Spoilers DSC: Die Standing by John Jackson Miller Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Murder Hornet!, Jul 11, 2020.

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Rate DSC: Die Standing

  1. Outstanding

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  2. Above Average

    9 vote(s)
    64.3%
  3. Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Below Average

    1 vote(s)
    7.1%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

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    I liked all the little hints at Terran History history.

    I also liked Mirror Georgiou's remark that starfleet likes to think of itself as enlightened, and trying to be peaceful, but they keep naming their ships/shuttles after Earth Military related things.
     
  2. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We talked with John Jackson Miller about Die Standing in the newest Literary Treks episode, released today:
    Literary Treks 307: Twisted Like a Bag of Bread.

    I personally loved this novel, very different experience reading it than most Trek Lit over the years. Definitely a roller coaster.
     
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  3. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We know Trills are in season 3, and it's been rumoured for a while now we're going to meet the current Dax host in the third season. I wonder of having Georgiou meet Emony Dax and sort of befriending her is said to be setting up for that. JJM did note in the acknowledgements this novel is meant to "sync up with Georgiou's current adventures and into the future."
    A consistency I noticed, the book's divided into various parts, with the start of each part headlined by a quote by someone from the Mirror Universe commenting on Georgiou's reign. One such quote is from Mirror Dukat, which lists his rank as "Supreme Legate" just as it was in Rise Like Lions.
    I liked her snide comment about "Starfleet only pretends they're not a military."
     
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  4. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @The Wormhole - I did ask JJM about your spoiler question in the podcast (obviously knowing he couldn't say one way or the other), and he was pretty circumspect about it. It is something that crossed my mind and came up in the interview.
     
  5. BuckBokaiLondonKings

    BuckBokaiLondonKings Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Really enjoyed this one! JJM is killing it with the Disco books. Both this and The Enterprise War have been great reads.
     
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  6. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I spoiler-coded most of my "review," not because of actual spoilers, but because it's not strictly about the novel, and more about how it's hamstrung by the characters and situation handed to it by the series. TL;DR, Emperor Georgiou is a lousy, annoying character and makes everything worse when she's around by forcing the rest of the characters to ignore how stupid and awful she is lest they do something reasonable like put her in the brig or send her to one of those evil mental asylums that were about to cure criminality that we were always visiting in TOS or just not listen to her lies.

    Emperor Georgiou is the character I hate to hate on Star Trek Discovery, and I would have to give it further thought, but I think it's fair to say I regard her conceptually as one of the biggest creative missteps in the history of Star Trek. From her fundamental existence being a means to jerk around Michael Burnham despite it being a wholly bizarre and unprecedented coincidence, to her being introduced by reputation as brutal, sadistic dictator and mass-murderer, having that reputation confirmed by depicting her eating slaves, having her fail to demonstrate even the slightest bit of guile or intelligence when she impersonated Captain Georgiou, not able to go ninety seconds without breaking character, and then blaming Michael for it, and finally settling into being a sarcastic, horny, fun-sadist pseudo-spy. But everyone talks about her like she's frickin' da Vinci, the Dr. House of space-murder, someone we have to keep around despite being a danger to herself and others because, dammit, she can get it done when no one else can, despite the actual stories depicting her as the biggest dipshit in two universes whose only superlative trait is that she's really good at kung fu. Honestly, the slot they keep trying to shoehorn her into would've been a much better fit for Mirror-Lorca, who was able to not break kayfabe up to 70% of the time, could get people to do things for him by means other than threatening execution, had a diverse and flexible base of supporters, and, as far as we know, never ate something with a name or threatened to do so. But, sadly, he overestimated how good he was at kung fu, and now the second season finale has the Emperor joking around with a Starfleet officer about mutilating the robot-puppeteered corpse of a moron out of a misplaced desire for revenge. Yum, yum.

