melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen posting in [community profile] starry_sea
Time (finally!) for discussion post #3, in which we discuss

Spock's World!

one of the Pocket Books hardcovers, by Diane Duane.

This book probably had more influence on fanon than any other book; there's hardly a version of Vulcan out there that isn't, at least mildly or peripherally, influenced by this one.


1. Spock's World is a connection of short stories within a framing story, similar to the Kobayashi Maru (and The Romulan Way, which we'll be getting to in a few weeks.) How does the format work for you? I'll confess that I usually read the framing story, skip the history sections, and then go back and just re-read the history sections that I like.

2. What do you think about the framing story? Much of it is a close Kirk POV, and the version of Kirk who shows up in this story is probably the the center of my characterization of him: competent, smart, charismatic, in love with his ship and his crew and his galaxy, and just sort of merrily playing endless catch-up with all the brilliant people he's surrounded himself with. And it's also, of course, very much an OT3 story; (whether you ship them or not, though as was noted recently, it does end >with the three of them going off to bed together...)

Moira gets to have fun, Sarek and Amanda are hilarious and awesome, T'Pring is scary and a bit sad, K's't'lk is back for a cameo, T'Pau is T'Pau, and there is a very big party.

I'm less fond of the actual plot; McCoy is awesome, but it beggars belief that nobody else on Vulcan bothered to do what he did, and the whole debate set-up is clearly just an excuse for the author to philosophize in her characters' voices. And there was a time when I refused to believe Vulcans could be that xenophobically stubborn, but I guess I've gotten more cynical as I get older, because I totally buy it now.

3. So... how about the debates? Did you buy the logic (or lack thereof?) Did you admit it was mostly just for the fun of watching them pontificate, and follow along? How would you have voted (or testified)? Exactly what did Sarek think he was doing? Was everybody on Vulcan just waiting for the Enterprise officers to talk and ignoring the rest, same way we were?

4. What did you think of the history sections? Which ones were your favorites? Which ones do you always skip? Does it make sense for you as history? Do you believe in the A'kweth?

5. Which parts of the Vulcan in this story match up with your personal canon? Which parts do you reject? Do you see echoes of this novel in later canon, too (...particularly the most recent portrayal of Vulcan?)

Anybody got heavily Spock's World based fic recs? Anybody written any? I wrote a reboot fic about the a'kweth not too long ago.

(And while we're talking fic: [community profile] treknovelfest prompt claiming is now open!)

The next re-read book will be Doctor's Orders, the last remaining non-Rihannsu book by Diane Duane: in which Doctor McCoy is stuck with command of the Enterprise, and then a bunch of Klingons show up, with predictably hilarious results. Also: first contact with some really amazing non-humanoid aliens. And ketchup! There's resources up on the source post, which as usual you have to join the community to see.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-23 04:14 pm (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Zachary Quinto's Spock (Spock)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
I love the debate itself. As to whether or not other people have been making those same points, I have no doubt that similar points had been made, and made many times; the nature of great social questions such as that is that anything worth saying gets said many times in many ways by many people. That is hardly surprising given the number of Vulcans and others involved. This is probably the first time they've had a debate on this scale, where everyone on the planet can see and hear all the arguments first hand. Then you have to remember that most of the people who would have been making those points, on Vulcan, would have been Vulcans. Most Vulcans have never actually met a human in person. If I were a Vulcan, who'd never met a non-Vulcan, and my society was debating whether or not to secede from the Federation, you can bet I would be watching all of the non-Vulcans in the debate extremely carefully, trying to determine if they truly were as primitive and dangerous as they'd been said to be. And most of the Vulcan debaters--and the non-Vulcans who were residents of Vulcan--wouldn't be saying anything they hadn't already said at least ten times, so I wouldn't need to pay much attention to them if I'd been following politics up to the point the debates started.

It never occurred to me to call it a "framing story" until I read this post, because to me "framing stories" are just that--"frames." The debates are a good story with meat in their own right. It's more like, say, The Grapes of Wrath, which has the main story and then lots of intercalary chapters.

I adore the history sections. I re-read them all except the very beginning one where Vulcan is forming itself and the one on the spaceship with the family that self-destructs. All of the historical chapters are firmly within my own personal canon and shall remain so, world without end amen.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-23 05:36 pm (UTC)
elspethdixon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elspethdixon
I'll confess that I usually read the framing story, skip the history sections, and then go back and just re-read the history sections that I like.

The first time I read it, i actually skipped the frame story and read all the history bits in order, then went back and read the frame (so, I basically read it chronologically).

