Spoilers TOS: The Captain's Oath by Christopher L. Bennett Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Fire Daemon, May 17, 2019.

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Rate TOS: The Captain's Oath

  1. Outstanding

    19 vote(s)
    48.7%
  2. Above Average

    15 vote(s)
    38.5%
  3. Average

    2 vote(s)
    5.1%
  4. Below Average

    1 vote(s)
    2.6%
  5. Poor

    2 vote(s)
    5.1%
  1. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    For the most part, I easily imagined the ship interiors and uniforms with the look from The Cage/WNMHGB. Although for the parts which feature Pike I surprised myself by automatically imagining Anson Mount. And in the chapter that features both Pike and Spock together, I actually imagined Ethan Peck as Spock, though for the rest of the novel I still automatically imagined Leonard Nimoy.
     
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  2. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm thinking about doing a Vanguard reread soon, and I already plan on picturing the ships and tech closer to Discovery than TOS. I already tended to picture the stuff we never saw in TOS as looking more modern day futuristic than what we saw in TOS, so Discovery's style would work pretty well for me.
     
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  3. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmm. Too bad you didn't manage to glom onto a SFBC Hardcover edition. That has the full cover art (albeit with the colors a bit less saturated), wrapping around to the back of the dust jacket, with Uhura in what appears to be her TOS "skant" (albeit with a black belt), and Sulu, Scott, and (I believe) Chekov, in ribbed collars.

    At any rate, I do miss Kirk's discomfort at being assigned to ferry Lindy's vaudeville troupe. :p
     
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  4. Leto_II

    Leto_II Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Plus the horse.
     
  5. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's "equiraptor" to you!
     
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  6. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And don't forget the poodles!
     
  7. Omega Particle

    Omega Particle Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    As for Gary Mitchell, I don't think I was actively trying to make him unlikeable, but I guess I did see him as kind of shallow, and I was sort of going for the idea that he was the character who really acted like the roguish, womanizing caricature of Kirk, as a way of contrasting that with the reality of the serious, career-focused Kirk from early TOS. Also, plenty of other books have fleshed out Mitchell, so I was satisfied to keep him in a supporting, largely comic-relief role.
     
  9. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    His onscreen appearance already did that.
     
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  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes. Even before the encounter with the Galactic Barrier (and the "0" entity?), he kind of made one wonder about Kirk's taste in friends.
     
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  11. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Eh, you're just a couple of walking freezer units! Loosen up! He's just a fun-loving (22)60's kind of guy!

    Speaking of old-fashioned throwbacks, it looks like enough people have read the book that I feel I can start talking more specifically about stuff that happened. Not a comprehensive post, because I didn't take notes, but there were a few fun touches that delighted me.

    I liked the old-school approach to a modern issue-of-the-day. It felt very TOS to introduce the metaphor by tying it explicitly into the modern day (Kirk yelling at the Orion-trafficking pirate that his excuse that he had to smuggle in his "refugees" because they didn't have papers was bull because, in the Future, you didn't need papers to move to the Federation reminded me of Chekov and Sulu talking about how they read about racism in history class in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"), and then exploring the concept in more detail through sci-fi allegory.

    I like the episodic approach of the book. CLB has done it before, like in "The Buried Age" and the DTI novels, but for some reason it really felt like a "Season 0" miniseries of TOS rather than a book covering a more epic timescale than usual. Maybe because Kirk's early days on the Sacagawea were more "typical" Star Trek adventures with a starship and a bridge crew and landing parties and all the trappings, while the other examples were "cinematic" as opposed to "TV," showing us parts of the universe in ways we weren't as used to seeing.

    Always a fan of the throwback terminology, like "negate warp" and the running-joke-that-never-was, Kirk and McCoy's "You always say that..." "I never say that."

    I don't want to draw comparisons about revisiting a setting established with different prevailing styles and conventions in a way that takes advantage of what had been established while also being modern and relevant to today... so I won't.
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Part of that is that I had to come up with the premise and outline in a hurry (to make up for the long delay in new books, and in me getting paid), so I pretty much cannibalized most of my unused TOS and Star Trek Adventures plot ideas as the various missions. The important thing was how those experiences shaped Kirk as a captain and his relationships with the other characters.


    It's "neutralize warp," but yeah. Also "address intercraft." I had to push for that one, since it's objectively wrong (should be "intracraft") but authentic to the era, since it was used in both pilots.


    By this point, I've managed to make it a running joke in my corner of the TOS Litverse, at least.
     
