in contrast to the ideology espoused by "Ishan"/Baras, who represents the inability to move past enmity and conflict. This novel is literally about the power of peace and unity (as represented by Crusher and Daret's having forged a friendship despite their former hostility) overcoming the power of belligerence and fear; those flashbacks helped establish the emotional and thematic stakes.

    I thought the theme was pretty firmly established in the title: the necessity of a peaceable kingdom. The importance of embracing peace and cooperation above belligerence; of supporting doves over hawks.

    Predictable? I mean, maybe. I suspected "Ishan" would have something to do with Bacco's assassination when he was first mentioned in Revelation and Dust back in August. But I'm okay with that -- the trope of the illegitimate successor who murders the king is at least as old as Macbeth, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I still found it entertaining.

    The only part I found that strained credibility was wondering how "Ishan" kept his real identity a secret for so long -- and then it occurred to me that someone seeking to assume a new identity would have a unique opportunity to do so on a world just emerging from almost a century of occupation, because records would almost necessarily be fragmentary and such a government's civil service would be uniquely vulnerable to subversion.

    I would have liked to have seen the process of Picard contacting the Attorney General and convincing her of his assertions, and of the Attorney General gathering the evidence, contacting Garak, and putting together the charges... but, realistically, it would be that simple once the evidence is in their hands. Presidents are powerful, but they are also inherently the inhabitants of gilded cages; it's not as though a president would ever have a chance in hell of getting away if the cops come to arrest them. Realistically speaking, once the evidence is in an attorney general's hands, it really would be that simple.

    Fairly. But -- in spite of how terrible "Ishan"/Baras's crimes are... consider this. In spite of all that, he didn't get away with it. The Federation government placed its own president pro tempore under arrest in full view of the entire galaxy and held him accountable for his crimes.

    Compare that to real life. The last two United States Presidents have committed some pretty horrific crimes -- Barack Obama is responsible for ordering the murder of United States citizens who have not been charged with or convicted of any crimes, and for the deaths of God knows how many innocent civilians through his drone attacks, and George W. Bush launched a war of aggression that resulted in untold hundreds of thousands of deaths. Yet the idea that either one will ever be held accountable for their crimes, let alone that they could be arrested while addressing Congress for all the world to see, is utterly outlandish; in America, we treat our presidents as though they are above the law and let them get away with all sorts of crimes, all in the name of "national security."

    The Federation has some serious problems -- but they're doing a hell of a lot better than we are.

    Honestly, I found the revelation that "Ishan"/Baras and Velk were behind the assassination to help make the assassination more plausible, from an in-universe perspective. Why wasn't there a forcefield around the stage to protect Bacco, for instance? Well, probably because Velk's contact in the Federation Security Agency turned it off.

    I didn't think of Jevalan as a world no one cares about. I thought of it as being a sort of modern-day Camp 14; that helped me perceive a greater sense of emotional impact to the setting.

    I wasn't. I felt that the writers had foreshadowed that development back in A Ceremony of Losses -- she was, after all, the only other presidential candidate we met.

    I don't, actually. I see the Federation as being the kind of society that would be disinclined to hold the secession against Andor, because they would recognize that the Andorians had a legitimate reason to be angry with the UFP (even if it did not justify secession), and that facing extinction is something that can drive a society to behaviors it wouldn't normally contemplate. I view the UFP as being a more forgiving, less tribalistic political culture than we have today -- hell, they'd almost need to be, since they're adding new worlds every couple of years, and it's not like you can discriminate against those worlds when they join. You've got to trust for the Federation to work, and to forgive when things go wrong.

    Also, it probably helps that zh'Tarash and the Progressives were always against secession in the first place. ;)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: When I first read A Ceremony of Losses, I found the idea that the new Andorian administration would willingly petition to rejoin the Federation a bit implausible, because of everything "Ishan" had ordered done against them. But then I thought about it and realized that those Members of Parliament who would otherwise have objected to rejoining were probably persuaded by zh'Tarash's promise to run if they supported the petition.

