Spoilers TP: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack Review Thread

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

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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. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    I think you should be safe. DS9 and Bajor don't feature in any way. The presence of the Enterprise-E is the possible point of contact, but no spoilers from that end, either.
     
  2. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    'home'? Where did this come from?
    Perhaps you're talking about family, too?

    Home, family, friends, interests, etc - All these things are irrelevant to a mindless slave; they involve abilities that it already forwent.
    That's what the tzenkethi civilization is.
     
  3. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Tzenkethi looks

    Hello,

    I've just begun to read Brinkmanship and so far, I like it a lot. However, I was wondering: Are there any pictures of the Tzenkethi? Their description is vivid, so they are among the easier-to-imagine species but maybe it would be a good idea to put one/some of them on a novel cover.

    Not that I don't like seeing the main characters on the cover but it would be cool, Imho, to see specimens of the important aliens, too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  4. dispatcher812

    dispatcher812 Commander Red Shirt

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    SPOILERS BELOW

    Yes Home, as in where I go after work. Even Efheny went 'home' after her shift. It may not be what we consider home but they have then and from what I was able to get out of it they can and do have relationships. The E class are not all together mindless. Cory was able to make a friend, make her own decsions to follow Efheny. I would not call that minless. EE class, now thats a different story.

    My point was that sometimes, for me, that would be refreshing. Just like Efheny found in the end.
     
  5. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    dispatcher812
    Efheny went in a cubicle after her shift in order to 'recharge', physiologically speaking. If you think that has any resemblance to the concept of 'home'... ookay.

    Cory, unlike Efheny, wanted freedom, to look around her and see what's there. She did not forgo her 'humanity' (insert alien species name+ity), as Efheny did.
     
  6. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Just started an hour ago. Nothing special so far.
     
  7. Astraea

    Astraea Commander Red Shirt

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    I really enjoyed this - both the Venetans and the Tzenkethi were interesting, and I do enjoy the more overly political books. If you don't like the political side of Treklit you're probably not going to enjoy this. This and The Never-Ending Sacrifice are probably my two favorite McCormack books, and I'd look forward to any of her future outings.

    I understand why Elfheny would find the Tzenkethi civilization appealing, as awful as I think it would be to live in that civilization (at least at the E or EE levels that we see.) I think that section of the story worked because it was a Cardassian spy and not a human. I could understand why Elfheny wanted to stay - her own civilization is devastated, and Tzenketh is comparatively resource-rich. As other posters have pointed out, the totalitarian Tzenkethi system is something that Cardassians could only aspire to, so it makes sense that some Cardassians like Elfheny would see it as the fulfillment of an ideal instead of a totalitarian nightmare. Elfheny herself seems happy with her life as an E-grade worker - she has the internal monologue where she thinks about losing herself in the work - and I understood her choice to stay, especially when given the choice between giving herself over to a system she admires versus turning a friend over to that same fate.

    If anything is frustrating, it's the intentional ambiguity of things but that's rather the point. How unbalanced is Alden? Is he going to find the extra meaning he needs in helping Cory? Who planted the bomb? But not getting definitive answers to those things is rather the point of the book; everybody ends up unsatisfied. Even Elfheny's early speculations - are all Tzenkethi unhappy underneath a mask of contentment? - stays unanswered, as the only Tzenkethi we really meet are Cory and the enforcers. Of those, Cory is obviously not entirely satisfied, and Artamer seems prone to question things but not terribly discontent.

    I do have to wonder if Alex and Neta are relatively incompetent spies, given Cory's comments about them and the enforcers' confirmation that Alex was under suspicion the entire time he was there. If they're representative of the typical operatives in Tzenkethi space, I have to wonder how they haven't all been discovered yet. There's even speculation - I believe by Alden - that Alex wasn't in that great a danger of discovery when we know from the enforcers that he was already under suspicion and had been warned about reconditioning once already. (I also have to wonder how you insert spies into such a closed society in the first place.)

    I'd like to see more of the Aventine crew, and hope we get an eventual book or two that actually features different crewmembers and more character development for them. I enjoyed seeing Ezri as captain, but I'd love to see more of the Aventine as a whole.

    I did enjoy the look at the Tzenkethi, and would love to see an illustration. I always like having some sort of visual reference for alien species. I think a comparison to the showcase on the Breen in Zero Sum Game is more apt than to the Cardassians in Never-Ending Sacrifice: this gives us a closer look at a Typhon Pact member through a lens of espionage.

    This is really minor, but I could've lived without the updates at the beginnings of later chapters about the Venetans' preparations for conflict - the warnings about fear, need for water collection, etc. I didn't feel it provided much of an extra insight to the Venetans, and the text did a better job of building suspense and a possible lead-up to conflict than those little pre-chapter summaries.
     
