Spoilers TOS: A Contest of Principles by Greg Cox Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by tomswift2002, Oct 29, 2020.

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Rate A Contest of Principles

  1. Outstanding

    33.3%
  2. Above Average

    41.7%
  3. Average

    25.0%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I listened to your podcast I really enjoyed this novel alot . I voted above average. I liked the storyline for Doctor McCoy and Spock and Kirk. Having Christine Chapel having medical things to do in the book was great and having her team up with Spock to try and find McCoy was well written.
     
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  2. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm. Elections, a hawkish reactionary extremist candidate with a fanatical following, and a medical mystery. Why does this seem vaguely familiar?

    Chekhov's Spear?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
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  3. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    At least General Gogg had the decency to graciously accept defeat. Unlike someone else...
     
  4. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

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    So excited to share Greg's interview with you on Literary Treks where he talks about how lucky he got with all the similarities between this book and real life! We had a great time with him!
    [​IMG]
     
  5. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    There is a persistent and jarring syntax error that hits me like fingernails on a chalkboard, and jolts me out of the story:

    According to the American Heritage Dictionary (not to mention every usage I've encountered elsewhere), the plural of aircraft is aircraft; the plural of spacecraft is spacecraft; the plural of craft, in the sense of a vessel or vehicle, is craft. In short, the plural, as with moose, is identical to the singular.
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I swear to God, I wrote this book more than a year ago, and submitted the outline to Pocket Books and CBS well before that! I could honestly live with it being less topical!
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's worth remembering that the 2016 election was just as contentious, and candidate Trump as good as said at the time that he would refuse to accept the electoral outcome unless he won. Not to mention that there was outside tampering in the election and a lot of concern that it would get even worse the next time. So to me, the themes and ideas in the book reflected concerns we've had about election security and voter rights for years now. I thought it dealt with them pretty effectively, albeit with the degree of heightened drama and action required of an adventure story.

    One bit where you didn't do what I expected was the scene where... oh, this is the spoiler thread, so I'll just say it unboxed... Kirk shoots the phaser rifle at the oncoming truck and slices it in two. Since it's TOS, what I expected to "see" when he fired the rifle was the entire truck glowing brightly and fading out of existence. So I was surprised when you went for a more "modern" effect, given how TOS-authentic your books usually are.
     
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  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I guess I just thought the beam slicing the truck down the middle was more vivid image.

    And, yes, although I didn't deliberately set out to write a book about the 2020 election, and in fact the notion of Kirk and crew serving as impartial election observers had been percolating in my brain-storming file for years and years now, I guess you can kinda tell where my brain was over a year ago, even if I wasn't fully conscious of it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2020
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What I meant was that these issues have been on our minds since the 2016 election, so it was timely well before 2020.

    One way that you didn't predict 2020, by the way, was in focusing on voters having to come out to polling places to vote. If you were writing it now, you might have focused more on voting by mail, or some futuristic equivalent. But then the whole truck attack scene wouldn't have happened.
     
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    And I'm very relieved that nobody actually drove a car into any lines at polling places in real life -- which people were actually worrying about in the days leading up to the 2020 election. That was also a little too close to my book for comfort.
     
  11. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I gave it an "Outstanding." The syntactic distraction I already cited was the only flaw I could see.

    As to the note at the end of the Acknowledgments, I take pride in four things:

    1. I have never -- not once -- missed an election. I have cast intentional, well-considered abstentions in individual races, for various reasons, but I have never missed an election.

    2. I have never -- not once -- made unnecessary use of absentee voting.

    3. I have never -- not once -- declared a party affiliation.

    4. I have never -- not once -- cast a "straight ticket" ballot.
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't see what's wrong with absentee voting. If anything, states that have completely open mail-in voting have much higher turnout, and we saw in this election how widespread mail-in voting enhanced turnout -- and had none of the drawbacks that the propaganda alleged. I've seen it credibly argued that universal mail-in voting would be the best possible thing for democracy.
     
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  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I voted by absentee ballot in my very first election--for Jimmy Carter. It's hardly a new or radical thing.

    Heck, my native WA switched to mail-in voting years ago, long before the pandemic. And as a sixty-year-old man with one kidney I certainly appreciated being able to vote by mail this year.

    Now, as to turning to the tabulation over to an orbiting supercomputer . . . well, that's something Captain Kirk is going to have to deal with. :)
     
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  14. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I don't begrudge anybody the right to vote in the most convenient way, and neither do I begrudge any State the right to conduct elections as it sees fit, and I certainly consider absentee ballots to be at least as secure as any interactive voting machine, but I believe that ritual -- so long as it is done legitimately, rather than being an empty charade -- has value in and of itself.

    Whether it is the ritual of Christian Communion, or a Jewish Passover Seder, or the Islamic Salat (the "Contact Prayer"). Or whether it is the most central ritual of Democracy, namely hauling oneself into a Polling Place, and casting one's ballot in person.