    *shrugs* It didn't feel like a finale to me -- or, at least, not like a series finale; a season finale, maybe. ;) It certainly seems to mark a creative turning point in the Pocketverse, but that doesn't mean that it's the end of anything. (And I've already outlined why I never perceived the books as constituting the kind of unified narrative you perceived. ;) )

    Well, we know that at least one upcoming 24th Century novel will be entitled Section 31: Disavowed, and will follow Bashir's situation post-The Fall. So there's still going to be SOME level of serialization and political stories -- which is fine by me. I'm happy to see the mix. :)

    Personally, I'm most interested in Star Trek political adventures, but to me, what I do agree will be good will be a reiteration of Star Trek's traditional optimism. The Fall does still have a fundamentally optimistic ending, as I argued above, but it will be nice to see stories that don't go to quite as dark a place as The Fall did, too.

    I do think that having two fundamentally corrupt Federation Presidents in (in real-world time) ten years risks treading on ground that's already been covered, and undermines the perception by the audience of the Federation as a stable liberal democracy. I think that the creative rewards of The Fall justified it -- "Ishan"'s story was ultimately very different from Zife's -- but I agree that we should only see either good or not-objectionable Federation Presidents for a while now.

    Besides -- the people of the Federation did not select "Ishan"/Baras to be President. He was appointed President Pro Tempore, not President, and he was only supposed to "keep the seat warm;" that he exercised so many fundamental presidential powers while in office was a break with the Federation's constitutional customs. And when the truth about "Ishan"/Baras's identity and actions was revealed, he was almost instantly removed from power -- which, as I argued above, is a damn sight better than what our democracies are capable of today.

    I don't think they meant it that way. I've made this argument before about other plot developments in TrekLit, but I think what we're seeing -- from Zife and Tezwa, to Bacco, to the Typhon Pact, to the leaks of the Meta-Genome, to Active Four, to "Ishan," and even to the Emperor Spock/Mirror Universe arc -- is a function of the political culture of modern America. Star Trek is many things and goes many places, and commentary on the political culture has always been a part of it -- and the past decade or so of American history has been particularly historic, and particularly dark. What we're seeing is a collection of writers using Star Trek to explore and react to recent history -- both in terms of exploring what is bad about it, and in terms of talking about how things could be better (Bacco, in general, represented this ideal).

    Well, democracy is vulnerable. It requires the citizenry to have a full understanding of the world around them in order to make educated choices -- and that means that it can be vulnerable to manipulation if political actors are able to prevent information from being freely shared.

    Democracy is, arguably, less vulnerable to such manipulation than other systems, because it is harder to control the flow of information in a liberal democracy than it is in, say, a hereditary dictatorship or a single-party totalitarian state. But that vulnerability persists, because it is intrinsic to any form of governance that public support can be artificially cultivated through the manipulation of public information; there's a reason North Korea doesn't have a free press, and there's a reason Corporate America holds the major mainstream newsmedia on such a tight ideological leash.

    But, again, I would emphasize that The Fall presents us with a Federation democracy that works a damn sight better than ours. I mean, hell, do you really think a U.S. Navy ship commander who engages in all the violations of orders that Picard and Riker do in order to uncover the truth about a criminal U.S. President would be rewarded the way they are? In The Fall, people just begin disobeying illegitimate orders left and right when they sense that the liberal democratic system is somehow being subverted, even if they don't yet know in what way it is being subverted. In real life, you have the occasional Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, but the entire state apparatus is arrayed against them for their insubordination to morally illegitimate authority.

    I continue to maintain that Star Trek: The Fall, while not utopian and darker than Star Trek has traditionally been, is still an ultimately optimistic depiction of a peaceable liberal democratic ideology under siege yet prevailing. It begins in darkness, yet ends in light; it starts from despair yet ends in hope. Baras Rodirya's coup d'etat is defeated.

