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. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    ^

    That was the thing that had me sold more than any of the other Typhon Pact novels. I even joked that "Julian's Beards" would also be an appropriate title.

    What really could have helped the narrative was more on how things continued to go south between his split with Ezri and her transfer to the Aventine. That's like a five year gap. The narrative does establish that he never bothered to contact Sarina in the interceding seven years, even to check up on a former patient. Why the heck not? Maybe he knew that when it comes to Sarina, these song lyrics seem to ring true.
     
  2. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Yep--in the pic, we have no clue as to what Ezri is thinking about the thing (the image is blurred). It's anybody's guess. Is she sadly sympathizing with Julian's struggle? Is she feeling a pang of regret, watching Julian fall for Sarina?

    In the book...we see Ezri give some reactions, but we never--not even when it's told from her POV--get an idea about how she truly feels about Julian and Sarina.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I just got through the scenes where Bashir killed the engineers on the asteroid, and I really didn't see where it was as horrible as everyone was making it out to be. It was acknowledged as something that Bashir doesn't usually do, and we saw him come to the realization that this would be neccissary and that is really all I need to accept something like this. As for what he did this was a black ops sabotage/spy mission during a cold war, this is generally the kind of stuff that happens during these kinds of stories. I've read/watched alot of this stuff, so I guess it really wasn't that shocking to me.
     
  4. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    When the narrative mentions that Sisko never returned to active duty after his return from the Celestial Temple even though the events of RBoE had already happened, was that just a careless oversight on Mack's part. Or was it just part of making the point everybody else had come and gone (even most of the DS9-relaunch ensemble), but Julian Bashir was still stuck on DS9? On that note, I'm not sure he and Taran'atar were BFF's.
     
  5. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    You misread that paragraph. On page 20 it states specifically that Sisko "never returned to active duty on the station." It left open the possibility that he served elsewhere.
     
  6. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Gotcha. I forgot that part until just now re-reading it.
     
  7. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Bit of a bump for this one, but I fininshed this two days, with mixed feelings. Although the book was certainly a fun read, and I enjoyed the insights in Breen society, Bashir and Sarina felt a bit flat to me. No real character development for Bashir, I was hoping there would be a more clear purpose for him at the end of this. And at times, he didn't really feel like Bashir to me. When compared to Abyss, another Bashir centered novel, he felt more like the Bashir from the series to me. I suppose that some years have passed since we last saw him in the novels, events in his life might have changed him somewhat.

    The Aventine parts didn't really do it for me I'm afraid. Sofar, I'm not a big fan of Ezri in the novels. She seems a bit bitchy at times, cocky I suppose.

    As for the last two pages.... I don't know.....

    Sarina suddenly being a Section 31 agent used in a plot to get Bashit involved in 31... it seems so unlike her. I know we've only seen her in two episodes of the series, one if you want to be really technical, but I just don't see her turning on Bashir like that. I can't help but wonder if she has alterior motives. Perhaps in her years in SI she was approached by 31, wanted to infeltrate and is now trying to get Bashir to help her? Perhaps she just is a 31 agent, and really does love Bashir and sees this as a way for them to be together. Perhaps she really just is an evil 31 agent.


    I really do want to ad though, that I am a big fan of David Mack's work. I loved Destiny, and I can't wait to begin Vanguard. :)
     
  8. therealparsnip

    therealparsnip Ensign Red Shirt

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    I agree with the above as mentioned before - Bashir just felt wrong to me in this novel. Obviously how we imagine the character is a very subjective thing - but this is not the Bashir i know.

    Some posters have mentioned that its been a long time from the end of ds9 through to zero sum game, allowing for changes in Bashirs character. Well, i have got further along that distance now, currently reading Volume one of worlds of deep space nine, and i have yet to see anything to account for what as i see as this very sudden change in Bashirs morals and actions.

    Maybe it is still to come, and maybe my perspective on Bashir is wrong, but thats how i see things anyway.
     
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Sooner or later, Sarina will take the fall for one of Section 31's illegal operations and spend six months in jail. Then she and Julian will then move on as if nothing ever happened and they'll get married despite the Prophets' warning that he'll know only sorrow... I'm sorry, I'm confusing ZSG with RBoE. :)

    David Mack's works do seem prone to cliffhanger endings (did sneak a peek at the end of the one Vanguard novel I have).

    For Sarina to be looking to infiltrate the Bureau or for her to be just using Bashir seem too simplistic for this revelation as a cliffhanger ending. Of course, she is seeking Bashir as a partner in infiltrating 31, she probably would have said so already, unless she knows he'll spazz out at the first mention of Section 31. All kinds of clues were indicated throughout the narrative, but Bashir just seemed to silence those doubts.

    I don't know what's really going on, but unless you ask WHY, we're going to transform into something.
     
  10. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game Review thread

    Another great read:bolian: One of the best in the series.
     
  11. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    I've been somewhat reluctant to pick up the Typhon Pact novels given some of the negativity, but decided to take the plunge and started with Zero Sum Game.

    Very, very good. I blasted through it in a couple of days, sneaking the odd chapter in one coffee breaks and the bus to work. I enjoyed this novel far more than I thought I would, so my hats off to Mr Mack. :)
     
  12. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I didn't particularly like Zero Sum Game (or Seize The Fire), I liked The Struggle Within novella and I loved Rough Beasts of Empire and Paths of Disharmony. I am a sucker for the political stuff though.

    I'd be interested to seewhat you make of them.
     
  13. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I really don't care much for the concept of the Typhon Pact, which seems to be very contradictory to how many of the member races behave, but I did like this novel.


    Bashir isn't one of my favorite characters by any stretch, but you really do feel for him in this novel. The idea that he's the last one of the original crew remaining on the station, he's reporting to Ro of all people, which is sure to bring mixed feelings, and he's really finding himself at a standstill when all his friends and collegues and even his life have passed him by.

    It's a small wonder he seeks a new direction and that his fascination with spying and intelligence, plays a role in that new direction.

    I also liked how the Breen were really fleshed out in this book. Quite literally. We finally find out what's under those damn suits! :p

    As for Bashir's actions? Sure it's unlike him. The whole situation is one he normally wouldn't place himself in. But for that situation, his actions were in the norm. Necessary.

    As for the ending with Sarina? That actually makes a lot of sense. For however brilliant Sarina is, she does seem incredibly naieve and distant. You can really picture the Section getting to her, both as an organization that's willing to accept her as she is when the rest of the Federation won't, and that she's probably easy to manipulate along a course they want. Heck they probably sold her lies about "helping" Bashir along.

    I for one can't wait to see where it goes.
     
  14. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    I'm about 90 pages into Plagues of Night. Good stuff so far.

    I didn't think ZSG was outstanding, but I did enjoy it a lot. I always liked Bashir, so this was a fairly compelling page-turner for me. I really felt for him.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I just don't understand when people say this. First off, the races chosen for the Pact are mostly ones we know very little about in the first place, which was the whole reason for including them. So in many cases it's hard to make any assumptions about what they're capable of.

    Second, and more to the point, the whole idea behind the Pact is that, yes, absolutely, it is a change from the way these powers used to do things, a change they've made in the wake of the horror and devastation of the Borg Invasion, which forced them to rethink a lot of things. The whole point of Destiny was to be a game-changer, to sweep away the old galactic order and leave everything altered. The Federation has had to change too, since it's no longer the secure, prosperous, dominant superpower it was before. It's had to enter a larger alliance with the Klingons, Ferengi, and Cardassians -- who have themselves changed considerably from the way they used to be.
     
  16. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I get what they were going for. A new opposing force to the Federation Alliance nations. Certainly all the member states have had hostile relations with the Federation or the Klingons at some point.

    The real problem I have with the concept is you get a bunch of xenopholic AND isolationalist powers... and suddenly have them sharing technology, having a common currency, and in a European Union like pact that just doesn't fit the established powers of the Romulans, Breen and Tholians.

    I get that they all have common fear and need for security after both the Borg invasion, and Bacco's strongarming basicaly every local power into their alliance at the time. The Tholians certainly were resentful of that, the Romulans only went along because it was their survival, and the Breen had to be paid off(along with the Cardassians and Ferengi).

    I also didn't like the fact after spending so many novels and trouble of establishing the Imperial Romulan State, which was definitely sympathetic to the Federation at the very least as an enabler, was effectively handwaved away and fell victim to a push of the reset button. This was a fairly blatant move just to make the Romulans a credible power and threat again.

    A lot of people seem to think the Typhon Pact is the hearld of a new Federation ensured on cooperation and goodwill... but at the same time they're constantly undermining each other, even as they're tying their ecnomies into each other and giving technology away to people who in effect would be potential rivals, especially if the Federation and it's allies weren't so unified.

    Now, I certainly enjoyed all the changes we've witnessed with the Klingons, Ferengi and Cardassians. But in all three cases it wasn't an overnight transition. Both the Klingons and Cardassians fought bitter struggles to liberalize and in the end disasters were the catalysts over a number of years. And there were definitely counter reactions in each case.

    You basically have all these isolationalists/xenophobic governments who overnight just entered a European Union style bloc. Nevermind that it took 40 plus years for the EU to take shape and form, and it remains to be see if this grand experiment will work. They entered this overnight, and it really doesn't fit or make sense for all the powers to tie their economies and militaries in together so closely when they're so obviously pecking orders among them still.

    I could see it starting out as a mutual defense pact, akin to the defensive blocs before the Great War, but there's no way they should just sit down one day and decide "Let's form a grand alliance, share our currency and economies, and give away all our military secrets." That's just almost absurd in my opinion.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, as I said, the point was mainly to develop a storyline that would allow shining a spotlight on civilizations that have been underexplored in the past. It just happens that, by the nature of episodic TV storytelling with its need for antagonists-of-the-week, we've ended up getting a lot more unfriendly or prickly minor powers than friendly and open ones. I mean, look at the Khitomer Accords candidates: the Klingons, Cardassians, Ferengi, and Talarians (though the Talarians dropped out in The Struggle Within). All of them, without exception, have a history of hostile relations toward the Federation as well. The only real difference is that they'd reached a point of detente or friendship with the Federation by the 2380s -- but then, so had the Romulans and the Gorn.


    I think it's just that the change in personnel at Pocket led to a change in direction. Marco and Keith had a story direction in mind involving the Romulan schism and the IRS, but once the TP novels came along, Margaret Clark was in charge of developing them and Keith wasn't involved, and I guess Margaret and DRGIII decided they were more interested in seeing a united Romulan Star Empire -- perhaps so that the Pact would have a clear dominant member that was familiar to the audience, or perhaps in order to clear the board for the 2387 events revealed by the Abrams movie. Given the way Romulan affairs have turned out in Plagues of Night/Raise the Dawn, I really don't think making the Romulans a bigger "threat" had anything to do with it.


    Rather, what people (like myself) are saying is that the Pact's members were inspired by the Federation's example and have the potential to develop into something similar, if the voices within the Pact that genuinely believe in mutual cooperation and support can win out over the factions that are more driven by self-interest or hostility. What makes the Pact's story interesting is that we don't yet know which faction will win. It's still in its turbulent beginnings and it's not easy for its members to make the idea work in practice.

    I imagine that if you studied the formative years of the United States in the 1770s-80s, you'd find quite a lot of bickering, infighting, and backstabbing among the various states and ideological factions jockeying for advantage. The Constitution we ultimately ended up with was the end of a long process of compromise to try to balance out those conflicting interests.


    That's an interesting criticism, and I think that may be a factor in the internal conflicts and turbulence we're seeing within the Pact. But I don't think it means it's unbelievable that they would've attempted this in the first place. After all, they're doing this in the wake of the game-changing Borg invasion, and with an eye toward forming a counterbalance against the well-established Federation-Klingon alliance. So they felt the need to act with urgency and to try to catch up as quickly as they could. Hence their attempt to rush into it, and hence the uncertainty about whether they can make it work.
     
  18. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Heck, for all we know, those powers had been negotiating behind closed doors for years before, and the Allies only heard about it in Singular Destiny.
     
  19. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    In STO novel The Needs of the Many the Typhon Pact is a small trading alliance. The novel also handwaves away the differences between STO and the regular novelverse being that they're alternate realities, and one of the key differences is that in STO, there was no Borg invasion and final defeat in 2381. Thus implying that the Typhon Pact was planned as this small trading alliance, and cranked up to something much greater after Destiny.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, that doesn't follow at all. First off, the "alternate timeline" rationale is just one book's throwaway conceit, not a universally accepted doctrine. Second, even if it were an alternate timeline, the divergence point would've been long, long before Destiny, because ST:O disregards most of the events of the DS9 post-finale novels. And third, the Pact wasn't even conceived until after the Borg Invasion.

    Bottom line, STO and the novels aren't alternate timelines, just different fictional creations made by different companies and creators who have different takes on the imaginary Star Trek universe. The makers of STO pick and choose ideas from other tie-ins like the novels and comics and incorporate them as they desire, but there is no formal policy to treat them as alternate timelines and make sure everything fits into some vast multiversal logic.