    I was hoping this novel would find something in the Emperor I missed. Some new angle, some shading, anything to make me think of her as something other than a dramaturgical blackhole warping the series around her whenever she shows up, but that wasn't the case. Out here, in the real world, I'm currently at the mercy of a world leader who has an overinflated view of his own ability after a lifetime coddled and softened by privilege, whose instincts are to solve every problem with "strength" (which he interprets as brutality), who delights in using other people as playthings and props, lies indiscriminately to keep his own options open at the expense of everyone else, is frank about his rapacious sexual appetites, and who is kept in power by a cadre of equally craven morons who think, due to his dumb luck and ability to exploit the machinery they themselves built to ensure unearned victories, think he's some kind of genius who needs to be protected at all cost. So you can imagine why having the Emperor and Leland stick to this dynamic might be frustrating to me on a personal level. I spend all day in a world where I gape in wonder at the political and media apparatus of the country pretending there's nothing unusual about the leader of the free world demonstrating his mental competence by repeatedly reciting five words he was asked to memorize two years ago because his own staff worried he might have advanced dementia, then open a book where the elite of the universe ooh and ahh over Georgiou's ability to copy-and-paste exploits from Space Stack Overflow like a middle-schooler hacking two-character Twitter accounts, and punch people in the face, because apparently violence is no longer known to the people of the 23rd Century. We're barely a step away from Leland making her the head of 31 because she can use a yo-yo.

    There's another comparison that comes to mind as well; Elmore Leonard had the view that criminals were, pretty much definitionally, stupid. If they were smart, they'd make their living within the confines of the law, even if they were shady or unethical. I can't help but regard the people of the Mirror Universe, glorying as they do in their terrible hell-world, as being deeply stupid, and being subjected to Georgiou's endless internal monologue about how much she wanted to kill everything in front of her, with occasional breaks about much she wanted to screw everything in front of her, bridged by her thinking about how stupid everyone else was despite them constantly running circles around her, made me wonder as I never have been before about the foundations of the Mirror Universe. About halfway through the book, I settled on "pervasive lead exposure," combined with some ontological thread that caused them to draft off the Prime Universe's history without simply destroying themselves altogether as they would if nature took its course.

    The plot itself was interesting, as were the new alien societies. Quintilian's secret anarchist dominion probably could've stood some more exploration beyond just being a last-minute motive reveal. I didn't really feel like Finnegan was a good match for the prankster and bully we saw in "Shore Leave" but, then, that was Kirk's imagination of him, not the real person, so some softening is understandable. The book became less of a slog in the last several chapters, once the action picked up the pace enough that Georgiou didn't have space to continue... editorializing. Dax was fine, though I lost some respect for her when she tried to connect with Georgiou emotionally. It was pathetic, like watching some exhausted, desperate person try to reason with a tantruming baby, or a biting pet. There's nothing sadder than seeing someone plead with something that is powerless except for you empathy for it, and doesn't know how to talk.

    The way the second season of Discovery flew apart was enough to turn me off of the CBSAA series until I hear there's been a radical change in how they're going (though I am very nearly ready to give Lower Decks a chance, just because it seems to have such a different worldview and goals), but I'd been sticking with the novels because, well, I've been enjoying them for two decades now, and they've frequently been able to improve upon the source material. I wasn't sure about this one from the premise centering on my least-liked character, and despite my hopes that JJM could do for the Emperor what Una McCormack did for Dr. Pulaski, it looks like I should've stuck with my initial instinct. Lesson learned, if I don't like the show, I probably won't like the tie-ins, at least as long as they're on the air and the dog is still the one wagging the tail. Well, there'll always be more TOS novels, and To Lose the Earth.

    Stray Observations:
    Caught a reference to The Ashes of Eden, with mention of a "Drake" serving on the Farragut, though the actual attack is depicted differently; in that book, most the crew had evacuated to the planet when creature attacked. This version fits better with "Obsession" which refers to Kirk being "at the phaser station," while Ashes has him planetside, painting targets for the ship's batteries with his tricorder.

    Georgiou's sarcastic thought about whether Starfleet honored the heroes of the losing side of wars when noting all the World War II flyers represented in the Pacifica's shuttlebay is, again, unfortunately timed in the real world. Also, there are the in-universe examples of the starships Akagi, Emden, Kongo, Yamato, Merrimack (sort of), and Crazy Horse, in yet another example of the Emperor not only being consistently wrong about everything, but insufferably smug about it.

    I'm very curious about what the possible context of Mirror-Marie Antoinette's reputed quote of "Let them eat field rations" could be, since the meaning seems to be exactly opposite of "Let them eat cake." It is, again, entirely possible the Emperor is just an idiot from a civilization of idiots.
     
