Spoilers TP: Zero Sum Game by David Mack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by JD, Oct 21, 2010.

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How would you rate Zero Sum Game?

  1. Outstanding

    41 vote(s)
    22.8%
  2. Above Average

    83 vote(s)
    46.1%
  3. Average

    46 vote(s)
    25.6%
  4. Below Average

    8 vote(s)
    4.4%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    1.1%
  1. ares93

    ares93 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread


    Here you go, mate. Cant leave you smiley-less, can i? :D:
    [​IMG]

    and:
    [​IMG]

    Bonus facepalm:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Why the heck haven't we seen Tommy Lee Jones in a Trek film? Just imagine him as an admiral....
     
  3. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^ See: Star Trek Vanguard. (Mack and Wardilmore imagined him as Reyes.) Imagining him as Tommy Lee Jones totally made me get the character.
     
  4. Smiley

    Smiley Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Zero Sum Game is a rousing spy thriller set in the Star Trek universe. I was completely invested in the mission, and I found it to be just as much of a page-turner as the magnificent A Time to Kill. I always liked Sarina on the TV show, and I was happy with her portrayal and romance with Bashir in this novel. The ending was somewhat aggravating at first, but for now, I can choose to believe that love will triumph over a shady black ops group.
     
  5. LutherSloan

    LutherSloan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Really enjoyed the book until the ending, which was a total WTF moment. Kind of ruined a lot of it for me. I really hope that plotline actually goes somewhere (unlike a lot of other DS9 relaunch plots), so it ends up meaning something.

    Probably an 8 out of 10 in my view.
     
  6. Valin

    Valin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I enjoyed this black ops Trek novel. The ending was a nice twist; even though it was a surprise, I didn't find it a WTF moment. It is the right ending to the story in my opinion.
     
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^ As long as we don't have to wait almost five years for a follow-up on that ending as was the case with Full Circle following up on the ominous ending to Enemy of My Enemy.
     
  8. Trek

    Trek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Finished this this morning and really enjoyed it. Also loved the bit at the end. Really didn't see it coming, but it made perfect sense. :)
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Good job, Dave. I liked the insights into Breen culture. And it was daring to tell a story in which, in many ways, the "villains" sometimes came off as more sympathetic than the "heroes." I really felt sorry for Thot Keer toward the end there.
     
  10. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^ Thanks, Christopher. Glad you enjoyed it!
     
  11. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Just finished and I'm having mixed feelings. It was an interesting look at the Breen although there wasn't a lot about them. We hardly knew anything to begin with but we know more about their culture now, at least in broad strokes. Not so much about the individuals. Thot Keer was quite sympathetic but somewhat bland. Of course, we didin't really see him doing anything that wasn't work related.

    Then Nar was sort of meh, suffering from being a living plot device. Bashier and Sarina need to meet up with someone to help them and the Breen assigned to investigate not only is a dissedent but also has the skills they need. After serving as foreshadowing, Nar's story is done. I would have liked to see more of the story told from the Breen's perspective. Their culture is so different from what we are used to it would have been interesting to see the story from their perspective.

    The real problem I have, and it's a big one, is Bashier. We are told that he's sicked by the violence. Even after he and Sarina split up, he's almost physically ill at what he's doing and yet he dontinues on without hesitation. "Oh, I feel bad about killing thse unarmed civilians. <BANG!>". And then we have the cherry on the top of this dark side sunade, the killing of an unarmed, unconcious Breen on page 273 "Sure that the other side of the passageway was clear, Bashier left the Ops Centre and, as a precaution, fired a head shot into the third commando as he passed his body."

    He's already put three shots into the guy, he's heard him hit the ground and yet he still feels the need to commit the coupe de grace? I half expected him to yell out "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker."

    Overall, an interesting though brief look at the Breen with some serious character issues. 6/10
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^I saw it as a manifestation of Bashir's perfectionism. It's part of his self-identity that he does everything he undertakes to the best of his ability, and that often results in getting carried away with things. Once he psyched himself out into a place where he'd convinced himself that taking lives was necessary for the greater good, once he put himself into the proper mindset, he maybe embraced it a little too fully.

    Being blindly in love with Sarina was probably a factor too. He wanted to be able to believe that her mentality about killing was something he could accept and live with in a loved one, and so that let him condition himself to find it acceptable. Sometimes people in love will go to ridiculous lengths to rationalize things. (Or just lust. Back in college there was this sexy girl I knew, and once we were talking and she expressed belief in a blatantly racist stereotype, and rather than protesting, I just stayed silent because I didn't want the sexy girl to be upset with me. I'm still mad at myself for that hypocrisy.) So he was trying to remake himself into a person who was compatible with her worldview so they could be together. Which ties into the final scene of the novel -- the discussion of how Bashir's romanticism is the key to compromising him.
     
  13. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    During the course of DS9, Bashir was unerringly presented as being fully opposed to S31 due to its 'necessary evil' methods.

