Spoilers DTI: Forgotten History by C. L. Bennett Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Apr 15, 2012.


Rate Forgotten History.

  1. Outstanding

    56 vote(s)
  2. Above Average

    40 vote(s)
  3. Average

    10 vote(s)
  4. Below Average

    3 vote(s)
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
  1. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

    Feb 4, 2009
    BC, Canada
    In my indirect way I was hoping to encourage a short story collection for DTI, kind of like Declassified for Vanguard. :rommie:
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    It's good to know Christopher and I are on the same page regarding The Omega Glory. :techman:
  3. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I'm late to the party again, of course. It arrived today, and I'm reading it now. I'll post my usual stream of natter tomorrow. :)
  4. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    I think the alt-timeline explanation would work as well for Magna Roma as it did for Miri's Earth. Wasn't Magna Roma also said to be a duplicate?

    As for Omega IV: I like the reference to an ECS Philadelphia. ;)
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, technically, because the name "Magna Roma" comes only from The Worlds of the Federation by Shane Johnson and from the TNG novel The Captains' Honor by David Dvorkin, which coincidentally came out a month apart (or maybe not coincidentally, since the same editors probably handled both books). The former portrayed it as having continents that largely resembled the shape of Earth's, and the latter depicted it as having an exactly identical history to Earth up until 31 CE when Lucius Aelius Sejanus's conspiracy to overthrow Emperor Tiberius turned out more successfully (which was an in-joke, since Sejanus was Patrick Stewart's role in I, Claudius).

    But those are both extrapolations beyond the canonical evidence. Canonically, the planet is only known as 892-IV, and the planet was explicitly described in dialogue as being like Earth in some ways but different in others: identical density and radius (and therefore mass and gravity), identical atmospheric composition and land-to-water ratios, but differently shaped land masses -- and of course it was fourth from its star rather than third. And we clearly saw in establishing shots that its continents were shaped differently from Earth's (very different in the original, a lot more similar in the remastered version, although the remastered one has two moons). So both books were wrong in the way they depicted it, overstating its resemblance to Earth.

    Besides, there's really no way the Western Roman Empire could've survived mostly unchanged for an extra 2000 years on a duplicate Earth, since there were too many other cultures that would've competed with them or influenced them to change. (Even as successful conquerors, the Romans were active assimilators, adopting customs and knowledge and religions and myths from the peoples they conquered.) The survival of a largely unaltered Roman culture only makes sense if they're a monoculture, the only civilization on the planet. So it's more logical if they're descended from a Preserver-seeded colony.

    I wanted the ship to belong to people who prized American history and values and would want to proselytize them by giving them to the aliens they met, so it made sense to name their ship for an important locale in America's foundational history.
  6. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Jun 30, 2004
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    Supposedly, the ten volumes of SNW never sold in the quantities Pocket had hoped for; we were very lucky to get ten years of the annual competition. I doubt that reprints are on the cards but, yeah, they are fairly easy to find cheaply in the second hand online markets.
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Nov 5, 2008
    I'm still waiting on mine.... :(
  8. Stoek

    Stoek Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 10, 2008
    Book? Or stream of natter? :rommie: (Sorry, too perfect of a set up to pass by)
  9. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Mar 2, 2002
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Finished my copy yesterday. Muy excellente! I very much enjoyed exploring how the discovery of time travel affected the early Federation and led to DTI's founding.
  10. Plaristes

    Plaristes Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 27, 2011
    Notre Dame, IN
    This was another outstanding book. Not as good as Watching the Clock, but still excellent. Easily the best Trek book I've read since WTC last year. Thanks, Christopher! I love how well TAS was integrated with the other material. The explanation for the historical research mission to the 1960s was simple, yet made perfect sense (that mission had always bothered me before, since it seemed such a flimsy reason to time travel).

    Given that WTC attempted to reference as many time travel stories as possible, I was hoping for a bit more of that here (I'd have loved a retcon reference to the manga story "Side Effects," for example), but that's about the only slightly negative thing I can say about the book.
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Thank you!

    That's because the real reason was "We need to fit a backdoor pilot for a present-day series into Star Trek." ;)

    I haven't read "Side Effects." I have all the Trek mangas except the first one.
  12. bok2384

    bok2384 Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 5, 2006
    Warwickshire, UK
    Based off of the various references to Star Trek: The Animated Series and the Alan Dean Foster novelizations in Forgotten History, I've just started to read Star Trek Logs 1-3. Let's hope they're good. :)

    On a Christopher related note, I've just finished rereading Greater than the Sum. I actually enjoyed it more this time around, the Azure Dragon entity and the Noh Angels were fascinating, plus so many great things with Hugh and the Liberated. Plus, the introduction of T'ryssa Chen and Jasminder Choudhury. Top work, sir. :D
  13. Mike Winters

    Mike Winters Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jul 14, 2008
    Bensalem, PA
    Just finished the novel myself and I greatly enjoyed it. Thank you so much Christopher for another great novel... Can't wait till your next Trek work.

