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. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Sure. Here's how I see it.

    First: Things couldn't stay as they were. To put it bluntly, happy endings are boring, and Sisko got one: home, with his family, retired. I have no interest in a Sisko that's just off to the side, occasionally dropping in to throw some prophecy our way. Yes, of course there are possibilities in domestic tension or something like that. But, just like Janeway as an admiral made the character difficult to shoehorn into ongoing stories, Sisko as a retiree would do the same. And for my money, if he's around, I want him to be going somewhere.

    Second: His story with the Prophets has no way up, only down. The whole question during DS9 the show was of faith; how much for him to believe in them, how much for him to be rational/following rules/etc. But that's answered. He went to live with them, he joined with them, he saw the universe from their perspective. Them showing up and giving him prophecies and doing the usual story where he doubts them would just be dumb. He has basically BEEN a Prophet; either he agrees or doesn't, at this point.

    Third: The prophecy from DS9 about him knowing only sorrow hadn't been addressed. By my second point, going in a direction of ambiguity on that would've been "been there, done that". Yes, I suppose this particular plot point could've been ignored completely, but that's not the way the Prophets work. We know that, because we followed Sisko as he learned that on the show. But regardless, even if WE don't believe it, there's eight whole years of character arc behind the fact that HE WOULD.

    Finally: If Picard was about Doing What's Right, Sisko was about Doing What's Necessary. Every momentous choice he made was a gray one, practically, and his best moment of the show is In The Pale Moonlight, arguably the most morally gray episode in Trek's history. In a way, it has often seemed as though Sisko had better instincts than even he knew, and those instincts went against what he ostensibly believed, but turned out to be the only right answer. I've often felt as though Sisko as a character was based on a conflict not between reason and faith, but between morality and instinct. The Prophets built up his belief in his own instincts. In many ways, DS9 was the story of how Benjamin Sisko learned to trust his darker impulses, his certain knowledge that something had to be done, even when it wasn't the right thing to do.

    So, here we are then - bad things happening all around, and a growing certainty in Sisko that the worst is to come. Based on advice from entities he completely trusts. Coming after many years of learning sometimes one must sacrifice everything, including what one believes in, for the greater good of others. So he sacrifices again. Of course. Leaves his family behind. Of course. And in the process, loses his happy ending...

    ...and gains a new adversary, in the Tzenkethi. This last bit may be more wishful thinking, but despite not really explicitly tying them together, what I'm hoping is that RBoE sets Sisko up for a fight against these guys. Not a gunfight, but a fight of will and wiles. Because that, my friends, will be INTERESTING. We'll see if I'm right about that, and I'll admit that not knowing where this story is going for sure is the biggest strike against it.

    But if nothing else, it opens him up for new arcs, from a new perspective - a complete faith in entities that have lost faith in him. He's alone, for the first time since Emissary. When you take away the prophetic clout, the strategically essential location of his command, and the support of his family...what's left? Who is HE?

    I think Sisko needs to find out. And I can't wait for the answer.
     
  2. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    That's true, but that's not a big problem when you have a prophecy about "nothing but sorrow" on the horizon. There are myriad ways of introducing conflict and avoiding the "happily ever after."


    I basically agree. The Prophets will likely make a return to Sisko's life at some point, but it makes sense to take a break.

    It still hasn't. The story in RBoE is about Sisko apparently evading the consequences of his decision to spend his life with Kassidy. The prophecy could still be addressed in a more direct manner at some point in the future (and I hope it will be), but this story gives Sisko a way out where I don't think there should really be one.

    I can get on board with this as a description of Sisko to an extent, but with the caveat that Sisko was rarely, if ever, about doing what is necessary blithely or with no conscience. ItPM is an excellent example of this. That's also not the only thing that Sisko is about. Family is another major aspect of his character that distinguishes him from the other Captains. If anything, the strength of his attachment to his family is part of his motivation to do what is necessary: it's flesh and blood, not abstract ideals, that mean the most to him.

    Now, Sisko becoming estranged from his family could potentially be interesting (for the same reason that Picard having a family life is interesting), but it would have to be handled in a plausible manner. For the sake of argument, let's accept that Sisko can't spend his life with Kassidy because, if he does, something horrible will eventually happen to either his wife or daughter (or both). So, he can't spend his life with Kassidy. But what part of that suggests he can't be a part of his daughter's life? No part of it, really. So even if we accept that Sisko must divorce Kassidy to nulllify the great sorrow, we still don't have a motivation for the neglect of his daughter. To the extent that a story is going to portray a father abandoning his family as a selfless and absolutely necessary act, well then it needs to feel absolutely necessary, or the opposite effect is achieved.

