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

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Kilana2, Feb 2, 2020.

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Rate Star Trek - Picard: The Last Best Hope

  1. Outstanding

    14 vote(s)
    58.3%
  2. Above Average

    5 vote(s)
    20.8%
  3. Average

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
  4. Below Average

    1 vote(s)
    4.2%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    4.2%
  1. BillJ

    BillJ History's Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    About halfway through. I can actually see the reasoning behind some folks being unable to get behind the relocation. A definite tip of the cap to @Una McCormack.
     
  2. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  3. Koric

    Koric Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    @Christopher Interesting viewpoint. Thank you for enlightening me. I want to apologize to you and say I'm sorry if I'm coming off in my posts as atagonistic. I don't mean to. Thank you for taking the time to respond to me about this.

    I guess I realized that Roddenberry's view of Trek's world was one of hope and optimism, but it was also one of no poverty, hunger and certain strifes. With this novel, and the show the powers that be want to bring real world problems and etc. Except it breaks Roddenberry's Trek world in ways that it ends the hopeful fantasy of what we all want to escape from, possibly. It is now becoming something completely different.

    Honestly Picard is now racked with guilt. Guilt over Data's death, guilt over Shinzon, guilt over the Romulans, the death of Dahj,it seems too much. LOL.

    @JD I wasnt talking about the show. I was talking about making the book controversial with the language to boost sales as a thought.

    As I said before and always, I'm glad that there are more and more liking the book. As I stated I gave my support with a 5 star review with increases and encourages sales. You could take the cursing language out of the book and it wouldnt diminish the story one bit. I guess I'm reminded of a writing caveat, writing prose with vulgarity only weakens the impact and intelligence of the prose.

    But I'm no writer, and dont care to be a critic at all.

    I just wanted to enjoy it as others have. Oh well,

    "Fuck it all and fucking no regrets" - Metallica LOL. Thanks to all for the enlightenment :)
    -Koric
     
  4. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Barely an Inconvenience Moderator

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    I noticed today that The Last Best Hope has made the "Trending Now" list on the Canadian Kobo site:

    [​IMG]

    I can't say that I ever recall seeing a Star Trek book in that list before? Granted, I'm sure the excellent price point is having an impact, but I don't think any of the 99-cent sale Trek books have ever made the list.

    Hopefully this is a positive indicator...
     
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  5. thribs

    thribs Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And I paid over £20 for it. Another reason to hate this book. :)
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I just don't think including adult language in a book or TV show would be controversial in this day and age, since there are countless ones that already do it. If anything, Star Trek is well behind the curve of social acceptance on this, as it has been on other things like LGBTQ inclusion.

    And as someone mentioned above, this is not the first Trek novel to include explicit profanity. That precedent was set a decade or more ago, and there wasn't any huge media flurry over it, as far as I recall.


    As with any other tool, that depends on how it's used. Some of its uses will be gratuitous, others valuable and purposeful. A lot of characters in my original fiction use much more graphic profanity than I would feel comfortable using in public myself, because it's in character for them and fits the situation. I don't use it gratuitously because that's not my inclination, but there are times when it's just right to use it and I don't let my own sensitivities get in the characters' way. There is nothing intelligent about an absolute, inflexible ban on a writing device, because every situation is different. Real judgment is about how and when a device should be used, not whether.
     
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  7. Morwen

    Morwen Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I mean, yes. It is different. Very different. But the times are different. And Star Trek has always reflected the times. If we look at what's actually in the Original Series itself, rather than reinterpreting, we the Federation/Starfleet being a proxy for the US of the time, being engaged in various cold wars with other powers. We don't see a single glimpse of Earth.

    TNG ran in a time of optimism. The West 'won' the Cold War. Multilateral internationalism of exactly the sort espoused by the Federation (now more of a proxy for the UN) was fashionable. We imagined, hubristically that history had ended. That there would be no World War III, that it should be smooth sailing from here on in, until indeed we had solved poverty, hunger, and your certain strifes.

    DS9 starts being a little more real. The feeling of a former colony starting to make its own way in a larger context and being wary of alignment with the Federation (back to being a stand-in for the US) is a very pertinent issue, but fundamentally optimistic. As the 90s goes on, that innocence is lost. The world realises that "why can't we just get along?" isn't in fact going to work.

    And then the early 00s happened. Any pretence that we thought the world would get inevitably better with time and the spread knowledge, was stripped away. And live-action Star Trek stopped being able to go forward. How could you? How can you write, with sincerity, a utopian vision of the world, any more? Nemesis didn't really try and think about that, and failed anyway, and then you just get prequels. I don't mind a good prequel but they are fundamentally retrospective. And even the novelverse continuations (and I do like this era of the novelverse!) have a tendency to become backward-looking, even as they try to move on.

    But in Picard they have addressed this problem head on. How do you write Star Trek in today's world, be honest about the nature of it, and yet retain the core of what it is and not turn it into Homeland with Vulcans.