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  13. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That might explain the one thing I complained about.
    Beat me to it.
     
  14. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    I'm also reading the Day of Honor novel "Treaty's Law" right now (so I'm in essence reading 3 original series novels at the same time--I usually try to read separate Star Trek series at the same time to avoid confusion but so far I'm able to keep them separate).

    One interesting thing I noticed reading Treaty's Law and The Captain's Oath parallel to each other is Christopher features Kirk meeting Koloth for the first time, while Treaty's Law features Kirk's 2nd run in with Kor. I noticed some similarities in how Kirk reacts to each Klingon's attempts to get a rise out of him. Both Koloth and Kor were unsuccessful. Kirk kept his cool and responded in a way that the Klingons couldn't help but respect.

    And of course I noticed some similarities in how Kirk is portrayed in The Captain's Oath and in My Brother's Keeper, which I find interesting as well as it seems in some ways at least Christopher and Michael Jan Friedman at least had some of the same ideas about the first season with Kirk being more serious (and Mitchell being more, um, like the class clown for lack of a better word).
     
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  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's been a long time since I read Treaty's Law, but I remember feeling that Kirk and Kor got along too easily there, compared to how fiercely they'd clashed on Organia.


    I think that's just because we watched the same show, because it's all in there plain as day. Honestly, I find it strange how much distance there is between the popular stereotype of Kirk and the reality in the actual show.
     
  16. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Well, I'm only as far as chapter 5 in Treaty's Law so the dynamic may change a bit. So far it seems consistent with "Errand of Mercy", Kor, like any Klingon, is quick to accuse Kirk and the Federation of attacking the farming colony, but when presented with some actual evidence Kor grudgingly concedes the Federation 'may' not be involved, though he's not convinced it's not some elaborate trick. He also has a grudging respect for Kirk, which he had in "Errand of Mercy" as well.

    What I found a bit similar with your story was Kirk's reaction to both Koloth and Kor when they try to get a rise out of him or intimidate him. He doesn't take the bait basically and stoop to their level. Despite his protestations that he's a soldier, he shows he's a very worthy diplomat as well, and one that always knows just the right things to say.

    And I think you might have a point that we tend to think of the movie Kirk, partly I guess it's because it's the last thing we see. And of course I think fans sometimes falsely think of the Abramsverse Kirk, who was more rebellious probably because unlike his prime-counterpart, his father was not there in the Abramsverse to help shape him.

    You know, as an aside one thing about World Without End is in that book it noted Kirk's father was a member of an Earth return movement (I had thought it was always established Kirk's father was in Starfleet--I thought I saw that in "The Making of Star Trek" or maybe "The World of Star Trek). I was surprised to see that.

    Anyway as Kirk aged his views on rules and regulations changed a bit. Now I wouldn't say he actually broke any regulations until TSFS, but later you could argue he 'bent' some rules and obviously was able to argue he maintained the spirit of the regulations (or he would not have remained Captain probably). But yeah, early on I think he was more beholden to the letter of the rules and regulations. I don't think that should be surprising. He became a great captain I think because he understood the intent of regulations--and you would have to know what they are in the first place to understand that.

    Now with Treaty's Law the main comparison I see is Kirk's reaction to the Klingons trying to goad him into acting impetuously. That book is obviously much later in Kirk's command so I don't expect to see many points to compare outside that it's another original series book.

    But I know I've been thinking of My Brother's Keeper a bit while reading "The Captain's Oath" probably because both stories cover an earlier, lesser covered era of Kirk's career. I expected to compare and contrast it more with Enterprise: The First Adventure, but pretty quickly in I see almost no similarities other than a few very superficial ones (Kirk originally wanting Mitchell as his first officer for instance--though both novels have very differing ways of handling that). But I'm finding the spirit of "The Captain's Oath" to actually feel more like that of My Brother's Keeper instead. Storywise perhaps the "Republic" and "Constitution" books can live in the same universe as "The Captains Oath" (with some specific exceptions), "Enterprise" not so much---that novel did have Mitchell as first officer, Sulu only transferred to helm after Kelso was killed (and was not already an ace helmsman), Uhura was going to come aboard the ship during their refit after WNMHGB and was not already on the ship and the main plot of that book had Kirk's first meeting with Klingons. It's interesting that Friedman went with the idea that I always agreed with (and I think Christopher noted he felt the same way), that the 5 YM started after WNMHGB--even including a couple lines about how the Enterprise was returning to Earth for a refit (to explain the change in appearance of the Enterprise between WNMHGB and The Corbomite Maneuver) as well as crew replacements.

