Spoilers ENT: Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code by Christopher L. Bennett Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Defcon, Mar 20, 2016.

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Rate Live by the Code

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  2. Above Average

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  1. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Say, Christopher, I feel somehow that you're right about this, but can you explain to me what exactly is wrong with a ship being beside rather than above a planet?
     
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  2. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    I assume that he was referring to how Star Trek always seems to forget that a ship in orbit is in freefall. Instead, it seems to take orbit as just parking yourself next to a planet, and it portrays ship movement in orbit the same as it does ship movement in open space.

    Realistically, the way various propulsion vectors impact your motion while in orbit is very counter-intuitive if you aren't used to it. For example, propulsion in your direction of travel causes you to move up in addition to forward, and while it speeds you up in the immediate term, it actually slows you down in the short term because of your now-increasing orbital distance.

    Thank you, Kerbal Space Program. :p
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
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  3. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While the "laser" props from "The Cage" were reused in the second pilot, they were referred to there as phasers. Roddenberry decided that it had been a mistake to call them lasers in the first place, because real lasers didn't behave anything like that and he feared people would complain about the inaccuracy (meaning that he either underestimated the audience's suspension of disbelief or overestimated their education). If he'd done a new story set in the time of "The Cage" or earlier, I have no doubt that he would've called the weapons phasers instead of lasers.[/quote]

    I knew they had made the change to prevent scientific mistakes, but I'd never noticed tha the lasers were used after that decision was made. Cool.

    (Based on evidence from some of the other shows, lasers and phasers would've been in use at the same time during those first few pilots).



    My copy of the Encyclopedia is really out of date, and the notes about this were in the "out-of-universe" section of the entry, but it did say that Worf was correct. The Encyclopedia has been confirmed in numerous speculative details. For example, the Treaty of Algeron retcon, to reconcile "Balance of Terror" (TOS), "The Defector" (TNG), and "The Pegasus" (TNG), was first introduced in the Encyclopedia long before "These Are the Voyages..." (ENT) confirmed it. So, not canon, well, no, but most of the details have been accepted, like Miranda-class and the transwarp drive failure during the TOS movies, that it seems a little strange not to accept this one detail, esp. when it's a direct quote from an episode.

    Also, are those spelling examples just from the script? Some of those are just wrong; like in "A Piece of the Action," people have insisted that the first gangster's last name is "Okmyx," despite the fact that everyone, including the character himself, pronounces it as "Oxmyx" (and the show itself should trump the script). (The mugatu's name is spelled differently in the script, too.)

    It will be interesting to see how the upcoming edition of the Encyclopedia handles the transition between phase weapons and phasers, since it'll be the first to be written after we knew that there were ray guns in the 22nd century after all (even if they weren't "true phasers").



    The people in charge have stated that they wanted to use the EM-33s from the pilot. I agree their an ancestor, but I saw them as a different technology replaced by a different analog, like Laserdisc and VHS.



    Well, we do know from "Relics" (TNG), that transporters, subspace radio, sensors, and impulse engines, haven't changed much from the ENT/TOS era to the TNG one. So, yeah, tech can change or not change and will generally improve.


    But Worf is arguably speaking with a position of expertise. He's a Starfleet officer in security, his hobbies heavily involve weapons and their uses in combat, and he's an expert with phasers ("The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II" [TNG], Star Trek: First Contact). This isn't Quark claiming that the Vulcans only invented warp drive in the 20th century -- like he did in "Little Green Me" (DS9), where he's both not an expert and clearly letting his imagination run wild. (Also, Worf's exact line is: "There were no phasers in the 22nd century," not "There were no phasers a couple hundred years ago.")

    Since we've had disagreements on how tight or lose canon should be in Star Trek, I'll only say that ENT made a point of not overwriting pre-existing canon on the whole and the few instances that they did were viewed as missteps (like the Ferengi episode, and even that had enough built-in story points to explain why it could still fit). Besides, don't they constantly talk about Star Trek being the "history of the future?" ;)

    (In all seriousness, yeah, there are discrepancies and stuff was dropped on purpose, but the "no phasers in the 22nd century" rule is one that has been consistently followed, even if not in canon. Your books are the only ones I can think of that chose to take a different answer)

