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. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 24, 2004
    I just finished this this afternoon while doing my laundry. I really enjoyed it and the trilogy was just fantastic.
  2. Shane Houston

    Shane Houston Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 11, 2009
    Louisville Kentucky - Halliwell
    The best trilogy of Mack ever! My favorite trilogy of all time. )
  3. Sto-Vo-Kory

    Sto-Vo-Kory Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 25, 2008
    Battle Creek
    I think Data made the wrong choice of escape pods to rescue.

    My reasons:

    A) The Immortal had a LONG, full life -- without question -- while Rhea's life was just beginning.

    B) Didn't Flint divulge the secrets of positronic resurrection to Data and the other AIs after being tortured? Data could've saved Rhea, then re-ignited Lal later with the Immortal's instructions.

    C) Rhea's just a great character and it's disappointing that her story in Trek lit is over.

    How about the rest of you? Do you agree/disagree with Data's choice?
  4. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 21, 2011
    The Black Country, England
    I agree - Flint was the only one Data could be sure would revive Lal.

    I'm pretty sure Data could bring back Soong 2.0 from the memories he possesses, but Rhea seems lost entirely unless she was backed up somewhere...
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    But Data's priority was to restore Lal. Flint could do that; Rhea couldn't. He didn't choose Flint over Rhea, he chose his daughter over Rhea.

    Flint explained a couple of times in the novel that it wasn't a set of instructions he could write down or describe to someone, but a special knack that required his own intuition/experience/whatever. Only he was able to make it work.

    If the only characters who ever died were faceless redshirts, it wouldn't have any emotional impact, would it?
  6. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 28, 2011
    I actually think this is the one level on which Rhea's death did not make sense. Due to the way she was used in this story, I think that the loss of Rhea is felt less keenly than is the loss of her character potential (particularly as relates to a potential future with Data). Obviously YMMV, but I'm not sure I would characterize Rhea's death as one that puts a face to faceless-redshirt-type deaths (if that makes any sense), nor would I say that the reaction it provoked in me was quite an "emotional impact."

    Also, I've said this before, but I'll repeat here:
    I think it would have been much more interesting for Rhea to have remained alive (through whatever means) and then have Data raise Lal with her. Single parenthood is not exactly a underused story in Trek (see Wesley, Riker, Troi, Jake, Kira, nuKirk...) and it was honestly a little disappointing to see David Mack not shake things up a bit. (Reminds me of my disappointment with Michael Martin's decision
    to allow the terraforming knowledge to be lost
    in his last Titan book.)
  7. EddyDrama

    EddyDrama Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Dec 6, 2012
    Helsinki, Finland
    Finally I managed to read this one. I enjoyed the entire trilogy, even though I hated the idea of Data coming back it was still a well told story. Actually throughout the Cold Equations I was thinking that David Mack probably knows Finnish or has looked into Finnish language for some reason. The reason I thought that was because there were some names in first books that actually looked liked they might be finnish words even though they were not, and then in Body Electric there was a phrase in Finnish and I was suprised that there actually was real finnish in it. I really wished that Data would have saved Rhea and they would become romantically involved. Overall a good reading experience, I enjoyed.
  8. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Rear Admiral Moderator

    Jan 10, 2003
    Well, of course, because that book had to Finnish the trilogy.

    I'll show myself out...
  9. EddyDrama

    EddyDrama Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Dec 6, 2012
    Helsinki, Finland
    That was a bad one... But got a laugh out of me. :techman:
  10. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2012
    Winston-Salem, NC
    On page 164. I love this book.

    ...but a Pulp Fiction quote? REALLY.

    I love this book.
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Mar 2, 2002
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    My favorite David Mack film homage is still the Clerks pastiche in Reap the Whirlwind. Ensign Brian O'Halloran complaining to Ensign Jeff Anderson that he shouldn't even be here today!
  12. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

    Jan 25, 2003
    New York, NY
    You're welcome. :)

    Yeah, that was a fun bit to write. Right down to the reference regarding how long their improvised hockey ice would last — the same length of time as their interrupted rooftop game in Clerks.

    Don't try this at home, folks — I'm a professional. ;)
  13. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2012
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Finished it about an hour after that post. Yes, yes I am. :D
  14. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 7, 2013
    I also liked the book but in my opinion book 1 en 2 where better
  15. datalogan

    datalogan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 17, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Funny Coincidence.

    I just happen to read this book—with its android character named Gatt—right after I watched the new Star Trek into Darkness movie—which has an android-like character [more likely a cyborg] played by and actor named Gatt. Early talk about the Gatt character in the movie said his name might be “Gatt 2000” or “GATT 5000”—before the credits gave the character the name “science officer 0718”.

    Oh, and there’s also the android phone profile called GATT.
    It’s just a little funny GATT overload in my life right now.

    The book was pretty good, BTW. I liked adult Wesley. Still interested in learning more about the real Fellowship of AI. Happy to have Lal back. Glad Data didn’t just immediately rejoin Starfleet.
  16. Ben

    Ben Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 10, 2005
    I agree, but he really needs to be back on the Enterprise in some capacity. Maybe as a scientific consultant?
  17. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 17, 2011
    My review (which is getting old hat I'm sure)

    If no one minds me methodically going through the entirety of the Star Trek Expanded Universe, one novel at a time, here's my thoughts on "TBE"

    1. I am a huge Wesley Crusher fan of Sheldon Cooper (pre-rivalry) levels, so it's nice to see him in a novel. I love his role as a "space wizard" and think D_M nicely defined the powers of a Traveler so they weren't overwhelmning like a Q creatures. I also felt his personality was nicely adjusted to being cocky in a likable way (probably because he can back it up with experience now).

