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. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Everything is pointing to what SI and by extension Section 31 are doing is necessary and right. People here are defending the mission. The biggest complaint seems to be Sarina is pulling one over on Bashier on behalf of Section 31. When Section 31 is played as the good guys, something is wrong.

    How much does Bacco know? Is she just as dirty as her predecessor? What's her first worry? How to "spin" the attack to the media. Let's keep the populace in the dark. What's a little lie amongst friends?
     
  2. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I didn't understand that decision. Why would she lie to the public to conceal the Typhon Pact's attack? If your enemy knows your secret, why keep it from your people?
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I think the presumption that any mission Section 31 undertakes must automatically be immoral is highly irrational. Mind you, I think Section 31 has no right to exist on any level, but that doesn't mean that anything Section 31 does is automatically evil. That's Reductio ad Hitlerum, a logical fallacy. You might as well say, "Hitler was a vegetarian. Anything Hitler did was wrong. Therefore, vegetarianism is wrong!"

    Well, if you actually read the novel, you'll recall that she ordered the infiltration of the Breen base and destruction of their prototype and all of its associated data, and that she thereafter authorized the specific mission, was kept apprised of mission progress, and was basically in charge of the whole thing from beginning to end.

    And, no, there's no evidence that Section 31 was behind anything other than taking advantage of the opportunity this mission provided to plant Douglas in Bashir's life in order to start manipulating him. There is no evidence at all that Section 31 planned, ordered, or otherwise controlled the operation. More than likely, Douglas is just an S.I. operative who also works for Section 31 but keeps that a secret from S.I. (as that seems to be their standard operating procedure for field agents).

    Her predecessor illegally installed weapons on an independent world in violation of treaty, covered up his actions resulting in the deaths of thousands of allied Klingon personnel, ordered an occupation of that world which led to the deaths of thousands of Federation citizens, and attempted to falsify evidence of the cannons' origins.

    Nanietta Bacco, by comparison, is guilty of ordering a retaliatory act of espionage and sabotage against a hostile foreign power that was threatening Federation security, and can, at best, be held responsible for the deaths of a few hundred civilians who were working on a project that directly threatened Federation security.

    No, Nanietta Bacco is not "just as dirty" as Min Zife.

    Is that a bad thing? Not all secrets are attempts to manipulate or control the populace or to subvert democracy, whatever Julian Assange might have you think.

    ETA:

    The most obvious reasons I can think of are:

    1. To avoid the necessity of going to war, as might well become a political necessity if the populace is sufficiently outraged that enemy agents infiltrated and destroyed a shipyard in Mars orbit (which is, let's recall, the equivalent of someone managing to destroy the Norfolk Naval Base -- a huge frickin' deal that could incite public panic).

    2. To avoid word of the stolen data from getting around to third party political actors not currently aligned with the Typhon Pact, but who may act to gain the same data from the Pact if they discovered the slipstream designs were stolen;

    3. To give the Federation plausible deniability in order to launch the retaliatory operation that Zero Sum Game depicts. If the Federation never officially lost any secrets, then there's no indication that the destruction of the Breen shipyard three months later was in response to anything.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  4. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    About the necessity of Bracco's recovery misssion:
    Christopher is being FAR to optimistic in saying that the Typhon Pact merely wants to 'outcompete' the Federation.

    The Typhon Pact is out for blood:
    Bracco likened the situation to the klingon cold war from the previous century - and the klingons were definitely NOT trying to only 'outcompete' the Federation.

    Top starfleet admirals/federation president advisers called the situation a cold war that didn't turn into a hot one only because the Typhon Pact without slipstream is NOT confident that it can defeat a starfleet with slipstream.

    Once the Typhon Pact gained slipstream, though, the enormous losses the Federation suffered when the borg utterly crushed it would make this newly 'second rate' power incapable of winning a war with the Pact - as per SI analysis.
    And the Typhon Pact would need no provocation to start a war it's confident it can win - the Federation escalating things or not wouldn't matter in the least.

    Bracco had ample justification for ordering the mission, for deeming it 'necessary'.


    Unlike Bashir who had no justification/no reason worth this name for his war crimes; who comitted multiple murders gratuitosly.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    An eminently valid point. Even if the Typhon Pact weren't out to engage the Federation in direct military conflict, the very possession of slipstream technology gives them the ability to do so, and President Bacco would be remiss in her duty to protect the Federation if she did not order Starfleet or the Federation Security Agency (apparently the Federation's version of the Central Intelligence Agency) to find a way to get the technology out of their hands.
     
