The Future of "Novel-Only" Lines

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by historypeats, May 14, 2020.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, it never was. It was practical. Once Voyager destroyed one of the Borg's primary transwarp hubs and their Unicomplex, then for the first time, the Federation struck a genuinely damaging blow to the entire Collective, rather than just the occasional isolated, replaceable drone or cube. (And that was only a year after liberating the Unimatrix Zero drones and causing significant losses to their drone supply.) At that point, the Federation ceased to be a curiosity or a nuisance and graduated to an existential threat. Escalating their response to eliminate that threat before it did any more crippling damage was not personal; it was a logical calculation.
     
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  2. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, but the attack in Destiny is one where they go after the Federation as a whole as well as the Klingon Empire, Romulans, and other groups. It's not going after Janeway, Earth, or even humans but seemingly the major powers of two Quadrants.

    But I am not trying to disparage those books. I very much enjoyed them and gave them favorable reviews.

    Just saying that I prefer the Borg as an impersonal mechanical, almost bored, threat.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huh? Yes, that's exactly my point, that it isn't about personal revenge, it's about pragmatism. The Borg don't care about individuals, only collectives. The cumulative actions of Federation/Starfleet vessels over the years had escalated to the point of doing serious damage to the Collective, therefore it was necessary to upgrade the Federation as a whole to the level of a significant ongoing threat that needed to be neutralized. And that included any allies, any power that stood in the way of the Borg's goal of eliminating that threat. It was a calculated escalation in response to the Federation's escalation.

    After all, Borg territory is immense. It's vastly larger than the Federation and all its neighbors combined. Before, sending the occasional single cube to try to assimilate the Federation, that was just the bare minimum of effort devoted to an entity of minor, remote interest on the far fringes of the galaxy. The Collective probably does that sort of thing without thinking on a routine basis. For the civilizations that get assimilated by a single cube, it's the most devastating event of their lives, but for the Borg, it's Tuesday.

    But once that distant, minor curiosity of a power actually hurt the Collective in a significant way, actually destroyed one of its primary transportation hubs and impeded its activities galaxywide, that made it a serious hazard that needed to be eliminated. So the Borg finally started devoting a significant amount of attention to the problem. We saw in Voyager that in their home territory, the Borg could send dozens or hundreds of cubes at a time against a single threat such as Species 8472. That's what it looks like when they're actually trying. That's all Destiny was -- the Borg finally waking up and unleashing their full capabilities against the Federation. It's not an angry vendetta, it's just what it looks like when such a gigantic, galaxy-spanning power finally starts taking you seriously.
     
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  4. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, that's basically how I saw it. Not revenge really. Just that the Federation had risen to the level of an actual, existential threat after "Endgame."

    Otherwise I think they would have continued to try the usual assimilation that they had been doing for years.

    But once Voyager destroyed that hub the Borg realized that the risks were too great. They are probably the ultimate odds calculators, and that event tipped the odds away from assimilation and toward annihilation.

    The Borg are powerful enough that probably assimilation is enough--and I assume preferred since they are always looking for more in the ways of different technologies and biologies.

    But survival would trump all that. In fact, according to "Destiny" it was basic survival that got them started in the first place.

    Was their an element of vengeance behind the Borg Queen? I suppose you can read into that a bit, esp. how they assimilated Janeway and turned her into a Queen basically. But I think that would just be icing on the cake. Not a cause for their neutralization campaign.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In the Destiny teaser scene at the end of Greater Than the Sum, I had the Borg's ultimatum end with "Resistance is futile... but welcome." I debated with myself whether it was in character for the Borg to say something like that, but I figured even they might get a little bitter about all the damage the UFP kept doing to them. Not that revenge was their motive for the invasion, of course; they were still doing it for a pragmatic reason. They just weren't above enjoying it a little. And ultimately the fact that it made a cool cliffhanger moment outweighed strict behavioral logic.
     
  6. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Before First Contact that might have been hard to imagine. But adding the Borg Queen to the mix I think adds a bit of complexity to the Borg. She is capable of 'enjoyment' I would say. I can certainly see her taking some amount of pleasure in mankind's demise. At first she seemed to desire humanity. Then it almost turned into a challenge. Then finally after "Endgame" I think it turned to perhaps a combination of anger and even fear. The Federation was no longer amusing, fun or something to desire. Now it was a very real threat.

