TOS: That Which Divides by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

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

?

Rate That Which Divides.

  1. Outstanding

    3 vote(s)
    10.3%
  2. Above Average

    13 vote(s)
    44.8%
  3. Average

    13 vote(s)
    44.8%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Thanks for the info guys. Sorry about the jibe mistake:o I'm enjoying the book so far and should be done with it in a few days. I may post a few more questions between now and then.
     
  2. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The peril of using broken English in a forum populated by writers :D. A constant fear of mine. Luckily I have the ESL excuse + "show me your German" :).
     
  3. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    ^ I did learn German "Deutsch" in High School (Gymnasium) many moons ago. I still remember a bit of it. Ex: Wie heisst du?(sorry no Scharfes S on my computer), Wie alt bist du?, Wo wohnst du? etc.. I can still count in German and say a few more phrases.
     
  4. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not bad! :)
     
  5. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I finish earlier today. Another reading will help me to rate it.
     
  6. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Dankeschon!;)
     
  7. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, it's 7 "average" and 6 "above average" at the moment, and no votes for any other rating. Which somehow comes out to well below the average of review threads in total on your collected chart, which means the reviews overall must skew heavily to the positive (no doubt in part because more positive ratings have higher numerical values, so a high vote counts more than a lower one). That seems like a flaw in the methodology, if a book that gets a majority average-or-better rating can come out so near the bottom of the list. Or maybe it's just that subjective definitions of an "average" book differ from mathematical ones.
     
  9. FatherRob

    FatherRob Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Whle I admit that it takes a lot to impress me book-wise, I wouldn't say I am a regular hater... :)
     
  10. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, a book that is getting majority average-or-better ratings is coming out so near the bottom of the list because other books have an even higher percentage of average-or-better ratings. So yes, even the books toward the bottom of the list aren't necessarily considered bad, they're just being relatively less well-liked than others.

    This is technically apparent from the numbers already: The lowest-rated book has an average score of 2.67 right now, which in a spectrum from 1-5 isn't all that bad. It's also why I added the little vote distribution bar graphs, though, so you can see at a glance what actually went into the score.

    It's also somewhat to be expected I'd say. People read Trek novels because they like Trek novels; people who don't consider Trek novels worth their time won't read them and participate in the first place. So it's not all that surprising that the response spectrum only really starts at "meh" and "Poor" is only invoked very rarely.

    Put another way: If Trek novels were regularly bad enough to make poll participants exercise both the upper and lower parts of the possible response spectrum equally, I don't think the novel line would be commercially viable for long, or would at least likely fail to attract the committed followers that participate in this forum. Luckily, our esteemed editors and authors seem to be doing a good enough job that even their least inspired output does not fail to entertain.

    In that sense, the methodology may not be flawed as much as it simply reflects that on the whole, the Star Trek novel line is well-regarded by its readers :). Well, if you ignore the inherent selection bias of course (the poll participants being a subset of the readers and not a truly representative sampling).

    (To go a bit deeper: I actually commented on this in the past, and also talked about the fact that the presented poll options are relative rather than absolute, begging the question whether participants use all of their reading or only their TrekLit as reference frame in picking an option. The thread also went a little into alternate scoring systems.)

    Anyway, I just found it interesting that TrekMovie's review was very positive (while they're generally not shy to dislike them, either), while I'd describe the reaction in this thread (even numbers aside) as relatively less enthusiastic so far than e.g. for The Rings of Time, to use another recent TOS stand-alone novel as an example. So perhaps someone who read the thread and decided not to buy because they got a similar impression would be swayed by this review if they get the feeling the reviewer has similar tastes/interests as them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  11. FatherRob

    FatherRob Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I think I see your point better now; though, to be clear, I enjoyed The Rings of Time, just felt it had serious issues with story elements that could have been better handled. On the flipside, That Which Divides smacked every core concern of mine out of the park, and did one heck of a job with Scotty as well...

    Now, I won't go so far as to say it is as good as Diane Duane's Rihannsu series... that's Romulan/Federation goodness par excellance. But I could see myself re-reading That Which Divides far sooner than even thinking of rereading The Rings of Time.

    However, as everyone from my editor right down to people here and in the TM comments have noted in the past, I have definate tastes. Heck, CLB's The Struggle Within (last years eBookcontribution to the Typhon Pact) was my favorite Star Trek story of 2011... and I know I got some odd 'looks' over that one!