  7. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Though from what I remember, in Ashes, that version of the Tycho IV-incident was presented only as a proto-holodeck simulation of an alternate scenario where Kirk, Drake, and the rest were planetside instead of aboard the Farragut itself. Also, the ending of the simulation (where the cloud-creature blows up the entire starship) was definitely a different outcome, there.

    Just from a strict continuity-standpoint, I liked seeing how JJM apparently left room for the subsequent 2257-events of the DC Comics graphic novel Debt of Honor to have potentially taken place following Emony Dax's boarding of the Farragut -- one particular passage on pp. 97-98 especially allows for it:

    And I loved how Finnegan's final outcome at the very end of the novel (joining the Federation Security Agency, plus his decision to start growing a beard) basically sets him up for his eventual appearance aboard the Enterprise-A in DC TOS Vol. 1, #54-55 (during Peter David's "Who Killed Captain Kirk?"-storyline) decades later, in 2286.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
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  8. GaryH

    GaryH Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I am two thirds of the way through and really enjoying it. I love Mirror Georgiou. She’s such a snarky character and is the closest thing Trek has to a Killing Eve narrator.

    I have a question that I do not think requires spoiler space - on page 228, she mentions someone from her past called San. Is this from a different story like the comics, or new information revealed in this book? Thanks
     
  9. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ I think "San" might be new info -- I don't recall a character with that particular name in the DSC: Succession comics.
     
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  10. GaryH

    GaryH Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Thought so. Thanks
     
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  11. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps each Emperor changes the logo as he/she sees fit?
     
  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Picked up a copy yesterday. At first, I wasn't sure I hadn't already done so, but (1) I'd been reading Verne's 20,000 Leagues for most of the month, and couldn't recall setting foot in B&N since I snapped up their last copy of Mary Trump's book. (which I still havn't gotten to yet), (2) I didn't recall seeing the cover before, and (3) I think I would have remembered a book about mirror-Georgiou.

    Still reading Asimov's Foundation. Dr. Trump's opus is next, followed by the present opus, and then Alex Trebek's new memoir.
     
  13. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, had this exact same thought myself. It would also tie into why (at least prior to my reading the novel) Mirror Georgiou seems to prefer the title "Emperor" onscreen while Mirror Hoshi used "Empress" onscreen during ENT (though JJM does directly address this change in the book, as well).
     
  14. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

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    I assumed the real world reason was to make it a surprise that the Emperor was a woman to audience.

    But I don't think that's been confirmed.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I should hope we're past the time where the mere fact of someone in authority being female is considered a startling exception to the norm. Maybe it was to avoid giving any clues that it was Georgiou specifically.
     
  16. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Yup, that was pretty much the sentiment that I remember seeing on the Internet right after the TV show’s reveal; done by the producers so as not to telegraph in advance the fact that Michelle Yeoh was also playing her Mirror Universe-counterpart.
     
  17. David Weller

    David Weller Commander Red Shirt

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    Been looking forward to this since it was announced.

    Have to say that I enjoyed it a lot.

    Hope JJM writes some more Discovery novels in the future - one a year for the rest of my life would be okay.
     
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  18. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm. So Blackjack is mirror Finnegan.


    **********

    Mirror Universe stories are far from my favorite. Even before Enterprise visited the Mirror Universe, there were already more than enough MU stories for my taste. And DSC is not exactly my favorite, either. So I didn't exactly have the highest expectations for this opus.

    But I just got to the point where we meet Emony Dax, and we get . . .
    . . . the backstory of Obsession.
    Things are looking up.

    Although how the Vampire Cloud ties in with the MU "whipsaw" and a "recreational drug" that is instantly fatal to most Federation species, I dunno.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I'm now roughly 80% of the way through this opus, and it's far more entertaining (and featuring more Strange New Worlds, New Life, and New Civilizations) than I had any reason to expect, given that it involves both Section 31 and mirror-Georgiou.

    *******
    It got an "Above Average" from me. In spite of its involvement of the Mirror Universe,Mirror Georgiou, and especially Section 31. And in spite of the fact that there was absolutely no indication in the prologue that the deaths were from a vampire cloud.

    The revelation that Quintilian was a genocidal maniac did come as a surprise, and yet a well-foreshadowed one that made perfect sense.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
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  20. DEWLine

    DEWLine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Finally got my copy last week and am about halfway through...entertaining enough so far, and not sure how much more to say.