    Seeing how the Borg came to be in "Destiny" further solidifies this idea that the Borg are more than simple automatons. They weren't mindless robots.
     
  7. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm kinda agnostic on the Borg becoming more aggressive in the Novel-verse war. On one hand, they do show flashes that they'll come up with different attacks beyond "send a Cube to assimilate" (like infecting Earth with an assimilation virus), but, on the other hand, they kinda seemed to drift away from their set characterization to fit the new idea.

    Frankly, if it came to all out war, I'm really surprised that they didn't break out their time travel technology, either by sending a timeship out to change the past to their advantage or using the interplexing beacon implants to warn their past selves about their defeat. I mean, as it stand, Novel-verse Borg made their most brutal attack on the Federation well before declaring all out war.
     
  8. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, the mechanical emotionless Borg > for the more malevolent personal one for me. That doesn't mean I don't love them, it's just a slight preference. I'm currently reading GREATER THAN THE SUM by Christopher Bennett and it's fascinating to see the slow development of the characters as they analyze the changes in what they know of the Borg versus what they're becoming (it's also inspiring me to read the book about the "Super-Cube").
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I still say that, aside from that little flourish I slipped into the ultimatum in GTTS, the Borg's greater aggression in Destiny is motivated by pragmatism, not emotion. When the Federation was just a remote curiosity, the Borg's response was comparatively minor and intermittent. Once the Federation became a genuine threat to Borg activities galaxywide, the Borg's response escalated accordingly. It's not a change to their characterization, merely an in-character response to a change in the situation. It only seems excessive to the readers because we're unused to seeing any interstellar power in Trek attack on such a vast scale. But the Borg are much, much vaster than even that, so the level of resources they devoted to the UFP's extermination were not exorbitant on their scale. They were barely paying attention to the Federation before. Destiny is what it looks like when they devote their full attention to eliminating a threat.


    The Borg do not "declare war." Declared war is a formal state of diplomatic relations between two governments. The Borg are not a government or a nation, they are a single mass entity driven to consume. They do not engage in politics or diplomacy, they merely pursue their appetites, assimilate that which is useful, and neutralize that which is harmful to their interests. Their attacks are not "brutal," they are calculated in response to the magnitude of the problem. They begin with the minimum response, and if that fails, they devote a higher level of attention and resources to the problem, and they continue to escalate in this manner until the problem is eliminated. The Federation kept beating them, so they had to keep escalating their response. "Endgame" -- the destruction of their transwarp hub and Unicomplex -- was such a huge, disproportionate escalation on Voyager's part that it provoked a comparable escalation on the Borg's part.

    Anyway, I'm not sure which attack you're referring to as the "most brutal" one.
     
  10. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I agree to some extent. There was something especially eerie and creepy about the Borg in "Q, Who?" that was lost on each further appearance--which is probably normal.

    First Contact brought some of that back for me though. Somehow, maybe because of the higher budget, with the make-up, the camera shots, just how the Borg looked at the crew gave me the chills. And I liked how they didn't even need space-suits when outside the ships (not surprising in a way with their personal shields). That actually added for the creepiness for me, that they didn't even need to make any outward changes to go outside. They were truly alien.

    The Borg Queen changed the dynamic a bit. But she came with her own sets of creepy as well.

    Voyager defanged them a little bit--not because they were any less dangerous, just because they were becoming a bit more of a known quantity. Whenever that happens it's always going to make them just a bit less scary.

    The novels then made them much more of a dangerous threat. It's been years since I read the lead up to Destiny and Destiny itself, but I recall the bizarre changes to the Einstein (IIRC it was called the Frankenstein by some by that point).

    But it makes sense to me at that point that even the Borg have a certain point where they no longer try to assimilate. Hell, even in Voyager, with Species 8472, they were no longer trying to assimilate them, they were trying to destroy them. They were just ill-equipped to do it. So there is some precedent for the Borg going into full annihilation mode. In the Federation's case, the Federation was ill-equipped to handle an all out assault by the Borg when the Borg put them in their sites. If not for the Caeliar the Federation and probably most of the Alpha Quadrant would have been cinders.

    Probably 2 reasons--they had tried that once before and failed. I don't think the Borg make the same mistake twice. And that was with an intent to assimilate, not destroy. The Borg had plenty of resources to annihilate the Federation without expending additional resources. And don't forget, without the Caeliar they would have succeeded, pretty easily I might add. So there was probably no reason for them to go to extra effort to snuff them out in the past when they could do it right then and there. The Borg are the masters of efficiency.