  8. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

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    Just got it the mail, and I'm through the first chapter. Enjoying it so far :techman:
     
  9. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I really liked this one, gave it an outstanding. A fun ride that kept me guessing, great narrative style (Today, XXX was going to make a mistake that would change three lives forever). I kind of figured what would happen to the characters on Ab-Tzenketh but the rest of it had me going till near the end. I thought the book was nicely split between the Enterptise & Aventine, Ezri was shown (at least in my opinion) to being on the cusp of breaking out as one of Starfleets best captains, a little rough around the edges but shehas that advantage of her previous lives. She's one of my favorites, I just wish a better photo could be used, hell I could make one.

    Can't wait to see where this leads to next in the Typhon Pact series.
     
  10. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Indeed. I'm very pleased at how Ezri's characterized in the book. I found myself smiling at a particular moment when, while briefing the senior staff, she throws up her hands and says, "I know, I know, it's crazy! But..."

    Just to name one moment, but--through and through, Ms. McCormack has her down pat. We can believe, though she clearly is worthy of her command...she's still the Ezri Dax we know and love. :techman:

    (Aside from the brief "colorful metaphors"...it's how I'd want to write for Ezri.)

    Also--at last, we see Ezri going through an emotional arc. We know not just what she's thinking, but feeling. She's a flesh-and-blood character, in this book. As great and awesome a writer as Mack is--I felt something of a distance from Ezri when reading Destiny and ZSG. Ms. McCormack doesn't do that--we know Ezri, in this book.

    Oh...and I didn't take Bowers's remark about Alden being a "fox" as meaning he's attracted to him, or anything. It struck me as Sam teasing Ezri on what he sees as her possibly having feelings. I doubt she does, but Sam's probably taking "My friend dated him" to mean "I (but I won't say it's me) dated him."
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  11. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    SPOILERS!



    I finished reading a moment ago and I enjoyed it a lot. What I liked was that not anyone was presented as infallible and perfect. Even the Federation, which usually is "superior" in everything compared to the others, has its darker moments: keeping a former Obsidian Order agent as their ambassador (hehehe), or having not so skilled spy on Ab Tzenketh. I'm also glad to see Ferengi treated seriously and not as a comic relief as they so often are presented.

    I'm not so surprised by Nata's choice, though. A strictly hierarchical Tzenkethi society had to be appealing to a Cardassian with strong hierarchical instincts. In spite of all disadvantages, Nata found the thought of staying there comforting and I can see why. I also found it touching how she cared about Cory.

    I don't read all new Trek books anymore, but Ms. McCormack's books will always be on my "to read" list :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  12. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    Wow, I haven't read this yet, but on Amazon.com, it's getting a downpour of negative reviews. (Not that that's preventing me from reading it soon).
     
  13. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    IMHO "downpour" is overstating things. Right now there are only five reviews: One five stars, one four stars, two three stars and one two stars. That's a fairly even distribution and too early to call out a trend in terms of sample size.

    Add to that the two star review frankly makes my brow go Klingon ("it's an election year, you should only publish escapism, not politics" - what's next, "I hate that I have to get up early in the morning, did the book have to involve time travel?" on the next DTI?).
     
  14. WarsTrek1993

    WarsTrek1993 Captain Captain

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    LOL, very true. I don't agree with people who grip simply because it's too realistic or when the author puts his beliefs in the novel.
     
  15. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Personally, I've only read the Aventine parts of it. However...from what I've read of that, it's actually pretty balanced. I don't see Ms. McCormack as imposing anything (unless it's in the Picard parts, maybe?). She delves into a grey area.

    Ezri's not being a dove by any means--and Alden's not being a caricature of a hawk.

    Ezri has the same suspicions Alden does, and is struggling to find the best solution for the Federation and the Venetians. She wants to prove the Tzenkethi's hostile intent, just as Alden claims she is. She just thinks Alden is putting his own interests over the defense of the Federation. It's not theory, but methods that are the issue.

    Their scene at the end emphasizes that there were no easy answers to what had happened.


    BTW...I sincerely hope that, if Alden ever shows up again--and I hope he may...
    I sincerely hope he doesn't turn out to be Section 31. The last thing we need--another lame excuse of "Oh, he has to be 31, because Starfleet wouldn't dare go so grey!"

    Please. Linking Admiral Dougherty to 31 was bad enough. If they do that to Alden...and by extention, Admiral Akaar--I won't be the only one letting out a loud, prolongued groan....
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  16. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Halfway through now. I have to admit, I'm having some issues with picturing the Venetans.
    I'm not hooked yet like I was with PoN/RtD which I couldn't put down. But that's not to say I'm not liking it. I'm getting this feeling that Una's working towards something, something ugly. Something bad. Things are only going downhill. Very curious to see where it's going to end.

    Oh, and as for Ezri... still not liking the novelverse Ezri that much (give me Season 7 Ezri any day of the week), but she's not as annoying and selfrighteous as she was in previous novels. I'm holding of judgement untill the end of the novel, but I am hoping that Una will make Ezri likeable again for me.

