Spoilers TP: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack Review Thread

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

?

Rate Brinkmanship.

  1. Outstanding

    25 vote(s)
    26.3%
  2. Above Average

    47 vote(s)
    49.5%
  3. Average

    17 vote(s)
    17.9%
  4. Below Average

    4 vote(s)
    4.2%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    2.1%
  1. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan Living the Irish dream. Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Location:
    The Republic of Ireland
    Just ordered it and hopefully it'll come in the post somewhen mid week next week.
     
  2. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    I didn't know this was coming out - will pick up.
     
  3. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I just reordered mine too. 4 days 3 hours until it's available, according the the countdown ;)
     
  4. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I'm quite looking forward to it. Ever since I read Scorched Earth so many years ago I loved your take on Cardassians. Here's to seeing what the new Cardassia will do in the era of the Typhon Pact!
     
  5. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Location:
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    I have to say that from what I've read recently of the Cardassians and their relationships in the post destiny trekverse I'm both very impressed and really, really looking forward to this book.
     
  6. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Location:
    The Final Frontier, TX
    Hopefully, this will start appearing in stores soon. (Hey, it's possible. I found both The Eternal Tide and Forgotten History two days before they were released).
     
  7. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    I'm definitely looking forward to getting this novel in the next few weeks.:techman:
     
  8. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I've just read Brinkmanship.

    Quick impression? It's very strong, well-plotted and well-written, and morally ambiguous in a compelling way. (I'd argue that this book does for the Tzenkethi what The Romulan Way did for the Romulans. Interesting parallels between the two books.)

    More later.
     
  9. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Location:
    The Final Frontier, TX
    Wow, that was fast!
    I can't wait to read your review. The Tzekethi version of The Romulan Way, huh?
     
  10. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    To a certain extent.

    Duane's The Romulan Way and McCormack's Brinkmanship both feature anthropologically-trained spies, surgically altered by the polities they serve to resemble the local species closely, and sent to work in low-level positions so as to get a participant's-eye perspective. Terise and McCormack's Neta each fall in love with the isolationist culture they're sent to and, when given the choice, each eventually choose to stay. Moreover, both these narratives of a foreigner's coming to feel at home in a foreign culture are embedded in a wider astropolitical context, with the Federation-Romulan disputes of the Rihannsu-verse and the Typhon Pact, respectively.

    The critical area where they differ is in what I can only call Brinkmanship's harder situation. Much of the difference likely comes from the differing origins of the characters. Terise Haleakala-LoBrutto came from a 23rd-century Federation that was a stable and progressive culture, while Neta Efhany was an agent of a Cardassia only recently converted to democratic pluralism and still recovering from the Dominion War. More of the difference has to do with the nature of the cultures they were sent to: the Romulans, whether in Duane's original version of the Rihannsu, Trek literature's current consensus, or the sparser detail provided by TV and film, are a much more pluralistic and less xenophobic culture that the Tzenkethi. A case can be made that Romulan culture, while still laced with all kinds of terrible things, is compatible with Federation culture in that both cultures share many of the same norms. The terrible xenophobic claustrophobic terror of the Tzenkethi, coupled with the police state that is intrusive to the level of reproduction and cares not one whit for person freedom, isn't nearly as sympathetic.

    The way Terise and Nefa reconcile themselves to their new homes is noteworthy. Terise opts of her own free will to remain attached to Rihannsu culture while retaining in secret her own identity, becoming an actor in Rihannsu civilization and even making allies with another deep-cover agent. Nefa opts to assimilate fully into Tzenkethi society without keeping her identity, welcoming her dispatch to a reconditioning facility that will strip away her identity and leave her perfectly happy with her place in a Tzenkethi society that has no room for individuality. More gruesomely, Nefa's discovered fellow agent isn't nearly as helpful as Terise; Andy instead blackmails Nefa and her friend, and in the end probably would have killed her had Nefa not won and bashed the Federation agent's head in with a rock on a cold hillside.

    The thing is, despite the deeply unattractive picture of Tzenkethi civilization painted in Brinkmanship, I can still see why the Tzenkethi would like it. It's stable, it's peaceful, and it's protective of its compliant members.

     
  11. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    McCormack also creates an all-new alien civilization that I found pretty compelling.

