Vulcan's Soul - Epiphany

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by T'Bonz, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    I have never been able to do a book review, so I won't try, but if you're a fan of the Vulcans and Romulans, I strongly suggest you check out the Vulcan's Soul series of books by Susan Shwartz and Josepha Sherman.

    I just finished the third book of the series. To my amazement, they were able to take the very unsatisfactory existence of Remus and the Remans (which came from that gawdawful "Nemesis") and turn it into something that made sense and fit better into the Star Trek canon world than "Nemesis" did.

    The third book was so good that I've read it thrice in the week since I bought it. It just came out in paperback and as soon as I was aware of that, I snapped it up.

    Kudos for making me stop gagging every time I heard the word "Reman". Now I can accept them as a true part of the Star Trek universe.

    Are there any plans for a sequel to this? It might be wishful thinking on my part, but it seemed to me that the door was left open for that.
     
  2. Rabid Trekkie

    Rabid Trekkie Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Are they in any way a continuation of the Spock books from before? The reason I ask is that I'm trying to read to Spock books in a kind of order (Spock's World, Sarek, Vulcan's Forge, Vulcan's Heart) and was wondering if I should buy them and read them now or wait for three more books.
     
  3. ialfan

    ialfan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They are a continuation of Vulcan's Forge and Vulcan's Heart I think. So the proper reading order would have this trilogy at the end.

    I don't think it matters which point you read Spock's World or Sarek though since I think they've been contradicted by later TV series.
     
  4. Vastator

    Vastator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I would say they are a somewhat continuation of Vulcan's Heart... many of the same characters are there really but rather then be solely in the present, it goes back and explains the history of the Romulan and Reman people. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and got it along with the others ages ago. Its kind of solidified my fascination of the Vulcans and their splinter species.

    I would very much like to see a sequel to this actually... I wouldnt mind seeing the Watraii again as well. I believe in "Taking Wing" Spock mentions that the Remans have perhaps a better chance of seeing Surak's teachings then the Romulans are. I know thats got nothing to do with Vulcan's Soul books but it just struck me as an interesting concept... that the violent slave splinter species of the Romulans accept Reunification with the Vulcan's better.

    The post Nemesis period would also be an interesting point to see the Watraii again. I mean they do have a number of problems but would they take the opportunity to retake their homeworlds? How would a Watraii and a Reman act to one another? What happened to the very early Remans like Rovalat and his mother? Considering their telepathic talents, I wouldnt be surprised if the Remans passed on a telepathic record of their history to certain members of their kind.
     
  5. setacourse

    setacourse Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's one hell of a review, T'Bonz.

    While I still don't like most aspects of Nemesis, the A Time To... series was a deeply satisfying experience explaining the Enterprise crew changes. It's extremely pleasing to know that Vulcan's Soul does the same for the Remans. I'm currently enjoying the first Vulcan's Soul book. When I first picked it up a couple years ago, I skipped the Memory chapters because I couldn't connect with the characters or situations, but enjoy them now that I'm really reading it, and occasionally skip a Now chapter for a bit to read the next thing that happens Then. :)

    Also, I don't think I've ever read a book thrice in quick succession. A soundtrack or DVD, yes. But then again, I'm listening multiple times to the unabridged audiobook from the library, occasionally repeating tracks or several minutes rather than the whole thing, so it's the same thing in a different way. The narrator sounds coolly like Leonard Nimoy at times, though he isn't him.

    As previously mentioned, they are a continuation of Vulcan's Forge and Heart. I know one character invented in Vulcan's Forge is in it, and several of the Vulcan/Romulan characters and situations of Heart are followed up on in Soul.
     
  6. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I really liked this series and a look at the history of the Vulcans,Romulans and Remans alot of interesting storyarcs that were dealt with. I Thought this book is a nice contiuation of what They started off with Spock in the earlier books Vulcan's Forge and Vulcan Heart. I really like this series.:bolian: Ruanek's character was in Vf and in a short story in the Dominiion war story collection too. it's nice to see him in the this series again.
     
  7. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    Actually, in the third book, that back-history was so good, I could have easily skipped the "now" stuff. I did in the second and third readings.

    I too wanted to know "what happened next" after the book ended. Why did it take so long for the Watraii to come back? Remember that Sarissa had promised that someday they would return (her descendants.) What happened to Rovalat (spelling may be wrong there) or his mother? What happened to Sarissa?

    I'm still amazed that a book could make me care about the Remans, *chuckle*. I was so annoyed at "Nemesis".

