Spoilers TNG: The Body Electric by David Mack Review Thread

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


Rate The Body Electric.

  1. Outstanding

    37 vote(s)
  2. Above Average

    41 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 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 24, 2004
    The Island
    It comes from a poem called "I Sing the Body Electric" by the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman. I've never read it so I don't know what it's about. But here's the text:

  2. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

    Jun 2, 2012
    Derbyshire, UK
    You mean, why it is not The Electic Body?
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    Looking over the poem, it seems to be a celebration of the human body as being just as worthwhile and perfect as the soul. Apparently the first line/title wasn't added until 7 years after it was first published. "Electric" wasn't yet a word in common usage, and apparently Whitman was using it figuratively to mean "thrilling," I guess as in something you get a charge out of.

    And the ordering "body electric" instead of "electric body" is a poetic trope called anastrophe, reversing the standard word order for emphasis. You see this elsewhere in poetry, as in "This is the forest primeval" or "Stone walls do not a prison make."

    Ray Bradbury later used the line as the title of a story about a robotic surrogate grandmother, which was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode. So he was taking "body electric" more literally there, which I assume is the antecedent for Dave's use of it in a story about Data and other artificial intelligences.
  4. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Rear Admiral

    Jan 25, 2003
    New York, NY
    ^ The title is an allusion to all those antecedents, and to one more — it was also a song title on the Rush album Grace Under Pressure. Also, the book's epigraph comes from Walt Whitman's poem.
  5. Stephen!

    Stephen! Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 1, 2008
    Unicron :)
  6. Tom Riker

    Tom Riker Lieutenant

    Oct 9, 2012
    Of course it is.

    Rush should pay you for all the homages.
  7. mirsk1

    mirsk1 Ensign Newbie

    May 27, 2010
    So. Calif.
    I downloaded the book onto my kindle yesterday and finished it this morning. I have never read a book so fast! I loved it. I enjoyed all three books in the trilogy, with numbers 2 and 3 being my favorites.
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Escaped from Trumpistan
    I have a question as I'm not very deep into the book yet.

    At the end of chaper eight Picard orders Faur to set up the runabout/shuttle for remote piloting and to make sure the sensors are set for a passive scan. So I assumed its an unmanned mission to the Machine. Then at the beginning of chapter nine we see a bunch of people getting ready for a mission to the Machine.

    Is that just a goof? Or am I missing a chunk of the book through a corrupted file?
  9. VDCNI

    VDCNI Captain Captain

    May 26, 2009
    London UK
    After ordering the recon mission Picard also tells Worf to get an away team ready to be deployed if the recon mission goes well. That's at the end of Chapter 8 then at the beginning of Chapter 9 the away team mission is getting ready to go so the implication is that the recon mission went well which is confirmed by Worf while they are getting ready.
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Escaped from Trumpistan
    Thanks! Must've just missed the Away Team bit. I stopped reading when I ran into what looked to be a discontinuity. Didn't want to be spoiled if it was part of the book further down the line. :techman:
  11. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 28, 2011
    As an aside, I like the way the three covers fit together into a single piece of art.
  12. indianatrekker26

    indianatrekker26 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 8, 2006
    i picked up the body electric today. I'm about to dive into the whole trilogy, and read it all together. I've been looking forward to it.
  13. CaptainDonovin

    CaptainDonovin Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 8, 2006
    Labrador City. woof
    Just downloaded it today. Love how the word susurrus has popped up in these, if I remember correctly that came up in a thread here w/ DMack over the summer.
  14. Titus Andronicus

    Titus Andronicus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 22, 2004
    Augusta, GA
    Finished it today. WOW.

    All I'll say about the book is that the adversary in this novel may be the most terrifying ever faced by Starfleet. Such a great book. But I'm really intrigued to see what others have to say.
  15. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

    Feb 21, 2005
    On the USS Sovereign
    About a quarter through. Has Mr. Mack exceeded his body count from Destiny destroying all of those systems? I suppose this novel has no appearances by Typhon pact members?
  16. Claudia

    Claudia Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 23, 2006
    Sector 001
    Finished the book today. (I have to say that I'm happy that I got my Christmas preparations finished early this year... *g*)

    I expected a bit more of this final part, to be honest. Again, it was a page-turner, but it wasn't as emotionally engaging as I had hoped.

    The main adversary wasn't really terrifying to me in an emotional sense because, even with his record, Mack wouldn't destroy subspace and thus render any further stories moot. To me, the impact of the destroyed worlds got a bit reduced by the multitude of death and destruction in Destiny. So, the only question was who he'd sacrifice to solve the situation. Somehow I feared it would be Data, but fortunately it wasn't. *g* But I wouldn't have put it past him to shock us readers by such a move. The rest of the machine-plot contained a bit too much technobabble for my taste, and I'm just happy that there wasn't some kind of deus-ex-machina solution, i.e. Wesley hyper-warping the thing to another galaxy or into the blackhole etc. but a solution that satisfied both sides.

