VAN: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Mar 3, 2012.

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Rate Harbinger.

  1. Outstanding

    27 vote(s)
    61.4%
  2. Above Average

    15 vote(s)
    34.1%
  3. Average

    2 vote(s)
    4.5%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Flexible transparent aluminium, smoked.
     
  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Or maybe the only plausible reason to put anyone in a miniskirt or a skant is to sexually objectify them, which seemed liberating at the time but is now recognized as just another mechanism for patriarchal control. And maybe the skant looks ridiculous because people aren't conditioned to think it's okay to objectify men the way they objectify women, and that thus the answer isn't to "assume the male way is automatically better," but to recognize that a means of fashion designed to objectify is impractical, unprofessional, and sexist.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    I don't agree. I think it's sexist in itself to assume that a woman is automatically a victim in any sexual situation. I think it's insulting to women to dismiss their choice to embrace and control their own sexuality as just another sign of their helplessness and lack of agency. It's not objectification if you're choosing to express and employ your own sexuality in pursuit of your own fulfillment. That makes you the subject, not the object.

    I think that in a truly liberated, non-oppressive society, sex would not be seen as a source of vulnerability at all, and no one would be seen as diminishing themselves in any way by choosing to present themselves sexually. So any present-day concerns that a woman or a man is somehow victimized by showing a little skin would seem bewildering in that context.


    Isn't it ethnocentric to assume that trousers are automatically superior to a draped garment, or that the only possible purpose of a short draped garment is to "objectify"? Look at all the cultures around the world where people have worn togas, saris, kimonos, kilts, and other draped garments. Trousers were an invention of Central Asian horse nomads, because they were more practical to ride in than a draped garment. But since most people today (let alone in Starfleet) don't depend on riding horses for their livelihood, there's really no practical necessity for wearing trousers instead of draped garments. There's no good reason other than fashion for Scotty not to wear a kilt, the traditional male garment of his people, on a regular basis. Would you consider that objectifying?

    Personally I think it's ridiculous that Trek-era fashions aren't more bizarre and outrageous to modern eyes. If we find the fashions of the 1960s and '70s so incomprehensible, those of the 2260s should be downright shocking.
     
  4. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    At the beginning of the 20th century, clothing was heavily gendered--certain clothes were exclusively worn by men, other clothes exclusively by women--but over the course of the century, wardrobe expansion happened in only one direction (at least as far as mainstream acceptance is concerned).

    By 2364, I imagine fashion will be unrecognisable to our eyes, but I appreciate early TNG's efforts to imply that changes had taken place. It'll be interesting to see if the movie version of The Hunger Games depicts anything along these lines.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Sure -- if that's how you personally choose to dress in your personal life.

    But if you're part of a military organization that literally forces you to wear revealing clothing (and on pain of court-martial)? That's not a choice, and that's objectification.

    And Vanguard: Harbinger made it very clear that numerous female Starfleet officers were not comfortable with the miniskirt uniforms.

    I want to emphasize that I respect you, Christopher, but I think that argument is premised on the supposition that somehow these hypothetical people can divorce their egalitarian present from the historical patterns of patriarchal oppression that led to it. But you can't divorce yourself from history.

    No, because there's a big difference between the garments you just discussed, and the TNG "skant" or the TNG and TOS skirts. Those garments aren't designed to be practical or useful or project a professional image. Those garments are designed to show off skin, to advertise the wearer as a sexual object.
     
  6. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    I don't remember if I ever officially reviewed Harbinger, so thanks for the thread. At the time I first read Vanguard, my overall enjoyment of the 23rd Century and the characters and situations presented in the original Star Trek paled in comparison to my enjoyment of and familiarity with the characters and situations presented in Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek DS9, and Star Trek Voyager. I had seen most of the original ST movies starring Shatner and Co. and knew who the characters were, but had little lingering interest in the Original Series and its setting.


    David Mack changed all of that with Harbinger. The novel not only got me interested in the 23rd Century and the situations and setting of the Original Series, it also tured the feel and tone of my all-time favorite Star Trek series, DS9, by creating a world and characters that were recognizable, interesting, and flawed (something that the characters of the Original Series lacked), with standout characters for me being Quinn and T'Prynn (with whom I was already familiar due to her supporting presence in the DS9 Relaunch novel Mission Gamma: Lesser Evil).

    I really enjoyed this book, and, with it (as well as with the other Vanguard novels he's written to date), Mr. Mack cemented himself as one of my favorite Trek Lit authors (company he shares with his fellow Vanguard authors Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, DS9 Relaunch author S.D. Perry, and Christopher [L. Bennett]).
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Again, is it any worse than Scots in a Highland regiment having to wear kilts? Lots of things in the military are mandatory, but that doesn't make them sexual repression. You're too caught up in your own assumption that skin equals sex equals subjugation.


    And reality makes it clear that Whitney and Nichols preferred wearing them. People aren't uniform in their taste in uniforms.


    No, you can't divorce yourself from your own prejudices and preconceptions. You are so very quick to launch self-righteous attacks on other people's biases, yet so incapable of questioning your own.

    Why the hell should women who've lived their entire lives without knowing sexual oppression or domination be forbidden to dress in certain ways because their ancestors were mistreated? Isn't that just perpetuating oppression?

    There are plenty of people in the present day who are practicing nudists. There are plenty of people who live in tropical cultures where it's normal not to wear a lot of clothes. The assumption that showing skin is offensive or demeaning is the bias of a particular culture, hardly a universal truth. You're being very ethnocentric in your assumptions.

    And you're still perpetuating a double standard. Why aren't you railing about the objectification forced on William Shatner when his shirt kept getting ripped off? Was he a victim of "patriarchal" oppression too? Your unexamined assumption is that only men are oppressors and only women are victims, and I find that insulting to both sexes.


