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. DBall

    DBall Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Just finished this today... First off... it's incredibly cool that the actual authors of these books come in and discuss them. I just found this forum yesterday, and fact that simply blows me away.

    As for the book, it was fantastic... I did find myself glazing over at some of the treknobabble, but it wasn't like it was overboard or anything... just a lot going on.

    There seems to be a great deal of malcontent about how the characters were portrayed (as being overly hostile), but after the whole borg thing, that's more than understandable to me. What's more, the Titan avatar/AI was brought about by a race of beings that were a) machines, b) wholly foreign in almost every way and c) quite possibly enemies (seriously... they started out by attacking the crew)... their intent definitely was not clear at all in the beginning and they had strange ways of 'helping' that could easily be misconstrued. I found the crew's reaction to the Titan avatar understandable in that no one was sure how deep the 'assistance of giving Titan the ability to choose' really went. Who's to say that these alien machines didn't just give her a choice, but implant a virus that could allow them to take control at any time? Caution in an instance such as that seems prudent...

    Again, great job James, and everyone who's been writing on these post-Nemesis books. My only complaint is that they don't come quick enough... :)

    2 other quick things.

    1) The cover was really not the right fit for the book.

    2) I'd love to see artist sketches of some of these characters as I'm having a hard time visualizing some of them.

    :techman::techman:
     
  2. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Here are the Memory Beta pages for Chaka and Torvig, which both have drawings that Christopher L. Bennett did for his Orion's Hounds annotations.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Also, here are the original sketches for Orilly Malar and Cethente.
     
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Geoff Thorne has a thread of his imaginings of how the characters should look as well. I forget where it is, though...also, in that same thread, I did a drawing of Zurin Dakal.

    http://trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=94498
     
  5. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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

    I didn't know you did one of Cethente. I'll always had trouble picturing him, so that will help alot.

    I had completely forgotten about the Orilly one.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    I did the Cethente one pretty recently (and apologies for the lousy resolution -- my scanner's been busted for a long time and I had to take a photo of the sketch). And it's based largely on a sketch Marco Palmieri drew for me, so he deserves the bulk of the credit for the design.
     
  7. RonG

    RonG Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2007
    Location:
    Fluidic Space
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Finished Synthesis yesterday -- as far as I'm concerned, James Swallow is more than welcome to write future Titan stories :)

    This was IMO the best Titan novel (excluding Destiny) since CLB's Orion's Hounds - capturing the essence of Titan and Trek itsef with wonder, thoroughly alien worldbuilding and exploration on the unknown.
     
  8. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    It was indeed a great novel. One compliment I have- one of many- is that it took artificial, mechanical sapience (usually my biggest turn-off in sci-fi) and made it interesting. Normally thinking machines and AI are the one aspect of science fiction that bores me, but here I was intrigued; while I appreciate characters like Data or the EMH, that's more to do with the individual than their AI natures. But the Sentries were interesting due to being AIs as well as in terms of their individual characters. Another thing I appreciated was that this novel made me self-examine and actually helped me come to a few uneasy conclusions about my stance on AI. In fact, between the Sentries, Titan's avatar, and good old Torvig and the Choblik faith, I found myself very thoughtful in regards to how I relate to the possibility of machine intelligence. I've come to realize that I would probably- sunconsciously, I guess- relate to it as a lesser or even perverted form of sapience, and that this is an intolerance I might conceivably one day have to deal with. So, it left me quite thoughtful. :)
     
  9. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
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    Arizona, USA
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Would Torvig and the Chobliks be considered AI? After all they are biological, organically created beings, just artificially enhanced.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    In their natural state, Choblik are very smart animals, not quite fully sapient. Their higher cognitive abilities are artificial, or are a synergy of biological and artificial components.
     
  11. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    (to expand on my ramblings above): That was what in part made me thoughtful, and why I love them so much. Whatever I might think about raising animals to sapience artificially (or creating AI in any way), the Choblik would no doubt tell me it's a good and blessed thing that helps unlock potential and build civilizations (hmmm, I wonder what Choblik would do if they ever found an animal species in a similiar state to their own pre-Builder existence. Would they want to "help" and upgrade them, or would that be a blasphemous act of "playing Builder"?). So, I'm being forced to consider- is building an AI truly any different from producing a baby naturally? After all, if our intellects are a natural development, we could argue that it is natural to branch out into other forms of "child"- and to refuse to even consider it is to segregate humanity from nature to a degree that is unhealthy. I've always had the idea that creating AI is wrong, a peversion somehow, but having races like the Choblik and Sentries- viable civilizations that wouldn't be there if not for someone taking that step- gets me to confront these prejudices. Which, I'm sure we'd all agree, is a good thing, and a sign of good sci-fi. :)
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Since no species is entirely uniform in its thinking, I'm sure there would be Choblik on both sides of the question. As for the prevailing cultural sentiment, though... well, as I conceived it, the Choblik culture embraces engineering and building as a way of honoring the Great Builders by following their example. They don't really see the Builders as "gods," but as extremely advanced technologists whose level they aspire to eventually reach. However, they may not consider themselves ready yet to take on the responsibility of a creative act as complex and delicate as Uplift (to borrow David Brin's term). It's not a matter of blasphemy or anything as abstract and emotional as that -- just a matter of pragmatism, a recognition that their skills and knowledge haven't yet advanced to the necessary level.
     
  13. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Thanks. I forgot to take into account that the Choblik tend towards extreme rationality and logic rather than abstract emotion when it comes to motivations and decisions.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    ^Not so much logic as pragmatism, functionalism, that sort of thing. After all, I don't want them to be just Vulcan clones.
     
  15. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    Re: Star Trek: Titan - Synthesis: Discuss / Grade <SPOILERS>

    Thanks, Ron! I had a lot of fun writing the Titan crew and I'd be more than happy to revisit them at some point in the future...


    My work here is done...! :bolian:
     

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