    At the end of ZSG, Bashir kills unarmed persons.
    What makes this worse is the fact that these murders were not even 'necessary evil', but 'gratuitous evil' - in ZSG it's expressly established that the stun setting works against breen, that Bashir/Sarina knew stun works against breen and that Bashir had the clear and easy option to stun his victims rather than murder them.
    Bashir killed for the lulz.

    In other words, Bashir sunk even lower than S31 - due to his actions, completely out of character.
     
  14. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Bashier has show himself to have very high moral standards many times in the past. His sense of morality is the quality of his that's most like McCoy. Probably comes from being a doctor, being able to empathize and not being afraid to take action based on it. To have him slaughter a room full of unarmed technicians and fire a shot :just to be sure" into a Breen lying on the ground, unconscious, unarmed and helpless in the hopes that it'll help him get laid is totally out of character. He's killed before. He hasn't liked it but he's capable of doing it when necessary. His weapon had a stun setting. It wasn't necessary in this case. What he did was murder.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^True, it is out of character. But sometimes people do act out of character. Sometimes they do things that are against their usual nature. And two of the most powerful inducements for that are love and war -- both of which were in play here.

    That's really the ultimate point of the story, as I read it. Not sure I need to spoiler-code the ending here, but just in case:
    The ending revealed that Sarina's mission for Section 31 was, essentially, to make Bashir love her so that she could corrupt him, draw him away from his moral high ground. S31 wanted him working for them, something that his normal character would never allow him to do. So getting him to act out of character was precisely their goal, and Sarina's seduction was their means to that end. And it worked. Bashir has been compromised.

    So Bashir being out of character isn't an error in the storytelling, it's an intentional plot point, a crisis that the character has been placed in. The question is, now that his character has begun to erode under Sarina's influence, will he continue to be drawn down a darker path or will he be able to break free of her spell and redeem himself?

    At least, that's how it seems to me.
     
  16. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Ah, yes, a person being someone they're not for the opposite sex. Where have we seen that before. ;) :rommie:

    I think Mack did a good job of being purposely vague on the degree to which Sarina is willingly involved in 31's to "assimilate" Bashir. ("What is it your Borg friends say? 'Resistance is futile'?") For all we know, the lovey-dovey stuff was just for show (like Seska with Chakotay), but I prefer to think she did love him back but didn't know how to express it in "Chrysalis" (before being influenced by Section 31) and that she hasn't achieved Terrell Owens's mastery for fake tears.
     
  17. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Being someone they're not? Killing civilians? Killing unarmed and unconscious people? That's quite a rebound from losing Ezri. And with SI and Section 31 covering his ass he'll get away with it too.

    Lie for love? Sure. Cheat for love? It happens. Steal for love? Crossing the line. Kill for love? Turn around, the line is WAY back there.

    I think it's pretty clear that the feelings go one way, based on Sarina's conversation at the end. No matter what Bashier does now, he's screwed.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    That's an odd interpretation of the cause and effect, seeing as how he broke up with Ezri nearly six years earlier.

    Strictly speaking, there's nothing to get away with. They may have been civilians, but they were working on a weapon intended to threaten the Federation, and that, by military logic, made them legitimate targets. And as Sarina explained, leaving enemies unconscious and alive creates the risk that they could alert others when they awaken and thus jeopardize the mission. You and I may find it morally reprehensible, and surely Bashir does too, but from a military/intelligence perspective, his actions were justified as necessary for self-defense and the security of the Federation.
     
  19. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    "The question is, now that his character has begun to erode under Sarina's influence, will he continue to be drawn down a darker path[...]"

    Bashir killed unarmed civilians - gratuitously.
    His character - eroding?
    Too late for that - Bashir already reached the bottom. He already reached the level of killers, the ones that murder 'just because', the worst trash humanity ever produced.
    There's no way down anymore.


    About character development - Bashir went brusquely from a moral person to a cold-blooded killer, and this with little or no development whatsoever.
    The reasons given are insufficient by a large margin:

    'War'? - Bashir stunning, not killing his victims would not have impeded his mission in the least. By the time the stunned breen would recover - hours - they could do nothing whatsoever to jeopardise his mission.

    'Love'? Sarina made clear to Bashir that she only kills when necessary. And her actions match her words - I'm talking to how she, unlike Bashir, stunned, rather than killed, the two armed breen soldiers who guarded her while she was being brutally tortured.
    If this is the S31 doctrine, then Bashir sunk far below S31.

    Also - Bashir's deep love for Sarina just appeared, after the DS9 relaunch focused to some extent on Bashir's romantic life/thoughts - none of which were troubled by anything resembling a lost deep love.

    Anyway you look at it, Bashir's character development was poorly done. It's as if he received an arbitrary personality transplant.
     
  20. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    "We are gray people in a world that is mostly black and white." William Daniels in the role of CIA Commissioner Andrew Schmidt on an episode of "The Closer".

    To each, his own I guess. Time to get back to seeing if I can get back reading the story of how Riker and the Titan crew secured a terraforming device the Gorn already had dibs on without being lulled to sleep and hoping on some of the loose ends in ZSG are tied up in Rough Beasts of Empire. :techman: