TTN: Synthesis by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Julio Angel Ortiz, Oct 18, 2009.

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Grade "Synthesis"

  1. Excellent

    32 vote(s)
    35.2%
  2. Above Average

    39 vote(s)
    42.9%
  3. Average

    13 vote(s)
    14.3%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    2.2%
  5. Poor

    5 vote(s)
    5.5%
  1. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Finished Synthesis last weekend. Most reviews in this thread seem quite positive - I'm not sure that applies for me and I ended up voting "average". Don't get me wrong, I think the story premise was good and the Sentry civilization was depicted quite well. White-Blue and the others seemed like well-rounded characters from the start and I quite enjoyed the world-building, which for me is THE selling point of the Titan series and why I so enjoyed most of the previous works in the series. Admittedly, my expecatations for Synthesis might have been a bit too high.

    The point where Sythesis didn't really work for me is how the established characters were handled. It seemed to me that everyone - even Troi - seemed much more hostile than I remembered. I don't remember it being adressed specifically as being a result of the events of Destiny, but I felt that the openhearted "exploration of exploration's sake" and the enjoyment of that by the crew in the previous novels had been lost. With some characters, like Keru and Vale with their backgrounds in security, I can understand it, but Riker and Troi have always been depicted as more open to new ideas and the IDIC idea. I found their reactions to both the avatar and the Sentries a bit out-of-character.

    Anyway, a bit of mixed basket for me.
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I think the events of Destiny really scarred everybody--to have the ongoing Borg wars, then the Dominion War, and then the final Borg assault in such quick succession is almost certain to have its psychological effects. To me, it rang true, much truer than the happy-go-lucky "let's-go-exploring" as though people are skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.
     
  3. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    This actually sums up my thoughts pretty well. It's starting to seem like absolutely no one ever has any fun on Titan. It's all about having an initially hostile reaction to something, coming to understand it through difficult moral decisions that everyone has to think really hard about, and then capping it off with some kind of morally ambiguous ending that leaves everyone bittersweet. I'd really like, just once, for this series to have a Q&A or a Unity or an Unworthy or a The Sundered, or something similar - a book that makes me think "gee, that seems like a ship I'd like to serve on!"

    Taking Wing wasn't even really about the Titan crew very much; it introduced them, but they didn't have anything to do with the story, so it doesn't really count for me. Then, the next three books in a row all involved a whole planet being eaten or wiped out or in danger, or something, and were all about no-win situations and making the best of things. Sword of Damocles also killed the romance between Jaza and Vale, which was fun, and began the incredible Riker baby drama thing.

    In Destiny, out of the four ships, Titan was the storyline focused on emotional drama and not much else. Then, OaTS started out kind of light but soon became another emotionally draining tale of tears and renewal and Hard Lessons Learned. And then now, we finally have a book that takes the emphasis off of the characters going through Totally Serious Shit, but instead just ends up making them all paranoid and angry about absolutely everything.

    The avatar shows up. Everyone is worried and angry. Then they think they might be prejudiced. Which makes everyone worried and reflective. Then they come to accept her, just to have her ripped away. Which makes everyone sad, and reflective. What could've been a seriously cool story was just morose.

    This book had great ideas, and Swallow has a real way with action sequences. The back half of this book was just about the most exciting action sequence this side of Destiny, and was a definite pleasure to read. I also loved Tuvok's away team tromping around the damaged firstgen AI very much. There's some neat stuff in this book.

    And for the record, I actually think most of the Titan books so far have been outstanding; I don't want it to seem otherwise. CLB's two entries and SoD are three of my favorite Trek books, and this one for the most part wasn't bad either. But could the next Titan book please have someone, like, happy at the end of it, without having to earn it through a complete psychological deconstruction and rebuilding of their entire worldview? Or, in lieu of that, someone at least apparently enjoying their job for more than a chapter or two? I'd like that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  4. MNM

    MNM Captain Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I finished this last night and have mixed views on the book.

    I found the AIs to be well developed for the most part, the Null and everything relating to that was interesting and provided something different than normal, overall it was one of the intriguing alien species I have read about in Trek for quite a while.

    That said, I agree with what is said above, everyone seemed to be acting slightly hostile to everyone else, not just to the outside aliens, but towards each other. It was like someone had turned up the obnoxiousness dial by one or so on every character, and I have to say I didnt care for that aspect.


    There are multiple things I would love to see incorporated into Trek from Andromeda, and sentient ships and their avatars is one of them.
     
  5. fleetcaptain

    fleetcaptain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    You know, I was thinking along those lines myself after I finished the book. Just Starfleet didn't make Androids to use the AIs but I could understand using a hologram instead.
     
  6. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I have the book :). Just let me finish "The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing" and I'll get started on it.
     
  7. Inyx

    Inyx Ensign Newbie

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Synthesis is the best Titan so far.
     
  8. Warp Coil

    Warp Coil Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Just finished reading the novel. I have to say, this one took me a while to get through, and I'm not entirely sure why. I don't know if it was the content or the writing style of the author, but the first half of the book took me several sittings to get through. I'd read 20 pages and, instead of feeling compelled to keep going, I'd put it down and pick it up again the next day. I have to agree with others who said some of the characters seemed a little too hostile and/or obnoxious. The concepts and ideas introduced in the novel were certainly interesting. I have to say that I honestly didn't grasp the solution to the Null problem (the whole bit with the Avatar channeling herself through the deflector).
     