    And the Borg weren't defeated really. They were given what they wanted most by the Caeliar. They freely joined with them. That was more important to them than anything else, even destroying the Federation.
     
  11. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    To be fair, I always felt that the Borg got flanderized a bit and made a bit too much about assimilation that it overwhelmed everything else. The Borg originally wanted technology rather than your bodies.

    Not terribly badly but when they said, "Wait, Borg don't have children!" I thought that was silly. The Borg were established as having children from the very beginning. But yes, it's kind of inevitable a villain that shows up repeatedly will suffer some villain decay.

    Species 8472 also wasn't assimilated because they were immune to it, at least until Janeway helped the Borg figure it out.
     
  12. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Figure of speech r.e. "declaring war."

    Guess my thought is that them trying to change history to prevent the Federation's founding after a "routine" invasion fails seems like a "greater" attack over just a more massive wave. Dunno, I'm weird like that.

    Oh.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The Borg using time travel at all makes no sense, as I discussed in DTI: Watching the Clock. I consider it a unique anomaly, not a standard part of their arsenal.
     
  14. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I confess there's no way to ever argue time travel with you after reading the Department of Temporal Investigations novels.

    It's the Bruce Lee of Star Trek time travel continuity.

    Just nod your head and walk away.

    :)
     
  15. WebLurker

    WebLurker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Don't have a copy of that and the only thing that stuck in my head from reading it once was that a disgraced and washed-up time cop's personal theory was that some outside source gifted the tech to them hoping that the Borg would use it against the Federation. I'm guessing your beef with it was that the Borg aren't usually that creative and/or that they're sacrificing a lot of tech just to subjugate one enemy?

    As far as the Borg being given time travel tech or not, there's a good argument that they assimilated the knowledge they needed all on their own. We know that prior to First Contact, they'd assimilated at least one Kremin temporal scientist ("Infinite Regress" [VOY]), had assimilated a lot of Starfleet officers (increasing the odds that they could've gotten records for the slingshot effect or Spock's equations for the warp core implosion), and possessed the technology to send messages through time ("Timeless" [VOY]). We also know that they needed to know something about temporal mechanics and apply them to operate their brand of transwarp conduits ("Shattered" [VOY]). So, there's no reason to believe that the Borg weren't comfortable with time travel tech, even if we assume that they didn't get the means to create temporal vortices until shortly before First Contact.

    As far as it being out of character for the Borg to use time travel to salvage a botched mission, that might hold water, expect that the Borg Queen herself was in charge of the operation and she does have a record of thinking outside the box and doing more creative stuff then the Borg root command defaults to (e.g. "The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II" [TNG] retroactively, "Scorpion, Parts I and II" [VOY] retroactively, "Dark Frontier [VOY], "Endgame" [VOY]). Heck, in "Endgame," we specifically see the Borg Queen overrule the Collective's initial plan to just assimilate Voyager the moment they find it again to watch and wait for something more crafty. So, yeah, does stopping First Contact fit with the root command's characterization? No, but it does the Borg Queen's.

    As far as why the Borg never use time travel much, I do like the LUG RPG All Our Yesterdays' notes on the subject; since the First Contact mission was an utter disaster, it would make sense that they'd tread carefully and reconsider their plans for Earth, even the Borg can't calculate all the wibbly wobbliness of changing the past, and that later that year, they needed the Federation to survive up to that point so they wouldn't get wiped out by Species 8472.

    (Also, if we consider all tie-in accounts as equal, Engines of Destiny complicates the "Borg were given time travel tech," since that novel is pretty clear that the Borg were operating within their natural means and the TNG/Doctor Who comic crossover establishes that the Borg decided to get time travel tech to be able to deal with the Doctor on his own terms after their alliance with the Cybermen went south.)
     
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  16. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I admit, I think the Borg would have easily mastered time travel technology and could use it at any time they wanted. The Federation is a much more technologically inferior race and has the ability to crudely time travel on its own. With transwarp, I'm sure the Borg can go anywhen they want at any place they want.

