TNG: The Body Electric by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Dec 16, 2012.

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Rate The Body Electric.

  1. Outstanding

    36 vote(s)
    33.6%
  2. Above Average

    39 vote(s)
    36.4%
  3. Average

    26 vote(s)
    24.3%
  4. Below Average

    5 vote(s)
    4.7%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    0.9%
  1. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My review:
    Another great book. Like I didn’t expect that since David Mack wrote it! It did a wonderful job reuniting us with Wesley while making him interesting and not making his inclusion a matter of "let’s see what Wesley is up to." (I do wish DM could have slipped in "Shut up, Wesley" somewhere.)

    I just wish Titan could have gotten involved somehow; with Data and Wesley back in the mix. It would have been nice to have the whole TNG cast involved. Another reason to involve Titan is I don’t understand why Data was vitally needed to contact the Body Electric. Isn’t the Doctor an untethered sentient AI or what about the AI society White-Blue comes from? Would perhaps Torvig’s race of cyborgs or the Binars be good enough? Titan could have explored the cyborg angle, contacted White-Blue’s people, or even superseded Fallen Gods to show White-Blue still alive (why not, if IFM is cast out why not some Michael Martin books).

    One of the things I appreciated about The Body Electric most, and the whole Cold Equations series, is how well Mack captures the great depth of the emotions parents feel- the pride, dread, and willingness to make sacrifices. The emotions felt by the Immortal and Data toward their children is exactly how I would have felt. This trilogy almost seems to be more about the rollercoaster of parenting and facing the mortality of your child than the cold equations of who lives and who dies.

    With that thought in mind, as a parent, I cannot understand or agree with Beverly’s refusal to have Wesley get her and Renee out of the galaxy if the machine succeeds. I understand her reasoning that principles are more important than life, but as a parent, the life of your child is just as important. I could understand her being unwilling to abandon her ship and husband, but I cannot imagine a mother in the situation not asking Wesley to take his brother and protect him if it becomes necessary.

    Perhaps the greatest thing about this book is how well Mack captured the spirit of Star trek and the evolved sensibilities of the future men of the Federation. We didn’t see the enterprise firing phasers and torpedoes; the life and death situation was resolved with wits, understanding, and diplomacy. I also appreciated the lack of revenge taking and willingness to forgive. Gatt is given the opportunity to show he learned from his mistakes and isn’t killed for all the deaths he caused. The Immortal is willing to help Data despite his hate for him. In these cases, we see the characters being model heroes who keep their promises. It is refreshing to see stories Trek stories in which the protagonists don’t lose themselves in the darkness they face and give fans a hope of a future with a more enlightened and peaceful mankind.
     
    Some other thoughts and observations I jotted down while reading:
    I liked seeing a Thallonian server aboard the Enterprise. Always nice to see a New Frontier species aboard.

    It is interesting that Q sends Wesley to Picard and not Janeway saying, "Do what I always do- go bother Picard." Seems Janeway has been more helpful than Picard in major crises. I also like that Q only had one small scene which explained why he wasn’t involved and then this book didn’t become a Q novel.

    I understand Starfleet needs captains, but I think their expected promotion of Worf is a bad idea. He is a good officer under the shepherding hand of another but he thinks like a Klingon officer, not a Starfleet one. When Gatt comes aboard, Worf wants to throw him in the brig but Picard tells him how unwise that would be. Worf wanted to rush to a military solution to the Body Electric even though he witnessed the futility of this. If this story had taken place with Worf in command, the galaxy would have been screwed whereas Riker probably would have made the same wise decisions as Picard.

    At one point, Rhea is looking for a "vestigial system" of the AI ship; when she finds one, she refers to it as an ‘appendix’. Interestingly, the appendix was discovered to not be a vestigial organ a few years ago and was discovered to actually be an extremely useful organ used to harbor and breed good bacteria; clearly not an evolutionary waste product.

    "Damn the singularity- full speed ahead." LOL. Good one.
     
  2. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It took Janeway several years to cross 70,000 light years, Picard got the Enterprise home from 2,700,000 light years away in 45 minutes, he even had time spare to drink a bottle of wine and make sweet sweet love to a young ensign.

    Q knew that Wesley needed the A-Team to save everything.*




    * more seriously, the story partly relies on Wesley's connections to the characters as TNG characters.
     
  3. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    According to Kirsten Beyer's The Eternal Tide,
    Q now considers Janeway an enemy.
     
  4. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^That might be so. However, Q is not looking for help, he is sending Wesley for help. So it isn't like Q would have to work with her. The point still stands that it seems like Q helps and hurts Picard whereas Janeway helps and hurts Q. Of course, perhaps Q actually would like to see the galaxy destroyed along with the people responsible for the death of his son so he really would like Wesley to fail.
     
  5. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    I think we can see from Q&A that Q has a special relationship with Picard and does not want to see him fail.
     
  6. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't that also the book where Q seemed to think Janeway was only good for distracting the Borg (or at least my interpretation of what he was saying)

    Another thing to take from Q&A was the Q left saving the universe to Picard not Janeway, so that flat out tells you who he would see as more capable of saving the day.
     
  7. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And yet the Q let Janeway decide on the judicial matter involving Quin, used her to resolve a civil war, and the Omega problem without bringing Picard in as well?

    I'm no Janeway lover, but I just don't think Picard's credentials outweigh hers in matters of galactic importance.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's a TNG book, obviously they'd use Picard. Not sure what the rub is here?
     