  14. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    'Tomorrow’ is an interesting word when I use it on the BBS; it denotes nothing so accurate and predictable as, say, “the time period between the next two sunsets” or “the time period between the next two times the clock reads 00.00”. Instead it means “sometime in the next few days”. Lucsly would gibber, were that not something Lucsly wouldn't do. Also, I was in a thoughtful mood, so the stream of natter is more a silt-choked Amazon of babble.

    The Original Series is my least favourite of the Trek shows, so books built around it are always a tougher sell for me than those set in other eras. An exception to my lesser interest is non-Kirk centric novels like the Vanguard books, which flesh out the backdrop and make the 23rd century hold together with greater consistancy (in my mind, anyway). But I’ve mentioned before that I love Christopher’s books, and his take on TOS is one I enjoy, probably because his novels are always above and beyond when it comes to consistancy - how the plot holds together, in terms of character motivation and development, and how they effortlessly tie continuity details and aspects of the established universe into a tapestry that makes a great deal of sense. The general silliness of some of TOS and TAS often puts me off, but somehow it all seems reasonable when Christopher re-examines it. Forgotten History is really convincing as an explanation for how Kirk's various time travel experiences fit into something other than a string of episode ideas and it further links that string of incidents into Federation legal, political and scientific history with great success. The result is just very, very satisfying, even before we get into the details of the writing or characterization, or even the plot.

    I suppose I’ll just mention a few things I particularly liked.

    I liked the Vedala; I don't recall them being used before (other than in the original TAS episode and, presumably, its novelization). I particularly appreciated the Vedala representative's satisfied response to "peace and long life" - "that is most likely". :lol: Oh, to be a contented space-kitty. I get the feeling they appreciate the gesture, but only in terms of what it shows about T’Nuri, the Vulcans and the Federation, not for its intended purpose as a bridge between two individuals (or societies). After all, the Federation is not the equal of the Vedala, it’s a “child civilization”; it seems to be developing nicely but it’s not anything they’d want to associate with. So I liked the slight sense of miscommunication, as though something didn’t quite connect there, but we can see why given the Vedalas’ general attitude. A give and take that ended up being a give and a "we acknowledge your give", but not a take. Never mind. It’s good that Kirk, Spock, T’Nuri, et al are too secure in themselves and/or humble to take offense. I get the impression that the Vedala would respond with scorn if they tried the “I can haz respect?” angle.

    As ever, the Betelgeusians were fun, for what little we see of them. T’Viss’ scandalized reaction to “nice juicy secrets” made me chuckle. ‘Geusians are a memorable creation, for all that they’re rather simple in concept. They remind me of possibly my favourite alien race in sci-fi, which oddly enough is the Drazi from Babylon Five. They have a similar ultra-competitive view of life that’s refreshing in its cheerful capacity for causing trouble while remaining unconcerned with, indeed relishing, the outcome. Of course, ‘Geusians are posturing predators obsessed with status and pack hierarchy, not brawlers who fight from the belief that they’re affirming themselves in a directly spiritual sense, but the comparison floats around in my head nonetheless.

    I suppose this is as good a time as any to note that I always enjoy the humour of Christopher’s books, particularly when it relates to alien races and their quirks. It’s not played for broad comedy (the aliens are portrayed too seriously - shall I say respectfully? - at least "good heartedly" - for that), but instead develops naturally from what’s established about their perspectives and racial psychology. There were other comical moments interspersed through the novel, which again were nicely understated. The offhand mention of T'Viss' alternate identity is a good example.

    If I'm talking about aliens and T’Visses (T’Vissii?) I should mention that the Vulcan characters’ POV were highlights, which is another common response I have to Christopher’s Trek works. I mentioned in the review thread for Storming Heaven that I imagine Vulcans must be challenging to write; they’re so frequently used that there’s even more need than usual to explore Vulcan individuals rather than have their race define the characters; despite that, they have to work within the rich framework of culture that’s been developed for Vulcans. The Vulcan POV and Vulcan discussions always seem fresh and engaging in Christopher's novels, this being no exception.

