Spoilers VOY: The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Aug 20, 2012.

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Rate The Eternal Tide.

  1. Outstanding

    84 vote(s)
    47.7%
  2. Above Average

    55 vote(s)
    31.3%
  3. Average

    29 vote(s)
    16.5%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    1.1%
  5. Poor

    6 vote(s)
    3.4%
  1. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's always been like that. You just didn't know about it so explicitly before.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Destiny" is nothing more than knowing the future and seeing how things turned out. If someone "has" to be there for an important event, it's not because it was preordained by some cosmic force; it's just because they happened to be in the right place at the right time for that particular timeline to turn out in a positive way. That's what happened here. In the original timeline, Janeway happened to be in the right place at the right time to make the key difference. When "Endgame" altered that history, it led to a timeline in which Janeway wouldn't be there to make that key difference, so Q Junior had to correct that.
     
  3. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    I think that Beyer's book disagrees with you. There is a very strong vibe throughout the whole book that there is something moving the universe. I mean, Janeway even becomes aware of her own soul,
    So it certainly seems that there is more to the universe than even the Q know, since their immortality gives them no ability to know what lies beyond death for the soul.

    There is something big out there even beyond the Q and that power, after reading this book twice seems to be destiny (whatever that means, since Beyer does not explain, just leaves it open to the reader to interpret.)

    This idea is all throughout ST '09. These people, no matter what happens to the timeline are destined to be together, on a ship called Enterprise. This book is rife with the idea that people are in places at certain times for a reason. DS9, Sisko is created just to save Bajor, and now Junior and Eden have been created to heal a rift in the universe. Something is behind and the multiverse is not as random as we thought.

    Now I am sure you will disagree. But I see this tread running through this entire book and found it really cool that Beyer would go there. Spock tells Valaris that she should have faith that the universe will unfold as it should. It seems that there are forces at work to bring about good in the universe and at work for balance. Faith, this is what Janeway is learning in this book, that there is something infinitely bigger out there than just science and reason and it starts with the soul.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that wasn't really the sense I got from Kirsten when we were discussing the plot outline over e-mail last year. I'm pretty much summarizing how she explained the plot to me. There is something of a spiritual flavor to the book, granted, but I didn't get a "destiny" vibe from it. The way she explained her approach to me was that actions like altering history or bringing back the dead always come with a price, with unforeseen consequences that are usually negative. And in this case, the price was that an action Janeway performed that was essential to all timelines ended up not happening, and that needed to be corrected.

    I guess it's possible that you could interpret the idea of changing history having consequences in some metaphysical "tampering with destiny" sort of a way if you were so inclined, but it didn't really feel that way to me. And I really think it runs counter to Star Trek's intrinsic humanism to treat any specific person like Janeway as some fated cosmic savior moved into place by divine forces, as somehow intrinsically above all other people. ST has always taken more of the view that all people have the potential to achieve greatness through their own effort and commitment.


    What's that got to do with destiny? They're entirely separate metaphysical concepts.


    Except that the screenwriters derived that from quantum-physical principles, the notion that there's a most probable state for the wavefunction of the universe and that the majority of timelines would tend toward that more probable configuration. And of course, more fundamentally, from the dramatic necessity of creating a version of the familiar crew that we knew. They certainly didn't have any mystical or metaphysical intent behind it.


    Or, it really is random, but those who are able to look ahead and see the outcomes of events get the impression that it isn't, that certain things "had" to happen to bring about the outcomes that occurred. To a large extent it's just a question of perspective. Quantum physics suggests, at least in some interpretations, that the entire state of the multiverse throughout all time is deterministic, with all events and outcomes encoded into the universe's Schroedinger equation, and that the perception of free will or uncertainty arises simply from our inability to have complete information about that equation. Thus a notion of predestination can be formulated without any recourse to the metaphysical. But it can be argued that the only way to get that complete equation would be to step outside of time altogether and measure the whole universe, past, present and future, at once -- which effectively means you wouldn't be able to know how the universe turned out until you got to the end, so for all you'd know, it really did happen non-deterministically. Maybe every decision really is made freely, but when you look back on it after it's been made, it looks fixed to you at that point. (Like if you watch a recording of a baseball game after you already know who won. It may look to you as if the team that won is "destined" to win, but only because you already know how it turned out and how the various spontaneous events added up to produce the outcome you know.) So it's really just a matter of perspective.
     