    What's nice too is that this series goes along nicely with the Duane books, which are my other Romulan favorites.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm surprised that so many people disliked the Remans in NEM. I thought they were a great idea. I get so sick of so-called alien "empires" that only have one species in them. An empire, by definition, is a multicultural entity, a state that subsumes other states and draws on them to augment its resources and manpower. And a military demands a lot of manpower. It's been the nature of empires throughout history to have their subject peoples serving in their military as cannon fodder if nothing more. Yet all these alien "empires" always have single-species crews on their warships, which is just getting it totally wrong. Prior to NEM, the only alien "empire" in Trek that actually functioned like an empire was the Dominion, because its military and bureaucracy were populated by subject species rather than the ruling species. To me, as a student of history, the introduction of the Remans as a subject people of the Romulans was a long-overdue correction of a decades-old mistake, making the so-called "Romulan Star Empire" actually resemble a working empire for the first time in the history of Star Trek. And I found it quite refreshing.
     
  9. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    Oh, I did not dislike the idea of another species. Not at all. I just didn't like the execution.

    And I found the story of Shinzon to be seriously flawed, to boot. If one assumed that he was cloned and grew to adulthood in a normal time frame, it makes no sense. Picard would have basically been a nothing when Shinzon started out life and it made no sense to have had him patterned after Picard. The ONLY way that could have worked would have been had the growth been sharply accelerated, time-wise.

    Plus how would he have gotten out of the mines and slavery? I didn't buy THAT bit either. And there is no way that the paranoid Romulans would have either teamed up with him (yeah, a human escapee from the Reman mines. Rrrigght), or he would have made it past security to take over things.

    I'm sure someone clever might be able to rationalize it all away, but they sure didn't make it believable in the movie.

    I quite agree. And one thing that irked me was the sameness of a race of beings on a planet. Most Vulcan and Romulan males had that bowl cut. One didn't see the variety of body types/skin tones one would expect on a planet with different temperatures either.

    Just like on Earth, I figure a world would have a lot of variability when it came to its people; in both behaviors and in appearances.
     
  10. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    DiW had a logical explanation for this, which is pretty much the same one I'd thought of when I saw NEM. Basically, Romulan agents stole the DNA of a number of starship captains, including Picard (who commanded the Stargazer at the time) with the intent of substituting their clones somewhere down the line. But the project was cancelled, and the clones shipped off to the mines to die... where they all did, except for Shinzon. Where growth-acceleration would have needed to factor in would be the age discrepency between the clones and the originals, but given the advanced state of surgical disguise in the 24th century, it's possible the Romulans would just have made their clone infiltrators 'look' the correct age. One would have to find ways around medical screenings, of course.

    As I've said before, there's a great novel waiting to be written about the life of Shinzon.

    There, I'll agree. I don't dislike NEM as many others do - I usually place it 4th in my list of favourites, after "First Contact", "Undiscovered Country" and "Generations" (in that order), but I think the movie's biggest failing (other than pointlessly killing off Data) was the apparent unwillingess to capitalize, onscreen, on the wealth of potential storytelling and characterization that the premise promised. It's a tragedy that a character of Shinzon's complexity had to be overlooked, rendered only in brief, not always coherent strokes, in exchange for buggy racing with Tusken raiders.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  11. Vastator

    Vastator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well remember that I think it was in the first book that Admiral Chekov had encountered them before but they simply said 'leave our borders' and that they wanted to be left alone. I think they may have simply been building everything from scratch and waiting for an opportunity to strike. The post Dominion War period was one of the weakest points the Empire would have been but how the Watraii would know this yet not know about the Klingons or Feds is a bit of a mystery.

    Yep its Rovalat named after the Vulcan teacher from the first book and thats a good question. Personally, I think that maybe he and his mother tried to use the older mines as places to shelter their kind and perhaps continue some of their ancient traditions. I mean the colony was made by them so its quite possible that there are tunnels and complexes that the Romulans won't know about at all. Makes me wonder though if the Remans try a Kahs-wan-like tradition.

    Anyway, sadly, I dont think either had a good life in the end and what happened to the others was very sad :(

    Same like the others I assume, remember that her and her mate had to restart their own civilization on a world that was perhaps just as harsh if not harsher then Remus though at least there they could pop their heads out but still...

    I would assume that they were moulding their entire civilization into one bent on revenge no matter the cost. I wonder though if they expanded to other systems or anything. I mean it is called the Watraii Hegemony and I picture a mini-empire.

    Don't know how it could be approached but I wouldnt mind seeing more developments of the early Romulan Star Empire. Seems kind of bad that all that S'task and Karatek worked so hard for just ended up in smoke. Also, what novel is T'Rehu mentioned in? I know that she is in some previous novels that talk about early Romulan history but not sure which one they are.
     
