TOS: Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Stoek, Jul 22, 2013.

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Rate Doctor's Orders

  1. Outstanding

    7 vote(s)
    30.4%
  2. Above Average

    12 vote(s)
    52.2%
  3. Average

    4 vote(s)
    17.4%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Stoek

    Stoek Commander Red Shirt

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    [​IMG]

    Doctor's Orders

    When Dr. McCoy grumbles once too often about the way the U.S.S. Enterprise™ ought to be run, Captain Kirk decides to leave the doctor in command while he oversees a rountine diplomatic mission. Kirk beams down to a strange planet nicknamed "Flyspeck" to negotiate its admission into the Federation, leaving Dr. McCoy to enjoy his new authority.


    However, the doctor soon learns that command is a double-edged sword when Kirk disappears without a trace. Desperately trying to locate his catain, McCoy comes under pressure from Starfleet to resolve the situation immediately. Matters go from bad to worsewhen the Klingons arrive and stake their own claim on Flyspeck


    Then another, more deadly power threatens them all, and suddenly Dr. McCoy and the Starship Enterprise find themselves pitted against an alien fleet in a battle they have no hope of winning.
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I remember being disappointed in this, after loving almost everything else Duane wrote in the Trekverse.
     
  3. Stoek

    Stoek Commander Red Shirt

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    Hmm. Interesting. I'd actually avoided it for years and then finally broke down and picked it up because it seemed like a nice complement to A Choice Of Catastrophes by Mollmann and Schuster.

    There was a time when McCoy was... well he wasn't my least favorite TOS character by any means but well I'm a Spockhead and once upon a time if it wasn't fairly Spock-centric I was less than interested.

    Having said that I'm so far enjoying it quite a bit. Duane has a knack for creating truly alien aliens, and giving a very "realistic" feeling to shipboard life.

    She has a good grasp of the characters and the "sight" of McCoy playing good ol' boy to confound an unexpectedly arrived Klingon commander was so delicious that it made me wish they'd found an excuse to give McCoy command of the ship even if only for a few minutes in one of the movies. (And I know where he would have been perfectly placed. When they are planning the raid to rescue the hostages on Nimbus III, when asked if he was coming along McCoy could have proclaimed, "I'm a Doctor, not a commando." and then by way of "punishment" Kirk could have left him to play Captain in his absence.)
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's very good, but falls short of "Outstanding" because it was subject to Arnold-era continuity restrictions and thus Duane had to strip out references to her prior novel continuity and the alien crew she'd introduced (though they let her keep human characters like Lia Burke and Janice Kerasus). So it feels like a "Duaneverse lite" book, less than it could've been.
     
  5. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Most of the alien races encountered on Flyspeck, such as the Ornae, had their origin in the text-based computer game, "The Kobayashi Alternative", also written by Duane.
     
  6. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    Loved this one! But then again, I've enjoyed everything of Diane Duane's that I've read.

    Here's my review.
     
  7. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ That's interesting. Is the game worth checking out?
     
  8. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Never read it, but I've heard of it often. Is there any justification for leaving McCoy in command when the situation goes south? Are Spock and Scotty still aboard during the Klingon confrontation?
     
  9. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    They are, but according to the novel, McCoy can't turn over command to them until he is relieved by the officer who assigned him command in the first place (Kirk). A bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but it moves the plot along!
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Do you have a computer with a drive for 5 1/4-inch floppy disks? The game came in that format and had copy protection that wouldn't allow it to be run from anything but the primary floppy drive. I imagine people have probably hacked and copied the game by now, but there was also a printed booklet that you needed. Well, there's probably a PDF of that by now too.
     
  11. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    So the confrontation with the Klingons can't be that serious, else the needs for a competent commander in charge would surely trump all other orders, especially frivolous orders meant to teach McCoy a lesson. Oh well.
     
  12. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked this novel it's been a long time since I read it.
     
  13. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I enjoyed it a lot because it is about McCoy (who is my favorite) and it is a very fun McCoy. I really liked his interaction with the Klingon captain the best. I also really loved the aliens in this one.

    However I did have some issues with it. Obviously to enjoy the story you have to accept the contrivance of the plot, that Kirk can just give up command to McCoy who is not a line officer and if there was some crises he could not give it up to Spock.

    Also in general while I think Duane got McCoy's voice down really well, she did have him say "boy" and "son" way more than I ever recall him using these words in the actual show. I still could definitely hear De's voice in my head while reading though.

    However, in the end I feel while this was a fun book I think it missed a great opportunity to really explore what makes McCoy well McCoy. In many ways I felt the McCoy command style in this book wasn't all that different from Kirk's (maybe with a bit more bluster). It would have been interesting to see him struggle more with his own morals and emotional side in the way lets say Spock struggled a bit with his logical side in Galilelo 7.

    Speaking of Spock, he was also way too easy on McCoy in this book. For all the times, McCoy gave him a hard time when he was in command I wanted to see Spock disagreeing with McCoy's choices here as well. I personally think Spock and McCoy are best written when they disagree at first but then come to an understanding and work together, so this was another missed opportunity for me.

    Hence in the end I can only give it an above average rating.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wrong. The premise of the book is that only Kirk has the legal authority to relieve McCoy of command; he'd happily turn it over to Spock or Scott, but with Kirk absent, there's no recourse for that. It's contrived and procedurally questionable, yes, but the book does not treat it as something that's only being maintained for frivolous reasons.
     