  5. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    It has to do with the fact that there is a metaphysical part of the universe. There is something bigger and deeper than just the material. And yes I believe it is perspective and because your perspective is limiting your vision to the idea that something can have a metaphysical or spiritual component is the issue. I do not think that there is any reason that science and the metaphysical do not work in concert together. You may not have "felt" the idea of destiny, but I don't believe you would see it. As humans, if we don't search for something we never seem to find it or see it. Since you are always looking at pure reason like Janeway use to it will be hard to find the idea of "destiny" or the metaphysical. Yet Janeway, in this book learns that there is more to life than just reason and science; there is the metaphysical, something much deeper and more important and it all starts with the life of the soul, faith.

    Kirsten herself responded to my review of the book at Trek.Fm and said this in response.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That doesn't remotely answer the question. Just because destiny and the soul are both hypothetical metaphysical concepts, that doesn't mean they're directly intertwined, or that any given metaphysical model of the universe is required to include them both. Since we are talking about fiction here, there are countless different ways in which the imaginary physical or metaphysical laws of a fictional universe could be formulated. A work of fiction that presumes the existence of something that can be called a "soul" within its putative reality is not necessarily presuming the existence of destiny. The two concepts have nothing to do with each other beyond both falling into the general category of metaphysics.
     
  7. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  8. Brit

    Brit Captain Captain

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    I think one of the problems with "Destiny" here is that it is also confused with preordination. Preordination is a path that is impossible to refuse, where Destiny implies individual choice. In "The Eternal Tide" there was a lot of choosing by a lot of characters.

    Science Fiction in the past has chosen to ignore the metaphysical, yet is such a part of human experience; I don't believe it will be left behind when we step away from Earth.

     
  9. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    And I see Beyer drawing the ideas of the soul, faith and destiny together in this book. That is what I am saying. She is using these metaphysical ideas, as she said in her post back to me, to help explain the reasons that Janeway had died and is being risen. Again I see these things because of my perspective of life. I hold to the metaphysical and spiritual alongside science and reason, so I look for both when I read a book or watch a film or listen to music. And again, from the story, Janeway finds that what is metaphysical has much more value in the end than the reason and science she has clung to for so many years. Faith, the soul and destiny are all apart of these things that she is beginning to see the value of.

    There is a fine line between the choosing and the idea of Destiny. Junior especially seems to know that he has been made for such a time as this, that it is his first, best destiny to save the galaxy. So he could choose to not save it, but that he will be the fullest and best him if he follows what he has been made to do. In much the same way that Harry Potter has the choice to not face Vold but knows that at the same time he must. Junior even makes a joke to this effect when he takes away Miral's messiahship "Being a messiah isn't all its cracked up to be." He can see that he has been made for this destiny, but would never wish this young girl to walk that road. He later tells this father, "It's not just the power, Father. You know that. It's also the vessel. I am the only Q in existence capable of containing all that I am, all that she needs...It has to be me." Then Janeway makes it abundantly clear
    A thin line indeed
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  10. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yay. let's hijack Star Trek to propagate our culturally-conditioned superstitions!

    :rolleyes:
     
  11. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, killing people by the billions is soooo much better. :rolleyes:
     
  12. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I guess I can see that.
     
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I am aware of no Trek novel that advocates for mass murder, nor any Trek novel whose fans interpret it as advocating for mass murder.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And? The Federation committed mass murder in Zero Sum Game in order to protect a military advantage. I don't think a little spirituality is a bad thing in the wake of devastating losses (no I'm not a spiritual person). My only problem is the presentation of Janeway as an essential cog of the universe.
     
  15. Kirsten Beyer

    Kirsten Beyer Writer Red Shirt

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    Well now you guys have got me thinking...

    What Christopher recounted earlier as our initial conversations about the book was accurate. Initially, I truly was working from the idea of choice and the consequences of those choices...and the idea that big choices like oh, altering the timeline for the sake of convenience, or sparing yourself and others the pain of loss, would come with a heavy price tag. It is, perhaps, my own notion that such choices, however right they might feel at the time, would have a better than average chance of ultimately ending badly.

