Spoilers Star Trek - Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Morticia Addams, Feb 2, 2020.

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Rate Star Trek - Picard: The Last Best Hope

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  1. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Back to "The Last Best Hope" I have to say the best part of this book is the fact that it really is a logistical problem that is the villain. It's a matter of the Romulans refusing to acknowledge the problem, refusing to accept help, and dragging their feet but also the fact it's just a huge task.

    I am thinking that this actually really does make Spock's actions on the Jellyfish all the more heroic because if he did somehow "suck up all of the exploding sun" (which I presume is the purpose of Red Matter since it apparently also creates wormholes rather than just black holes) then presumably Romulus and Remus are both destroyed but all the other planets that were mentioned as being endangered by the super-nova are now safe.

    Obviously, any colonies in the Romulus system are ****ed because, well, no Sun but the ones a system over are going to be fine. It explains why there's a Romulan Free State as all those planets they left to die are....well, fine, and presumably ready to murder some people.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That wouldn't make any difference. A wormhole is just a black hole that's open on both ends. It wouldn't have any more "sucking" power than a black hole -- and black holes don't actually "suck" like cosmic vacuum cleaners, they're just infinitely compact so that the inverse-square increase of their gravitational pull can rise indefinitely as you get closer to them. From a distance, a black hole's gravitational pull is no stronger than that of a normal star of the same mass.

    Which is why the idea of "sucking back in" all the exploded matter that's already been hurled outward from the star is so monumentally stupid -- and that's not even mentioning the hard x-ray and gamma radiation that's already expanding outward at the speed of light, or (in Trek-physics terms) the subspace shock propagating outward FTL.

    The only way I can think of that Spock's action would make any difference post-supernova is if the Red Matter "black hole" is orbiting within the expanding cloud of expelled, superheated stellar atmosphere, sucking up bits of it as it circles through the cloud over and over. That might absorb enough of it to diminish the radiation it emits over the long term, but it seems unlikely that it would make that much difference.
     
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  3. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    You're correct that it's not actually a wormhole, just something that absorbed all of the radiation and sent Spock as well as Nero back in time/into a parallel universe.

    Red Matter be weird.
     
  4. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm kinda coming to the conclusion that the "Horbus" vs. "Romulan sun" thing can't be reconciled and we may just have to accept this as a continuity error with no answer. Given that the franchise is currently following the X-Men movie approach to continuity, maybe it's best to just accept that canon is broken and enjoy the installments for what they are without worrying about the logic of how they would ostensibly fit together.
     
  5. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think its a continuity error. It's a retcon. Two different flavors of beast. The events have been retconned but there's no reason to assume that Spock wasn't involved and didn't end up in the Kelvinverse.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not a continuity error at all (nor is it a retcon), because "Hobus" does not exist in canonical continuity. It is purely an invention of IDW Comics that was adopted by Star Trek Online. Canonically, all the 2009 movie actually established was that "a star" went supernova and destroyed Romulus. That's it. Picard is 100% consistent with that.
     
  7. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Horbus" is a useful placeholder name for the unnamed star in question, hence why I use it. The question of why Spock calls Horbus just a "star" when in fact it's the Romulan sun is very odd, even if it's technically true, but that's not the problem. The problem is that Spock promised Nero he could save Romulus with the red matter. As far as we can tell, the only way the red matter would be able to stop the supernova is either by sucking up Horbus before it exploded (which seems to have been Spock's plan, since he was caught flat-footed by it exploding a bit ahead of schedule) or by sucking in enough of the supernova to advert the galactic destruction (as he was forced to do).

    If Horbus was indeed the Romulan sun, then Spock could not save Romulus, since removing the sun would destroy the world anyways (albeit by making it uninhabitable, not by vaporizing it). Nero is very blunt that he blames Spock for both his family's death and for his homeworld's destruction, which makes no sense if the world was toast no matter what. Unless we want to headcanon that "saving Romulus" is somehow a "Asgard is not a place" thing, PIC's casting Horbus as the Romulan sun does not fit with Star Trek (2009)'s backstory.

    (There's also the question why no one in the PIC prequel novel seems worried about Horbus destroying the Galaxy, but seeing as there was a gap in time between the Federation pulling out of the evacuation plan and Spock taking the Jellyfish to deal with the supernova, there is a place for something to happen to the sun to make it go from just toasting the Romulan system to everything.)
     