    1. A Choice of Futures was both political thriller and exploring strange new worlds; the two need not be in conflict. ;)

    2. You're overlooking all the books released over the last few years since Destiny that have not been political thrillers. To wit:

    • TTN: Over a Torrent Sea
    • VOY: Full Circle
    • TTN: Synthesis
    • TOS: Inception
    • Seven Deadly Sins (anthology)
    • TOS: Unspoken Truth
    • TOS: The Children of Kings
    • TNG: Indistinguishable from Magic
    • DTI: Watching the Clock
    • VOY: Unworthy
    • VOY: Children of the Storm
    • TOS: A Choice of Catastrophes
    • TOS: The Rings of Time
    • TOS: That Which Divides
    • DTI: Forgotten History
    • TTN: Fallen Gods (arguable)
    • VOY: The Eternal Tide
    • TNG: Cold Equations - The Persistence of Memory (arguable)
    • TNG: Cold Equations - The Body Electric
    • TOS: Allegiance in Exile
    • TOS: Devil's Bargain
    • TOS: The Weight of Worlds
    • TOS: The Folded World
    • TOS: The Shocks of Adversity
    • TOS: From History's Shadow

    So I for one think we haven't wanted for novels about exploring strange new worlds. :)

    Peaceable Kingdoms, Chapter 28, page 274: "Already an influence within the council, and now within the line of succession should circumstances require such changes in leadership, Ishan was in the perfect position to benefit from an abrupt shake-up at the highest levels."

    The implication seems to be that the Federation Council routinely pre-selects a Councillor to serve as President Pro Tempore in the event of an emergency. This may be interpreted as contradicting Revelation and Dust and A Time to Heal/A Time for War, A Time for Peace, which both seem to imply that the Federation Council only makes the decision of which Councillor to appoint as President Pro Tem at the time that such an appointment needs to be made, but we may not be sure of the exact mechanism involved, so the apparent contradiction may be no such thing.

    But either way, you're talking about professional politicians. Real legislators know how to count their votes; it's not at all implausible for "Ishan"/Baras and Velk to have determined that they had enough Councillors on their side in the event of such an emergency well in advance of their causing said emergency.

    It's really not that implausible. There are plenty of real-life cultures that do not maintain any sort of "Vice Presidency." In most parliamentary governments, for instance, an assassinated Prime Minister would either lead to the installation of a caretaker P.M. while Parliament is dissolved and new elections called, or to the governing party having to elect a new leader who would then be installed as P.M. When Ehud Olmert took over as Prime Minister of the State of Israel after Ariel Sharon fell into a coma, for instance, he first took over as Acting Prime Minister until new elections were called.

    Remember, the Federation government is essentially a hybrid of the presidential and parliamentary systems. It's quite plausible that they'd draw upon other democratic traditions than the U.S.'s.

    And, really, in the end, what this in essence represents is that the Federation is more democratic than the United States; it demands that anyone serving as President hold their own individual democratic mandate to serve as President, rather than letting them into office off of someone else's democratic mandate. There would never be a Gerald Ford -- who was not elected as either President or as Vice President -- in the Federation's system.

    * * *

    My thoughts:

    There's a Federation Attorney General! And it's Picard's ex! Sorry, my poli sci geek is excited to add another position to the list of known Federation Cabinet positions. I suppose this means there's a Federation Department of Justice?

    I remain a bit confused about whether or not the victors of special elections serve out the remainder of their predecessor's terms, or if they start a new four-year cycle. Articles of the Federation seemed to imply that Bacco, as the victor of the 2379 special election, had started a new four-year cycle rather than just serving out the remainder of Zife's second term. The end of Peaceable Kingdoms seems to imply it's just finishing off Bacco's pre-existing second term, but that could just be zh'Tarash speaking rhetorically.

    Side-note: The length of presidential terms seems to have been changed at some point. If Bacco's first term in office meant she was starting a new term cycle, then she would have been up for re-election in late 2383; if she was finishing off Zife's second term, she would have been up for re-election in 2380. Yet either way, she didn't face an election until 2385. Perhaps the Articles of the Federation allow the Council to change the length of presidential terms by statute rather than having a constitutionally-mandated length?