    Since 1980, when I became eligible to vote, I can recall three occasions when I voted absentee. Two of them involved travel (and in the case of the first one, I requested the absentee ballot in person, at the County Registrar's office, and I'm pretty sure I cast it and returned it on the spot). The third was, of course, last month, when voting in person would have been an unnecessary risk to my life.

    To the best of my recollection, on all three occasions (even if I didn't request, accept, cast, and return the ballot on the spot in the first one), I did not trust my ballot to the mail (I've seen too many mailings misscarry), but instead hand-delivered it to the Registrar's Office (in the case of last month, to the armored drop-box in front of the building).
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, I understand the satisfaction of going to a polling place, but just because that's what we're used to doesn't mean it's intrinsically better. For everyone who sees value in making the effort of going to vote and takes pride in always making that effort, like you and I do, there are a lot of others who are deterred by that effort and just don't bother -- and low voter turnout is terrible for democracy. So voting should not be some big important occasion that you have to care enough to be willing to do. Voting should be as easy and routine as possible, as everyday as paying your phone bill. Because it's not about ritual or ceremony. It's the most pragmatic thing in the world, because it determines what our lives are like on a day-to-day basis.
     
  16. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This was the first time I voted, and I voted by mail, and I probably will every other time I vote. I really don't want to have to stand around for hours, when I can just as easily do it from home.
     
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  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Which is why, as I said, I do not begrudge anybody the right to cast his or her ballot by whatever legally valid means he or she sees fit.

    California (or at least Orange County, California; I'm not entirely sure if this is State-wide) has, over the past few years, evolved into a system in which everybody is sent an absentee ballot, but everybody retains complete freedom to either (1) mail it in, (2) hand-deliver it to the Registrar's Office or an official drop-box, (3) hand-deliver it to any polling station (not just the one designated for one's home precinct), (4) designate a courier to hand-deliver it, or (5) cast a ballot in any polling station. And that should most likely be the best solution for maximizing turnout: it accommodates those of us who see value in hauling oneself to a polling station (which I last did in this year's primary), without forcing anybody to do so.

    Truth be told, for me, "mail-only" would likely be a deterrent: elections in the National Model Railroad Association are by mail (or more recently, online), and I've probably ignored more NMRA ballots than I've returned. Then again, I can't remember the last time the NMRA had more than one candidate for any office. It reminds me of a line in an episode of Mork and Mindy: on the planet Ork, it seems that elections amount to "Oh, you want to be in charge? Sure. Go for it."

    BTW, I don't see as how Barr can come off saying there was no indication of any election fraud that could have affected the outcome. There bloody well WAS election fraud, at least in parts of California, and it was all over the news: the Republican Party was planting phony ballot boxes. There was one right in front of at least one Republican candidate's campaign headquarters. And they didn't even deny it; they brazened it out, claiming that they'd done nothing wrong! Sure enough, they predict fraud, and they fulfill their own predictions.

    Kind of reminds me of all those claims that Obamacare would result in "death panels," arbitrarily denying life-saving treatment: sure enough, death panels DID show up. CORPORATE death panels, not GOVERNMENT death panels. Then again, some health insurance companies already had 'em.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I've never had to stand around for hours to vote, even on those occasions when I went to the Board of Elections to vote early. Usually there are only one or two people ahead of me at the local polling place, though there might be more if I went at a busier time. Even when I went to the BoE in a heavy-turnout election like 2008, the wait was probably less than an hour; there were quite a lot of people in line, but there were a lot of booths inside and it was an efficient operation.

    If people have to wait in line for hours to vote, that's a sign that somebody in power is deliberately making the process harder than it should be in hopes of preventing people from voting them out. It's a breakdown of the system, not the norm.


    Sounds good to me. The point is to make voting as easy and accessible as possible for everyone, to maximize opportunity and options, not limit them. I mean, I said it should be as everyday as paying your phone bill -- and they won't complain if you come in to pay your phone bill in person.


    Anyway, to get back on topic, this is why it seemed odd to me in the novel that voting at a public polling place seemed to be the only option for the planet's inhabitants -- especially since there only seemed to be the one centralized polling place, at least in that city (I hope it wasn't the only polling place on the planet). But then, this was their first free election in a long time, so maybe they didn't have the bugs worked out. Still, you'd think the Federation advisors would've recommended adding more polling places, or arranging some kind of vote-from-home option for people with less mobility.
     
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  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, and then there's the old saw that "you can't hack paper" (although you can burn, shred, or otherwise physically destroy it).

    Hopefully, the people of Vok aren't restricted to specific assigned polling stations.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    The absence of a vote-from-home option is a good point, and indicative of the fact that I wrote that book before that issue hit the headlines. The honest answer, of course, is that an attack on a public polling place was a more exciting and action-packed way to work some last-minute voter intimidation into the story.
     
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