    I understand why getting Sisko out on his own would be tempting. Writing interesting stories about family relationships is hard, and Trek has never been very good at it. That said, there had to be a better way of getting Sisko to this place. Maybe Kassidy and Rebecca are killed and that is the great sorrow. That strikes me as a much more direct and satisfying way of both addressing the prophecy and getting Sisko out on his own than anything in RBoE.

    Despite my very strong reservations about how it was handled, I agree that seeing Sisko operate on his own for a while could potentially produce some excellent stories. It could also produce some really generic stories, however: Trek has told a lot of tales about bachelor Captains out on their own doing whatever. So that remains to be seen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  3. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    It's pretty tragic, though--the notion that "happy endings are boring, therefore we must put our heroes through all kind of personal conflict, to make their lives miserable, and therefore interesting".

    Look...I'm all for conflict--but tearing Sisko's personal relationships apart, because to do otherwise would be "boring"--SHEESH, can't we give the guy a break?

    (As if the Julian-Ezri arc culimnating with Trill: Unjoined wasn't bad enough! Sure, the DS9-R writers HAD to make them bicker and fight over her "growth", because to make them WORK as a couple would be "boring"--never mind Kira/Odo wasn't viewed that way!)

    Give it enough time...and all the people we know and love in Trek will die lonely and broken. *sigh*


    NOW...that being said, flemm was on to something, just now, suggesting that killing off Kassidy and/or Rebecca would have been preferable. As it stands...Sisko and Kassidy are living through torment right now, in a fate arguably worse than death. Killing off Kassidy seems almost merciful by comparison.
     
  4. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^ I kind of enjoy how much of a hopeless romantic you are, but speaking as someone who's seen two uncles, three aunts, and two good friends remarry after failed marriages and be even happier, divorce is emphatically NOT a "fate worse than death".

    And besides, there are more stable, long-term main character relationships now than there ever were on TV. (Picard/Crusher, Riker/Troi, Tuvok/T'Pel, B'Elanna/Tom, of course the O'Briens are still together, and a few others in the potential stage.)
     
  5. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    If Kasidy and Rebecca died, not only would that violate prior prophecy about the infant Avatar, it would also take away the most interesting thing about this development - that Sisko CHOSE it. (Which, I suppose, is the worst part for you, so your objection makes sense, but for me it'd be a lot less worthwhile.)

    And he DID chose it because of flesh and blood, not abstract ideals; he chose it because he wanted to protect them from a future of misery that he absolutely believed was inevitable if he were with them. He struggled over it for YEARS, he tried to ask the Prophets for guidance, and none was forthcoming; he had nothing left except his own instincts. And he had to go with his gut, which he'd spent the whole series learning to trust. It's the only thing he could do.

    In your mind, what would he have done differently? Just stayed, damn the warning he knew was true, damn his gut instincts, and just hope that his wife and daughter wouldn't die horribly when he knew he could've avoided it?

    At least we agree that Sisko out on his own could be interesting. Sure, any story has the chance to be done poorly, but I like the possibilities of this much more than the possibilities with him on Bajor.
     
  6. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^To be clear, the death of Kassidy and Rebecca would not be preferable, from my point of view, because it would be preferable for them (LoL, Rush, I think that is a bit of a stretch :techman:), but because it would be a lot less convoluted and a lot more satisfying than the choices made in RBoE.

    It's true that the whole question of the infant Avatar is an issue where Rebecca is concerned, but that was more an example than a story idea.

    As for Sisko's choice, it has to be plausible. Remember, this is the exact same choice that he and Kassidy made together years before. With one exception, none of the calamities he is blaming on his original choice have any connection to that choice. The fixation that "nothing but sorrow" must mean the death of either Kassidy or Rebecca seems unjustified (given that apparently no causal connection is necessary, it would make as much sense to imagine that something horrible must inevitably happen to Jake, or that earth gets blown up). There is no reason to believe that his original choice can be nullified in any event (which strikes me as the crucial point), and there is nothing in the prophecy about not being a part of his daughter's life (so why does he abandon his daughter in addition to making the necessary arrangements to no longer be a part of Kassidy's life?).

    And yes, absolutely, when confronted with prophecies about the future, standing your ground makes the most sense. It made the most sense to Sisko and Kassidy at the time, because at the time they were wise enough to realize that making drastic decisions based on portents that one doesn't fully understand is a form of cowardice and often the absolute best way of making those portents come true in the worst way imaginable. (Granted, that may be what is happening here, pending future stories.)