    In a way, it's a moot point for zh'Tarash, though -- since the special election was in the same year as Bacco's re-election, zh'Tarash will be up for re-election in the same year either way. If presidential terms are still 4 years, she'll be up for re-election in 2389; if they've changed to 6 years, she'll be up for re-election in 2391. So either way, it looks like Kellessar zh'Tarash will be President when Hobus explodes in 2387.

    The zh'Tarash Administration. I like the fact that we're seeing a mostly-Andorian administration. The Bacco Administration was Human-dominated -- which makes sense; it's plausible that any given President would be inclined to draw their staff from their supporters in prior offices, so if they ascended from their own worlds, their staffs would likely have similar species makeup. So it's nice to see that this happens and is routine, but isn't taken as an act of discrimination -- and that no one is bothered by a mostly non-Human presidential staff. Humans have been depicted as dominating Federation politics too much for my tastes. ;)

    President Pro Tempore Sipak. He's described as having served on the Federation Council for "several turns." At first, I thought this may mean that T'Latrek was retired from the Council at some point -- then I noticed that Dayton Ward, that clever fella, avoided saying which Federation Member it was that Sipak actually represented. So it's entirely possible that while he is biologically Vulcan, he may be, for instance, the Federation Councillor from Betazed! ;)

    This book marks the first confirmation in the Pocket continuity that there is a Speaker of the Federation Council. I always figured the Council had to have a presiding officer when the President didn't preside, but this is the first confirmation of that. A Bolian female named Ziy Cradiix is the Speaker -- I wonder if she's the Federation Councillor from Bolarus and replaced Nea? Or maybe she's from another world, too? Or maybe the Speaker of the Council doesn't actually have to be a Councillor herself.

    The epilogue refers to a person named Sovek as zh'Tarash's "press secretary." A Time for War, A Time for Peace and Articles of the Federation previously established that Presidents don't have their own press secretaries, but must share an official holding the title of "Palais de la Concorde Press Liaison" with the Federation Council. I wonder if this means that Sovek has replaced Kant Jorel as Press Liaison, or if there's been a reshuffling in roles? Minor detail -- but I liked Kant Jorel at a lot, so I noticed it. ;)
     
  9. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
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    To be honest, a dozen novels about exploring strange new worlds sounds just as unappealing to me as does a dozen novels about political drama. It's easy to say that Trek has been heavy on the political stuff lately because we just got through five straight months of it, but Sci's right, there's still been a good mix of stuff over the last couple of years.

    Well, not for me. I'm not much of a 5YM fan, and a lot of those 'strange new worlds' books are 5YM era, if I remember right. But to be honest I'm more into the political stuff anyway. :p
     
  10. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    I found it rather interesting that Louvois was Attorney General AND evidently not a political appointee of the President (or Pro Tem). At least the implication with how she was acting was that she was independent of the executive. Which is interesting, in that this makes for yet another position that the Federation appears to have taken away from the President in terms of appointment powers relative to contemporary political systems. We know the head of the primary military agency for the Federation is evidently not a political appointee and is in fact a member of the uniformed forces rather than a civilian.

    Also, just addressing main point, because I don't really want to get into real world political discussions.(If you'd like to discuss that, you can always PM me, Sci, and I'll point you to my extensive blogging on the subject).
    What I meant here is that both Daret and Crusher are introduced whole cloth into The Fall here. As part of the book I suppose it's important, but it felt far too sudden in the context of the entire series arc that these two become the main characters when they were completely uninvolved before. I wouldn't mind this if this were the penultimate book, but since it's the climax, I think going into the book (based on what we were given in terms of teasers, and the setup in The Poisoned Chalice, my expectation at least was that we'd see all the relevant players from the past being used mostly. I felt like introducing yet another thread with Daret/Crusher and making THAT the main thread felt like a bait and switch to me. I think this would've worked better had it been placed earlier. For example introducing Daret and throwing Crusher off the Enterprise in The Crimson Shadow. Or for that matter Revelations and Dust probably could've dispensed with the Kira portions, or had Baras/Ishan as part of the whole "past history" stuff instead. etc. Overall the basic arrangement of the series felt weak, or at least disjointed.