    I do think any similarities of the two stories and how they depict a younger Kirk is exactly as Christopher stated, that is how Kirk was depicted in the 1st season, and how Mitchell described Kirk as a "stack of books with legs".
     
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  17. thribs

    thribs Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I’m about 200 pages in. I’m enjoying it so far. Seeing Kirk become the person we all know and love is fun to read. I also liked the subtle Buried Age reference which made me realise how similar this book is to that one. Showing the captain’s history before they became Captain. @Christopher should keep the trend going by doing Janeway (which he started also in Buried Age) and Sisko.

    For the uniform question I just assume they’re wearing the proper TOS uniforms.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the Kelvin Kirk is like that because that perception of Kirk's personality already existed in pop culture before then. Look at "Unification" and Picard disdaining Kirk's "cowboy diplomacy." There was always a perception that Kirk was more of a hotheaded rulebreaker than Picard, even though their approaches were actually pretty similar ("The Drumhead" pointed out that Picard had violated the letter of the Prime Directive on 9 previous occasions during TNG alone, IIRC) and their differences were more matters of style than substance.

    The only mention of Kirk's father in TMoST is a terse "His father is dead" (though his mother was said to be still alive). I don't think TWoST had biographical material like that, since it was talking about ST more as a work of fiction.


    One thing that I tried to stress in the book, and that a lot of people misunderstand, is that it was his job to interpret the regulations and decide whether or not it was appropriate to apply them. It wasn't like TNG where Starfleet Command was always a phone call away; a frontier captain was often the highest available authority, entitled to make such decisions unilaterally because it would take weeks to get a ruling from anyone higher.


    With that, I was just following the precedent of Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart, since this book is in continuity with the novelverse and therefore with that miniseries.
     
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  19. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, that's likely the biggest reason for that. In universe you could explain it away as him being raised without his father, who was an inspiration for him.

    Hmm, I wonder when it was first noted his father was a Starfleet officer. Was it before the novel 'Best Destiny'? Was it ever mentioned in canon before Star Trek (2009) that his father was a Starfleet officer? I'm trying to think back but I can't think of any (I guess it would have to be after 1979 since World Without End had that note about his father being a politician).

    You could probably argue as he got older he got better at interpreting regulations, which makes sense. He'd probably start off from a more literal interpretation and as he got more experience learned more about the spirit of the regulations.

    I think you could argue others views of his being 'cowboy diplomacy' comes from his interpretation of the regulations. That they didn't approve in how he came to his decisions, right or wrong.

    The Rings of Tautee was a novel that compared two different captains. Kirk and Bogle--Bogle is a more by the numbers captain, more interested in the letter of the regulations, whereas Kirk is looking for ways to interpret the regulations in such a way that he is following the intent, if not the letter of the rules (which I think was written by the same authors as "Treaty's Law" if I'm not mistaken--both novels feature Captain Bogle of the Farragut).

    After I finish up my Day of Honor omnibus I plan on reading my Mere Anarchy anthology. It's good to know your novel has ties to that so I'll read it with a eye toward "The Captain's Oath" (and less the compare-contrast I was thinking of with MBK and earlier with E:TFA--which I've largely abandoned at this point).

    I always loved thinking of different novels and in what ways they might co-exist, esp. with novels that cover a similar period of time. I guess I could add "Inception" to that list since that covers an early part of Kirk's career--but I'm having a difficult time remembering anything from that book. :shrug:
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It was Enterprise: The First Adventure that introduced the George Kirk character that Diane Carey subsequently featured in Final Frontier and Best Destiny. But the idea of Kirk following in his father's footsteps goes back at least as far as Gold Key's Enterprise Logs Kirk bio from 1976, which says his late father Col. Benjamin Kirk was the "hero of the Klingon Repulsion," and that young Jimmy was "assured appointment to the Space Academy" as a consolation prize for his father dying in the line of duty.


    No, his parents were never mentioned in canon at all until '09.


    Well, books back then didn't always agree perfectly with canon, since it wasn't as easy to check the source.


    Which is part of the story I tell in the book.


    Picard's attitude wasn't really about Kirk specifically as much as the difference between the more lawless frontier of the 23rd century and the more tamed, civilized galaxy of the 24th, analogous to the Old West vs. the present-day American West. Picard's argument to Spock in "Unification" was that the old ways of Spock's youth would no longer cut it in the modern galaxy.


    The Captain's Oath is incompatible with Inception's version of Kirk's early career.
     
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