    Rob+
     
  12. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think being an opinionated reviewer is absolutely fine, as long as the review includes the information a reader needs to make up their mind as to whether they tick similarly to the reviewer. I.e. "This guy loved/hated/is indifferent towards this book; can I see myself in his thought process and feel convinced by his arguments?"

    As for my original posting, my agenda is really simple: I haven't read the book yet, but I noticed what I felt was a somewhat subdued response to it here, so a very positive review caught my interest, and I wanted to share. Moreover, though, I like Trek books and would like there to be more of them. That requires sales, and positive reviews contribute to generating more sales. So if someone reads your review, finds himself nodding in agreement and ends up enjoying it for similar reasons to yours, I figure that's a win.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That and the rest of your points are sound. It's just that as someone with an interest in the meaning and usage of words, I find it paradoxical that a book voted "average" and "above average" can end up below average. Clearly there are two different metrics for "average" being used here. I suppose that in the opinion polls, it's "average" relative to all the works of fiction the voter has read in their lifetime -- so something that's above the average quality of fiction as a whole can be below the average quality of Trek novels, at least in the minds of those who choose to vote.
     
  14. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've argued in the past that the "grades" used in TrekBBS review threads are kind of uneven. One of my pet-peeves is that (at least for me) the gap between the highest rank and the second highest is way too large. There should have been at least one more rank between those two IMO, maybe something like very good or something similar.

    I pretty much reserve "outstanding" votes for books that get a 95%+ rating by me, and there have only been very few of those in the 14 years I've rated ST novels. As a result it's highly unlikely that many books will get an outstanding from me, while others seem to be more willing to hand out that rank.

    Maybe I'm to pedantic on the semantics here, but for me a novel that gets an "outstanding" should do what it is the moniker: stand out from the rest, and if I would give a large number of books that grade those books aren't "outstanding" anymore. :shrug:

    But I accept that this is the grading scheme that has been established over the last few years and that changing it now would screw the comparability of those polls, I just was in the mood for a rant :lol:.
     
  15. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed with both of you, and that's also why I really like the voting scheme described here: http://blog.steepster.com/post/226679106/better-rating-system

    There's a bunch of reasons it's better than the one we use here:
    - It's absolute, not relative.
    - It's more fine-grained due to a 100-point scale underneath the UI.
    - The fix points are pictograms rather than words, avoiding getting into semantics ("just what is outstanding").

    Plus there's some other cleverness there, like showing you some of your previous votes on the bar while you're voting, so you're reminded of past choices to avoid skew.

    I'm still considering making a standalone TrekLit voting site. If I do, it'll likely use something like that.
     
  16. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Just plowed through this yesterday in one sitting! Enjoyed it, but felt it missed on a couple things:

    -Initial crash/disaster. Felt like it got edited down a bit. By the time Boma was describing things, it felt ok again, but felt like it was missing something when we went from attempting to land right to one of the survivors riding a transport out and just telling us that only 3 survived...

    -Biggest miss (I felt) was about the Kalandrans. Called back a TOS episode (good), but then instead of digging deeper into it, it really felt more like a name-drop. We got a tiny bit more info, but instead of fleshing things out more, like I felt it needed (and could easily have done), it really just hinted at more info, but didn't deliver. Best we got was that Boma was going to stay and dig into it more. For all the info in the database, that's a fun ending, but really could have used more of the 'high-level' synopsis on what happened to them. Dunno, just felt let down by that part.

    Overall, though, the story felt good. Excellent characterizations of the TOS gang, fun story, redemption for Boma, everything felt right. Just wish it had gone a little further with the Kalandrans after all the work to call back the original story...
     
  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    While I suppose we could have learned more about the Kalandans, or about the crash, my biggest gripe, the one that knocked it out of "Outstanding" for me, is that it effectively demolishes the backstory for Diane Carey's Battlestations. With Boma escaping a court martial, remaining in Starfleet, and eventually reaching a full reconciliation with Spock and Scotty, even if he does eventually get a doctorate, he no longer has the personal beef that was his biggest motivation for falling in with Rittenhouse in Battlestations.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Rittenhouse was in Dreadnought!, not Battlestations! (exclamation points not mine). And I'm not sure those books are reconcilable with modern Trek canon or Trek Lit continuity anyway.
     
  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    Oops. It's been a while since I last read the "Piper Cycle."
     
  20. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    It seems that the author of this week's Perry Perry Neo issue, Bernd Perplies, is a fan; in chapter seven he has a Dr. Dayton Ward interviewed by an MSNBC-reporter. :)
     

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