    Given that Schlosser is basically running a secret bunch of side operations without the knowledge of the uniformed head of Starfleet, and doing so in a way that covers his tracks and he evidently knows full well he's not doing something lawfully, by the by, I think "conspiracy" in terms of Starfleet Command's structure is actually kind of legitimate.

    I also feel like outside of The Crimson Shadow, the whole dissenters disobeying structures of authority thing wasn't handled with a lot of nuance in the overall plotline. Specifically: that structures don't matter, accountability isn't a big deal (unless you're the villain) and we need people who routinely ignore the entire chain of command and democratic accountability because, well, to do otherwise invites oppression. Which is utter nonsense, most of the cases of actual abuse of power are usually stopped by rule of law. When everything seems to be subverting it, or at least arguing entirely that there's none of it, it makes the Federation itself seem rather lawless and ridiculous. In some sense, it would've actually been nice if some of the attempts to go around the system and second guess policy decisions (say of someone more legitimate than Ishan/Baras...perhaps of Bacco herself) backfired. I know the main characters are supposed to be infallible, but I found the implications here a bit disturbing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  11. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished the novel today. Just a bit above average.

    I enjoyed the overall thrust of the series, but I feel that Dayton Ward must have drawn the short straw to get the last novel. This series had used up its dramatic tension in "The Poisoned Chalice" and all that was left was for the in universe characters to learn what the reader already knew, and to reveal some additional details and motivations. So it is not Mr. Ward's fault, but this novel really felt a bit thin.

    What I liked:

    Crusher - got to have a real part in the story, which rarely happens.

    The TV Characters - also got to be a focal part of the story, which again seems to be a rare occurrence. I feel the writers sometimes forget how much we love those characters. We can hear their voices and imagine their movements when we read the sequences that focus on them, which is far more difficult to do when we are talking about Lieutenant Wasina Backgroundshott or Ensign Random CoolAlien.

    Tom Riker - I enjoyed how he is a "alternate universe" type version of Will Riker. Plus, what story isn't better with a no-holds barred badass antihero?

    The focus of Starfleet at the end of the story - Great choice! Let's get back to exploring! A series of Enterprise novels that are like the Voyager and Titan novels would make me very, very happy.

    The way the series presented the consequences of the right and wrong choices. I think that the soul of the Federation has been in flux since the Dominion War. I think the writers have shown the existential struggle quite excellently. This series seems to have been the apex of that narrative, showing how a series of decisions - even though they were made with good motive - can lead to fundamental changes in the way the Federation and Starfleet works. This series seemed to resolve that struggle, and to set the Federation back onto the course established in TOS and TNG. I think that in the future we will see fewer big political/social/conspiracy/war arcs and more one off novels and exploration stories.

    Action scenes: not only were they well written, but they felt very "Trek". I could picture each of them, even the underground temple/cave fight, being on the 90's TV shows. Nicely done.

    Things I did not like:

    Exposition. Felt like I was reading Memory Beta at times. I think there has to be a more subtle way to do exposition than just big dumps of data every time Sonya Gomez appears in the story.

    Ishan's secret - come on guys you can do better than "false identity". Sigh.

    The big reveal of Ishan's secret. I personally dislike big dramatic reveals.
    How much better would it have been to have Garak make a diplomatic visit and have Garak, Picard, Riker, and Akaar, break Ishan and get him to reveal the truth in an intimate private setting?

    Anyways, overall good but not great. Not sure if this last novel would have been able to be great considering what there was to work with, but Ward has done better work that is for sure. Looking forward to the next series of Trek novels. Bring on the exploration!
     
