TNG: The Body Electric by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Dec 16, 2012.


Rate The Body Electric.

  1. Outstanding

    36 vote(s)
  2. Above Average

    39 vote(s)
  3. Average

    26 vote(s)
  4. Below Average

    5 vote(s)
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    As I said, it's not about who's there and who's gone. It's about trust, an absolutely vital commodity in any team. These people had to believe they could trust one another with their lives, had to know their crewmates would put their own lives on the line for their benefit. Tuvix's actions would've created doubt in the crew's minds about whether he was capable of that. It doesn't have to be a huge degree of doubt; it could be a very subtle, back-of-the-mind sort of thing. But in the exceptional circumstances of Voyager's situation, with a crew that might have to spend the rest of their lives together and didn't have the luxury of transfers and crew replacements to deal with interpersonal tensions, even such a subtle seed of mistrust could fester and grow over time.

    And again, I'm not saying this is what I believe. I'm evaluating this objectively. I'm just saying that, in my attempts to reason out what Janeway's decision process must have been and why she made the choice she did, this is my best estimation.

    I never said it was. I'm not talking about events, I'm talking about emotions. You could see it in the way the scene was written and directed, the way the actors played it -- when Tuvix refused to sacrifice himself, the rest of the crew turned against him. They'd liked him before, but now they soured on him. That's what I saw in the performances, in the onscreen action, and that's the basis for my hypothesis about what Janeway's decision-making process was.

    You're approaching this as if the whole thing were a completely rational, surface-level decision process that everyone in the crew would be consciously aware of. People's minds don't work that way. They have subconscious reactions to things. One person's trust in another can be poisoned in ways they aren't even cognizant of. No matter how much they intellectually rationalize things and decide they're acceptable, they may still have underlying emotions that say just the opposite. Especially in a case like this, where we're talking about the life or death of their friends and coworkers. That's an incredibly traumatic thing. You can't just "get over" something like that by intellectually rationalizing it.

    That's completely unfair. What I'm saying is that Janeway made the choice she felt was best for her entire crew, because that's what captains do. You just can't toss out pat caricatures and oversimplifications here. The moral dilemma of "Tuvix" is brilliantly complex and challenging, and you can't sum it up with sound bites.
  2. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

    Jun 4, 2009
    What was Picard's line in that episode? "I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that...."
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  3. Brit

    Brit Captain Captain

    Aug 29, 2008
    Again I wish you all would actually see what Christopher is saying because he is right. This whole argument has always been about emotion, not logic, emotion. That’s why it is so useless to argue about it. You cannot change anyone’s mind.

    But it occurred to me this morning that we should be thanking some people no matter which side of the argument you are on.

    If you think about it, there was never any other way for the episode to end. Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips had contracts, Tom Wright did not, but it is the writer’s job to make the audience blind to that fact. In this case we are talking about Andrew Shepard Price and Mark Gaberman for the original story and to Kenneth Biller for rewriting their story into the episode we saw. It is a remarkable achievement to not only have blinded the original audience, but to continue to blind people years after it was televised.

  4. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jan 10, 2003
    OK, fair enough.

    I know it's hard to tell online... but this is a joke, right? :wtf:

    Well, it would have been nice if they had found a way to write it that didn't depict a Starfleet captain as a murderer.

    Sorry. I quite enjoyed The Body Electric, although I did have a bit of a problem with the conclusion to the crisis. And unlike some other posters upthread, I really enjoyed the prologue/epilogue structure. Sure, I would like to know what Data's doing next, but presenting Lal's resurrection as a mirror image of her death was damn near perfect, and I found the ending very emotionally satisfying.
  5. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Mar 24, 2011
    Joke, right? Just so I'm clear before I bother responding.

    The dilemma is brilliant, but I can't say the decision was. What happened to upholding federation principals?

    Try as I might, I can't see Picard having done the same thing in the same situation. Hell, I couldn't see Janeway doing it from how she was earlier portrayed. But as I said, her decision here makes future admiral janeway totally believable to me
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Okay, then tell me this: What would you have done instead? If you're going to to shoot down someone else's decisions, you really should have a better alternative to offer, or else it's just empty kibitzing.