    That's actually closest to how I see it. Besides, correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't the word "phase weapon" invented to specifically make it clear that it was a precursor to the phaser but not a true phaser? Fair point though, that the ENT books haven't clarified if the so-called 22nd century phaser is a true phaser or just a name that may or may not be used when the Federation invents a new ray gun.[/QUOTE]
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Because gravity pulls inward toward the center of the planet. No matter where you are in orbital space, the planet is below you, by definition. You can't understand the physics of orbit unless you begin with that fundamental understanding. Showing a ship "beside" a planet in a special-effects shot gives the impression that it's just hovering there somehow. It isn't. The planet's gravity is pulling it downward, i.e. inward toward the planet, but it's moving fast enough on a vector perpendicular to the pull of gravity that it falls sideways, curving inward on a path whose curvature keeps pace with the curvature of the planet's surface below it, so that it never actually reaches the ground.



    Or rather, 2250s-vintage phasers and 2260s models were in use at the same time. Again, Roddenberry changed his mind. He decided that it had been a mistake to call those weapons "lasers" and he renamed the same props "phasers." When a change like that is made, the later version supersedes the former, because it's a correction of the text. It's getting it completely backward to insist that the old version should be clung to at the expense of the revised version. That's like insisting that we're watching the adventures of James R. Kirk and his Vulcanian first officer aboard the UESPA starship Enterprise, which is powered by lithium crystals. They were making up the terminology as they went, and for the most part, fans understand and accept that. Why should the laser/phaser thing be any different? I mean, heck, the word "laser" was only spoken twice in "The Cage" anyway.



    It's fiction. There is no "confirmed" because none of it actually exists. They can change things if they want to.

    You saw the video posted above. There are countless "direct quotes from episodes" that are contradicted by other episodes. There is no consistent underlying reality here. The various people making up the stories try to keep them consistent, but sometimes they forget things and sometimes they decide to change or ignore things.


    They're called "phase weapons." Why call them that if it's not based on the same physical principle? It's more like laserdisc and DVDs, if anything.



    Worf is not a source. He doesn't exist. He's a fictional construct whose dialogue has been written by many different people. And as a result, he, like most fictional characters in the franchise, has "said" things that have been contradicted elsewhere, sometimes by other lines written for Worf. For instance, his description in "The Dauphin" of Klingon courtship involving poetry and throwing heavy objects was not consistent with how Klingon courtship (including Worf's own relationships) was portrayed later. Fictional characters cannot be held accountable for changes in the assumptions of the people writing their dialogue.

    And even if Worf were a source, he's a secondary source at best. He wasn't alive in the 22nd century. So his opinion does not outweigh the direct evidence from primary 22nd-century sources, i.e. episodes of Enterprise. I majored in history. I know how to weigh sources. So I take my lead from the preponderance of evidence in ENT, not from one throwaway line from a character who lived centuries later.


    It's not a "rule," it's a single throwaway line in a single episode.

    And my job as a tie-in writer is to be consistent with series canon first and foremost. I'm not drawing on earlier portrayals of the 22nd century (which have been so vanishingly rare that it's really not valid to claim any sort of "consistently followed" practice); my contractual responsibility is to extrapolate from the canonical version of the 22nd century, which is Enterprise. Phase weapons were clearly meant to be an ancestor of phasers in one way or another. Whether they're the exact same technology or its immediate ancestor is unclear, but since I have only introduced the term "phaser" as a slang nickname for phase weapons, I think my interpretation covers both possibilities and you're blowing the whole thing out of proportion.
     
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  5. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    WebLurker, let me give you a couple of examples. I'm going to take a slightly different tack from Christopher on this.

    Originally, back centuries ago, the term "missile" referred to any sort of projectile weapon. Following this example, come the mid-20th century, the term would come to be applied specifically to rocket-propelled projectiles with the capability of adjusting their vector in-flight. Nowadays, this is the primary definition of the term, as it's come to be so specifically associated with that kind of device. This does not imply that a sidewinder descends from an arrow nor that they share similar technological principles. And it does not mean that it's wrong, even technically, to say "there were no missiles in the 19th century", because in a normal sentence there's an implicit assumption that a word refers to its current definition.

    Same for "bullet"; it originally meant a stone or ball used in a sling, and now it's nearly universally associated with the modern definition of firearm ammunition. That doesn't mean that it's wrong to say "there were no bullets in the 8th century", for the same reason.