  12. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I hope we haven't seen the last of my favorite Romulans either - Charvanek and (the coolest Romulan who ever existed, IMHO) Ruanek!
     
  13. A_C_C

    A_C_C Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2008
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm surprised that people keep thinking that -- they're forgetting just how old Picard is, and what a veteran captain he already was when TNG began. As of NEM, he's 74 years old and has been in command of the Enterprise for over 15 years. Shinzon was only in his 20s, so by the time was born, Picard had already established himself as the legendary commander of the Stargazer, the man who became the youngest captain in Starfleet history and led an extraordinary 22-year mission of exploration.

    Yes, that's the other thing that surprises me -- the way the critics of the Shinzon idea jump to the conclusion that Picard was the only one sampled. The DiW idea that he was one of multiple targets seems like an entirely natural assumption to make.

    Err, this was a critical plot point in the movie. It was explained outright that Shinzon was supposed to be given a treatment that would artificially age him once he reached adulthood. His whole biology was designed with that in mind. But since the project had collapsed, he wasn't given that treatment, and without it, his body was breaking down. That's the whole reason the movie happened in the first place. The reason he staged the coup, took over the government, and made a bogus peace offering to the Federation was so that he could lure Picard to Romulus, steal his genetic material, and use it to repair his own genetic damage so that he could live on.

    That was explained as well. The Romulans used Reman troops as cannon fodder in the Dominion War, just as armies throughout history have used slaves as soldiers -- see the Jannisaries of the Ottoman Empire, for instance. Shinzon was one of those troops, and his heroism and tactical brilliance in the war enabled him to rise through the ranks despite his origins.

    We're conditioned by American history to see slavery in a certain way, but different cultures have practiced slavery very differently, and there have been plenty of human cultures where slavery has not been an absolute bar to career advancement in the military or even the government. Whole dynasties in the Muslim world have been ruled by people who were nominally slaves to the caliphate back home. So who's to say how much upward mobility a slave might have in Romulan culture in normal circumstances, let alone in wartime where prejudices often must give way to survival?

    Again, the movie explained this. The Romulans themselves were divided; Praetor Hiren was being challenged by a faction that objected to his "appeasement" of the Federation and wanted to embrace an expansionist military policy. They were already primed and willing to overthrow the government, and Shinzon's war record won him their respect. Since they were hostile to the Praetor anyway, it's not at all surprising that they would've been willing to ally with another enemy of the Praetor, as Shinzon was. Politics makes strange bedfellows, after all. Shinzon said the right things about backing their expansionism and therefore won their support for his coup. Probably they saw him as something of a figurehead, someone who could take the risks and the blame so they wouldn't have to.


    Hmm, I only partly agree. Personally I think Shinzon was a very rich character, and I love his interplay with Picard, but a lot of that is subtext. And that potential is somewhat underutilized by the whole business of Shinzon pursuing a rather pointless attack on Earth. And I thoroughly agree that the buggy chase was a waste of time that could've been better spent on real storytelling. The problem is that the market demands that Star Trek films be action blockbusters rather than thoughtful science-fiction dramas. Shinzon could've been a great character for a story arc on the TV series, but movies these days have to be kept simple, so maybe there was just too much to get across in too brief a time and it didn't work for most viewers (although it worked fine for me, mostly).
     
  15. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, that's embarrasing; I'd completely forgotten the aging thing was what caused his degeneracy. Obviously I need to give this another viewing one of these days.

    As unwise as it might seem having already tripped up on a plot point today, I'm going to have to disagree with that assesment. I think Shinzon was a true believe in the cause of 'his' Reman people, and the coup a genuine revolution (though the timetable might have been affected by his impending death). The peace offer to the Federation was bogus and first and foremost about self-preservation, though I think Shinzon was genuinely curious about Picard. And, notably, Shinzon ultimately decided that his cause (however unreasonable his current course of action was in carrying it out) was more important than his life, since he eventually felt compelled to destroy the Enterprise and his sole hope for survival beyond the next few hours. I always thought it was one of those nice little moments of symmetry that Picard and Shinzon decided to lay down their lives in essentially suicidal attack at around the same point in the film. So yes, self-preservation drove much of what Shinzon, but ultimately didn't prove his highest priority: his pledge to fulfill the revolution in a misguided attack on Earth and the Federation was. It's part of what I liked about Shinzon; that, unlike GEN and INS, we didn't have a villain who was entirely about himself, those moments where you really could see that, given different circumstances, he could have been just as noble as Picard.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2008
  16. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Richard Poe has done the three unabridged audios for Recorded Books. He played Gul Evek on TNG, DS9 and VOY.