  6. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    In context, the Pact stealing slipstream was a prelude to hot war - justifying Bracco's actions.
    Even out of context, the Pact's actions gave Bracco the right to a proportional response.

    But make no mistake - "if the Typhon Pact weren't out to engage the Federation in direct military conflict"* then Bracco would have NO JUSTIFICATION to order an espionage/sabotage mission.

    A country most definitely does NOT have the right to go about sabotaging other countries' R&D projects just because these projects "give them the ability" "to engage the former in direct military conflict".


    *Of course, as a result, the pact's behaviour would be far less provocative/belicose - the pact would not have sabotaged the federate rebuilding efforts in 'A singular destiny' or blown up a federation shipyard in ZSG, etc, etc.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    A valid counterargument. I agree that the Federation is in a vulnerable spot and needs to be on its guard. But compromising its principles in the name of self-interest is a dangerous path to go down. The Federation gained its strength in the first place by being decent and honorable, by being a nation that others would trust and want to cooperate with, even join. It won't rebuild itself by adopting a siege mentality and turning on anyone it perceives as a threat. It will just isolate itself, and strengthen the Typhon Pact's argument that the Federation is dangerous.


    Oh, of course. I think that's self-evident from how Thot Keer was portrayed. If Dave had been presenting Bashir and Sarina's mission as an unambiguously good and heroic thing, then it follows that the Breen in charge of the slipstream project would've been painted as a monster who needed to be destroyed. But on the contrary, he was perhaps the most sympathetic character in the whole book, a decent man who was trying to do something he believed would help his people, and who looked with horror on the violence committed by the Federation spies. The book was challenging the reader to question the morality of its protagonists' actions, not trying to persuade them into blind endorsement thereof.



    That's what's so insidious about Section 31. They're good at convincing people -- first and foremost themselves -- that what they do is for the good of the Federation, that their noble ends justify their immoral means. So the things S31 does usually are good and moral... in their professed goals. The problem is that their methods are usually corrupt and the positive goals are usually just an excuse for their pursuit of power and control. So Hitler isn't the right analogy here, since he was actively endorsing xenophobia and imperialism, catering to the worst impulses of his followers.


    Exactly. This was an SI mission all the way, but S31 piggybacked its own long-term agenda. That's how they operate -- they don't initiate major actions so much as they infiltrate and co-opt them, subtly bending them to serve their interests. They wouldn't be very good at staying secret otherwise.


    I think it depends on what portion of the Typhon Pact you're talking about. It would be a mistake to assume the Pact is in any way unified in its goals or mentality. Yes, there are factions within it that are out for blood, but there are also factions within it that are more interested in a fair competition. After all, the Federation is not the center of the universe. It's not the only priority these nations have. They have their own domestic issues to worry about (for instance, the Gorn's breeding-world problems, the Romulans' lack of good farming worlds, the Kinshaya's lack of a home planet altogether), and there are sure to be people in the Pact governments with enough sense to realize that a war would just distract from solving those critical problems.

    In such a situation, if the Federation adopts a hostile posture toward the Pact, it'll just give the hardliners within the Pact more ammunition to win people over and will frighten the undecideds into siding with the hawks, and that will make war more likely. But if the Federation tries to cultivate good relations with the more moderate factions within the Pact, it will weaken the hawks' position.


    I think it would make more sense to share slipstream freely with everybody, so everyone's on a level playing field. Sure, maybe that would rob the UFP of its special advantage, but if all that special advantage does is make enemies, then what good is it? And it's not like they'd be able to keep the secret indefinitely anyway. Sooner or later, slipstream will become widely available. And the UFP would generate more goodwill in the long run by being the ones who gave that technology to everyone else rather than being the ones who selfishly hoarded it.
     
  8. Infern0

    Infern0 Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Well, I quite liked this book, It's by David Mack which is always a good sign, I think he's the one writer who "gets" Trek.

    The main selling point for me was that Sarina Douglas came back, and she was one of my favorite guest characters, and I liked the way in which she was used. It's funny because I rewatched her DS9 episode a few weeks back and thought she'd be a good addition to Trek-Lit

    Another good thing is learning more about Breen culture, and what the breen are all about, and the ending left a lot of possibilities open.

    I give the book an 8/10, It worked well considering it had a lot of restraints on it due to being part of an over-arcing story, and had a lot of very good points.
     
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^ Very good points. At the time of the original airing, the story premise behind "Chrysalis" did seem a bit ill-timed. It was also a welcome distraction from the Dominion War arc bringing Trek back to its roots of exploring the human condition as was well done in TOS. Having watched "Requiem for Methuselah" not too long ago, I thought that Sarina was Julian's Rayna Kapec only with a less tragic ending.