    As a final point regarding aliens and cultural identity, I liked how Mars had a Tellarite councillor, not a human one. And that he’s apparently personally invested in exploring the historical role of his planet’s Tellarite population. That’s a nice detail to reinforce the complexity of the Federation. It’s not just an alliance of multiple worlds and species, but of all the little cultural microclimates that result when they interact with each other in any one of a million ways. They should all intersect, albeit some more than others. So it was nice to see Martian Tellarite added to the Federation’s complement.

    On the character angle, I like how Delgado and Grey’s relationship and shifting motivations occurred “off camera”. I know that’s to maintain the surprises inherent in their final characterizations (I’ll get to that in a bit), but it came across as something more. It contributed to the sense that this is a fully realized universe we just happen to be intersecting for a particular story; it gives the impression that people have lives outside of the main plot or the purview of the reader. I suppose that reinforces too that I’m a fan of the universe itself and not just the stories, and that the best novels give the impression of worlds largely than those we see.

    As for the conclusion, I liked how Kirk’s status as the bogeyman of the DTI is now almost official. That it's close to being the acknowledged, deliberately constructed role his memory plays in their mythology. I thought it quite fitting that Lucsly faced the revelation that things weren’t as he insisted, while also finding new justification for retaining his original attitude, which he now expresses as a knowing fiction (semi-fiction?). We were given a little character development for Lucsly, but of a sort that results in his reaffirming his routine behaviour. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And I suppose that nicely sums up Lucsly’s aims in life, doesn’t it, in more ways than one? Adapting where needed, but towards a goal of keeping everything as it is and avoiding disruptive change. Holding chaos at bay – or, if that doesn’t work, being selective in your own perceptions so you can ignore chaos until it goes away and you’ve only got order to work with. It’s self-delusional and almost distastefully stubborn, but that’s not unwise for a DTI agent, as we’ve been reminded several times.

    Kirk’s partial begrudged redemption/renewed demonization in the eyes of the DTI also carries with it an important thematic point about how people relate to one another across distance, which is one way of describing what history in fact is. The impression Kirk ended up leaving on the DTI, or the impression Lucsly and co winded up with, assists the DTI as an invaluable part of their professional code of conduct. He shapes their actions and the idea of him influences them for the better – their own “better” and that of the galaxy. Kirk’s legacy helps to preserve the timeline, which I’m sure is exactly what he would have wanted had he known his memory would become yoked to the day-to-day realities of temporal investigations. The important point is that this is the case whether they understand him or not; indeed, despite the fact that Luclsy’s idea of him is distorted, and that he’s being used as a “Donny Don’t”. He is what they make him, at least in terms of what actually matters to them. That’s a big theme here, or at least I decided it was (I can reinforce that decision by pointing to the writing that led me to that decision! Round and round goes my reasoning, becoming stronger and more stubborn with each cycle!). People want to be understood for who they are and what truly motivates them, but others aren’t always going to give you that; they may well get a good view of you, so to speak, but they’ll still go away with a sense of you that’s filtered through their own perceptions, and those perceptions are clouded by basic emotional and psychological needs. It doesn’t mean that in accepting this you’re turning your back on truth, it’s just that part of that truth is the fact that you are the centre of your own perceptions (I’m reminded now of Ilia’s father in Ex Machina, who wrote something along those lines in the usual gentle “humans are the noble savage” manner. And I think also of the Vulcans, who often refuse to accept that logic demands they take into account their emotional biases).

    But more importantly, knowing that the picture someone has of another person is always unavoidably tinted by their own subjective perception means also that the “you” they perceive might inspire them in ways you can’t imagine; might help them or guide them in their own lives in a way you wouldn’t have thought. The disappointment of not being “seen” 100% accurately must be measured against this knowledge. That’s what Kirk brings to this. And the disappointment in later discovering that someone isn’t what you thought they were - when new insight or knowledge, or new interaction, leads to the invalidation of your previous subjective idea of them, is what Grey brings. Because Grey and Kirk are the two figures that define Lucsly, at least for our purposes. Lucsly wants Grey to be what he wanted her to be, and has to face (with Dulmur’s encouragement) the fact that instead she was her own person with her own collection of motives, needs, successes and mistakes, many of which are out of his grasp, in terms of his knowledge. But the idea of her still aided Lucsly. And that is the real her to some degree, but it’s also an incomplete and distorted version of her. It’s always good to know – and pursue - the truth, always good to truly understand people as they are, but we have to remember that those are ideals and we’ll usually fall short of them. And we should perhaps be wary of thinking that this is always a curse. On the subject of history, we need to balance our desire to see truth with the idea that we'll be seeing a distorted image twisted for our own purposes, often without intention - but that while we must acknowledge that this is happening, it doesn't necessarily invalidate our responses.