    The abridged "Vulcan's Soul, Book 1: Exodus", from Simon & Schuster Audioworks, was read by Boyd Gaines. (S&SA haven't done the sequels.)
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, I can agree with that, but I don't think it's incompatible with what I said. A person can have more than one motivation for doing or believing a single thing. Shinzon wanted to advance the cause of the Reman people, but the reason he staged his coup at that particular time was because he couldn't afford to wait. And he was curious about Picard, not for Picard's sake, but for his own -- he was searching for the identity he'd been denied, trying to find out who he was. And he was somewhat disappointed when Picard didn't turn out to be the kind of man Shinzon imagined himself to be at the core.


    Here's where our interpretations differ. It seemed to me that by that point, Shinzon had missed his chance for a curel; there was no way he'd be able to get his hands on Picard and go through the treatment in time to save himself. So he was dying anyway, and he was determined to take Picard with him.

    Heck, he'd long since abandoned the Reman cause by that point. The Reman cause wouldn't have been served by destroying Earth; Earth had nothing to do with the Remans' oppression. As I read it, he just wanted to destroy Earth because it was where Picard came from and he was at war with Picard. He hated his "father" as the reality of which he was merely a reflection, and felt compelled to wipe out Picard, his whole family, and his whole planet so that Shinzon could be the one and only, the "true" version at last.

    Hm. That's an interesting way of looking at it, though I don't think I can really agree with it. I wish I could, since I'm usually the one defending Shinzon as a rich character, but I just can't see it that way. I do agree that he showed Picard-like potential, that he could've been a great man if the right aspects of him had been nurtured, but I don't see his acts in the climactic portions of the film as selfless. The flipside of greatness is arrogance. And as Data said, Shinzon was like B-4 in that he wasn't trying to become better than he was. He felt inferior to Picard, but tried to fix that by tearing Picard down rather than raising himself up.

    So yes, there was symmetry, in keeping with the "reflection" theme of the whole film (including the title font with its reflected E's in "NEMESIS"). But Shinzon was a dark reflection. They both were willing to make suicide attacks, but Picard did it to save lives while Shinzon did it to destroy his nemesis.
     
  18. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Makes sense to me. I thought, the way your post had been phrased, that you were suggesting Shinzon staged the coup as a way to get to Picard. Because, of course, there are probably easier ways to abscond with a Starfleet officer--particularly if you have a massive, cloak-equipped starship of your own--then overthrowing a major interstellar power. Rather, the plot to lure Picard to Romulus dovetailed with an already planned rebellion, though possibly affecting the timetable depending on how long Shinzon had left (in fact, almost certainly: Shinzon was cutting it close as it was, and couldn't afford to wait any longer).

    Sad thing is: if Shinzon had just contacted Picard--without the threats and the trappings--and asked for his help upfront, Picard would almost certainly have agreed to a genetic transfusion.

    I'd have to view the film again to make sure my interpretation does hold water, and there's certainly a degree to which both could be true to varying extents. And the plot to destroy Earth was just nutty, although I saw it as a way of fulfilling his promise to the hardliners to take a more aggressive stance towards the Federation (and, to an extent, the reaction of someone raised in a martial mode of thinking). But Shinzon did seem regretful during that final, holographic conversation with Picard in the ready room, resigned rather than eager as he took a path leading to mutual annihilation. And the crew was surprised when Shinzon ordered the ship destroyed and, by extension, the destruction of his own single hope, though one could say that just because Shinzon knew it was too late doesn't mean the crew did.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe, but it seemed to me that by that point, he and his Romulan military backers had had a falling-out and it had become clear to them that he wasn't acting on their agenda anymore. That's why Donatra's ships came to stop him.

    I dunno... I admit, the whole attack-on-Earth thing is hard to justify, and the story has weaknesses in that area. But I guess I've always blamed them on the Hollywood feature-film mentality, the pressure to make everything a big high-stakes action blockbuster, rather than blaming the writer or director. And Shinzon's a rich enough character that I'm willing to believe that what looks like a story inconsistency is really the result of some complex inner motivation.
     
  20. Spike730

    Spike730 Captain Captain

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    Well, I just finished "Exodus" and I'm glad to read that it gets better. The part dealing with Vulcan's history and Karatek was quite ok, but I'm afraid the 24th century part just didn't work for me. Uhura and Chekov felt misplaced and the whole "Let's take our motley fleet and rescue the Romulans" part was just cheesy. *shudder*

    Did McCoy pass away? Seemed that way to me.