    To contrast against Christopher's opinion, though, I think the Borg are smart enough to NOT mess with the timeline for their own gain genuinely. They're a clockwork species and the idea of having to screw with casualty is something that they, unlike we stupid monkeys, is a monumentally bad idea so I assume they'd only do it as a last resort. Indeed, I'm assuming that they had to have seen something in the future that justifies such an extreme response on their part.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The "washed-up time cop" part is staggeringly incorrect. I think you may be confusing it with the incompatible portrayal of "Dulmer" and Lucsly in the Star Trek Adventures tie-in novel. Both Lucsly and Dulmur were DTI special agents in good standing when they discussed the matter in WTC, immediately after interviewing Picard in the wake of First Contact (an interview established in Section 31: Rogue).

    However, the rest is roughly accurate.

    Partly. Mainly it's just logic. If the Borg had time travel capability at all, then they would already have used it to assimilate the entire galaxy. I mean, from the Borg's perspective, the Federation is small potatoes, or it was until Destiny. It's a remote power on the far side of the galaxy from their territory, tiny in comparison to them. They could easily just bide their time and get around to assimilating it when it was convenient. If they were willing to use such an extreme tactic as time travel to deal with such a minor adversary, then surely they would use it routinely and the galaxy's history would've long since been rewritten in their favor. It just doesn't add up that they used it that one time, to deal with what was then a relatively minor nuisance from their perspective, but never in any other context.


    Which is why I suggested in WTC that the temporal-protection agencies of the galaxy have collectively worked hard to prevent that from happening. FC was a case where something slipped through their net.


    That's a specious distinction. The Queen herself said it in FC when Data asked who she was: "I am the Borg." The Borg Collective is one single consciousness. It isn't a race or a nation or a society or a crew. It is one mind existing simultaneously in every drone, every cube, every nanoprobe. The drone that we call "the Queen" is merely the central coordinating node for the collective thought of the rest, like the frontal lobe of the human brain. And at times, the Collective uses the Queen body as the face and voice it speaks through, the same way it used Locutus as its face and voice in BOBW. The Queen is not a separate being from the Collective any more than your mouth is a separate being from your arms and legs and heart and brain. It's the part that speaks, but it speaks for the whole.


    The same scene in which the Queen verbally addresses her drones, which is missing the whole point of a collective consciousness. That scene was one of the most idiotic moments in the franchise, proof that the producers were burned out and phoning it in and not thinking it through any longer, lazily writing the Queen as a stock Evil Leader rather than remembering what she truly was in relation to the Collective. No way am I going to weigh a moment that stupidly written over everything else that canon established about the Borg.

    But the scene can be salvaged by interpreting it as a dramatization of a single mind debating within itself, weighing its options before choosing one. In this case, it's like reflexively reacting a certain way to a stimulus, then catching yourself and changing your mind when you think it through more carefully.


    It's solipsistic to assume that FC was the first time the Borg ever tried time travel. They're supposed to have existed for millennia! They've assimilated cultures far more advanced and powerful than the Federation. That's how they got so big and powerful in the first place. So if they had time travel, surely they would've had it long ago, and they would've rewritten history to absorb the whole galaxy long before the Federation ever existed.


    It has never been the practice of Star Trek tie-ins to depict a shared, mutually consistent continuity. Some subsets of them do so from time to time, but only within themselves. There have always been cases where different tie-ins explore distinct, mutually incompatible interpretations of a given event or idea.


    I think that's giving the Borg far too much credit. They have no judgment or restraint, only insatiable hunger. They are a sentient cancer, compelled to expand and absorb. They're actually quite stupid in the main, because they only have this single driving impulse that's all they ever think about. They will do anything to feed their hunger, to increase their power and spread.

    And if they fail at something once, they don't think "Oh, let's not do that anymore." That's not how the Borg operate. They try it again in a new way. And if they fail again, they try again in yet another new way. And they keep methodically trying again and again until they've adapted to every obstacle and achieved their goal. They never get impatient, never despair and give up. They just adapt and repeat. They should not be anthropomorphized, not be mistaken for a race or a nation that thinks or acts like normal humanoids. They are fire ants, expanding relentlessly through an ecosystem until they've consumed everything within it.
     
  18. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I actually wondered if the Borg were constantly expanding outward like that. I remembered the original Borg were mostly interested in the technology of other races and often wondered if they were a bit like the Reapers in Mass Effect (or the Reapers are like the Borg). They'd have no interest in assimilating, say, paleolithic humans but would be interested in assimilating the Sikarians or Humans once they've demonstrated something sufficiently advanced to add to the Collective.