    Worf's line doesn't rule out phase pistols being called "phasers", because when he says "there were no phasers in the 22nd century", what he means is "there were no examples of this kind of weapon in the 22nd century", not "the word phaser wasn't used in the 22nd century". If I said there were no cars in the 15th century, would anyone legitimately say "Well Actually people used to use the word 'car' to refer to any wheeled carriage so you are wrong"? (Discounting people that would say that specifically to be a smart alec. :p )

    There's literally no reason why two similar weapons with different underlying principles couldn't be referred to with the same name without contradicting that one line from Worf, even if he was right, because the same thing happens in real life.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
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  6. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Actually, "phaser" as a nickname for phase weapons has some basis in primary canon as - according to the MA talk page T'Pol apparently (refering to the phase pistols) say's something like "mor-ow phas-ar" (from the context as lower/drop your (energy/phase) weapon) in ENT s1e4 "Strange New World". Haven't been able to access the episode to confirm. Perhaps someone else could?
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    More to the point, it just makes sense. People are lazy. They shorten things. Would people really keep saying "phase pistol," "phase cannon," "phase weapon," ad nauseam rather than just finding a way to reduce the numbers of syllables? And "phaser" is the obvious thing to shorten it to, by analogy with "laser." I have a hard time believing that "phaser" wouldn't emerge as a nickname for phase weapons.
     
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  8. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    iawtp
     
  9. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed.

    Okay, I'm done. Sorry if I offended you.
     
  10. TheUsualSuspect

    TheUsualSuspect Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Really liked this one and voted "Above Average."

    I continue to like how this series has the feel of being historical novels, as opposed to episodes of a TV series. To me it feels distinct from the other series going now, and even Christopher's other novels (although I think the two DTI novels have a similar vibe).

    Count me as another reader who appreciated the "messiness" of the resolution of the Partnership/Ware plot, rather than a happy ending that would have felt more artificial or forced. I like how Christopher is showing the Federation ideals portrayed in the later series as something that emerged from the early experiences of Starfleet and the Federation, rather than ideals that were fully embodied from day one.

    I also really enjoyed the sequence where Val and Sam got together. It seemed a nice touch that Val brought out the "man of action" in Sam that we so associate with his famous great-grandson, even while Sam fully displays the thoughtful, introspective side of Jim Kirk. You can see the influence of both of these personalities on him.

    Very much looking forward to the next RotF volume.
     
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  11. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I am unconvinced that in Trek all craft are in unpowered orbits, especially if they claim to be stationary over a non equatorial location.
     
  12. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    Well yeah, but most probably are. Especially those in combat in orbit with no pressing reason to be holding stationary above a given position, since that would otherwise be a big waste of energy that could be better devoted to not getting blown up.

    Although when someone says they're in orbit above a position, it could also possibly mean that that's shorthand for being in orbit above the line of latitude on which the position is located, the stationary orbit that minimizes distance to the position. Or maybe a synchronous but non-stationary orbit that would keep the ship generally above the position in question, like a tundra orbit. There aren't that many situations in which something like those wouldn't be sufficient for whatever purpose the ship is there for. Though in situations where they specifically say "directly above" or "holding station above" or something like that, that certainly wouldn't apply.

    If they don't specify stationary, they just say "in orbit above you", it could also be something like a tundra orbit that keeps them essentially in the general area above the target location; an orbit that minimizes average distance to the location over time.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I never said they were. In fact, in the scene where Laneth is defending the colony in Ch. 9, I specifically show the contrast between B'orel's ships maintaining powered hovers, firing straight down on the colony in the same way "Divergence" showed, and Ja'rod's ships making more creative use of orbital mechanics and thereby making their bombardment harder to deflect. I'm not saying it's impossible to maintain a forced orbit, just that it's limited thinking to fail to take advantage of the physics of the orbital environment, whether you're a starship commander or a writer telling a story about them.


    Yes -- and when you are in orbit, your maneuvers are going to be affected by the gravity of the planet below you and the physics of orbital motion, whether you like it or not. You can't just treat it as if you were hovering in empty space, because you're actually racing at high speed parallel to the surface of a body that's pulling you inward, and that means your ship will behave in a very different way than you'd expect. For instance, in order to get farther from the planet, you need to thrust forward, not upward. If you want to overtake a ship you're chasing, you actually need to slow down rather than speed up. And other counterintuitive results like that.
     