  9. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    finished this yesterday. really good. really enjoyed it. 8/10
     
  10. LutherSloan

    LutherSloan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought many of the main characters were acting out of character and unusually hostile to everyone and everything. Vale and Keru especially seemed way too paranoid from even the beginning, after what was clearly a misunderstanding between a Sentry vessel and the Titan's crew. It seemed like Tuvok was the only one with a cool head, and he was off the ship for a good chunk of the book (plus, he's a Vulcan :vulcan:).

    It would have made more sense to me if this was the first post-Destiny Titan book, but it's the second. There was none of this hostility in 'Over a Torrent Sea' whatsoever. The crew was far more open to the squales and their unusual culture. I understand the whole Borg comparison thing with the Sentries, but several of the characters went WAY overboard.

    Other than that issue, the plot was great, and I actually felt like this AI culture was well thought out and conceived. Interested to see how White-Blue fits into the crew.

    I also thought, going into this book, that Riker was somehow going to be tempted again by Minuet in some fashion, considering the cover. Thankfully I was wrong.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    ^Given the horrors the Federation went through at Borg hands only half a year before this, I think it's understandable that some people would have an excessively hostile reaction toward AIs or cyborgs. And Keru has a history of similar reactions due to his life partner being assimilated by the Borg.
     
  12. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    ^There's even a whole debate between Riker and Vale where she admits that is being alot more paranoid that usual thanks to the Borg invasion. Since they aknowledged that they were acting different I'm more than willing to accept it.
     
  13. 14thDoctor

    14thDoctor Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    One thing I didn't get was why the machines didn't just make Titan sentient again. It was made clear that it wouldn't be the same being that was created the first time, but by White-Blue's standards, is Titan any less of a slave at the end of the book than it was at the beginning? Yet somehow it's not an issue anymore.


    Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, but that's the thing that stuck out to me.
     
  14. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    ^ Now that you mention it, that bugged me too...
     
  15. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I think at the end end, White-Blue understands that it does not really have the right to make that decision unilaterally like it did the first time. The crew on the Titan have to reach that point on their own.
     
  16. mparsons1981

    mparsons1981 Cadet Newbie

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Finished synthesis last night, loved it, read in one setting, as i have tended to do with all the titan novels. I cannot say the same for some recent tng -losing the peace etc, which is a shame.

    I'm fascinated to see what becomes of white-blue in future novels, and felt it was a real shame we had to lose the titan avatar, and im not sure why this was necessary, apart from being a plot device.
     
  17. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I didn't have time to read through the whole thread, but I loved the novel.

    My only quibble was that the avatar couldn't remain on board. The way Peter David is doing it is completely different and Morgan was flesh and blood at one stage. Titan's avatar was more in the style of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda - and i would have loved her to stay around.

    Even though she didn't, it has given me an idea for a novel revolving around a sentient AI...

    5/5, great addition to the Titan series, which has now eclipsed the DS9-Relaunch to become my favourite series.
     
  18. robinb

    robinb Cadet Newbie

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I share the same feelings with you. Writing this post, i'm halfway through Synthesis, and all I see is WRONGNESS. The story premise is wonderful. The first-contact-gone-wrong situation is enjoyable. BUT I don't recognize the character. I don't recognize Riker, I don't recognize Vale. They're all hostile!
    This crew is carrying out the mission of explorations. What's with Tuvok agreeing with the 'backup plan' to find ways to debilitate potential allies? Because they're machines? How could Tuvok can have a quick change of mind from being understandable - to sniveling, back-scheming Vulcan?
    I'd say Mr. Swallow need to read more on the characters of Riker & Co. I really hate his potrayal of the Titan crew in this novel. Granted, I haven't finished the novel, but I'd be very dissapointed if the author take the easy way-out dismissing Titan (the newborn AI entity). You don't introduce an interesting character only to flush it away at the end of the story. I am a reader, I invested my money and time and emotion to follow a storyline. I enjoyed the Destiny trilogy and all of its story consequences. They don't mock my intelligence.
    Reading halfway through Synthesis, I got the feeling I'd ended up hating the author - for not potraying the characters correctly.
     
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Honestly, I don't see how some of you are dismissing the extreme effects that the Borg War is going to have on these characters--especially people who were "raised" as officers in Picard's Pollyanna command where everything was always so idealistic. Those ideals got shattered, and HARD. And I can't blame the crew at all for feeling and acting the way they did, even though it MIGHT have been too far at times. And personally, I am NOT convinced they went too far--I thought they were simply prudent. The avatar, after all, held all of their lives in her hands; had she turned, that would've been the end. You ALWAYS, until trust is truly established--and even then, though to a lesser extent, have to have your escape route in the back of your head.

    Maybe that's the "Cardassian" in me talking--but to me, I thought their reactions made sense given the scenario and I think Mr. Swallow did just fine.
     
  20. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    ^ That's a fair argument, but I feel like Titan was established, both in-universe and out, as the forefront of a return to more optimistic, open-minded, exploration-oriented Trek. And this even moreso after Destiny, ASD, and OaTS made such a big deal out of how that exploration had been what led to the Federation being saved.

    So, there's an argument to be made that the choice for them all to be paranoid and angry was legitimate, but I still feel like it clashed sharply with the explicitly stated tone and raison d'etre for the series as a whole. The stylistic clash made for kind of an uncomfortable reading experience for me.