  8. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Spock erasing an exploding sun with NonsensiumTM (a well established element on the Star Trek periodic table) so that the planet only has to deal with evacuating before everyone freezes to death isn't the best solution but is far superior than instant horrifying death.

    It also would protect the other planets in neighboring systems from being irradiated by the blast.

    Mind you, I never had a problem with Hobus threatening the galaxy. I just figured some malicious godlike alien just put a sun-powered "subspace cascade devourer" in it that will consume the galaxy because EVIL. That's just Tuesday in Star Trek. It's also coincidentally the plot in STAR TREK ONLINE - the Iconians wanted to wipe out all life but themselves.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  9. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Eh, fair enough. And honestly, it's not the worst discrepancy in the franchise and pretty minor considered how laissez faire the Powers That Be have been treating canon and continuity in the revival era. (What is Kelvin Timeline/DSC/PIC/LDS/ST era anyways, Star Trek G3?)
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the point is, the movie never said it wasn't the Romulan sun. So there is no actual contradiction between the movie version and the Picard version. It's merely a clarification. Contradicting what tie-ins have claimed or what people have assumed is not a continuity error. All that matters is the exact letter of the text. The Romulan sun is "a star" as much as any other star is. Lack of specificity is not a contradiction.


    The planet as a physical entity is irrelevant. It's just a hunk of rock. What matters is the people, the civilization. "Save their planet" could mean "allow the people to survive long enough to evacuate."


    Nero was not a rational actor. He was crazed with grief and looking for someone to blame. Scapegoating is rarely sensible.

    Although if anything, Picard makes Nero's resentment of the Federation more reasonable. It's not very rational to blame Spock or the Federation for being unable to predict the exact moment of the supernova; nobody could do that. But it's entirely rational to blame the Federation for abandoning the evacuation effort after the synth attack and thereby leaving more Romulans to die when the supernova came.


    Of course it doesn't, but that's irrelevant. There are lots of things in Trek that don't fit with a precisely literal reading of earlier installments. "Mudd's Women" had Harry Mudd recognize Spock as "half-Vulcanian" on sight, implying that full Vulcans looked less human than Spock did. That was contradicted when we finally met other Vulcans. Data originally said he was "class of '78" at the Academy, then we learned the current calendar year was 2364. Trill hosts were portrayed in TNG as contributing nothing to the joined personality, but DS9 retconned it so that both personalities contributed (as well as abandoning the Trill's inability to be transported safely and redesigning their makeup). And so on. It's the prerogative of a work of fiction to tweak, refine, and improve its ideas.

    Especially if those ideas are bad and stupid, like "The Alternative Factor" saying that a matter-antimatter reaction would destroy the universe, or ST V saying you could get to the center of the galaxy in 20 minutes, or "Threshold" saying that transwarp would turn people into salamanders. All those things were blatantly, repeatedly contradicted by later Trek because they were stupid and didn't deserve to be acknowledged. And the same goes for the 2009 movie's sloppy, ludicrous, nonsensical account of the Romulan supernova. The version in Picard is a thousand times better. Quality is a higher priority than continuity. Fiction is an imperfect human creation, and its creators have the same right as any other humans to fix their past mistakes, or to try to undo the damage caused by their predecessors' mistakes.


    Because that bit was also incredibly stupid and it deserved to be ignored.

    Anyway, I figure all the nonsense in the movie's mind meld scene can be handwaved because it was just a mind meld. We were seeing Kirk's interpretation of Spock's thoughts through the meld. A brain is not a tape recorder storing information precisely; everything is filtered and interpreted and stored through a web of associations and symbols. Filtering one mind's thoughts through a second mind's perceptions would add a second layer of filtering and symbols, so what came through would be just general impressions, feelings, idioms, metaphors. An experienced melder like Spock could probably filter that out and distinguish the solid information from the chaff, but Kirk's mind was more inexperienced, so his interpretation of Spock's thoughts was probably quite flawed. Maybe he heard "a star" because he missed the bit specifying it was Romulus's star. Maybe he heard "threatened to destroy the Galaxy" because he caught a conceptual whiff of widespread danger and his mind read too much into it.
     
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  11. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I think saying, "rational" is overstepping it considerably. Its a deranged line of logic based on wanting someone to blame when there's no one to blame (other than the Zhat'vash) since it's not like the Federation turned their back on them, they built a fleet to save them and everyone involved in the project was murdered. But being as Nero is a racist Space Trucker, I have no doubt that he's happy to inflict the same pain he's suffering on the people he hates with the flimsiest of excuses.