  15. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    I meant that Kirk put McCoy in charge frivolously, since he had no reason to think anything dangerous would occur with the inexperienced McCoy in "command". But having not read it, I have no opinion on the quality of the story. If I read it, I might enjoy it immensely. But the premise turns me off, and there are so many other books for me to read first, that I won't be forming an informed opinion on this novel any time soon.

    ETA - I just can't help thinking that there must be a recourse for relieving an officer from command in situations where the commanding officer is out of communication. If only Kirk could relieve McCoy, and Kirk is out of communication, then I'm supposed to believe that McCoy remains in command until Kirk returns? OK, I understand that that is the premise of the story, that it is what drives it forward. But what if Kirk were dead? Would that then mean McCoy stays in command forever, because a dead Kirk can't relieve him? Surely Starfleet has a regulation that would deal with a commanding officer that's indisposed in some way, to allow for the next ranking officer to take command.

    Oh, well, I'm probably just overthinking a book that I won't be reading soon. I have no wish to antagonize anyone who enjoys it, and who knows, maybe I'll get around to reading it someday.
     
  16. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I just looked up Duane's explanation for the command thing. In "Voyages Of Imaginatin" she mentions talking to a Robert Heinlein about ways that a person not normally in the "chain of command" could be given command and then getting stuck with it. So with McCoy being stuck in command there is most likely a precedent.
     
  17. Stoek

    Stoek Commander Red Shirt

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    The sense that I am getting at this point in the book (a little over halfway) is that Spock is reluctant to take any official action to relieve McCoy of command out of concern for his Starfleet career.

    While on the surface this might seem like an illogical concern, it has been made very clear that logic is a country that some of the Admirals in Starfleet have never heard of let alone spent any time in.

    The best example is when the admiral who contacts the ship tells McCoy in the same message to both pull personnel from working on trying to improve the translation matrix for the aliens language AND to hurry up and establish clearer communications with those same aliens.

    In other words...

    "Take off your hat. Raise your right hand. Place your left hand here. Take off your hat."

    As for Spock not taking shots at McCoy when he has the opportunity, well obviously everyone has their own take on matters but to me such behavior would have been horribly out of character for Spock.

    First of all (to me at least) he and McCoy actually respect each other, even like each other, but they are both stubborn and argumentative in their own way and take great delight in using the other to sharpen their wits on.

    Even so Spock's commitment is to C'thia, to Armien'tu and to his role as First Officer and the good of the ship. Now if he truly believed McCoy to be incapable of serving even temporarily in the role into which he's been thrust I feel quite certain he would have relieved the doctor of command in a Thrasian heartbeat. Clearly he does not. However he knows that the doctor is out of his element and there is no logic in making an already tenous situation worse.

    Now after the danger is past and everyone is back where they belong? Then I suspect there may be some very dry needling on Spock's part.

    As for the book not giving an insight into McCoy I disagree. He spents quite a bit of time ruminating on the times that he's blithely given Kirk advice, not really realizing how often his advice might be at odds with the realities of command that Kirk was dealing with.

    As for his approach to the Klingons, while it might be informed by McCoy asking himself WWJKD, it is also clearly informed by his knowledge of Klingon psychology. In fact I think you can add McCoy not knowing anything about Klingon physiology to the list of sins committed by TUC.

    The most jarring bit for many people not conversant even in passing with the earlier iteration of the novels is the Klingons and their urgent search for a particular substance on the planet.

    Basically at this time some authors had established that without a kind of drug Klingons were incapable of controlling their violent urges, and the crew of this ship had run out some time ago. It's like a less intense version of ketracel white basically.
     
  18. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    While perhaps I can't see Spock getting on McCoy's case in a nasty way, I can see him questioning some of McCoy's decisions, especially if he felt they were too emotional.

    And while I understand the set up was that Spock knew McCoy probably didn't want to be in this situation and hence wouldn't come down hard on the Doctor, I still will stick to what I say that this was a missed opportunity to explore Spock/McCoy more in depth here. As Spock VS McCoy is one of the great things about Trek for me.

    I completely agree I don't doubt for one second that Spock and McCoy not only respected each other but cared deeply about each other as well. In fact one of these days I plan to make a post exploring their relationship but that's for another discussion.

    But of course this doesn't mean they didn't have their philosophical differences. Again these differences is what makes their relationship fascinating for me and I think this book could have used that.




    Sure and those moments were definitely good, but that wasn't exactly what I was talking about. I meant more that the book didn't explore how McCoy's "emotional side" could both be a hindrance and help to his command. I wanted to see more of that from the book. How is McCoy's command different from Kirk and Spock because he is McCoy?

    There was a lot of great humor in the book but I think it did lack a bit in other areas and wasn't as interesting a character study as it could have been.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't remember any books asserting that about the Klingons. And once you get to the end of Doctor's Orders, you'll see that things aren't always what they seem.
     
  20. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, using my work's Apple IIe, we were able to copy Disk 2 onto a blank floppy and run that one in a second drive, so you didn't need to keep swapping disks. Really sped up the game! But yes, Disk 1 was deliberately copy-protected.

    Text-only games would probably seem very tedious today.