    Picard is a utopian man working in a decidedly fallen utopia. It's about how copes, and how he doesn't. This book engages with that very directly - Picard's refusal to even engage with realpolitik is both an inspiration and a warning. He thinks that the rightness of his cause and the strength of his arguments will carry the day, and it doesn't occur to him that nearly all of his job is buttering people up, that he is a PR guy even more than an administrator. I want our politicians to be as humane as him. And yet I want them to be effective. It's the key issue of our time. And by engaging with it - the show - this book - has managed to make live-action Star Trek actually about something big enough to be worth Star Trek being about (so, excluding, Spock punching terrorists) for the first time in forever. And in a way which is sad, but with a tinge of optimism. We know Picard's right. We can't just give in. We know we have to keep trying even if it seems futile.

    It's beautiful.

    As to the swearing, I think it's great! Because it fits the feel and the characters. Picard is about a fallen world. Having characters say 'fuck' around Picard is a good and direct reminder of that. Picard's still being written as the man who says merde under his breath occasionally, as is proper.
     
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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But it was an Earth and humanity that had overcome racial strife, internal warfare, and the like, so that was the optimistic part, even though it still had conflicts with outside powers. Heck, by the standards of the day, it was optimistic to say that human civilization had even survived to the 23rd century and built a prosperous starfaring civilization; it was more common at the time to depict the future as a post-apocalyptic hell where humans struggled to survive, if they even did survive at all.

    So it's very revisionist to say that ST simply "reflected the times." That was true in some respects, whether intentionally (in allegorical stories like "A Taste of Armageddon" and "A Private Little War") or accidentally (unthinkingly perpetuating racial and sexual prejudices of the era), but to a large extent it was about contrasting with our own times, showing a humanity that had solved the problems we struggled with, and giving us hope that we could solve them too. It was other, less enlightened species that reflected current humanity's problems, not Earth/the Federation itself.


    Except that TNG established explicitly in its opening episode that there was a World War III, a cataclysmic one that plunged mid-21st-century Earth into a Mad Max hellhole that it took us decades to transcend. Its ideal future was one we only achieved after hitting rock bottom and reinventing our way of thinking and living in order to save ourselves, like a recovering addict.

    Your timing is off too. When TNG began in 1987, the Cold War hadn't ended yet. We were starting to see a thaw in relations, and in retrospect we can recognize that as the beginning of the end, but at the time, there was no way of knowing if it would last. Tensions still ran fairly high and there was plenty of popular culture that still portrayed the Cold War as an active conflict with no end in sight.

    As with TOS, TNG's future was not meant to be merely a copy of the present, but specifically and explicitly to be a more optimistic alternative to the present, a hopeful message that we could transcend our current problems, even if we had to go through hell first in order to get there.


    You are getting this completely backward. The worst times are when we need optimistic, idealistic fiction the most, both as escapism and as inspiration, something to give us a reason to keep going and strive to make things better than they are. That's a huge part of why TOS was so influential -- precisely because it was an optimistic vision of the future in a time of great pessimism about humanity's fate. People needed something to give them hope in hopeless times, and that's why Star Trek moved millions of people so deeply, inspired them to believe in something better. That's why it broke out from the pack of SFTV shows and became such an enduring phenomenon.
     
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  9. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I have to admit I am a bit bothered by the, er, excessive profanity. I'm pretty early in the book and there's already been quite a bit.

    It's not that I'm a prude or anything. I love slasher films--hardly a home for moral storytelling ;). And profanity of some sort has been used in Star Trek before, including books and movies.

    But I guess in the past it has been used sparingly in Star Trek. Data's "Oh shit" line in Generations was actually well placed and amusing at the same time. But I kind of liked that in TVH and in First Contact certain terms were unfamiliar. Like in the future they moved beyond coarse swearing in day to day life. Sort of like humanity had matured a bit in language.

    Star Trek, to me, has always been a bit more mature, more sophisticated. Dropping the f-bomb like we would today just seems a bit out of place in the future of Star Trek. I don't know. It's hard to explain. It's not that people that use the f-word are immature or unsophisticated necessarily. It just doesn't feel right to me. And I know a big reason it wasn't in a majority of Star Trek in the past was it was on TV. But at the same time it 'felt' right to me. Even many of the movies swearing was used sparingly, where it obviously could have been used as much as they wanted really.

    Just because you can do a thing doesn't always mean you have to. I guess I just prefer swearing continue to be used sparingly in Star Trek.

    That being said, that alone won't detract from my enjoyment of the story. It's a minor nitpick, but not something that would cause me to rate the book lower if I enjoy it otherwise. Just something that's not sitting quite right with me at this early juncture.
     
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  10. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, I completely agree. It's one thing that's bothered me a bit with some of the things I've read about Picard (I haven't avoided spoilers as much with Picard as I did with Discovery). I was kind of hoping Picard would reflect more of TNG sensibilities and less of today's sensibilities. I always say if I want real world I'll watch the news. Fiction sometimes is an escape. Star Trek was one of those. It was a chance to see a humanity of the future that overcame our weaknesses. That doesn't mean humanity or the Federation is perfect. It's run by mortals who make mistakes. I just liked that the Federation was an organization that was trying to move forward as best it could.