    This is obviously just my observation but the Borg ignoring people randomly showing up in their Cubes always struck me as a defining character trait. They aren't inherently hostile but if you have something they want, they will spare no effort to get it. I actually thought Seven's line about the Kayzon was more than just a dig at how unpopular they were as villains but summarized WHY the Borg hadn't assimilated the entire galaxy.

    "They (mostly) have nothing we want or need."

    I admit, I've always made excuses for the Borg to preserve their villain cred in my head.
     
  19. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Would they though? That might be a bit short-sighted of the Borg.

    What I mean is assimilating biological life-forms is only half their modus operandi. They also assimilate technology. If they go back in time they'd be assimilating and wiping out life forms before they get more technologically advanced. I would argue from the Borg's perspective looking at what their ultimate goal usually is, they'd want to wait to assimilate them until they actually had something worthy to add to their collective. They have ignored species that don't do that (i.e. the Kazon). If they were to go back in time they might find the civilization they want to assimilate no longer serves their purposes.

    So even if they had the ability to time travel frequently, I'm not sure it'd be to their advantage to engage it in widespread use. Now I agree with you that First Contact was a unique set of circumstances that aren't typically used by the Borg. And maybe after the Borg had already been thwarted by the Federation it was something they decided to give a go because the Federation was starting to go from being a nice civilization to assimilate to being a bit of a nuisance, short of a threat but something the Borg wanted to get out of the way (through assimilation). But I'd argue most of the time the Borg assimilate civilizations when they believe it can add to their collective. Going back in time would actually ruin that.

    I'll admit that is something that is a bit hard to wrap my mind around. She appears and even acts like a distinct person but she's not. But it makes sense to a large degree. The individual Borg are drones, there has to be something coordinating all that. Every life form has some sort of controlling or coordinating apparatus.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But galactic history is far, far older than that. There were advanced civilizations hundreds of thousands, even millions or billions of years ago. And the Borg have been around for an uncertain number of millennia. I still say that if they had time travel, they would've had a much more sweeping effect on galactic history than we've seen.


    That's not the point. It's not about their hostility, it's about their collective mindset. To them, there are no individuals, or at least that's how "Q Who" intended it. Drones aren't people within a nation, they're cells within a single being. And so the Collective sees individual humanoids as no more than single cells within the bodies of their species/civilizations. A few people beaming onboard a cube is like a few bacteria entering your body. Your immune system doesn't take notice of them unless they start to do damage, or unless they multiply enough to become a threat. Individually, they're inconsequential.

    Which is another reason that FC's choice to give the Borg time travel was lazy and illogical, a poorly thought-out excuse to set up the movie plot. The Borg think in terms of entire civilizations' collective existence and evolution, not in terms of individual acts of individual people that could be prevented or altered to change history. There's no "Great Man Theory" of history to a consciousness that doesn't acknowledge individuals as relevant. The distinction between humanity in 2163 and humanity in 2372 should be as irrelevant to them as the distinction between Jean-Luc Picard and Geordi La Forge. It's the whole that matters to them. If they fail to assimilate Earth right now, they don't have to go back in time and undo that; they'll just try again with another cube, and another, and another, until they succeed. It's the grand scheme of things that matters, not specific isolated instances.


    See above. The entire galaxy does not advance at the same rate. There were species immensely more advanced than humans in the distant past -- the First Humanoids 4 billion years ago, the "Beyond the Farthest Star" insectoids 300 million years ago, the D'Arsay 87 million years ago, the Voth 20 million years ago, the Tkon 600,000 years ago, not to mention the Q, the Organians, the Metrons, the Iconians, and all those other superraces.


    Not really. Look at the Internet. It's not like the sci-fi of the '50s that assumed that a global computer network would have to have a single giant mainframe controlling it all. There are thousands of smaller, local control nodes that govern things.

    And in an insect hive, the "queen" is not actually a commander issuing orders, just the dominant reproductive female within a hive. Individual insects' behavior is governed entirely by local rules, by small-scale patterns of interaction and reaction to their neighbors that add up collectively into higher emergent patterns. Assuming there has to be a single "leader" is anthropomorphic thinking based on our own hierarchical psychology and our cultural assumptions about authority.

    The Borg made perfect sense without a Queen. That idea was introduced solely for dramatic reasons, to give the recurring villain a face and a voice that audiences could engage with. But it made them less alien and more conventional.