TP: Rough Beasts of Empire by DRGIII Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Dec 22, 2010.

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Rate Rough Beasts Of Empire

  1. Outstanding

    38 vote(s)
    26.2%
  2. Above Average

    60 vote(s)
    41.4%
  3. Average

    25 vote(s)
    17.2%
  4. Below Average

    13 vote(s)
    9.0%
  5. Poor

    9 vote(s)
    6.2%
  1. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    But how would Section 31 know?

    It's difficult enough for Western intelligence to penetrate North Korea, and North Korea is a human culture on Earth only diverged from another Korean culture within the lifetime of people now alive. How is Section 31 supposed to penetrate deep behind the facades of at least one highly xenophobic culture and determine the successful execution of a very subtle assassination/political engineering plot ordered by the Tzenketh Autarch?

    It's possible, sure. It's also far from inevitable that Section 31 gets confirmatory proof.

    Further, the reaction of the Romulans, if Section 31 got that proof and if this proof was communicated to the Romulans, is unpredictable. Hollow Men suggests that at least some Romulans recognized Sisko's role in the plot to maneuver the RSE into the Dominion War and didn't mind, thinking that he proved the Federation could do what needed to be done and not minding the hit against Vreenak. Who is to say that not a few Romulans, while being unhappy, might appreciate the role that the Tzenkethi played in getting rid of the violent ones?

    Or the greater the number of shadows you're fencing off.

    Agreed, here. Rebuilding the Tal Shi'ar is going to be an issue.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I profoundly doubt that Section 31 is anywhere near as powerful or widespread as it likes to think it is. Contrary to the absurd fantasies of fiction, the bigger a conspiracy is, the more inevitable its exposure becomes, because there are more opportunities for things to go wrong, more lines of communication to be intercepted, more people who could have second thoughts or be co-opted, etc. The idea of a vast, all-powerful, pervasive conspiracy that nobody knows about is a contradiction in terms. The only way Section 31 could've lasted as long as it has and stayed as well-hidden as it has is by being small and limiting its activities.

    So the tendency of some fans to assume that S31 has its talons in every single intelligence operation or ethically questionable action in Federation history is one that should be resisted. The problem with conspiracy theories is that they're based on the lack of evidence for a conspiracy. When you're imagining an unknown menace, your imagination tends to run away and picture it as something huge and supernatural and unbeatable. Usually, if there's any real threat underlying the conspiracy theory at all, then the facts would show it's much less powerful, competent, and expansive and far more vulnerable.
     
  3. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I think fans also forget that Starfleet has it's own normal intelligence agency. Section 31 gets tossed in way too much. Sloan has told us that it operates outside of Starfleet to protect the Federation's best interests. I would surmise that it would only take on operations it deems to be the upmost threat to the Federation. Not just any old run of the mill intelligence op. That's not the impression of Section 31 that I get.
     
  4. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    And it's worth noting that, by the early 24th century, Section 31 has become entirely public, its archives free for Sisko and Nog to peruse. Something gave, fatally.
     
  5. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    25th Century.
     
  6. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Thanks!
     
  7. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    As far as we know. Frankly...I'm not entirely convinced that Secion 31 was somehow 100% rounded up.

    The less competent divisions, certainly (as I said, the less competent ones are the more visible ones). The others...who's to say the more competent branches didn't simply go further underground? Even Jake wasn't sure if they were all gone for good....



    BTW--Chris, Star Trek IS an "absurd fantasy of fiction". Not necessarily a bad thing. ;)
     
  8. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Why? Why couldn't it be wrecked as thoroughly as the Organisation de l'armée secrète?
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^He's just buying into the myth of conspiracies as somehow all-powerful and unstoppable. Conspiracy theories are self-reinforcing because they interpret absence of evidence as proof of the conspiracy's power to conceal itself, so people who buy into such thinking can never be convinced that a conspiracy is absent or defeated. Which I suppose can make them into effective fictional villains, in the same sense as an unkillable horror-franchise monster like Dracula or Freddy Krueger, though of course it has no more grounding in reality.
     
  10. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^"He's just buying into the myth..."?

    Chris...is it really necessary to be so, to be blunt, patronizing?

    Remember, in my full post, I just pointed out that Star Trek is a work of fiction. In fiction, we think outside the box, and allow for possibilities which are arguably absurd and unrealistic, due to the premises we are given.

    IF there were such a conspiracy (or, more appropriately, secret organization), and IF it was able to be stay in power for 200 years (which, BTW, one might call equally unrealistic and mythical)--

    And IF such an organization is de-centralized, as "Extreme Measures" indicates...

    Then is it not rational to allow for the possibility that it was not completely taken down? With respect, Chris, I think you're taking a lot of things for granted.
     
  11. Dancing Doctor

    Dancing Doctor Admiral Admiral

    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Personally, I would have no trouble believing Section 31 allowed all those records to be released, and the public to find out about the organization, let agents and operations get revealed, and then let people think the organization has been abolished.
     
  12. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Sounds about right. Assuming Section 31 was in on the Khitomer Conspiracy, then they just let people like Admiral Cartwright and Valeris take the fall. Or they just let Admiral Pressman and others take the fall for getting caught experimenting with an illegal phasing cloak.