    It was only in the writing of the actual novel, as I found myself in Janeway's head working moment by moment through what might actually happen if you found yourself disembodied in the Q Continuum, that the more spiritual or metaphysical ideas began to surface and resonate. This is most likely because there is no math here that helps me move through this, though Christopher has rightly pointed to a few theories that make sense when applied.

    But I don't tend to write or operate from stuff like that when writing characters, even when they are brilliant scientists, because that's not where I can connect to them. If I had half the scientific expertise Christopher does, I like to think I would have ended up as an astronaut rather than a writer. I don't. So you guys are stuck with me for now.

    The thing was, I had always been moved by the episode "Sacred Ground." I hear the groans, even as I write this, but I loved that one because it really was such new and different territory for Voyager and Janeway in particular. And that scene at the end where she is sitting in sickbay and the Doctor is explaining why the "miracle" worked has lived in the back of my mind ever since. The look on her face...really devastating for her.

    So when Janeway is confronted with the choice...to return to life or let it all go...she's going to look for guidance to any experience she might have had that relates and the events of "Sacred Ground" seemed appropriate.

    And as to her sense, and Junior's confirmation that there is something beyond life that even the Q don't know about...that's just me wrestling with one of my big questions. I'm not really speculating as to what the capital T Truth is here....what interests me is the idea that this is a fairly common experience for human beings, both those of faith and those not so inclined.

    There is probably a physical or scientific explanation I don't know about that probably has to do with certain chemicals in our brains that produces these "peak" experiences, or strange moments when we suddenly, for no good reason, feel ourselves connected to something bigger than ourselves. It's not a rational thing. I've had them...though more rarely in the context of the religion in which I was raised...and know so many who have...and I really want to know what that thing is beyond a random confluence of neurons and chemicals. I tend to think that it is this sense that keeps so many people connected to religion.

    But I'm curious about this not so much as a person of faith, because that's not a good definition of me anymore...but just as a person.

    So this...

    ....kind of overstates the case for me, just a bit. I mean as a reader, you are entitled to whatever you got from the story and I don't want to take any of that away from you. But I don't think I would describe Janeway's new experiences of "faith" as "more important" or more valuable than reason, science, or logic. It's more like, she was living her life one way for as long as she could remember...and then was exposed to a new idea or experience that was also interesting and terribly useful in this context. Kind of like what happened to me the first time I read the works of Joseph Cambell. I felt like my head was going to explode with all of the new stuff churning around in it.

    This now gets incorporated into her whole person, but how it will affect her or how long it will take for these new ideas and experiences to settle is an open question. I don't think, however, that she had this experience and is now going to throw all the rest out the window in favor of it going forward.

    Yes...she does come back to the idea of "faith" but that faith has no particular definition for her yet beyond the certainty she feels in her gut that balance is the issue here and Junior and Eden represent that balance. For me it is not so much that she has come to realize that whatever that big, unknowable thing that she felt briefly connected to is now guiding her...it is the terror of confronting a moment when the stakes couldn't be higher...looking at all of the relevant information at her disposal regarding that moment...and choosing to trust her own beliefs...the "faith" is less metaphysical at that point...and much more personal. Even when faced with the truly terrible consequences of many of her past choices that the story lays out...she is still capable of looking to her gut and trusting it. Like all of us, when we know better, we do better. The less heroic choice here would be to say, "fuck it...I don't know and as I think we have all seen, I don't have the best track record so do what you think is best." The reason Janeway rises to a new level for me here is not because she is a fated messiah, but because she makes the harder choice...to trust herself and what she sees here...rather than walking away or letting someone else be responsible for the outcome.

    Yeah...again...Junior may have come to that point by the end of the story...but he certainly doesn't start there. In the beginning, he has a problem..he can't experience his existence the way the rest of the Q can anymore...and he needs to figure out why. It speaks well of him that once he has figured it out, he steps up and does the right thing, but I think a lot of people, when faced with the choice...me...or everything and everybody else who has ever or will ever exist...would go with self-sacrifice.