    You're arguing in circles -- they're objectified because they're dressed in a way that's objectifying. That's not valid reasoning. And you're still hung up on this unhealthy assumption that being sexy is the same as being objectified. No. That's the case when it's done wrong. It's not the only way to do it.

    And you're too caught up in the false assumption that the only possible reason for a woman to look good is to appeal to men. Plenty of women like to look good for themselves. Being sexy, looking good, is not just about objectification, about how you're perceived by others. A lot of it is about how you perceive yourself, about wanting to feel good about yourself and just feel good. Many women like to be desired, not because they want to please a man, but because they want to have the power to attract men who can give them pleasure, and because just knowing that they could do that, even if they don't act on it, is a source of pleasure for them. Women even like looking at other women who are presented sexually, because it lets them imagine themselves as desirable and makes them feel good. So women being sexy can be as much for their own and other women's benefit as for men's.

    So you're being very dismissive of the female point of view by assuming that the only possible reason for a woman to dress attractively is to serve a male agenda. You're unable to consider that a woman can be sexy without being an object or a victim of men, and that is incredibly sexist.

    You're supposed to be a liberal, right? So presumably you defend a woman's right to make her own choices about her body without having men go around telling her what to do. If that applies to whether she gets an abortion, surely it has to apply to something far more trivial like whether she wears a miniskirt. My attitude is that it's up to the woman. If a woman tells me that she feels empowered by wearing a miniskirt, or by wearing an all-concealing burqa, or by going completely naked in public, I'm not going to tell her that she's an idiot and needs to believe what I tell her is true, because then I'd be the oppressive patriarch. If she finds empowerment in it for her own reasons, then it doesn't matter what past generations of oppressors intended for it. She's taken control of it and made it her own, and since it's her body, I don't have the right to deny her that choice.

    And we're getting way off topic.
     
  8. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    i think men in kilts look ridiculous too. i just wouldn't tell a Scotsman that to his face.
     
  9. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    ^ I am going to find you captcalhoun:lol:

    Is this thread still about Harbinger?:shrug:
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Well, I've said my piece, and I don't want to drag the thread off topic any further.

    I actually wasn't crazy about Harbinger when I first read it, because I felt it was too dark. But I think it works better in the context of the books that follow, once it becomes clear that it's just the beginning of a journey of redemption for most of the characters. They need to start out in that initial bad place so they can rise above it. So I'm not sure how to rate the book in isolation.

    Once I get the final book, I'm going to have to find time to reread the whole series from start to finish.
     
  11. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    ^ It's hard to tell how I would have reacted to Vanguard's tone if I hadn't been informed of its later evolution ahead of time by you and Mr. Mack in the other thread. T'Prynn aside, it really didn't turn out to be a big issue for me in the end. With the others I found myself simply looking forward to their journey of self-discovery to come as they faced their hardships. So thanks again.
     
  12. neptu8

    neptu8 Cadet Newbie

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Hah completely disagree, the thing I liked the most about it was T'Prynn! :)
    I would love him to write a less subtle 'Dwellers in the Crucible' style novel focusing on her. Who needs other characters when you have a gay Vulcan.
     
  13. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    For some reason "gay Vulcan" reminds me of that episode that had Tuvok laughing all the time ...
     
  14. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    I like that Harbinger is dark. It was very different from your average Trek book. The character development in this series is awesome as a result.
     
  15. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    I just finished earlier this evening, and I wish I'd read this book years ago, because I loved it! I think part of the reason I was so hesitant to try Vanguard was because the TOS era generally doesn't interest me all that much, but I could only ignore the glowing reviews for so long.

    I enjoyed pretty much the entire cast of characters, particularly Tim Pennington and Cervantes Quinn. While I can't say I completely sympathized with Pennington every step of the way (which I figure was intentional), I found his storyline interesting and I enjoyed following his investigation of the Bombay's destruction. I also appreciated having a civilian as a major POV character, it was a nice change of pace from the norm. That's also part of the reason why I enjoyed Cervantes Quinn, but I'll admit that another big part of that was just because I love smartaleck characters of any type.

    I did like Diego Reyes, but he didn't quite 'grab' me like I was expecting him to do, considering he's technically the "leading man." But Vanguard seems to be more of an ensemble than most Trek, so I wasn't too worried about it. His relationship with Rana Desai was interesting, and I like having a JAG officer as part of the main cast. I also enjoyed Zeke Fisher's kind of laid-back, easygoing personality, and I got a kick out of watching his plans for retirement completely fall apart. As for T'Prynn, I wouldn't exactly say I like her, but I do find her intriguing.

    As I was reading Harbinger, I actually kind of felt like I was watching a two-hour pilot for a TV series. That's just how it felt for me. I don't know if that was intentional on David Mack's part, given his TV background, but either way I think it actually enhanced my enjoyment of the novel.
     
  16. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    ^ I'd say you received the story exactly as it was intended, and your reactions to all the characters (including Diego Reyes, who is meant to be complicated and difficult to get a read on) are spot-on. Glad you enjoyed Harbinger, and I hope you get to read the rest of the series.
     
  17. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Keep reading Skywalker. They get better with every book.
     
  18. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    I certainly plan to! Thanks for writing such a fun book and for creating such an interesting group of characters. I tore through Harbinger faster than anything else I've read anything in a long time. :techman:
     
  19. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    ^I envy you skywalker, you get to read the next six books for the first time in a row. I know you will enjoy them as much as we all have:) Have fun and keep posting your observations.
     
  20. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

    Honestly, I had a lot of the same feelings about the characters during Harbinger, but by the end of Summon the Thunder, I had fallen for everybody, including Reyes and T'Prynn. At this point, I love them just as much as the TNG and DS9 casts.