  12. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I don't remember anything in Peaceable Kingdoms to imply that the Attorney General isn't appointed by the President. The impression I got was that Louvois had been Bacco's Attorney General, and that Baras had not yet gotten around to replacing her -- perhaps Presidents Pro Tempore are legally obliged to keep the appointed members of their predecessors' cabinets, as part of the general "they're only keeping the seat warm" convention?

    But I certainly didn't get any sense that the Attorney General is not appointed by the President. I just got the sense that Louvois had not been appointed by Baras.

    1. Destiny: Gods of Night establishes that the Starfleet commander-in-chief is appointed. They never say by whom, but I thought the implication was that they are appointed by the President.

    2. The Federation still has a civilian Secretary of Defense, and Starfleet still has to take orders from him/her. (We saw Raisa Shashtakova as Federation Secretary of Defense numerous times in Articles of the Federation, Destiny, et al.) So, again, no powers taken away from the President that way.

    Well, ultimately, this goes back to the question of how serialized vs. standalone one expects a given book to be. As I said before, I always expected each book to have degrees of both serialization and standalone-ocity, so it didn't bother me that the main character of Peaceable Kingdoms was someone who hadn't been the main character before. Hell, every book in The Fall, even the books that share characters, has had its own unique protagonists.

    Debatable. Schlosser knows he's issuing illegal orders, but it's not like the officers he's ordering around know that; most of them are either people like Sonia Gomez, who don't know they're being used, or people like the captain of the Tonawanda, who are faithfully executing orders they are ideologically predisposed to believe are legitimate in spite of common sense. But either way, it's not like there was a Section 31-style cabal of officers who got together and said, "Let's just ignore the normal chain of command and pledge ourselves to Ishan."

    I think that's an exaggeration of The Fall's depiction of rebellion against authority. To me, The Fall seems to essentially be making the argument that illegitimate authority should be rebelled against and the rule of law ignored when the law is being used for oppression rather than justice or liberty.

    I think this depends on your personal ideological predispositions. If you are predisposed to think of the law and authority as a system that protects liberty and justice, you are more likely to feel that rebellion against authority is an almost intrinsically bad thing and that such rebellion should carry negative consequences, even if it's done for good reasons. If, on the other hand, you're ideologically predisposed to view the law and authority as being just another set of self-interested institutions who exercise often arbitrary power over people below them, the idea that one should obey such authority just because can seem fairly ridiculous.

    Personally, I think it is to the Federation's credit that its political culture is anti-authoritarian enough that, when the Federation President Pro Tempore begins issuing truly unjust, oppressive orders, so many members of the military begin to rebel against his illegitimate authority.

    I find the implication that people should ignore their conscience and obey unjust authority disturbing. But, there again, I'm more sympathetic towards Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning than I am towards the NSA and U.S. State Department. ;)

    ETA:

    Ishan's secret - come on guys you can do better than "false identity". Sigh.

    The big reveal of Ishan's secret. I personally dislike big dramatic reveals.[/quote]

    I don't know if the revelation that Baras had bee hiding his real identity did much for the drama in and of itself -- but it provided a plausible explanation for how Velk and Baras would have developed a relationship with the True Way and thereby gotten them to assassinate Bacco.

    I will, however, say that "the President is hiding his real identity!" reminded me a bit of all that "Birther" talk about Barack Obama. Granted, that trope has been done before, too -- Doctor Who revealed that the new U.K. Prime Minister in Season Three was actually the Master, the Doctor's Time Lord arch-enemy, way back in 2007, long before those "Birther" rumors started about Obama. But the arc still worked for me, and I found the dramatic reveal in front of the Federation Council to be my favorite part of the book.

    Implausible. Someone like that isn't going to "break," and it's not like there's any scenario under which they'd be able to capture him, or even get a private audience. This guy is the President Pro Tempore. Would you imagine someone being able to "break" a U.S. President in an intimate, private setting? Not plausibly. And it's also not how you'd realistically deal with the situation if you knew the President himself was a murderer. You'd take your evidence to a safe authority figure who could be trusted to act against him -- exactly what Picard did.
     