  9. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    My review is finally out at Trek.fm
     
  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    I enjoyed the whole trilogy, but I did find the ending a bit unsatisfying. On the one hand, I don't see as how
    Rhea's sacrifice
    accomplished anything that couldn't have been accomplished otherwise, and on the other hand,
    having Gatt abruptly change from being a sadistic, immortality-obsessed, hate-driven "classic bad guy" to how he ends up, just because Data choked down his base urge for revenge,
    seems a bit too good to be true. And I would have liked to have known more about
    Lal's resurrection.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
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    I think that Gatt's change of heart had more to do with being rejected by the Body Electric. He was disillusioned and forced to rethink some things.
     
  12. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It is too rushed to come across as emotionally true.
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    He's an android. He just processed the steps from asshole to good guy faster than a human could. :techman:
     
  14. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure I understand this critique. "Accomplished?" Data 2.0 was in a position where he could only save one or the other, and the crux of it was who he chose to save. Rhea didn't die to "accomplish" anything, she died because Data 2.0 had to pick between her or Akhairn.
     
  15. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

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    I suppose what hbquikcomjamesl is saying is that Data 2.0 need not have been put in that position, and Rhea needn't have died. But I disagree. This event is also part of the emotional growth of Data 2.0.
     
  16. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Because she was the one Quin requested asylum from.

    Which was resolving issues left over from the Quinn thing

    And now Q doesn't like her anymore because of it, besides that was the writer possibly exaggerating Janeway's importance. Plus I'm not a fan of Janeway getting out of the consequences of her arrogance.

    Yes they do by virtue of Picard being and always being a better captain than her, besides I'd trust Picard more than that arrogant Janeway. I mean seriously she thought one shouldn't be afraid of the Borg despite being able to kill the f@#k out of the federation when ever they felt like it.
     
  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    Do I sense some hostility to Janeway here? To me, she came off as no more arrogant than Kirk.
     
  18. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Janeway has no SFC for nearly all of the 7 years to kerp her inline.
     
  19. Kirsten Beyer

    Kirsten Beyer Writer Red Shirt

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    None of these statements ring true for me. They are, in fact, so not what I've written that I'm a little confused. And I'm not sure how any of them except perhaps the last can be taken outside the context of the latest books...or from a Janeway as portrayed on TV position only.

    I mean, like Janeway or don't like Janeway, that's entirely your call. That said, how exactly have we exaggerated Janeway's importance or let her out of the consequences of anything?

    In TET, Janeway learns that the choice she made to work with her future self and get her ship home earlier than it had in Admiral Janeway's timeline created a problem. Had she not done what she did, her ship would have closed Omega on their own, losing Seven in the process and apparently erasing the Q from existence, but still....her choice in Endgame set other events in motion she could never have predicted. I don't see how this exagerrates the importance of her existence...any more than any other Starfleet officer who has ever been up against an existential threat. I'm pretty sure lots of our characters have faced the possible end of everything more than once and found a work-around.

    TET is essentially a story of her choosing to return to help clean up a mess she had a hand in creating. How is that not the exact opposite of her getting out of the consequences of her actions? If you accept the premise of the story at all, the only way she gets out of anything is if she stays dead. Then everybody else has to deal with the problem without her.

    Further, in no way whatsoever was returning to help and subsequently surviving that avoiding consequences. You think living with the knowledge of what her past choices, a future version of herself's choices, and her current challenges is going to be easy? It almost sounds as if you are saying that for some reason her past actions were all so horrendous that the only acceptable action was for her to die as a result of them. While I'm not going to suggest we sugarcoat any of her more questionable calls over the years, I hardly think any of them warrant death, especially as they were made in the interest of protecting her crew which was pretty much her job description.

    For my money, dying at this point would be a hell of a lot easier than figuring out how to live with everything she now knows. But perhaps that's just me.

    I know that the Q in Before Dishonor chose to highlight their sense of her arrogance. In that instance, however, I think we might do well to consider the source. And there is a tendency here from time to time to toss around this 'arrogance' thing as a character flaw. Personally, I don't see how anyone signs up for the job of starship captain without a healthy dose arrogance. I don't think most of the people currently in any civilian or military position of authority could do what they do were not a little arrogance part of their basic operating instructions. And if anything, we've stated pretty explicitly that all she has just endured has altered her perspective considerably. She's still a strong person, still Kathryn Janeway, but damn. Too arrogant? I don't think so. To stubborn? Maybe. Too determined? Maybe. But again, I think all of these are necessary in a captain and lots of officer of lesser rank, come to think of it.

    Nor do I recall her ever suggesting that anyone shouldn't fear the Borg. Did she take some foolhardy risks as she moved through their territory from time to time? Sure. Did she do it without a healthy appreciation of the possible consequesnces of her actions or the destructive capability of the Borg...not really. Dark Frontier comes the closest I can recall to a situation she likely should have avoided, but even that quickly turned into a problem with Seven she had no choice but to try and solve.

    She did, in FC, counsel against returning to the DQ to further investigate the Borg, but not because she didn't fear them...because she knew too well how much they were to be feared. Her suggestion was to use the intelligence her crew had gathered to fortify the Federation's defenses over sending one or a handful of ships out there to try and end the Borg on their own...a pretty tall order, I think. At any rate, I can't bring to mind one instance of her suggesting the Borg were not to be feared.

    Bottom line, the direction the stories have taken may not work for you. Clearly, it doesn't. But these statements are a misreading of them, not a defensible argument, at least as I see it.

    As you were.

    Kirsten Beyer
     
  20. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    While, yes, other AIs exist, the Enterprise crew had neither a way to contact them nor a reliable way to get them to the center of the galaxy. They had the quantum thingamabob to contact Data, and the crew had to focus on their memories of Data for Wesley to even find him, much less get Data where he needed to go.


    Q isn't exactly Janeway's biggest fan right now.

    Starfleet would be a very boring place if every captain responded to similar situations in identical ways. IDIC and such.