Spoilers TNG: Collateral Damage by David Mack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by tomswift2002, Oct 2, 2019.

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Rate TNG: Colateral Damage

  1. Outstanding

    37.5%
  2. Above Average

    44.6%
  3. Average

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  4. Below Average

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  5. Poor

    1.8%
  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, Smhrhova became intimate with him -- after, I emphasize, he realized he was sexually harassing her and started treating her with respect. Bond doesn't get guilty and realize he done wrong; sometimes, he just flat-out rapes women.

    He was originally intended to be English, and Fleming only retconned him to have Scottish ancestry after Connery played him. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Daniel Craig were all English, and Pierce Brosnan and George Lazenby both played him with English accents. James Bond is English except when he's played by Sean Connery, and he represents a colonialist fantasy of upper-class Englishness that simply is not present in the decidedly working class Okuna of Collatoral Damage.
     
  2. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And I'm not mad that you did, I actually admire you and the editors for trying something new in a Trek book, my not liking it is purely due to my personal taste.
     
  3. jaime

    jaime Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Um.
    Tim Dalton is Welsh. Bond is Swiss/Scots. Are we going with Fleming era literary Bond who was born during the last days of Empire? Or the movie Bonds that reflect their eras and are different from the books? Including the latest one who has most of the ‘posh’ aspects already taken out? The later book Bonds? All of whom again reflected their eras and more often than not were direct responses to criticism of earlier Bonds?
    I think you have a politically painted idea of Bond that sort of ignores pretty much the last fifty years, and hangs some heavy post-colonialist readings from a Marxist perspective on your understanding of the character. Is the Bond of Casino Royale the same as the Bond of Colonel Sun? How about Double Shot or Carte Blanche? Ironically, of course, the ‘globe trotting’ actually represents a fantasy for the working classes...we get to see places we would never see in reality. Even Bond as snob has gradually been worn away as a thing. I won’t even go into the sexual politics of Bond, as that’s a thing that had to change from day one, and watching the conventions of the times come into play is interesting (even more so when you consider the characters introduction in Casino Royale, where it is Bond who is sexually brutalised.) both in the films and books. Let alone where it stands in the wider realm of espionage fiction. (Le Carre, Deighton, Cummings, Herron for a wide spread of examples for instance) which is relevant here because of the Starfleet Intelligence narrative and pastiche elements Mack is consciously using. The sneering around ‘English’ Bond has an unpleasant whiff to it, when the character is repeatedly shown as somewhat of an exemplar of the idea of multicultural ‘European’ ‘global village’ types...for a given set of limitations from the times in which the stories were written or set. It’s a key part of the character that the ‘Englishness’ to which you refer is something Bond puts on, and not particularly well either. (Hence becoming a bit of a Snob, but always basically opting for second or third best while telling you how cool his stuff is. He’s like a prototype hipster. ‘I had a Bentley before they were cool’.) He has identity issues, and all kinds of parental and sexual hang ups which isn’t surprising.

    And of course ‘The Outrageous Okona’ isn’t English. Or British. We’ve seen him on screen. He’s the ‘not Riker’ in many ways. That’s half the point in seeing him back, and seeing him flirt. And Okona is not particularly working class. David Mack himself just pointed out the Bond-alike thing with Naomi, and while he’s using all kinds of spy fiction and action adventure meta, he’s not particularly leaning into Len Deighton. I don’t get much of a Bourne Identity vibe from it either, and that’s a real go to place for mainstream fiction these days. Between gadget laden shuttles and Moneypenny/Q Wildman, we are looking at movie bond as a meta structure.
     
  4. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I'm a Bond film fan and one of the things I like is what you mentioned here. I get to 'see' parts of the world I'd never see in my life, partly because I have a fear of flying (sadly you can't drive to Venice from the United States :( ).
     
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  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Timothy Dalton is English, born in Wales.

    Yes, Fleming added that in his later stories as an homage to Connery's performance after Dr. No was released.

    There's nothing particularly Marxist about my interpretation of the Bond series, but to pretend he doesn't represent a colonialist fantasy of Englishness is just silly. The entire thing hinges on a fantasy of English power that does not actually exist post-World War II.

    If you're gonna say that "Character X is like James Bond," then you gotta go into the sexual politics of both respective characters, because it's a key element of the Bond series. And the sexual politics of Okuna's role in Collatoral Damage has a pretty major divergence from that of the vast majority of Bond films.

    "Sneering?"

    I strongly disagree with this reading -- the James Bond series strikes me as being far more invested in the idea of Bond's Britishness (and, yes, with Bond coded as upper-class English in particular -- it's not like we ever hear Bond with a Cockney or Northern accent) than with any ideal of multicultural European. I mean, he literally skyjumps with a Union Jack parachute. One of his films is entitled On Her Majesty's Secret Service. And it's not like he's gone from working for MI-6 to working for the Common Security and Defense Policy in Brussels.

    But that's also not really relevant to the issue of whether or not Okuna is a Bond pastiche, since Okuna's national identity is coded as "American" whatever the in-universe identity is.

    He hangs out and is fluent in the social conventions of low-class bars, he's constantly repairing his own stuff, and if I remember correctly he's got money problems. He's coded as working class.

    And he specifically said, "I didn't think of it as any kind of series-specific homage." He cited Q and Bond as one example but elaborated that the trope of a semi-antagonistic relationship between tech support and field agent is an old trope and that he wasn't trying to imitate any particular series.

    I agree. Okuna in Collatoral Damage doesn't read as Jason Bourne either; the most obvious divergence being the relationship between the field agent and the agency: Starfleet Intelligence is painted as flawed, but not as fundamentally antagonistic the way the CIA is in the Bourne series.
     