    The Venette Convention is a remarkable achievement: a successful Federation-like civilization in miniature that has become profoundly disenchanted with the Federation for plausible reasons. A multi-species pact concentrated in three planetary systems with habitable worlds and perhaps two dozen outpost systems (an Outpost V-19 features, at least), the Venetan civilization is quite stable, its long-lived species happily living in peaceful garden cities with very little concept of dishonesty or social hierarchy in a libertarian polity with a very strong civil society.

    The big problem for the Venetans is that they're completely unable to deal with a cutthroat astropolitical setting. The shocking idea that the Federation and the Cardassians actually practiced espionage on the Tzenkethi homeworld led to the Venetan withdrawal from talks and even the physical collapse of the lead negotiator. At one point on the verge of Federation membership, the distraction of the latter by the Dominion War and multiple Borg encounters led the Venetans to conclude that the Federation was not a true friend and was acting in bad faith, the sustained Tzenkethi cultivation of the Venetans instead convincing the Convention that the Tzenkethi were actual friends. The Venetan belief that truth-telling was normative left them completely unable to deal with the Khitomer Accords powers' disbelief, open or otherwise.

    The Venetans' completely open, non-hierarchical, democratic civilization is appealing in some ways, but their insularity left them completely unprepared to deal with a situation that could have easily escalated to an inter-bloc war fought in their home systems. It's actually kind of remarkable that they survived to the present: an ancient civilization that had been debating Federation affliation for two centuries, noted for its undermilitarization, the Convention bordered upon Cardassia, the Ferengi Alliance and the Tzenkethi Coalition.

     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  12. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    The EIB Network
    Yep. Certainly, show us her inner thoughts and feelings, instead of limiting her characterization to dialogue.

    Not exactly. There was the notorious incident when Ezri snapped at Julian in This Grey Spirit, basically accusing him of not accepting her growth or something. (The book also had her lashing out at Shar, too....)

    There was her frankly sorry lines of reasoning for wanting to end the relationship with Bashir (not just "You were in love with Jadzia"--he wasn't--but "we came together not knowing whether we'd live past the first day, and that doesn't bode well for a stable relationship".).

    And then there was the clash in ZSG. Look, I'm possibly the biggest Ezri fan on the whole BBS--and I wouldn't shrug off those frankly childish moments as "just really being that smart and using what she's got".

    No, she wasn't resisting--by any stretch of the imagination. In her own words, she was trying to set herself apart from her previous hosts--that is, not let their past experiences force her onto any set path of career or personality.

    A shame, to be blunt, that the Relaunch writers seemed to want to jettison that, instead of explore the implications and results of that choice.
     
  13. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    The EIB Network
    Absolutely! :techman:
     
  14. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    Should be available this weekend for ordering over at bol.com, so next weekend should find me reading this!!
     
  15. Una McCormack

    Una McCormack Writer Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    Thank you rfmcdpei for such thoughtful responses to Brinkmanship. Always nail-biting waiting for the first review. Much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  16. Sxottlan

    Sxottlan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Location:
    Stealing Lu Bu's Horse
    Agreed. I hated her in Zero Sum Game. Not keeping her first officer in the loop regarding the Klingon ships and then dismissing his concerns in front of the bridge crew. And her sarcastic reply to an officer's report during a crisis situation came off as unprofessional and uncalled for.

    It's not just you. :)
     
  17. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    The point you make about the events in ZSG, very good point! How can a good commanding officer keep things like this from his/her XO? I mean, I understand that some things are to be kept on a need to know basis, but how was that need to know??
     
  18. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    It's a very good book.

    I've one small Sam Bowers-related question that I'd like to ask of you.

    Bowers comments that Alden is a fox. I don't know many straight men who'd say that about another man. Coupled with Dax's speculation at a self-acknowledged personal low point that Bowers was upset when he was "snubbed" by Alden, I have to wonder: were you writing Bowers as gay?

     
  19. Sxottlan

    Sxottlan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Location:
    Stealing Lu Bu's Horse
    Exactly. I'm sure the idea was to keep it a surprise for the reader, but I'm not sure why it had to be kept from Bowers as well.
     
  20. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Three days until it downloads to my kindle:)