  13. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Location:
    Soaking up the sun
    I don't know if the revelation that Baras had bee hiding his real identity did much for the drama in and of itself -- but it provided a plausible explanation for how Velk and Baras would have developed a relationship with the True Way and thereby gotten them to assassinate Bacco.

    I will, however, say that "the President is hiding his real identity!" reminded me a bit of all that "Birther" talk about Barack Obama. Granted, that trope has been done before, too -- Doctor Who revealed that the new U.K. Prime Minister in Season Three was actually the Master, the Doctor's Time Lord arch-enemy, way back in 2007, long before those "Birther" rumors started about Obama. But the arc still worked for me, and I found the dramatic reveal in front of the Federation Council to be my favorite part of the book.

    Implausible. Someone like that isn't going to "break," and it's not like there's any scenario under which they'd be able to capture him, or even get a private audience. This guy is the President Pro Tempore. Would you imagine someone being able to "break" a U.S. President in an intimate, private setting? Not plausibly. And it's also not how you'd realistically deal with the situation if you knew the President himself was a murderer. You'd take your evidence to a safe authority figure who could be trusted to act against him -- exactly what Picard did.
    [/QUOTE]

    Perhaps I used the wrong word. The attorney general in the book in essence outlined her case in a public setting, supplemented by Garak, and in the end, Velk. That still did not cause Ishan/whateverhisrealnameis to break and sob his way through a confession. What I was suggesting is that the same scene could have taken place in Ishan's office, perhaps with Picard, Riker, and Akaar being called on the carpet for their actions by Ishan, and they turning the tables on him, by revealing what they know, followed by the AG entering and ordering his arrest. Garak would have been a nice addition. However the scene was structured, I think that it would have been better to have it in a more mano el mano.
     
  14. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Ah, okay, I think I see what you mean. I still disagree, though -- I really liked the idea of a criminal authority figure being confronted with irrefutable evidence of his crimes in public, for all the world to see, and arrested in full view of everyone. It re-enforced for me the idea of true democratic accountability.
     
  15. the_wildcard

    the_wildcard Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Loved this book for the following reasons:

    1. Covert ops/spy action relevant to today's headlines? Checked.
    2. Traditional star trek ship to ship action? Checked.
    3. Political thriller? Checked.
    4. NCIS/CSI foresnic story lines? Checked.
    5. Updates on the TNG crew? Checked.
    6. La Forge finally getting a girlfriend? CHECKED! I would argue at some point Data had more 'game' than he did haha. Good to see Geordi is moving on up!

    I'd have to say this book was the best in "The Fall" series. Plus I would argue that this entire "The Fall" series has just been spectacular. I am excited to see Trek Lit is still going strong and can't wait to see where it leads to.

    Thank you to all the authors and editors!

    PS - Please continue to bring back Tom Riker in future stories!
     
  16. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    About 200 pages in now, certainly enjoying it. But with this being the last of this series, and talk of 'things changing for the 24th century novels', it doesn't feel like it's heading to something big. I don't feel like I'm reading the last novel in a series.

    We'll see at the end of today I think, should have it finished by then. :)
     
  17. JeBuS

    JeBuS Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    My short thoughts on Peaceable Kingdoms:

    Average.

    There were large portions that were bogged down by minute details that needn't be given to the reader. For example, I skipped several paragraphs at a time describing that planet, and didn't feel I missed a thing.

    The pacing was chopped up again by flashbacks, though at least these were new content. Some editor was again asleep at the wheel.

    Once the book had slogged uphill to the point where the Enterprise encountered the freighter, things started to pick up a bit. The comic book villainy of these spec ops characters, and their seemingly never-working plans and traps kinda ruins it, though. (How many times this series did this type of character exhibit the same failings?)

    The ending... well, it's better than no ending. Neat little bow? No.