  6. jaime

    jaime Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ok.
    Sexual politics.
    Okona in this book, is in some ways a critique of early TNG, and the original presentation of the Okona character. Where he makes...Teri Hatcher I think... giggle girlishly. It goes on from there. Okona here is exactly the kind of revision we see repeatedly with the Bond character as it appears on film. Okona doesn’t get to seduce the ladies of the enterprise anymore, the same way Bond now has more emotion invested...since at least Tim, but definitely with Pierce and a different way with Daniel. (And on the subject of the most recent Bond, that’s way more a working class accent than not. I also suspect citing any of the more camp aspects of the Moore era as lasting character definitions is fiddly...the Union Jack parachute owes more to various incarnations of ‘Cool Britannia’ than to any characteristic inherent to Bond. Who was born and raised all over Europe in most of his various updated backstories.)

    I would be curious to see any tech support/field agent examples that predate the Bond/Q relationship in fiction...outside of actual quartermaster relationships in war films, I can’t think of any. They really aren’t that common even in spy fiction.

    But anyway. Mack likes spy books in the Trek milieu. Bashir is usually in them.
     
  7. jaime

    jaime Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It was a deliberate thing. All the food and exotic locales were for post-war Britons a chance to live vicariously. As was Bond himself and the Bond Girls. There’s a reason the romance/erotica market is flooded with Bondalike leads, even the fifty shades junk. They fill specific fantasies for both men and women...the societal aspects will change, but it sells. Bond isn’t even the first...look at Gothic heroes like Rochester or Heathcliff.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Which is part of the colonialist fantasy the Bond films are selling: Treating other cultures as "exotic" and as deserving of having Britain's spy agency enter their country and do as they wish in the name of fighting evil.
     
  9. jaime

    jaime Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They *are* exotic from the point of view of its primary audience. Why do you think Jason Bourne sods around in Europe? Or the first MI has all the Eurotunnel business? Or assorted Jackie Chan films go to various locales?

    It’s also pretty much how global intelligence worked from the Second World War, through the Cold War, and to an extent even today. (Though as the bond films keep pointing out, you can do it from your desk and a mobile phone these days.) which is of course beside the point as:
    (A) it’s a work of fiction. Action adventure films like to do a bit of globe trotting, whichever countries film industry is making them.
    (B) Exotic is a matter of perspective. London isn’t very exotic to me, but we still get a ton of tourists, so it is to someone. ‘I love your English accent’ is someone exoticising the English (unless they are mistaking a Scotsman for one of course.) and happens. It’s a nonsense to wrap the simple concept of exoticism up in post-colonial metatextual analysis, because the world is global now. I am exotic. You are exotic. Just not from our own perspective. About the only people who aren’t exotic anymore are Americans, because Hollywood gets effing everywhere lol. (Actually, some people still find Americans exotic, so I am joking, of course.)
    (C) Typically, being a Bond location is a great source of income for a place, a matter of pride (same is true for many films...ever been to a bar where they filmed Guns of Navarone?) and done with the full co-operation of government. And as far as modern Bond films are concerned, this isn’t a ‘first world western democracy takes advantage of third world to film’ thing is it? They literally have London as an exotic Locale for the international audiences, it’s treated the same way as any other location.

    If you are jumping up and down about the older books, and to an extent the films based on them...well, I have mentioned the post-war period already, but also this was a time when (a) the Cold War made international relations a different beast to now, and (b) the BE was emerging from the chrysalis of the post war into the Commonwealth. This cultures were still linked.

    Edit: see Jackie Chan in Who Am I? For a nice example, and this:
    https://www.zee5.com/global/movies/details/london-confidential/0-0-227385

    Bloody foreign agents running their ops on exotic soil. Oh. Um.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  10. trampledamage

    trampledamage Clone Moderator

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    Okay, enough James Bond. Bring it back to the book, thank you :)
     
  11. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I finished this one up last night, and I after a few chapters, I got used to the changing perspective, and actually started to like it. It made for a more unique reading experience, and it was also a nice quick, and easy way to who we were following without putting a name at the start of the chapter.
    Overall, I really enjoyed the book. This did a great job of tying up both the Section 31 story, and the aftermath of what happened with Zife. Trials are the kind of thing that can occasionally drag on and get kind of boring, but David Mack did a really good job of keeping things fast paced and interesting.
    I really liked the stuff with the Nausicans, they've pretty much always just been presented as thugs, so it was nice to see a story from their perspective, and to get some new insights into their society. The book did a really good job of giving us a villain with understandable motivation, and some nice depth.
    Okona's storyline was pretty good too. I've always thought The Outrageous Okona was one of the better TNG Season 2 episodes, so I got a kick out of seeing Okona again. Same Lavelle and Naomi Wildman being a part of the storyline, just made it better.
    This one gets an outstanding.
     
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  12. Kilana2

    Kilana2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished it. Great story with a big moment for Worf to shine. Phillippa - on the other hand: I find it hard to picture Louvois as grey haired lady....:). She strikes me as person who dyes her hair. Future Janeway or Batanides with grey hair are a different thing.

    Did I miss the point of time when Batanides started to become cranky?
     
  13. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Gracias!

    I believe that started back in Titan: Sight Unseen by James Swallow, when he set up the Batanides/Sarai/Riker plot line.
     
  14. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

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    Sorry, silly question.

    The new Nausicaan world is Kremlat.
    The name sounds familiar. I thought it was a planet that was mentioned off-handedly somewhere before. But I'm not finding any references online.

    Was "Kremlat" first coined in Collateral Damage?
     
  15. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    I just made it up. Easier to avoid continuity errors that way. ;)
     
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