    In fact, I might say that throughout the book there are many examples of people failing to be what other characters - or the reader - want or expect them to be, instead revealed in new lights provoking a change in perception...but not necessarily invalidating the importance of the first idea we or the characters had of them:

    Lucsly’s hero isn’t squeaky clean and his devil isn’t the menace he thought, but those myths are valuable and valid in their own way. Grey the saint and Kirk the demon did indeed shape and aid the DTI, and Lucsly's life, even if actual Grey and Kirk don't fit those images.

    Admiral Delgado looks like the standard “antagonist admiral” figure who’ll be behind all the plotting, but rather than become zealously consumed by the sense of destiny which he reflects on several times in the book, he turns over a new leaf...but he is in fact still the mastermind behind the problem, despite this. He was initially every bit as manipulative and single-minded as he appeared...but that was only one side of him, and a different side comes to the fore when he faces a moment of crisis that forces a re-evaluation. Yet he still fulfils the expected role of “rogue admiral behind the problem”, while not being what we expected from someone playing that role.

    Grey wasn’t manipulated into helping him as we might have thought; she helped him due to her genuine care for him while quite aware that in the past he’d tried to play on her. Yet she herself acknowledges that she has an empty social life and responds to his charms, even if she knew what he was up to back before V’Ger. And she indeed ended up compromised because of her interactions with him just as we might have expected...but not in the way we might have expected.

    T’Pring is known to us as an unpleasantly selfish and manipulative individual, but that doesn't describe the alternate T’Pring at all. Spock’s initial misgivings about her - a woman that he knows isn't the woman he knows, so to speak - are thus unfair and illogical – but are they invalid, given that he’s been shaped by his experiences with his timelines’ T’Pring, that those are inevitably a part of him? No, those misgivings aren’t invalidated, even if Spock understands he must overcome them and judge this T’Pring on her own merit – and she indeed is worthy of his trust. That of course is Spock's character post-V'Ger anyway, as Christopher writes it - learning to accept the validity of emotions and emotional responses while ensuring they don't overshadow his logic and reason.

    All in all, I clearly found the novel very rich in terms of the ideas and potential themes it explores. So that's very good, of course.

    Also, I just realized: The first director of the DTI was named Grey. This is also very good.
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  15. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

    Jun 4, 2009
    Such a nice succinct post Nasat ;)

    As for me, I just got the e-book. Will be posting after I read it.
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Wow, another great, incredibly detailed and thoughtful review, Deranged Nasat. I think the book you interpreted is better than the book I wrote.

    Yup. I felt they were overdue for exploration, though I didn't really penetrate their mysteries very deeply.

    Hm, I just meant it as being sort of polite, matter-of-fact reassurance. "Thanks for the good wishes, and you'll be happy to know they'll probably be fulfilled." And just because it was an alien, I wanted to have it react in an unexpected way rather than fulfill the familiar ritual.

    I just get so tired of all the human characters being from Earth, all the Vulcans being from Vulcan, all the Andorians being from Andor(ia), etc. Where are the immigrant communities?

    However, I'm not sure I got the chronology right, since Mars was colonized in the Trekverse well before first contact with the Tellarites.

    I'm glad you saw it that way, because I felt it was a weak link in the book and that I was hampered by the structure from really fleshing out their characters adequately.

    Oh, you mean like how the agents wear/are described as gray. I don't recall if that resonance ever occurred to me. Grey, of course, was a minor character from "Yesteryear," and I just wanted to use her in some capacity, and decided that it could work if she were the first DTI director. (I wasn't sure whether this would be labeled as DTI or TOS, so I tried to incorporate as many TOS/TAS elements as I could in case it were the latter.)
  17. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Ah. Clearly I'm too cynical to fully appreciate an audience with the Vedala; I'm reading too much (still well-meaning) distaste underneath their pleasant manner. :lol: I assume they'd see that as a sign of my own charming insecurity, befitting a member of a still up-and-coming child race...

    I guess I over-read the degree to which they felt the need to maintain the distance between their own society and the younger races. But I suppose they're too self-assured and content to be have any insecurity over the exchanges on those rare occasions they decide contact is warrented. I suppose the urge to have the feline race be fickle and aloof in accordance with cat stereotypes might come into it, too...