    I've taken an interest in some of the recent work of the actress who played Sarina. I was utterly flabbergasted by how she took on Bill O'Reilly in the summer of '09. That might have been mirrored in how Sarina put Jack in his place early on in ZSG (though I may draw the wrath of Ares again).

    But going to ZSG, some want to complain that Bashir was acting too much out of character. But as you said, Mack is one author who truly gets Trek. With that in mind, DS9 was the most serialized of the Trek series, so no hero is one-dimensionally good and no villain is one-dimensionally evil.
     
  10. John Clark

    John Clark Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I thought it was a good read. It does make me want Aventine novels though.
     
  11. Sxottlan

    Sxottlan Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    That has been my guess as well.
     
  12. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    If Paths of Disharmony was written by David Mack instead of Dayton Ward all the Andorians would end up dead. :rommie:
     
  13. flandry84

    flandry84 Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I've just finished ZSG so apologies if I'm late to the party.
    If I'm being honest I've gotta say I found the book distinctly average...sorry.
    Again as in the Desiny books there seems to be a movement abroad to make starfleet to look as unprofessional andwell..un-military as possible.The extraordinary lapses of security surrounding the initial "break in"were badenough but when the Klingon ambassador can tell the federation president details of an SI "black op"in Breen territory well.....:guffaw:

    The whole "empty nest"feeling surrounding DS9 convinces me that the 5 year jump was an enormous error but what do I know,I'm just a customer.

    BTW,an organization like S31 would argue that they wouldn't want an operative (like Bashir)capable of being,like some have said here,corrupted.
    No,they need to make him a "true believer".
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    But that's a contradiction in terms. Joining S31 means being corrupted -- by them. S31 is an intrinsically corrupt organization. Corrupting people, compromising them, is their modus operandi.
     
  15. flandry84

    flandry84 Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    People like these (and they exist in every government)see themselves as the purest of the pure,the only ones so convinced of their mission that they are willing to sacrifice everything,their lives,their morals to protect whatever system they pledge allegiance to. That is the key to understanding Section 31 or the CIA or KGB or whoever.

    And they would argue that anyone who can be corrupted one way can be corrupted another.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Section 31 is not the CIA or the KGB. Those are state-sanctioned intelligence agencies operating under the supervision of their governments. I'll never understand why people keep making the mistake of using that analogy. Section 31 is not an intelligence agency. Starfleet Intelligence is the Federation equivalent of the CIA. Section 31 is a rogue organization operating outside the law and answering to no one. Maybe at the beginning, their intentions were good, but after 200 years with no accountability, the only things they truly protect are their own interests and their own secrecy. They have no allegiance to anything but their own power. They may use the security of the Federation as their excuse for wielding that power in defiance of law and morality, but make no mistake, they are closer to the Mafia than the CIA. They are a force of corruption by their very nature.
     
  17. flandry84

    flandry84 Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Nonetheless,the mindset remains the same.Luther Sloan didn't consider himself a villain did he?No,he believed himself a patriot...actually,in his death he proved himself right.


    And if you think any intelligence service doesn't consider itself above the law or above what they would consider transitory elected office holders then that is a little naive.
    I don't want to derail this thread any further.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    That is not what I said. Even if they consider themselves above the law, the fact is that they are still accountable to somebody, and so if they push too far, they can be reined in.

    And the point is that the Federation equivalent of the CIA is Starfleet Intelligence, not Section 31. Section 31 is not an officially empowered government agency, it is an extralegal conspiracy within the government and the military. So equating it with the CIA is simply an invalid analogy, like equating a band of mercenaries with the US Army, or equating Greenpeace with the EPA. I'm not addressing a point of ethics but a point of simple definition. Section 31 is not the Federation's intelligence service. Talking about it as an equivalent of the CIA is simply an error of fact, even aside from any ethical issues.
     
  19. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    However, when the U.S. uses mercenaries such as Blackwater, they functionally are the making them the military. This empowering them than keeping them at arm's length is just to keep your hands clean to the casual observer.

    Starfleet has known about Section 31 since the time of Archer. Kirk knew about them accoring to the novels as did Picard and Janeway. You'd actually be hard prtessed to find someone who didn't know about them. Starfleet is averting their eyes and going "la la la can't see you".
     
  20. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Just finished the book (always late to the party) and really enjoyed it. Not easy to put my finger on why, but it doesn't matter so much as I liked it. :)

    It was great to get a well-built glimpse into the Breen. It really felt like it worked with what we know of them from TV. This exploration of them is definitely part of my "personal canon" (oxymoron be damned) of Trek.

    [​IMG]