As a teenager, the Wanderer discovering words and Kesh conquering Pelasht were my favorite bits, because 9th grade was about the height of my Jean M. Auel fangirl phase and watching the Vulcans evlolve (acquiring language, their pointe ears, etc.) was so interesting. As a technical adult, I found the debates themselves and the Surak section much more interesting than I had the first time around, and I thought the parallelism between the Wanderer's encounter with the Underdweller and Surak's encounter with one worked well.

The space-mining family that self-destructs seemed like a super-tense suspenseful drama when I was much younger, but it seems obvious and predictable now, and I thought the "evil!T'pring" denoument was a bit overdone. -- but I don't really care, because as awesome as Kirk and McCoy are in this book and as much as I like Duane's version of Sarek, the main point of interest for me in the story here is Vulcan itself.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-23 05:53 pm (UTC)
elspethdixon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elspethdixon
Also, damn, but I had forgotten how OT3-slashy the last few pages are, with Spock, Kirk, and McCoy speaking with T'Pring.

(T'Pring sat still, looking at him then her eyes shifted to Kirk and McCoy. "And you . . . you have once again stolen from me what should have been mine. . . ."

Jim could find nothing to say to this. But McCoy moved up to stand beside Spock, and said, once more in that perfect Vulcan, "We have never taken from you anything that was in your right to possess."
)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-23 06:00 pm (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Zachary Quinto's Spock (Spock)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
As for fic recs, you've undoubtedly already read [personal profile] laurajv's The Word for World Is--. But if somehow you've missed it, read it now. It's about the rebuilding of Vulcan culture in the reboot.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-23 09:07 pm (UTC)
thedrummertobeat: (in any universe)
From: [personal profile] thedrummertobeat
One of the (many) things I loved about SW is the shift and change of the people of Vulcan into the beings we know them to be today. The moment when the planet's ecosphere is irrevocably damaged, which in turn changes the very nature of the people who inhabit the planet, is just brilliant. It's easy for me to see how things that aren't even questioned in the context of Vulcans in the 23rd century--the appreciation for infinite diversity in contrast with the only somewhat couched xenophobia; the distrust of neighbors even as the planet stays largely reclusive in and of itself--are given root in the stories of the past.

And I always connected more with the backstory on Surak in SW rather than in the other one. What was it, Strangers from the Sky? I liked that Surak wasn't a prophet, or a powerful person, or even immanence incarnate. He was simply a Vulcan so affected by his world that, like the Wanderer before him, he had no choice but to change it.

Further to that, the parallels of the Wanderer and Surak were subtly lovely. The way the beings-under-the-sand were brought into the awareness, as something that exists unseen and unknown except for those moments when the knowing of them is necessary for the world itself, felt very much like the building of a myth cycle for Vulcan. I've always vaguely wanted to write a story that took that notion and fleshed it out, perhaps in the form of Spock recounting an ancient story from his childhood or something. Because those beings are the unicorns of Vulcan, right?

This is one of my favorites, really.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-24 03:22 am (UTC)
starlady: Kirk surrounded by tribbles: "What the crap is going on here?"  (kirk)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I think almost all of Duane's books hang plot and character on philosophy, and since I love her philosophy, I don't actually mind it. I do wish K's't'lk had shown off a bit more of how awesome she is in her own speech, though now that I'm older I was much better able to appreciate her tweaking the Vulcans.

Sarek's line in the new movie about Vulcan emotions running deeper than humans' totally reminded me of this book, and it turns out that the screenwriters actually read it, which is why. I do think Duane manages to show just how locked in to their (self-)destructive way of life the Vulcans were prior to Surak in an excellent way, though I agree the space family drama is sort of predictable. My favorite sections are just about every other history chapter, though, particularly Surak and Sarek.

Ignoring the plausibility of McCoy being the only person in the Federation who thought to follow the money, I do love that he learns fluent Vulcan and then saves the day--and when he calls out Sarek is absolutely priceless. T'Pau is also awesome.

I also adore Duane for giving the Enterprise a BBS. And the book is very 0T3, but way less so than the end of The Wounded Sky, which adds a heavy dose of S&M implication to the general slashiness (albeit very briefly).

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-24 03:36 am (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Question: do you have a link to an article with the writers where they say they read Spock's World? Because I've heard they did, and loved it, and have used that as an argument with friends (okay, and random strangers on the Internet) that they should read it, and they would like me to prove it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-24 05:02 pm (UTC)
thedrummertobeat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thedrummertobeat
I have to say, if anyone was going to attempt rewriting the franchise, at least it was people who read the same material as the fans. Sooooo much fanon became canon as a result.

The Enterprise BBS is a great note; additionally it also makes a good bit of sense. I liked Kirk obsessively reading it like a fangirl looking for new pictures of Chris Pine.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-25 01:50 am (UTC)
starlady: (moon dream)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I've spent a good deal of brain power in the past few hours thinking about the Internet/mass media in the 23rd century. There's two great unknowable questions: how much of the global data infrastructure survived WWIII/the demise of capitalism after First Contact, and to what extent does "subspace" allow real-time or near real-time communications among the Federation?