    I enjoyed seeing Wesley again (loved the little scene with Q), but I was a bit perplexed by the crew's nonchalant reaction to him. I mean it's not every day a being like a Traveller pops in unannounced. Of course, I don't know if he made any appearance in another relaunch novel, but I got the impression that no one has seen him since that Riker/Troi-wedding visit-fiasco. So I'd have loved to see a scene with him being introduced to Rene and dealing with Picard being his stepfather. And it kind of bothered me that the rest of the crew called him Wesley or Wes (Smrhova), despite their knowing him for little more than a day (at least, that was my take on the timetable in this book after Wes warps the E-E to the machine). It's a bit the same issue I had with the crew and Data's interaction in Silent Weapons.

    On to Data whose part was to me the most interesting one - small wonder, since I only picked up this trilogy because of what the cover for part 1 suggested would happen. Was there really any question as to whom he would sacrifice, given the choice between Rhea and Vaslovik (sorry, he'll always be Vaslovik to me *g*)? Of course, I'd have loved to see them be together, after all Data deserves a loving partner as much as anyone. But this was his chance to bring his daughter back to life - and maybe prevent any future offspring from suffering from the same flaws. And I think any parent would choose like that. I was surprised, though, that Vaslovik found it within himself to still help Data. What a loss it would have been if sacrificing Rhea had also robbed Data of his most heartfelt wish.

    As emotional and heart-wrenching as this situation was, I feel kind of cheated that Lal's return's just got dealt with in the epilogue. As I said, to me Data and his mission were the glue that held this trilogy together - so I'd have loved to see this reunion in more detail. And actually I'd have loved if this had happened on the Enterprise with Data and Lal being among friends happy for them.

    As for Data torturing Vaslovik... Even if it was apparently mainly for show (though, what kind of "secrets" did Vaslovik reveal?), he still inflicted injuries and submitted to being blackmailed - though, he must have known that doing so doesn't necessarily save Rhea. Or did this play into his hand in questioning Vaslovik after all?

    On another note: Didn't Picard and Beverly agree on 3 or 4 more years at maximum on the Enterprise in Silent Weapons? Then why does Picard tell Worf that the wait for Picard to leave the Enterprise (and therefore to Worf's own command) could be a long one? OTOH, I definitely didn't get that "ready to settle down"-vibe from Picard any more which is kind of strange shift when it was so strong still in Silent Weapons.

    Finally, I'm looking forward to what's in store next for especially Data and Lal. But it's kind of funny that all 3 most senior officers of the TV-series now have children. I can already see the next generation of Enterprise officers forming. *g*

    As for this trilogy, to me the highlight definitely was Soong's sacrificing himself for Data. Unfortunately, the following parts didn't quite live up to the emotional impact of this moment. But Mack at least accomplished something: He got me interested in TNG-novels again, especially by leaving Data's future open. :)
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  17. Dsven43

    Dsven43 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Nov 2, 2012
    Yes. This machine has destroyed countless star systems and galaxies before it came to ours.:devil:
  18. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 4, 2008
    I'm currently working through it and just ran into something familiar. I won't be the first person to notice but
    on the second away team, an officer called Ally Scagliotti?.
  19. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 9, 2008
    Liked the first book, thought the second one was average and this one was poor. I'm surprised because, even with all the problems I have with modern trek, Mack's books are generally always pretty good even if I don't agree with all the story-telling choices.

    Number of issues:

    * The scale of the main threat was so big as to largely meaningless, I just couldn't bring myself to care

    * The "see you round ending" with Gatt was WTF??? even given Data's promise to him and his aboutface ("gosh I was wrong about everthing!") that was so simplistic that it would shame a He-man cartoon

    * The romance sub-plot was equally simplistic and was the sort of material you expect in to see in a poorly written YA adventure - I think the reason that I find Chen such a terrible character is that the writers seem to have this tendency to write her as a 14 year old girl in her personal life and the level of emotional complexity she displays because of that is the level of a kid as well. Again, when we got the denouncement, if this was live action, the characters would turn and look directly at the viewer. It just came across as filler.

    * The solution to the main problem was intended to be epic and cosmic but just came across as a bit silly and felt like "oh shit, we've got a few pages left, let's wrap this up"

    It was just a very poor book all round and I'm really disappointed that the Fellowship (who are a very interesting concept) were wasted in this story.
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    ^For what it's worth, He-Man cartoons were often written by people like Paul Dini, J. Michael Straczynski, Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree, and Diane Duane.