    On the other hand, I suppose the planet's development would still be incomplete, and the Tellarites have been in space longer than humans and might be more familiar with building effective colonies. Maybe when the Federation was founded the Tellarites supplied some of their expertise to Mars' continuing self-sufficiency (especially as some of the Martians left early in the Romulan War; were Chakotay's tribe the only ones to depart?). And maybe Earth's resources were too depleted by the war and Mars was more dependent on alien support in the years afterward than most people realize? Which might be why it's felt by some that the contributions of the Tellarite settlers are somewhat overlooked.

    Yes, I just thought it amusingly appropriate that the first director's name set the tone for the department's dress and manner. I imagine that Federation citizens who have interacted with the DTI and then looked at its spacewikipedia article would make a joke about it.
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I try to avoid treating aliens as exact analogues to whatever Earthly species they happen to resemble. Although that cliche is more excusable in Trek than elsewhere, assuming the First Humanoids' programmed DNA influences life on multiple worlds to develop in broadly similar directions.

    I thought that the vote went the other way, and the Native American community on Mars decided not to move away just yet.

    I guess the problem is I mentioned the role that Tellarites played in Mars's "colonial history," which strictly speaking would mean the period before Mars became an independent state. The first known human contact with the Tellarites was in 2152 (a staticky comm transmission in "Dead Stop"), whereas according to Beneath the Raptor's Wing, Mars became independent nearly half a century before then.

    But the scene was from Delgado's POV, and I guess he could've been misusing the word "colonial" in his thoughts. There would've still been a lot of new settlements being established in the late 22nd century and beyond, and he might've mistakenly thought of them as "colonial" even though they were independent.

    Or were they? When SF deals with the trope of Martian independence, it routinely treats the whole planet as a unit and assumes it all gets independence at once. But the various colonies in North and South America won their independence from their parent nations at various different times. So it's possible that some nations on Mars could be sovereign while others elsewhere on the planet were still colonies. But that seems unlikely in the context of Trek, where planets are traditionally treated as uniform political entities. Once United Earth or certainly the UFP was founded, they would've probably recognized and respected the independence of all Mars. And that would still be before any substantial Tellarite population would've settled.

    So it's a one-word goof, but it still bugs me, because it's the result of sloppy research on my part. I wouldn't have used that word if I'd been clearer about the chronology of Martian independence and Tellarite contact.

    They would, of course, have consulted Memory Alpha. ;)
  19. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Mar 2, 2002
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    IIRC, ENT: Beneath the Raptor's Wng established that the Martian colonies became independent and established themselves as a single sovereign state called the Confederated Martian Colonies in 2105. Articles of the Federation established United Earth itself to have been founded in 2130.

    Perhaps that's the source of Delgado's confusion/inaccurate word choice -- Mars's formal name is still the Confederated Martian Colonies, even though it's independent of Earth. This does bring up the question of why they kept the name "Colonies" even though they're no longer a colonial possession of any Earth nations. My reckoning would simply be that the definition of the word "colony" has expanded in the Trekverse, to sometimes encompass any settlement on a planet lacking indigenous life (perhaps especially those which are not technologically/industrially self-sufficient because it's not an M-class planet), irrelevant of its actual political status/sovereignty -- perhaps because the pioneer mentality, the "colonist" identity, is something they take pride in even if they're not colonists in the traditional sense of the term (i.e., being subject to "the old country's" authority)?


    To be fair, the Confederated Martian Colonies's -- and the United Rigel Colonies's -- name is no more inaccurate than, say, that of the United States of America. When the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776, it didn't declare the existence of a single new sovereign state -- rather, it was declaring that each individual colony was now its own separate sovereign state, independent both of the Kingdom of Great Britain and of each other. (That's why it referred to itself as a declaration of the "thirteen united States of America," rather than "the United States of America" -- all nouns were capitalized in 18th Century English, and "united" was not part of the name; they were all independent of each other.) Later on, a confederation of these independent states was created called "the United States of America," and when the confederation was abolished and the current federation established under the Constitution, that federation retained the name. But, really, the name is completely inaccurate -- U.S. states aren't states in any meaningful sense; they're really provinces.

    Perhaps something similar is at work with the Confederated Martian Colonies -- the name kept out of inertia/emotional attachment to the word "colonies," to the point where the word evolved to develop a new meaning, just as the word "states" remains in the U.S.'s name.
  20. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 3, 2011
    Since Forgotten Histroy incorporated so much from TAS, does that mean we consider all things from TAS as having happened? So somewhere, out there, is a giant Spock? If so, I hope he goes to Romulus.