TNG: Silent Weapons by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Nov 17, 2012.

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Rate Silent Weapons.

  1. Outstanding

    38 vote(s)
    43.2%
  2. Above Average

    34 vote(s)
    38.6%
  3. Average

    12 vote(s)
    13.6%
  4. Below Average

    3 vote(s)
    3.4%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  1. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd say showing that some humans still believe in deities and/or participate in religion goes with the general thrust of showing how humanity has grown enough to at least deal successfully with several deeply-rooted flaws that remain. It's a more realistic angle on Trek's optimistic view of the future - there's the simple version where humanity has generally just improved, and the more nuanced view where it has grown up enough to deal with internal strife in a constructive manner on a species-wide scale. Realistically, there's just relatively little hope of abolishing religion in the time frame we're speaking about. It's a powerful meme, and recently there seems to be some scientific basis to at least consider that a large percentage of the population may be psychologically set up to gravitate to such ideas.
     
  2. TerraUnam

    TerraUnam Commander Red Shirt

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    I also disagree with the apparent attempt to link the positive political message in the Eulogy to established present-day archetypes of religion. The Unitarians fall definitely into the Christian Left, but you've got other members of the Christian Left, like me, who take issue with their theological positions (not their political ones). That entire link is unfortunate. It's not Trek. It's too present-day.
     
  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I'm an atheist, but at the same time the lack of religion in Trek always bothered me. I've always found it hard to believe that religion would just disappear like Trek says it would. I've also never been real fond of the idea that religion was something bad that we had to move beyond. Yeah, religions have brought about some bad things, both now and in the past, but I refuse to believe that they are all bad and that we have to "evolve" past them.
     
  4. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    I was raised in that denomination myself. Running from my own personal experience, I don't remember any enculturation of anti-Unitarian sentiment, something that a quick Googling of the church's website confirms.

    You weren't complaining about religion in Trek, though. Rather, you were complaining about the presence of a specific denomination on the grounds that the "Holy and Undivided Trinity in the 24th Century" wasn't shown as being a universal belief.

    Religion has had its place in the novelverse: Jews, Hindus, and Muslims have been depicted prominently as Jews, Hindus and Muslims. What's the problem with Unitarians, specifically? (Muslims share Unitarian beliefs on the Trinity, come to think of it ...)
     
  5. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    What attempt at linkage?

    ...
     
  6. VDCNI

    VDCNI Captain Captain

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    Why not, humanity has also dropped the pursuit of money and that's just as vital if not more in today's society. I don't understand why the novels feel the need to push religion back into Trek and I wish they'd stop.
     
  7. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    That's ridiculous.

    How are a handful of references here and there 'pushing religion back into Trek'?
     
  8. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I guess VDCNI's problem isn't religion in the novels per-se, but rather sympathetic characters being portrayed as practicing religion.

    If I'm honest I can sort of understand the gut reaction; there's the old saying about hero characters in serial fiction being a little like visiting with friends, and while I have some close friends who are religious, as an opinionated atheist myself it's rather in spite of their beliefs than something I am naturally comfortable with (and certainly has made for some very heated debates over the years, initiated by both sides). Especially if it's a late reveal for a character, it may well require a bit of swallowing and thinking.

    But that's a big part of the point of Trek, isn't it? It's saying we manage to get along eventually, and we get there from here, so anything that touches on the how is potentially interesting. And challenging an audience to work through that personally is, too.

    I think in general it's usually a missed opportunity to get pissed-off at what a novel is doing and better to try to get something interesting out of it somehow ... if a novel introduces an element that adds something or challenges something about our notion of the 24th century, it's much more fun to examine how to integrate that.
     
  9. j3067

    j3067 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Good point, and this book is hardly the first reference. Off the top of my head...the TOS Enterprise had a chapel (Balance of Terror) and Phlox went to Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, indicating that the Roman Catholic Church remains active in the Trek mythology, The Captain of the Endevour in Vangard frequently referenced Allah. Religion has not been at the forefront of Trek, but it has hardly been absent prior to the Eulogy in the latest book.
     
  10. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My brief review:
    Persistence of Memory was good but not one of the best Trek book I’ve read, leaving me with average enthusiasm for Silent Weapons. This book was absolutely incredible with a great plot that kept me reading and wanting to know what was REALLY going on. Silent Weapons was full of so many great character interactions and twists, leaving me desperate to pick up book 3.

    I really like how each of these books (assuming the third follows the trend) has its own main plot but builds upon another bigger plot and rather than just leaving the bigger plot to be addressed at the beginning and/or end, elements of it are woven throughout. Also, though Data is a key character to these stories, I don’t get the sense that these are “the books that resurrect Data” because he just a large piece in a greater puzzle. Hopefully readers will remember Cold Equations for much more than that.

    I also get the sense that these are not just books about characters facing difficult situations but situations that are going to change them at their core and perhaps their roles in future books.

    Thank you, David Mack, for taking me on the journey. I look forward to your next tale.
     
  11. toughlittleship

    toughlittleship Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Also, Kasidy Yates wanted a minister to officiate at her wedding.
     
  12. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In this religion debate, I go back to this statement by TerraUnam.

    It seems your problem is with the existence of Christians who don't believe in the trinity being around in the future and think, in the present, all other denominations believe in the trinity.

    As a Christian who does NOT believe in the trinity, I think you are being ridiculous in thinking Unitarians are the ONLY Christians who do not believe in it. As a non-Unitarian Christian, I find the belief in a trinity to be absurd to my Biblical standards.