    Small little tidbit... Bowers is usually written as quite a stick-up-his-ass. He seems different in this one, even telling Alden (someone he JUST met) to call him Sam. Ofcourse, it's been over a year and half (in universe) since we last met Sam, so he could have changed, but he seems a lot less standing on ceremony and the chain of command sofar.
     
  17. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

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    Just finished Brinkmanship an hour ago. It's been a while since I last read anything by Una McCormack, having skipped The Never-Ending Sacrifice, but ended up reading this one almost in one go. It was that good. I'm not going to cover everything but here's some random thoughts.

    SPOILERS START FROM HERE

    First, I want to applaud making Beverly Crusher the PoV character for the Federation side of the story. I feel that out of the original TNG characters remaining at the forefront in the novelverse, she's often the one with the fewest "screen time" (or page space, if you will). It made for a very refreshing perspective, that I found somewhat reminiscent of "Suspicions", an episode which I've always enjoyed (and which of course also had its theme of Doctor Diplomacy). These parts really felt very true to character to me, from the scenes where she befriends Ilka (great character btw!) to her obvious outrage at Akaar at the end. It also resonated quite well with my own feelings on how TrekLit has shifted to this darker universe of late, where Our Heroes spend much more time preventing war than they do exploring as they did before. Having both Crusher and Dax voice this same concern felt right to me, like the characters themselves have noticed and want to take action to change things. It makes the ending very bittersweet, as despite all the machinations - nobody wins.

    Second, somethat in response to Mage's post above, I'd like to comment on the Venette. While reading about their city and their physiology, especially the furred Venetans like Hedron, I settled on something like forest lemurs. We have this rather idyllic setting of a capitol city without any hustle and bustle, where even buildings have an organic feel, and where people seemed to lead uncomplicated lives. (Which might contrast with certain lemurs I've seen, who can get quite lively after all). Having this peaceful society become a focal point for interstellar conflict made for a very "paradise lost" kind of story, and I really felt for them, in over their heads as they were. For in truth, the Venette wouldn't have much say in their own future if the Tzenkethi and the Khitomer allies had really gone to war here. All they'd be able to do was try and survive the onslaught. I quite liked this focus on the "lesser powers" caught in between the Pact and Accords powers, forced to pick sides or being fought over without any real choice in the matter. It's something I'd been contemplating earlier, nice to see that I wasn't the only one.

    Lastly, something about the Tzenkethi. I much lamented the limited focus on them in Paths of Disharmony, given I got kind of excited with the tidbits we did get. Brinkmanship made up for that immensely. The Tzenkethi been one of the major unknowns for a while now, and getting this glimpse into their society and their motivations for opposing the Federation was very welcome. I've also begun to see a pattern unfolding in the different powers that make up the Pact here: many have some kind of "comformism" (I hope I'm using the right word here) in their society, as opposed to the Federation's diversity. The Romulans have long had a tightly regulated society, the Breen have their repression of individuality and the Tholians have their xenophobia. I also appreciated seeing into the "cracks" of Tzenkethi society though, for example the discussion of "genetic anomalies" between the two enforcers, Cory's dreaming beyond her station and even Alizome's "how did it come to this?" discussion with Beverly at the end. It makes the Tzenkethi as a whole really come to life.

    So, we come to scoring in the poll. I don't deal out "Outstandings" easily, but I'm going to make an exception here. Thanks to Una McCormack for a great read!
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  18. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    I have to agree that the cover is an awful mess. Even the coloring is poor. We'll have to wait until this makes it to Germany so they can redo the cover properly.
     
  19. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    The Convention is described as a multi-species society. I assumed that the Venetans encountered belonged to the furred species save when, as with negotiator Rusht, they were described as much more humanoid.

    Crusher's anger at having been played by Akaar may come out.

    I quite liked Ezri's depiction. The speech she gave Alden isn't quite a Crowning Moment of Awesome, but ...
     
  20. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Just finished it, and voted above average. I hate that score, since it makes it sound like I only found it slightly above average.
    I found it a great read, highly appreciating (as stated above) the Crusher POV. She is not my favorite character by far, but it was a change of pace which I really appreciated.
    Ezri finally came across as a competant ships captain, with the same problems every captain needs to deal with and wondering sometimes on wether or not she might be doing the right thing. Untill now, Ezri in the novels always came across as someone who knew she was right, and found it odd others disagreed. Such a relieve to read this Ezri Dax.

    The plot itself was very gripping for me, and I'm very glad everything tied together nicely at the end. I truly hope we will see more Venettan in TrekLit, since even though I had some issues picturing them, I do find they are one of the more interesting species/alliances we have encountered sofar.

    Una, thank you for a wonderfull novel, I truly hope we will be seeing more from you in 2013. :)