I keep thinking that the Sol system probably has a local internet-like thing, but that the Federation doesn't yet have the technology to have one huge web.

I think my geekiness is showing...but yes, every starship has a BBS in my book.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-28 01:22 am (UTC)
sineala: Detail of The Unicorn in Captivity, from The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestry (Default)
From: [personal profile] sineala
Here I am, coming in late as usual, for this week's read. I, um, haven't actually finished the reread, but I did listen to the audiobook. I'm not sure I have a whole lot to say this time out, but I'll try to think of something.

At this point, I practically have this book memorized. The cover is missing several large chunks; I have read this thing a *lot*. At this point I can no longer separate my/canon's views on Vulcans from this book's. It's pretty much canon to me now.

The audiobook cuts out all the Vulcan chapters, and I have to say I really, really miss them. Sure, the Enterprise chapters give you the modern Vulcans, the seceding Vulcans -- but the Vulcan chapters show you how they got that way. And you actually get to see Surak! I like the Surak chapter best. (I really like the idea of the a'kweth showing up and helping him out with his revelation.) I'm actually more likely to read the Vulcan chapters than the framing story. (Whereas with The Romulan Way, I am more likely to skip the history chapters so I can read more about Arrhae and McCoy and Naraht. [heart].) I also like the one about the killing gift, and the one about Phelsh't/Pelasht. (The place the crew visits is the same place they fought over, right?)

Not that the framing story isn't good. I mean, okay, the plot's a little thin -- evil T'Pring! Only McCoy ever figured this out, on a planet of geniuses! -- but it's got so many great moments that it almost doesn't matter if the plot isn't the most intricate thing ever. The party! I love the party! And I really like reading the debates -- and not just for the K's't'lk cameo -- but because I think it's fun to see the arguments put forth. And the BBS is great. I mean, of course the Enterprise has a BBS. It makes so much sense. And there are nice little details like Uhura looking for dictionaries (because, yes, she has a real job!), and the reference to the events of Strangers from the Sky (I think...) in the briefing.

I really love Duane's characterizations of Kirk and McCoy (though we see more of McCoy in other books, he has quite a role here) but I always find myself wishing this book had more Spock. Which is a little weird, in a book that's named after him. Perhaps it's best to see Vulcan from the perspective of the non-Vulcans.

I'm not sure how I feel about Vulcan xenophobia. The very idea of it has always struck me as exceedingly contrary to the spirit of IDIC, and every time I see xenophobic Vulcans in canon (in, say, my very brief exposure to ENT, and, uh, the new movie), I keep thinking "But Vulcans aren't like that!" And then I read this book, in which we see that Vulcans are, in fact, rather xenophobic -- or they can be persuaded that way -- and I'm okay with it. Maybe it helps that the ones who aren't (like Sarek) really, really aren't. Maybe it's because this book pretty much shows you, from the ground up, how they got to be this way. Or maybe I just picture it differently from how canon does it. I dunno.

I don't think this book was quite as cosmology-influencing, for me, as The Wounded Sky. But I have to say Surak's philosophy stuck with me, as an impressionable teenager at the time. Though I think I implemented it badly.

Anyway. It's still a really good book, and it's canon in my head. I hear the new movie writers were drawing inspiration from it, so it's almost like it's canon for everyone now too.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-28 01:54 am (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Zachary Quinto's Spock (Spock)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Guess what! Kurtzman and Orci think this book is canon, too. Also, remember that episode where Picard is kidnapped by smugglers looking for Vulcan artifacts, and turns out they're being backed by Romulans looking for a telepathic weapon that kills people? ::points to killing gift:: If whoever wrote that ep didn't get the idea from Spock's World, that's a remarkable coincidence.

I don't mind that it's McCoy who figures the whole thing out; for one thing, Vulcans aren't likely to suspect corruption among their own people. Anyone on Vulcan looking for influence on the votes would be looking squarely at offworlders; Vulcans (and everyone else) tend to assume that all Vulcans possess both logic and ethics, and forget that if one has logic without ethics, the results will be quite different. It's a blind spot. Humans have them too. For example, aversive racism. Or how about every time someone commits a terrible time and the neighbors can't believe it because they seemed so nice and that sort of thing just doesn't happen around here. Plus, proving it would require bank records which would require either a) a search warrant, which you probably couldn't get without more evidence than McCoy had, or b) incredible hacking skills/computing power (and the will to use it) to get the bank records illegally. I doubt most Vulcans would think to try and hack in, certainly not the ones looking to stop the planned secession.

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