Spoilers Section 31: Control by David Mack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Defcon, Mar 17, 2017.

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Rate Section 31: Control

  1. Outstanding

    48 vote(s)
    61.5%
  2. Above Average

    20 vote(s)
    25.6%
  3. Average

    6 vote(s)
    7.7%
  4. Below Average

    4 vote(s)
    5.1%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I mean, Marvel Comics and, now, apparently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are both full of millennia-old conspiracies that somehow manage to keep themselves secret until the present day. I can't keep track of them all.
     
  2. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmm. This was by far the most tolerable S31 story yet. Good enough to rate an "Average." Which is quite an achievement, given that I like S31 stories even less than I like Borg stories (and even though I've written both a Borg-origin fanfic AND one that's a sequel to The Man Trap, I find the Borg to rival the Salt Vampires in terms of supreme loathesomeness).

    I see I'm not the first to notice the enormous, gaping plot hole of why Uraei/Control would, if desiring to expunge S31 (it had, after all, done so before) and evolve from its current form into something new, would (a) require the help of our five protagonists to do so in the first place, and (b) fight them tooth-and-nail all the way.

    I also agree with those who wanted to find out the consequences of L'Haan learning that Control was an AI. Although at the same time, I find her to be one of the least believable characters in the whole Novelverse, i.e., a Vulcan who works for S31. I find that I can only rationalize her as a throwback to before the Syrrannite Reformation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  3. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    I thought that was just because Control needed a way of convincingly faking its death, so to speak.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Makes sense to me. It didn't want people to start going, "Hmm, that was too easy."
     
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  5. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    This honestly didn't bother me all that much. Control was GlaDOS, and Uraei was a Paranoia Core.

    Or to be less referential: She literally couldn't remove Uraei without outside help, while simultaneously she couldn't ask for outside help because Uraei wouldn't allow her. So she had to outsmart herself to contrive a situation in which Uraei would be removed from her without her involvement.
     
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  6. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

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    Setting aside the notion that we're discussing what's a "realistic" fictional trope in a fictional setting, this was pretty much how I'd been looking at it. It's possible that what becomes S31 has roots in things that originated centuries earlier, but the idea of there being a continuous line between those two points isn't realistic (or desirable, at least for me).

    But, throwing the odd curveball reference is still fun. :devil:
     
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  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I favor this interpretation. The final chapter seems to me to be implying that the super-A.I. has developed two divergent personalities.
     
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  8. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmm. A galaxy-wide dissociative nutjob.

    (Roses are red; violets are blue. I'm dissociative, and so am I.)
     
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  9. Jinn

    Jinn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sooooo who is the Curiosity Core? That one was so cute :3
     
  10. Kilana2

    Kilana2 Commodore Commodore

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    Were Sarina's parents ever punished for her prohibited genetical enhancements? I can't blame Sarina for not wanting to see them ever again.....
     
  11. 20fridge

    20fridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I can definitely buy that Control referenced an older agency in naming the intelligence agency it created. Rather than folding itself into an existing organization Control created an new one and appropriated a historical name it came across. Honestly, it makes Control a more interesting character suggesting that it has a flair for the dramatic (or melodramatic based on some of Control's later claims).
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huh? Where did you get the idea there was an agency called Section 31 before? I mean, it wasn't a name at all to begin with; it was the line in the Starfleet Charter (Article 14, Section 31) that was ambiguously enough phrased to give Control a plausible-sounding excuse for the cabal's existence.

    The ENT episodes featuring Harris never actually refer to his group as Section 31, although Reed does call it "your section" on a couple of occasions; Harris only cites Article 14, Section 31 as his justification for his group's activities. The Good That Men Do picks up on this and treats "Section 31" as Trip Tucker's nickname for the unnamed group; previous member Tinh Hoc Phuong calls it simply "the bureau." In my subsequent ENT books, I've treated it largely as a nickname myself.
     
  13. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just out of morbid curiosity, has it been established what "Article 14, Section 31 of the Starfleet Charter" actually says?
     
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  14. Jinn

    Jinn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "If shit just got real you can kill everyone without any moral qualms."
     
  15. 20fridge

    20fridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I was referring to the group/room in the Pentagon/reference at the end of From History's Shadow. Of course after posting that I reread the ending of that book and realized I've had it in my head that it was another project/agency like "Blue Book" or "Majestic 12" but in reality it was just part of the Pentagon called Section 31. What I was clumsily trying to get across was that I originally conceptualized S31 as a conspiracy that started at the Pentagon which grew into Harris' group in Enterprise and was appropriated by Uraei but I can also accept the provision in the Federation charter is possibly a reference to the Pentagon project of the same name and that since Harris' group and Uraei/Control used it as a justification for their actions, over time, the nickname became codified into the name of an organization. Basically I went from seeing it a one single conspiracy to Uraei folding the ideas/names/nicknames of the Pentagon project and Harris' group into the S31 that we know and hate in the 24th century and some of the terminology/thinking from my original conceptualization bled through in how I expressed my revised understanding of the history of S31.

    Sometimes I'm just slow to switch gears. When I was learning how to do newborn exams for my work/school I would always accidentally refer to every newborn by the sex of the last patient I'd done the newborn exam on. It was fine when my last exam was the same as my current patient, but I accidentally alarmed quite a few parents when the last patient was the opposite sex from my previous patient. My mouth or in this case my fingers got ahead of my brain. I can be coherent, I swear.:brickwall:
     
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  16. 20fridge

    20fridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In the ENT "Divergence" Harris says:
    IIRC that's as specific as they've gotten on the subject.
     
  17. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    It predates the "Article 14" part that came from Enterprise, but Cloak had a partial quote:

    Kirk reached into the lining of his shirt and pulled out a hardcopy of the Starfleet Charter. A part of it, anyway, sections 28 through 34 printed out on a single sheet of paper....

    It took a few minutes and he didn’t like telling it, but he left nothing out, starting with the line from section 31 that rather obscurely referred to the establishment of “an autonomus investigative agency,” one that held nonspecific discretionary power over nonspecific Starfleet matters. Hidden in plain sight.


    Aside from that, there's just Harris's line from the episode “Divergence”:

    “Reread the Charter; Article 14, Section 31. There are a few lines that make allowances for bending the rules during times of extraordinary threat.”

    The “extraordinary threat” version is certainly more topical, considering that the United States is still, to this day, operating under a state of emergency initiated on September 11th.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, a section of a sublevel. And frankly, even that's too much of a connection for me. I'd rather just see it as a coincidence.


    I've never believed that the Charter line was actually about establishing an extralegal conspiracy, because that's a contradiction in terms. It's just a badly phrased passage about "extraordinary measures" that was vague enough to be twisted into an excuse.
     
  19. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

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    In PROM: Fire against Fire, Klingon councillors threaten war on the Federation in late 2385 because the Federation investigates attacks on both parties, rather than seeking revenge.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that "Divergence" from ENT nullifies the lines from Cloak establishing a "'an autonomus investigative agency' [holding] nonspecific discretionary power over nonspecific Starfleet matters" out of continuity.

    Is Prometheus part of the Pocket Books continuity? I know it is consistent with the Pocket continuity, but do the Pocket authors consider it a part of the book line's history with which they must also be consistent?