    Instead of trying to find a loophole in the prophecy, why not just address the prophecy and have Sisko experience the great sorrow foretold for him? To a great extent of course, there are still a lot of different ways this could all end up (and of course that is part of what makes it worth discussing).
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  7. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^ I definitely see where you're coming from. I'm enjoying this conversation because there really are a lot of layers to this, and your objection makes sense to me.

    But still and all, I actually think the ambiguity you speak of is exactly what makes this such an interesting characterization choice. It wouldn't be the first time that Sisko has denied something, only to later realize more and more in his gut that it's true. (Really, how many times did that happen with the Prophets on the TV show?) I just believe that, confronted with these circumstances, this is exactly what Sisko would do. I don't think the author is excusing him or "giving him an out"; I think he's just writing what he believes Sisko would believe, and I agree. It makes a deep sort of emotional sense to me, regardless of rationality, and that's always where I think Sisko's most difficult decisions have resided, plot-wise. You can call it cowardice if you like, but I think it's oversimplifying. I got to the moment in the book where he explains himself to Kira, and just went "oh, of course."

    I too look forward to seeing what the long-term effects of this will be, and if his understanding of the prophecy develops further; I don't think that's a flaw in this narrative, but a source of potential for later ones.
     
  8. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I've enjoyed reading your thoughts as well, and I actually think I understand the choices made in RBoE better now than before despite my reservations about the storyline as a whole.

    To be clear, I'm not suggesting that I think Sisko is incapable of cowardice or that I would be against reading a story about that. I mean, that is an understandable human response and potentially makes for a good story like any other. But, reading RBoE, I often felt I was reading a story about a character making a cowardly choice that was being spun as a courageous choice (or that the character was convincing himself was courageous). So I found that frustrating to read.

    In any event, I sympathize with your thoughts earlier in the thread about wanting more and wanting it asap :techman:
     
  9. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^ :lol: No kidding!

    And it's nice to have a book that takes chances, and has things in it worth discussing; everything this year has seemed really safe, and bland, to me. Nice to sink my teeth into some deeper analysis again, and read some thought-provoking comments from others.
     
  10. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Yes, that is a fair point.
     
  11. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I know you disagree with my creative choices, and that's fine. But what actually boggles my mind is that you characterize Sisko as a neglectful parent, and that Sisko's motives don't stand up to much scrutiny.

    First, assume what is presented in Rough Beasts of Empire: Sisko genuinely believes what the Prophets told him, that him spending his life with Kasidy would bring him nothing but sorrow, and further, that based on his experiences, that sorrow will ultimately bring something terrible upon Kasidy and Rebecca. Try not to think about whether Sisko is correct in his assessment, because really, that's irrelevant. He believes what he believes, both because of all of his experiences with the Prophets, because of their apparent abandonment of him, and because of the terrible losses he suffered in a relatively short period of time. The point is that Sisko believes that remaining with Kasidy will result in tragedy for Kasidy and Rebecca, and he believes that if he doesn't spend his life with Kasidy--which he can do by leaving her--that such tragedy can be avoided. (Again, the contrapositive of "If he spends his life with her, he will know nothing but sorrow" is "He will not know nothing but sorrow if he doesn't spend his life with her," which is logically true.) Put it a different way: if Sisko knew that staying with Kasidy would result in the death of his daughter, wouldn't it be neglectful for him to stay?

    Second, Sisko's motives are made plain in Rough Beasts. He doesn't want to leave Kasidy; he believes that he must do so in order to save her and their daughter. He's not interested in avoiding his own sorrow, but in avoiding tragedy for Kasidy and Rebecca.

    I know you don't like it. I know you wish the story had gone a different way. All of that is fine. But in terms of what is actually contained in the novel, your pronouncements don't stand up to scrutiny. Your assumptions and conclusions do not accurately reflect Sisko's mind-set.
     
  12. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    FINALLY tracked it down and read it. ^__^ Voted 'Above Average.' Liked both plots, despite the whole Sisko breaking up with Kasidy thing. Seemed to make sense from Sisko's POV, which is what matters.
     
  13. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    :wtf:...In a good way or a bad way?

    Emphasis on "FAILED marriages". Sisko and Kassidy clearly still love each other deeply. THAT is what makes it an arguably worse scenario, emotionally, than killing her off. I'm glad your family recovered from failed marriages...but frankly, that's apples and oranges.

    And...don't assume I know nothing about family instability. Among other things, I happen to be the product of my father's second marriage. His unfortunate previous experience has made him very hard-set on martial faithfulness. (His first wife was a big flirt, leading to her divorcing him, taking his kids away from him.)

    I guess you could say he passed that on to me. The point is, conflict within families, as it happens,is NOT pretty, as a rule.