    2. I can't say I much cared for Doctor Crusher's role, I'm sorry to say. Mostly, it just seems she was overwhelmingly negative throughout the past three books. She dislikes Picard's saving her, dislike Picard's family first-career second attitude, dislikes her son's transformation into a godlike being, and actually doesn't think of getting Rene to safety. Some of these are very interesting and I can see them in character but OUCH.

    3. I'm going to come off as an enormous hypocrite given how much I loved making peace with the Borg but **** the Machines. V'ger was a child in both mentality as well as desires but these guys aren't, yet annihilate uncounted trillions of sapients for their art. They're not ignorant, they're just [insert profanity]. It's much like my disquiet about the Dominion continuing onward repressing the Delta Quadrant. I'm not sure this was a "happy" ending.

    4. By contrast, Gatt turning from evil genocidal wannabe to repentant sinner felt appropriate to me. He wanted desperately to be someone special and discovered he didn't have what it took either emotionally or morally. I felt Data showing him a better way was appropriate and it felt "real."

    5. I'm still a fan of V'ger having a tie-in to the Borg but I think you and Christopher have created a really good character in the Machines. I don't LIKE THEM (indeed, am disgusted by their Skynet-like brutality) but they're alien and interesting.

    6. I also disagree with Data's choice at the end but thought the scene was suitably dramatic. I would have preferred Data just use some of his Noonien Soong-level abilities to figure out how to do it himself. Then again, I still believe Noonien would have emerged as Flint's superior given enough time.

    What a tragedy.

    7. Yay for a certain character's return.
  18. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I enjoyed this one most from the whole trilogy. I thought the other two were okay, but I really loved this one.

    In addition, there's a sub-plot in this novel that is almost a perfect reflection of something very personal and recent from my life. Rarely it happens to find something so close just at the right time.
  19. BritishSeaPower

    BritishSeaPower Captain Captain

    Dec 13, 2005
    New Jersey
    Note: This is way rantier than I had intended it to be. But I came away with a strong feeling of needing to talk about this with others who read it and didn't want to cloud the "What Are We Reading Thread."

    I just finished this one today. It certainly was a page turner and I did end up liking it upon completion. I think it's probably the second best of this trilogy, Persistence of Memory was amazing. Silent Weapons was a bit of a let down. I didn't really connect with the Breen's motivations. Still well written and I loved the Gorn but it was a big miss to me. Body Electric suffers a bit from too grand of a premise (the stakes are too high) and a villain that is almost comically bad (A goofy gang of Robot Pirates basically.) As others have said in this thread, everything was fine until the A & B plots converged and then the story suffered. Why would Picard allow Gatt to make contact before Wesley revived? That's not the Picard I know, even on a timetable. Why did the all robots continue fighting Data & Co. and show no desire for self-interest until we move to the shuttle bay and all the other ships are gone? We knew that not all of the robots followed Gatt, not a single one was like "Hey... maybe we can let the machine kill these people for us?" Even the sentient ship seemed to be oblivious to moving or trying to reassert itself. It felt like there should have been a little more in the book. Still, I enjoyed the book - the trilogy, even - but I just felt like a lot of little things didn't click for me.

    However, I really couldn't believe this was the third book in a row in which a female character of some importance was offed more or less capriciously. While Jasminder's death was built towards and had emotional weight, I couldn't help but feel that it was done to be done. Book 2 of this series even lampoons the idea of Worf being a bad omen because all the women he loved were murdered. (Black Widow Sam Carter anyone?) I was disappointed with that death, but in the way that any character death bothers a reader.

    In book 2 I was really annoyed with the way Esperanza was offed. I can't say it bothered me, as I never much liked the character, but I found it incredibly random and almost like an afterthought. Considering that I can't recall Piniero having any character in the book nor even recall an sequence where she talked to Bacco more than once, I just found it incredibly callous. I understand that death and murder are random, violent acts that can happen but it just didn't seem logical to the story.

    Finally we come to Rhea's death in the third installment. My Spidey-sense was pretty strong about Rhea's prospects of surviving the book, especially the way she was dangled as a plot device carrot for much of the book. There was really no build up or nuance to her death, it was very simply a death to give Data pathos. A classic example of fridging and something I thought we wouldn't see in a modern Trek novel. To bring the character back just to remove her was incredibly frustrating, especially as her presence in the novel added nothing. The same story could have been told regardless. (Why not Juliana who was present across the series and would have given Data an even harder choice?) Indeed, Rhea really doesn't have any character other than pining over Data and spouting "Don't hurt my father"s. It didn't even register an emotional impact; I guessed it was coming, it happened and even the other characters treat it as a perfunctory event. I was incredibly disturbed to see this trend develop and it really damped my feelings on the book.

    Of course, I'm aware of Mr. Mack's reputation for mercilessness but something about these three books really touched a nerve in that regard. I still liked the books it wasn't enough to destroy but I just came away really disappointed.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  20. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    ^ Well, that trend is the point of the title. The deaths aren't thematically meaningless. I agree that by book three you're thinking "so, who is going to be offed in this one", and there's not a long list of obvious losses, but that's built into the very idea of the trilogy.