    I found it refreshing to see a future that isn't painted where everyone is an athiest. Star Trek preaches tolerance and does not conform to any set belief in where we come from, where we are going, or the existance in an all powerful creator. It would be intolerant and even biggoted for us to presume one or no religion in this FICTIONAL future.
     
  13. TerraUnam

    TerraUnam Commander Red Shirt

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    The doctrine of the Trinity is shared by Orthodox, Roman Catholic and every mainline Protestant church. 98% of all Christianity, by numbers.

    The present-day Unitarian Universalist Church is well known for wearing its politics on its sleeve; it's left-wing, loud and proud. Combined with the political content of the scene, and recent Trek's unsubtle attempt to make thematic commentary on present-day American politics (see Paths of Disharmony), I find Mr. Mack's characterization attempt unsubtle, overreaching and out of place in Trek.

    Trek's schtick was long just to ignore present-day religions for the most part; Gene Roddenberry was somewhere between agnostic and atheist and wasn't keen on churchgoing himself. I prefer that tradition, if any, about religion in Trek.
     
  14. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, and Esperanza is part of the 2% (or larger, or smaller by the 24th century) that doesn't hold that belief. What's the problem with that?

    I guess you're entitled to that opinion, but I didn't find anything unsubtle or overreaching about any part of the eulogy scene. To me, the name "Unitarian" could have been replaced by any other Christian sect (or even another religion altogether), and I can't think of any way in which the scene would have played out differently. To me, it seemed like he was simply name-dropping a religion. Esperanza was a Unitarian; huh, neat. If she were a Muslim? Jewish? Zoroastrian? Completely non-religious? People might have said he was pushing another agenda altogether. Mention of something doesn't imply endorsement of that thing. I might write a character as being Mormon. I'm not Mormon, nor do I wish to "push" the Mormon belief. I sensed no ulterior motive on Mack's part.

    I'll completely admit that as a former Catholic, now atheist, I was initially annoyed with references to religion in MY STAR TREK (TM). But then, it occurred to me what has already been mentioned up-thread: that one thing Star Trek is about is accepting and living in harmony with people whose beliefs or world-view don't necessarily match my own. Creed can and should be on the same list as things like race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any number of other things that make people different from each other. J. Michael Straczynski is another creator who is "somewhere between agnostic and atheist" and isn't "keen on churchgoing" as well. He wrote Catholics and characters with other beliefs quite convincingly, and even penned an episode of Babylon 5 in which he was accused of coming down too hard on atheists by other atheists, and accused of mocking religious belief by religious people. That's because he's a good writer. And David Mack wasn't even doing THAT much here. He mentioned the name of a church.
     
  15. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    The funeral occurred in a Unitarian church, yes That's the only content referencing the denomination: all of the thoroughly secular dialogue in that scene was delivered by President Bacco.

    I don't know why people choose to take offense from the mentioned existence of something harmless that they dislike for whatever reason. Is difference that frightening?
     
  16. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Anyway...

    I thought it was average - the first book in the trilogy I really enjoyed but this wasn't at the same level as the previous one. It was well plotted and thought out but it didn't seem to have the lift of the last book, there was a missing x-factor. My main issue was that I was intrigued by the real plan and at the end it just fizzled out and when the McGuffin was revealed, I just shrugged and thought "is that it?" - I know a lot of you are making links to the Mirror Universe books but I don't read of them so that meant least than nothing to me.

    I also thought it was unfortunate how Beverley turned into a fish-wife after Picard saved her life and it didn't read like any Crusher I remember seeing on the TV or in the books previously.
     
  17. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    Regarding the Crusher/Picard drama: I thought this was some of the best character development we've gotten for either character in quite some time. Crusher's behavior was, at first, baffling, but by the end, once it was
    tied back to a young Picard telling Jack Crusher to put his duty before his family,
    it made complete sense. This didn't feel like a hackneyed, canned "marriage problem". This felt real, and it speaks very well of David Mack that he knows these characters well enough to tell this sub-story.

    Also, regarding the Unitarian "thing": it was one word in a chapter with lots of other important words. It was hardly "pushing religion into Star Trek." And, newsflash, there are lots and lots and lots of people out there who are not extreme right wingers, who believe in science, who practice tolerance and who are religious. Regardless of your views on religion, those folks have a right to exist now, and they will continue to exist into the foreseeable future.

    I'm sorry to be rude, but your being offended does not entitle you to insisting that the offensive thing be removed. Well, I guess you're entitled to say whatever you want, but you're not entitled to expecting that the offensive thing be removed merely because it offends you.
     
  18. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I am just about finished with this one & love it. I'll save my score for after I finish which should be tonight after work. A lot of great twists, mystery, & emotion (I had a bit of a tear in my eye) in this one.
     
  19. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Were people this upset with the Bajorans & the Prophets? I know theirs isn't a real religion (sorry to break that news) but I see no difference to a scene at the Bajoran Temple on DS9 & or one at a Unitarian Church. It isn't some subtle attempt to offend anyone, just a scene that gives a broader look into people of the 24th century.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm only about half-way through but a couple of thoughts:

    * I think in this type of story, having the bad guys spell things out that are happening before the good guys figure it out kills any type of suspense.

    * It's getting tiresome to watch the Picard do whatever he wants with the Enterprise on a whim without there ever being any ramifications for those actions from above.

    I'm having a far harder time being invested in this story than I did Persistence of Memory.