    After all, you agree it was a dilemma. Let's look at what that word truly means. It doesn't just mean a problem or a puzzle. It literally means:

    So it's kind of contradictory for you to acknowledge that it's a dilemma but then say that the solution they went with was bad. The whole thing that defines a dilemma is that either solution is equally bad.

    Let's be honest here, shall we? We're not talking about real people. We're talking about fictional characters from a weekly television show. Given a choice between keeping two actors who were under contract to appear in the show for several more years and firing them in favor of a guest star hired for one week, there was no choice. Of course the story would end with the regulars restored; that was a given from the very start of the writing process. So of course Picard, or Kirk or Sisko or Archer, would've made the same decision -- or rather, the writers would've made them make the same decision, because realistically it was the only way the story could possibly have been resolved.
  7. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Mar 24, 2011
    Well I can't access oed till I'm at home, but if dilemma does implicity require equality then I renounce my usage of it, since while they're both terrible choices I see murder as worse.

    And as for what I would have done, I'd have thought that was obvious - let Tuvix live. It'd feel terrible knowing I couldn't have brought back 2 friends, but not as bad as knowing I'd murdered someone.

    There's plenty of ways they could have ended it, the most obvious being everyone accepting him staying, but friends of Kes & Tuvok acting sad whenever they talk to him since he reminds them of tuvok/neelix, leading him to decide to do the process himself. Wouldn't have the power of Janeway murdering someone, but then I wouldn't have to be contemptous of Janeway & the majority of the senior staff(the doc is the only person I recall standing up for Tuvix, but again, it's been a while).
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Mar 2, 2002
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Do you mean, had he been a VOY writer, or do you mean, had he been Voyager's commanding officer?

    Speaking in-universe, were I in Janeway's shoes, I would have held a memorial service for Tuvok and Neelix, filled out their death certificates, and then filed a birth certificate for Tuvix.

    And then I would have offered Tuvix the opportunity to serve under a Starfleet field commission if he so chose, or to inherit Neelix's shuttle and go off exploring if he so chose.

    In my view, there wasn't anything to be done.
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I just think it's a gross oversimplification to think that Tuvok and Neelix were in any way "dead." Tuvix was not a completely separate person; he was both of them at once. Think of it like a mind meld, when two personalities are so blended they function as one being. The melders aren't "dead" once that happens, just blended. It's just that in this case they were blended physically as well.

    I mean, let's turn it around. Will Riker was one individual who was then split into two by a transporter accident. The two separate Rikers developed distinct personalities and lives. But does that mean that neither Riker was "alive" before the transporter split? No -- in a sense, they were both there in potential within a single individual.

    Frankly I would consider Janeway a horrible commander if she treated the question as simplistically as you folks are. That would be a criminally irresponsible way of reacting to a situation as unprecedented and unique as this one, one that raised so many difficult questions and issues. Just trying to force a totally new situation into some pat, conventional set of definitions is anathema to the open mind a Starfleet captain needs in order to cope with the new and unknown. The only responsible thing for her to do would be to consider all the possibilities and not just glibly assume she was qualified to define life and death in this unique situation.
  10. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Mar 24, 2011
    Well we're shaped by our enviroment and experiences, yes. There's an infinity of potentia.

    Well sorry, but we're going to have to agree to disagree here because for me life was sitting right in front of her asking not to be killed.

    I do wish you'd stop dismissing these points as simplistic though - all I'm doing is getting to the core of it - she had to kill someone to recover two people. You can stack various addendums on top of it, but at the end of the day it's murder. I mean, you've talked a lot about how the crew felt and such, so what would be their reaction if she sat them down one by one and said, "are you really ok with murdering tuvix to get our buddies back?"
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    And you're still deliberately refusing to acknowledge the other side of the coin: that Tuvok and Neelix were still alive in a very real sense, that they were retreivable, and letting Tuvix endure would've also been "murder" by that definition. So yes, I think it is simplistic to reduce this unprecedented situation to something as clear-cut as you're trying to pretend it is. I think you're ignoring everything that makes the episode so brilliant and compelling by trying to reduce it to a black-and-white issue.