    Perhaps Daniels is a member of a 31st century version of Section 31. At least, that's the theory on YouTube and the premise of a fan fiction series outlined on the Expanded Universe wiki.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Typical paranoid thinking. Oooh, the conspiracy is all-powerful and smarter than everyone and they've fooled us all, oooh! Rubbish. No conspiracy lasts forever. No secret can be kept forever. Maybe a finite group of people can remain committed to a finite secret agenda for a particular length of time, but eventually people will retire or die off and be replaced, circumstances will change, mistakes will be made, and either the original agenda will be exposed or the people who cared about preserving it will be replaced by people with different goals -- or simply with less competence at keeping secrets.

    Heck, usually whenever there's a change of leadership in a government or organization, the first thing the new folks do is try to make a fresh start, to clean house, perhaps even to make a name for themselves by openly cleaning out the corruption and mistakes of the old regime. It's naive to treat a conspiracy as some kind of self-sustaining perpetual-motion machine that can remain unaltered in its agenda and power even when all the people who were originally behind it have retired or died. The only reason most imagined conspiracies like the Kennedy assassination never get uncovered is because they never existed in the first place. Real conspiracies like Watergate and Iran-Contra tend to come out within a few years. Because it's really not that easy to keep a secret in a democratic government with a free press. If anyone is doing something sneaky and unethical and illegal, it's a cinch that their political opposition would gladly expose it and get them thrown out of office, and that the press would gladly investigate it because it's an irresistibly hot story. The only thing that would get all those people to play along with keeping the secret is national security. And even then, there would eventually have to come a time when the security needs had passed. It's only in locked-down dictatorships that detrimental secrets can be kept from the people for a long time.

    So if anything, it's implausible that Section 31 even still exists at all in the 24th century. Any remotely realistic portrayal would've had them exposed about a hundred times more quickly. The only way I can buy S31 continuing to exist is if they've been mostly inactive over Federation history. I always figured they stay pretty much dormant in peacetime and only become active in times of major crisis like the Dominion War. But the past few years have been so fraught with one crisis after another that S31 has become a lot more active, and that just makes it all the more inevitable that they'll be exposed.
     
  14. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Chris...with all respect, is that really necessary, to mock and straw-man like that? Surely we can have a debate on this without making it personal. Sheesh!
     
  15. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Certain of the premises of Star Trek are fantastical, wish-fulfillment of one kind or another: faster-than-light travel, interbreeding with other sophont species, and the like.

    That doesn't mean that all of the premises have to be. This is particularly the case when, the background assumptions of remarkable technological possibilities aside, the characters and societies of the time seem to be organized on principles recognizable in our own. There's no sign of the massive organizational or psychological changes necessary to permit indefinitely enduring and powerful conspiratorial networks.
     
  16. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    The ongoing controversy over the deep state, which has seen many of its members including a goodly share of the secular political and military elites brought to trial for taking part in a general subversion of Turkish democracy (coup-planning, assassinations, etc) comes to mind. And even in Turkey, the idea of the deep state long predated the AKP's election: in the mid-1990s, for instance, there was a famous incident with a car crash.

    Turks knew about their own Section 31 equivalent long before the deep state trials. Surely, if we're assuming that the people of the Federation are anything but stupid, they would have noticed by now that a ruthless secret conspiracy of ancient history was running around manipulating things and disappearing people! Romulans knew of the Tal Shi'ar and Cardassians of the Obsidian Order ...

    The death of Min Zife is going to get S31 in the end. His disappearance is too big a story to hide indefinitely.
     
  17. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Why would Section 31 necessarily be involved with the Khitomer Conspiracy? There's room for other conspiratorial networks out there, and it's not obvious that Federation security would be enhanced by assassinating the leaders of the galactic superpowers with the aim of starting a cold war (one that might well turn hot, if the Romulans' overtures are accepted).
     
  18. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I think their also confusing Section 31 with Mass Effect's Cerberus who lets face are a lot better at the amoral covert splinter cell with no accountibility thing the 31 is.
     
  19. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    His comments are a completely accurate summation of your argument. You have presented no evidence for your thesis that Section 31 would be that powerful, that knowledgeable, that intuitive, and that cunning, to the point of knowing about Tzenkethi operations on Romulus and staying in existence after the public thinks it's been rounded up and imprisoned for its crimes. All you have presented is an emotional "But it's been so secret and so good for so long" argument -- an argument based more upon emotional than logic, and which disregards the fact that a large percentage of the Section 31 operations we know about have been completely incompetent.

    He did not insult you, he insulted your line of thinking. Your line of thinking is absurd, irrational, and deserves to be mocked far more mercilessly than Christopher did.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Yeah, that's the other problem with conspiracy-theory thinking that annoys me so much -- this assumption that just because Section 31 exists, it must be the only organization behind any and every secretive or unethical event that's ever happened in Federation history. It's part of the paranoid mentality that underlies conspiracy fantasies, the need to fit everything into some overarching pattern with a singular root cause. But like I said, any conspiracy that far-reaching and active would not be able to maintain its secrecy effectively. Not to mention that it's just plain Small-Universe Syndrome.