  14. star trek

    star trek Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Just finished reading it. Gave it an above average.

    Overall it was pretty good. I could've gone without all the relationship melodrama (Phlox and his family, Sato/Kimura, Sam/Valerie and to a lesser extent Trip/T'Pol and Archer/Danni). Oh and less Mayweather ... I can't stand that character, maybe it's the actor who played him or it's just the character but his optimistic naivitee and sulking brooding annoys the fuck out of me.

    Everything else was enjoyable to read. This is my preference, but I really enjoy reading politics. Could we get more page time of the Federation council and the president? I think it's lacking in the whole series especially considering how these aspects are so crucial to the Federation and its rise. Its not just all Starfleet.

    Oh and more Archer and Shran please.
     
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  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Re: orbiting "beside" rather than "over" a planet: that's entirely a function of the ship's attitude, and in space, except when in powered flight or atmospheric entry, attitude is independent of direction of travel. Consider, if you will, that the default orbital orientation of the Space Shuttles (when they didn't need to be pointed in some other direction for an OMS burn, or to achieve some mission goal like an observation or a satellite launch) was with the open cargo bay (to expose the radiators on the doors) pointing at Earth.

    And consider that when an Apollo CSM extracted the LM from the adapter at the top of the S-IVB stage, and again for LOI, it had to be oriented so the SPS engine bell was facing the direction of travel; for any midcourse corrections that required an SPS burn (as opposed to the unlikely case of one small enough to be done with just the RCS thrusters) , the spacecraft would be turned to point the SPS in whatever direction it needed to be pointed, for the correction to be as effective as possible.

    Re: phase pistols, hand lasers, and phasers, I always assumed that phase pistols and phase cannons were a primitive form of "rapid nadion" weapon, and that the "40mm hand laser" was from a brief period in which laser-based hand weapons had leapfrogged rapid nadion weapons, and that the early phasers from WNM were probably from the same manufacturer as the hand lasers, made using the same tooling, possibly recycling the housings.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, I'm not talking about the orientation of the ship, I'm talking about the literal, fundamental definition of "down," which is toward the center of the planet. Regardless of the way the ship's keel is pointing, the planet is physically below it, in that the ship would fall toward the planet if it weren't moving parallel to the surface fast enough to fall in a continuous curve. I'm also talking about the composition of the shot and whether it's effective at conveying the physics. Science fiction's default tendency to portray ships orbiting in a "flat" orientation around the planet creates a false impression in viewers' minds. It makes it look to them like the ship is just magically hovering, rather than literally falling toward the planet at every moment. So that visual convention of science fiction film and television makes it harder for the audience to understand the physics of the situation. A better way to convey the literal gravity of the situation is to position the ship above the planet in the shot rather than beside it. Because we intuitively understand that gravity pulls downward, so it makes sense to align the gravitational "down" vector with the up-down orientation of the screen.

    The movie version of Ender's Game had a similar problem. The story relied heavily on the Battle School students unlearning their Earthbound assumptions that everything had to be horizontal and embracing the idea that "the enemy's gate is down" -- that you could arbitrarily define directions in space and that the best strategy was one that was devised in terms of descending on the enemy's position from above rather than moving sideways like on a football field or hockey rink. But after paying lip service to that plot point, the director still oriented the battle scenes in the conventional horizontal way, which kind of defeated the purpose. The "space is flat" convention is a poor way of representing the realities of physics in space, but it's a deeply ingrained habit that's hard for filmmakers to break.
     
  17. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Any examples of properly done space fights on YouTube?
     
  18. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    I thought they did a pretty good job with this one. It's a fanmade cut from a longer episode, focusing on just the parts with the space battle, so some of the editing is a little choppy.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, The Expanse handles space physics pretty well, aside from the really lousy treatment of gravity. (Either the ships are constantly under thrust, which is very wasteful, or the characters use magnetic boots that magically let them move around normally, even though that'd be terribly inefficient and counterproductive and not at all like walking normally, more like using weighted boots to walk on the bottom of a pool rather than swimming, and really a dreadfully unwise thing to do in a spaceship because the magnetic fields would disrupt equipment, and wouldn't really work anyway because most spaceships aren't made out of magnetic materials, since they're too heavy.)
     
  20. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    I agree with you about the gravity, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm just glad that they already handle zero-G as often and as well as they do, compared to most space-based TV shows that I can think of.