    Anyway, we're not going to agree on this, so we should really just drop it.
  12. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Mar 24, 2011
    Sure. Just to answer your point though, it's not that I'm refusing to acknowledge the other side, I don't see failure to act as murder.
  13. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

    Apr 1, 2000
    Across the Neutral Zone
    Hey guys, it would be better to keep the discussion on the book and off the Tuvix controversy. That's more VOY forum territory.
  14. Lord Lunacy

    Lord Lunacy Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 4, 2005
    Have to thank you guys for the Tuvix debate. I watched the episode again and can certainly see why Janeway's decision is so controversial; also how it relates to Data's decision. On the Tuvix decision, just want to's all Kes' fault.
  15. ronny

    ronny Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Mar 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I didn't like this book as much as the other two. For starters, I'm just not that as into stories where the entire universe or galaxy is at stake. But I can deal with tropes I don't care about as long as they are done well but I just didn't feel any sense of urgency at the end of the story. I mean, you have this device that's sucking up whole solar systems, wiping out entire species and Data just doesn't seem to give a shit. He's on that ship to try to save a guy to save his daughter and when he finds out he's needed to save the galaxy I didn't see him stepping up the pace on his issue. I liked the Data part of the novels until the A and B stories merged. I liked the Wesley part of the story more than I thought I would.

    I rated this above average because, hey, it's still a David Mack novel and apparently he just can't write something that's not a page turner for most of the book, it just fell apart for me near the end.
  16. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 17, 2007
    For me, the biggest issue was scale. It was all so big, so huge so incredibly out there in terms of the size of destruction, it seemed to unreal. And I cared less.
    But, like you said, Mack writes a page turner. You want to know what happens, but for me, not so much the story this time, but what happens to the characters. And I find that much more important really.
  17. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 30, 2011
    At star's end.

    Here is an all but equivalent example: you have two terminally ill patients - alive in a very real, indeed, literal sense.
    They will be dead* in a month if you do not find a heart for one and a whole liver for the other.
    If you kill another person and chop her up for heart and liver, you will save these patients.

    You actually think killing a person to save these two patients is justified?
    Or that watching the patients die (or slip into a coma) because you cannot save them (without killing another person) is murder?

    *or they will slip into a coma - if you want to be medically unrealistic, as the star trek situation is.

    Well, apparently you do think that killing a person to save two patients is justified - or, at the very least, a morally defensible position.
    And you all but said directly that watching two patients die (or slip into a coma) because you cannot save them (without killing another person) is murder - as long as the patients are "retrievable", that is.

    I most definitely do NOT agree with such a position.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  18. ronny

    ronny Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Mar 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I have a question about a minor point in the book. So the away team that tries to destroy the device that gets wiped out except for the shuttle pilot, she gets out but the shuttle is destroyed and she's drifting in space in her space suit. Does she ever get rescued? The last I remember her she's figuring out she's got so much air and I think the ship saw her signal and was going to try to rescue her but I don't remember if they did or not.

    BTW, that was one of the less tense filled scenes in the book. As soon as Picard says no senior people are to be involved they all became the red shirt shuttle team.
  19. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    Did Janeway murder Tuvix? Yes. Was the decision Janeway made selfish? Yes. Would I have made the same decision as Janeway? Probably.
  20. Claudia

    Claudia Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 23, 2006
    Sector 001
    Sorry to chime in here - especially since I don't think Janeway's decision was right - but your example is really *not* an equivalent to what happened in "Tuvix".

    Most importantly, Tuvok and Neelix were dead by the time Tuvix came to life. There was no other way to revive them than to kill Tuvix. In your example, your two patients are still very much alive, and a lot can happen within a month, another donor could be found etc. So, no need to go to drastic measures and kill a person just for the off-chance that he/she's a suitable donor for *both* patients - let's not even mention the legal implications here. I'm a medical doctor, so forgive me but your example really lacks any similarity to Tuvix's situation.