    Picard/Crusher and Tuvok/T'Pel weren't exactly on-screen long-term relationships. And the O'Briens are filled with conflict throughout the show--which I'd found disgusting, of course.

    But for the moment, I'm focusing on TrekLit. There was no excuse whatsoever for introducing all the "conflict" between Ezri and Julian. (Is it really that believable that the two had, in a year of a relationship, had never discussed Jadzia, or addressed that they'd come together relatively quickly?)

    Which was actually my point. I didn't want to imply that Kassidy's death would be a good thing--and if I did, I strongly apologize. My point is that it would not have resulted in Kassidy and Sisko going through life, knowing that they love each other no less than when they'd begun, and yet can't be a family anymore.

    Frankly, I'd suggest that another poster was on to something, bringing up the idea of a "self-fulfilling" prophecy. One could easily make the case that Sisko, through this separation and divorce, is bringing the sorrow upon himself.
     
  14. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Ok, for the sake of discussion, let's assume all of that. Now let's look at that reasoning again and realize: there is nothing there that suggests that Sisko cannot continue to be a part of Rebecca's life. Rebecca and Kasidy are not the same person. Divorcing Kasidy does not in any way imply that Sisko cannot or should not make arrangements to continue to be a good father to Rebecca.

    At bare minimum, Sisko should have done what any good parent would do if a divorce or separation is necessary: make sure that the emotional trauma to the child is minimized and that the child continues to have both parents in her life. Being a neglectful parent has little to do with Sisko's relationship with Kasidy, and everything to do with his relationship with Rebecca.

    There is some evidence in RBoE that Sisko's state of depression and paranoia is so extreme at one point that he feels he must cut all of his ties with everyone. But then there is this odd scene at the end, where Sisko seems to emerge from his stupor upon filing for divorce. He thinks to himself that Rogeiro would be justified in slugging him in the jaw. That is undoubtedly true, not because Sisko has been rude and aloof toward his command crew (as the scene suggests), but because he has not been in touch with his young daughter and apparently has no plans to stay in touch with her.

    We've gotten away from the spoiler tags a bit during this discussion, sorry, we should get back to using them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  15. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I don't have time to read through the entire thread and I haven't finished the book yet anyway, but I wanted to express my thoughts based on what I have read.

    Firstly, am I the only one to think that the description of the Tzenkethi is close to that of the Vorlons without their enviro-suits? And how does that fit with the depiction of the Tzenkethi from Articles of the Federation?

    Secondly, as to Sisko's behavior, from what I've read so far, it seems that the Prophets' words are coming true. He is of Bajor but will find no rest there.

    On a third point, though I have been spoiled for the Romulan storyline at least in part, it will be interesting to see where that leads once I have finished reading the story.

    Finally, I'd just like to add that although the story feels a little disjointed, I'm enjoying it.
     
  16. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^

    Yes, I do get that impression. I myself haven't read Articles, but Memory Beta suggests the physical description of a Tzenkethi was first alluded to in Rough Beasts. Tzenkethi society seems like just your typical repressive regime hostile towards neighboring powers type bad guys. From Chapter 18, one could look at them as not meaning anyone any harm and that the Federation is evil.

    As for the use of DS9 characters, this novel just like ZSG has me proverbially tearing my hair asking when the heck did this happen? Of course, the last ZSG did say, "The saga of Deep Space Nine will continue." That might mean future DS9 novels in the format of Full Circle (a follow up on the Spirit Walk duology tied in with events happening concurrently with the Destiny trilogy) to clear up the following unanswered questions:

    1. What was motivation behind the kidnapping of Rebecca Sisko?
    2. How did the situation with the Ascendants ultimately play out?
    3. What is the future of the Dominion after the events of "Olympus Descending."
    4. Why has Julian Bashir not made friends among new colleagues on DS9?
    5. How did Sarina Douglas go from scientist's apprentice to agent of Starfleet Intelligence agent later caught up in the machinations of Section 31?
     
  17. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Honestly, I have no idea who the Vorlons are. Never heard of them.

    The Tzenkethi are not physically depicted in Articles of the Federation, though at least one physical characteristic is noted. I of course strived to be consistent with anything that had ever been mentioned about the species. If I recall correctly, most of the literary information about them came from Iron and Sacrifice, Day of the Vipers, and Articles.
     
  18. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Uh huh. You never watched Babylon 5?
     
  19. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Yeah, that bolded text at the end of ZSG and some of DRGIII's comments in this thread do suggest that plans are in the works for some kind of relaunch of the relaunch, perhaps in 2012. That is certainly good news.
     
  20. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Is that so unbelievable? I've never watched it either.
     

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