    Now, some comments on The Fall as a whole:

    Yeah, R&D was completely unnecessary. But I'll take one stinker that deserves flushing down the toilet if I get one like The Crimson Shadow and a few average reads. I'd like to hear from the defenders of R&D, who said that novel would be an integral part of The Fall. It really doesn't appear to be the case at all. So many threads from R&D, and the only one closed was the assassination. What was the rest of that book for?

    The idea of the assassination was a lot more appealing than the end result of The Fall as a whole. There was just too much fluff and filler in the set. Drop 80% of R&D, edit out portions of 3 others (The Crimson Shadow can be left alone, in my opinion) and you've got a 3 book series that holds together much more tightly, and tells a story much more succinctly. The Powers That Be seemingly couldn't decide whether they wanted a series of standalone novels touching on a common thread or a serial novel telling a single story. This resulted in a schizophrenic set of books that at some points relied too heavily on flashbacks and rehash, and at other times had to skim over some possibly interesting background stories because the books were already getting too long.

    Overall, the series was Average. It started with one of the worst Trek novels I've ever read. One of the worst novels I've ever read, period. But The Crimson Shadow was one of the best. The others adequately played their roles.
     
  18. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    Finished it.

    Not sure. Writing, characterfeel, all those thing were great. And the plot itself wasn't bad or anything. It's just that.... I had expected more. A bigger reveal, bigger changes at the end, big changes for certain characters.

    All in all though, I really enjoyed The Fall as a series, perhaps not the best in TrekLit ever, but certainly a fun and gripping read.
     
  19. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Average.

    No blockbuster finish. Removal of a guy who was only inserted into the position with this series. It's weird that the only changes that really effect trek as a whole (andor repro resolution & rejoining, Garak elevation, bashir out) happened in the middle of the series.

    Crusher's group vs the keystone cops wasn't that interesting, riker's hunt for the starfleet connection (random admiral 3048304) wasn't that interesting...nothing in this book particularly grabbed me

    To be honest I thought the last two "A Time" books did political intrigue better in two books then The Fall did in five.

    Going out on exploration isn't particularly impressive either - had we never had "the fall" series this could have been done by Bacco anyway. Just felt that this series created its own problem president to solve, which'd have been ok if...we hadn't already had that before :/

    Well at least we should get more pure exploration books from now on.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Describing the setting is a "minute detail?" This is a traditional task of all novels.

    You know, your argument would be stronger if you didn't frame it in terms of, "I didn't like this, so the people who made it are incompetent." I contend that the story was not "chopped up" by the flashbacks -- that the flashbacks were an important part of the story that helped frame the themes and characters.

    What was "comic book villainy" about the mercenaries?

    In a mini-series about the consequences of a presidential assassination, the novel about the assassination itself is unnecessary? I disagree.

    As I and others said at the time, Revelation and Dust was there both to be part of The Fall and to continue (and set up future installments of) the Deep Space Nine series. Plenty of threads were set up in Avatar, Books One and Two that were later followed up in subsequent DSN novels, and I fully anticipate that being the case with Revelation and Dust.

    I find this complaint absurd. You're essentially arguing that a novel must only ever either be one extreme or the other -- either completely "standalone," or completely serialized. That hasn't been the way most books in a Star Trek miniseries have been written for going on 15 years now, and it's an arbitrary standard to hold them to.

    The standard plotting model for these kinds of miniseries is, each book tells a complete story in and of itself while also continuing or setting up plot elements for subsequent books. Often, they also continue or set up plot elements from series outside of that miniseries, to be continued outside of that miniseries. For instance, A Ceremony of Losses followed up on developments from the novel Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game, and the fate of Julian Bashir following The Fall will be followed up in the novel Section 31: Disavowed.

    This is not "schizophrenic," nor does it mean they need to be "edited down." These books have no obligation to show the kind of narrow-minded focus you seem to want; these are novels, not television scripts.

    If Revelation and Dust was one of the worst novels you have ever read, then you have had a startlingly positive literary history and have managed to avoid a huge percentage of published novels that are far, far inferior.