    I admit, I do wish the book had included the idea that Spock was going to send the exploding some radiation and stuff "elsewhere" (Red Matter is a teleportation device after all -- it just isn';t heathy to put it at the center of a planet) to save the colonies outside of Romulus' system. It would have made Spock's final efforts more heroic and helped explain why there was still *A* Romulan Free State.

    I also wish we knew what happened to the Remans. Picard pays them absolutely no attention.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not that binary. They could have resumed work on the evacuation fleet to the best of their ability, as Picard pushed them to do; remember, there were two years between the synth attack and the supernova, so the Federation could've rallied its resources and managed to evacuate a significantly greater number of people before the end. But instead they abandoned it altogether due to political pressure from isolationist members. There were legitimate grounds for resenting how the Federation used the synth attack as an excuse to turn away from its commitment to help the Romulans.


    It makes no sense either way, as I explained in post #502 above.
     
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  13. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Whether it makes sense scientifically is less important than if it makes sense story-wise, IMHO. Part of what I liked about Red Matter is they don't attempt to describe it's properties overmuch and that allows it to serve its function. Maybe the effects of red matter is that cancels out radiation across vast distances or warps space-time. This is against the principles of a lot of fan's love of Trek, I know but I admit to less concern about that than wanting to know what Spock the character accomplished in his last mission in the Prime Timeline.

    Similarly, what happened to the Remans is more important than the specifics of the exploding sun's effects.

    Heck, I point out you could also just flat out say Spock failed and that his plan was to transport the Sun into another dimension but there's nothing that could be done after it exploded. Which is a sad way to end it but also internally consistent. I just want to know what was going on with him character and arc wise.
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But it doesn't. The story is, he was sent there with something he would use to prevent a disaster, then the disaster happened before he got there, and he went ahead and used it anyway. Why? The movie doesn't explain. Indeed, Spock's narration directly contradicts itself: His first line after "the supernova destroyed Romulus" is "I had little time." Little time for what??? It's already too late!!! He's already failed at the thing he was sent there to do, so why still do it, and why is he in a hurry? It doesn't make one damn bit of sense storywise.

    Frankly, that whole sequence felt to me like something assembled hastily in post-production to replace whatever was in the original script. It's all voiceover, after all, and thus easy to rewrite and dub over, or to mix around in editing. And what we were left with is narratively incoherent. It never offers a word of explanation for why he closes the barn door after the horses have already escaped. It's just an excuse to create the time warp.
     
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  15. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I thought that was to prevent the disaster from spreading. That Romulus was destroyed but the supernova was a threat to a much larger area and Spock used the Red Matter to stop it in its tracks.
     
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  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The dialogue doesn't say that, though. And I've explained why it makes no sense. You can't suck radiation back in once it's already expanding outward at the speed of light. That's like thinking that if someone claps their hands, you can stop the sound from spreading by grabbing their wrists. It only works if you do it before they clap.
     
  17. Ricky Spanish

    Ricky Spanish Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    This is Star Trek. Just a different universe with different physics (or no physics depending on the story :lol:). :shrug:
     
  18. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Well in the movie it's clear that he's stopping the thing that's going to destroy the galaxy. If you remove that, then that is going to remove what Spock is worried about. However, that makes no sense so fans ignore it. However, that ignores what Spock was doing which was saving the galaxy and results in the singularity that moves him back in time. It's interesting how this is a very complicated tapestry of plotlines for something so...(entertainingly) silly.

    Perhaps but it does follow a logical course of events:

    * Spock is trying to save Romulus from a supernova that is exponentially growing to consume everything
    * The supernova goes off and destroys Romulus.
    * Spock gets rid of the supernova blast with the Maguffin
    * Nero blames Spock for not being fast enough
    * They fall into the magic wormhole

    If your issue is with the fact its impossible to stop the supernova once it happens, yes, that will be a problem. So will the idea it endangers more than Romulus.

    I imagine that if they do a retcon, Spock will just have failed and remove the "saves the galaxy" part.

    If its endangering the galaxy, its undoubtedly moving many times faster than the speed of light. Probably a subspace explosion. Maybe the Romulans were experimenting with Omega particles.

    (And I'm sorry as I'm imagining you banging your head against Captain Picard's desk over this)
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not worth litigating every tiny detail. My point is simply that Picard improved on the superficial mess of the movie's version, and I disagree with any assertion that it was "wrong" to interpret some things differently than what the movie implied.
     
  20. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Fair enough. I still wish we knew what Spock did but that's not the purpose of the book.