    It bothers me a bit that the Federation in Picard has become reactionary and fear driven. There's so many problems with the 'system' today around the world. It just would have been nice if Picard could show us a system that is opposite to all that. One where a retired Admiral Picard has something he has to do, some mission to accomplish or some challenge he had to face where Starfleet was at his back, where they put all the tools at their disposal to help him accomplish whatever it is. I hope that Picard eventually gets to that point. Because if it's just a reflection of today I can't say that's going to get me too excited. I can't say I'd be too excited to see a fictionalized version of what I can see on CNN or Fox News (whatever anyone's persuasion is, trying to keep this nonpartisan ;) ).

    It'd just be nice to see a show where the government (Federation) was a force for good, something trying to help our hero.

    And it's one thing I had really liked about where the litverse had ended with 'Collateral Damage'. Section 31 was finally defeated, with the help of some of our heros, and the powers at Starfleet did help our hero, Picard. He still had to face some consequences for his actions, that being he will never be promoted. But it ended on a high note, with our hero doing what he does best, taking the Enterprise out to see what was out there (though admittedly the destruction of Romulus was still yet to happen--but I have to imagine the Federation in that timeline would work to help any way it can).
     
  11. Morwen

    Morwen Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I could point-for-point argue you back but my heart's not really in it. Yes there's the direct optimism in TOS, but I'm talking about the tone of the piece and the mood of the times, not about particular historical events or odd lines in episodes. And yes, optimism is needed in these times. But there are those of us who have found it hard to engage with it in these times. And Picard and this book represents a skilfully navigated path back to it. Which is why I love it.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's kind of ethnocentric to attribute Western-style profanity to "humanity" as a whole. In some cultures, notably China and Japan, they don't really use the kind of scatological or sexual profanity we use in the West, at least not in the same contexts. The literal translations of their curse words often sound quite mild to Western ears. For instance, the Japanese exclamation Shimatta!, which tends to get subtitled in English as "Damn it" or "Oh, sh-," literally means just "It has occurred" (along the lines of "Now we've done it," the sense of frustration or despair that a bad thing has irrevocably happened), and epithets like kisama that tend to get subtitled "You bastard" or the like are really just variously impolite levels of the pronoun "You."

    Oaths and expletives are always going to be part of human expression. But there can be great variety in the form they take from culture to culture and time to time. A future society will probably have a different approach to profanity than we do, but that wouldn't make it more "mature," because our use of it isn't necessarily immature or wrong, just different from other places and times. If anything, the case could be made that such open expression of profanity is more mature than the repression and censorship of the past, more honest and more at peace with the feelings being expressed.

    (Although I tend to feel that modern profanity is rather boring because of its total openness -- it's just the same few words over and over, while the creative euphemisms and insults of the past could be a lot more fun. Oh, my stars and garters! Jumping catfish! You lily-livered, two-timing four-flusher!)
     
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  13. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Well, it's hard for me to explain. Perhaps mature isn't quite the right word. It just doesn't 'feel' right with Star Trek I guess. Particularly the F-word or S-words. Even when it's been used in prior books here and there it didn't quite sit right, but it was sparing. It just seems a bit too much in "The Last Best Hope".

    Like I said, I'm not prudish about it. I know I'm reluctant to spell the words out here. I don't even know why. It's not that I don't say those words, usually in anger, I just don't feel right typing them out :shrug:--like I'm being disrespectful or something.

    You'd probably like my father-in-law then. He has a gift for creating his own bad language. Somehow he can even make innocent words sound like bad language :lol:
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I once made my college lab partner laugh by crying, "Holy mother of fish!"
     
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  15. Jinn

    Jinn Mistress of the Chaotic Energies Rear Admiral

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    Muhahahaha:devil:
     
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  16. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Of course you are the 'mistress of chaotic energies' so it's to be expected I suppose ;)
     
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  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've been known to utter the exclamation, "Great gobs of gooseflesh!"
    (I picked that one up from my father, when I was no more than three, when I was repeating the exclamation, "Great Scott!" from the old George Reeves Superman TV series.)

    Also "Uff-da!" (a Norwegian exclamation of dismay, not precisely translatable.)
     
  18. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is it unreasonable for Starfleet officers on duty not to use profanity?
     
  19. iarann

    iarann Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I do find it interesting how upset people get about curse words in Star Trek. While I realize the Voyage Home made it sound like they didn't exist anymore, evidence from the series and other movies would seem to disagree with this.

    Picard himself says "merde" in season 2 of TNG (as well as in this novel), which isn't exactly a more polite version of shit. And that word itself goes back all the way to the Old English writings we have, and words for excrement being curse words go back even much farther.

    The idea that people would stop using these words, all of which are at least several hundred years old and in many cases much much older, even in the "Roddenberry vision of the Utopian future" seems a bit strange to me. I would imagine it would be much like today, where certain groups use the words constantly and certain ones do not, and individuals may slip in or out of using these words depending on the context.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think we should keep the wisdom of Lt. Uhura in mind -- "In our century we've learned not to fear words."
     
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