    Looking back at the way it all came together, I am conscious of two things: my need or desire as the creator of this story to keep all of the various threads connected and resonating but more importantly, starting us off with a group of characters who have a problem and then watching them figure out how to solve it. More than making any bold statements here about the relative values of faith or reason, and certainly not about "destiny"...this comes from the same place all of my stories come from...You take some capable and interesting people and present them with a challenge they are uniquely qualified to handle and watch them as they blunder around in the dark like we all do day after day and try to overcome that challenge.

    For me this isn't a story about a grand design that exists outside of us and we are only playing our assigned roles...it's a story about people working their asses off to solve a problem, the nobility of that effort, perhaps, and the sense that on any given day, this is what we are all doing, though our personal stakes may not reach the heights that our characters do. But that's why we explore this stuff in fiction. If we did it too much in real life...can you imagine how busy the fire department would be?

    I just want to say here that I hope you don't feel that was my intention here. I don't think grapling with part of our experience as human beings that is less well understood than all that science has layed bare for us is the same thing as propogating a particular brand of superstitions. I think asking ourselves why so many have these beliefs and exploring some of the experiences that leads to them is interesting, but I am in no way advocating for a particular position, particularly as I am tempermentally and constitutionally ill-equipped to do so.

    :rolleyes:[/QUOTE]

    And here, I can only imagine that you are taking this from other's reactions to the book rather than your own experience of it? Just because some readers are going to take comfort and pleasure in the idea that there is a plan...somewhere out there, made by whom or what we know not...and that the events of this story suggest such a plan or "destiny", you should not assume that this was all there is to the story and certainly not my intention.

    Janeway is essential to the universe or multiverse here as much as any of us are or are not. I'm sure part of this feeling comes from your feelings about the character, to which you are perfectly entitled. But to form an opinion about Janeway's role in this story, you need to experience it for yourself. Which I am not suggesting you do. At all. Far too many other books out there you are likely to enjoy.

    Best,
    Kirsten
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I probably didn't make this clear, but I'm objecting to the manner in which some posters here are framing your work to fit their particular beliefs rather than to your actual writing in and of itself.
     
  17. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    And here, I can only imagine that you are taking this from other's reactions to the book rather than your own experience of it? Just because some readers are going to take comfort and pleasure in the idea that there is a plan...somewhere out there, made by whom or what we know not...and that the events of this story suggest such a plan or "destiny", you should not assume that this was all there is to the story and certainly not my intention.

    Janeway is essential to the universe or multiverse here as much as any of us are or are not. I'm sure part of this feeling comes from your feelings about the character, to which you are perfectly entitled. But to form an opinion about Janeway's role in this story, you need to experience it for yourself. Which I am not suggesting you do. At all. Far too many other books out there you are likely to enjoy.

    Best,
    Kirsten[/QUOTE]

    Kirsten, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me and explain your thinking and writing process. I like how you brought in Joseph Campbell and I felt like I saw some of those motifs in this book. I just want to thank you for giving us so much to talk about. This is what Star Trek at it's best does. It challenges us to think outside of the box. I really appreciate your writing and am so thankful you will be continuing Voyager.

    As a person of faith, I do always look the deeper meaning and bigger picture. I do appreciate that you allowed Janeway to experience some kind of awakening to that side of life, even if she has no idea what it means at the moment.

    Thank you for giving us a great tale and bringing Janeway back in a tale that has lead to some truly interesting discussion. All good books make us think and challenge our ideals. I hope you know I was not trying to put words into your mouth, just grappling with the book from my perspective. Thanks again for everything and for coming here to help set us crazy fans straight :)

    -Loyal Reader, Matt
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, yes and no. My feelings come from not only what I've read about The Eternal Tide but also from Watching the Clock. That the only way for the Milky Way galaxy to survive the Borg was for Janeway to change the course of billions of beings lives.

    Thing is... I'm not rabidly pro- or anti-Janeway to any real degree. I've always been lukewarm on the character thinking she's had some nice moments over the years and some real head scratching moments. The biggest problem being that she's all over the place.

    Nice snark! :techman: :D
     
  19. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't someone doing an interview with Kirsten on a podcast thingie?

    Does anyone have the link?
     
  20. Kirsten Beyer

    Kirsten Beyer Writer Red Shirt

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    I recorded it back in the middle of October and was told it would be out in a few weeks...so probably any time now. I'm sure they'll post a link here, so keep looking.

    Best,
    Kirsten