melannen: Romulan Commander Ael T'Rllailleiu, in casual clothes, drawing the Sword From The Empty Chair (star trek)
[personal profile] melannen posting in [community profile] starry_sea
So this is ... very, very very late. Ooops. Sorry. I'd give excuses, but there's really no excuse for me being as late as all this, is there?

If anyone remembers, the last book up for discussion was:

Doctor's Orders

Pocket Books #57 by Diane Duane.

This books is, of course, the book of McCoy love! We should all love McCoy.

1. What do you think of Flyspeck and the peoples of Flyspeck, animal vegetable and mineral? The story is set up from the start as a First Contact, and though it deviates a bit from that, the first contact bits we get are interesting. Especially the translation problems. Non-humanoid aliens are a theme in Duane's works; how did she do here? Would you rather be an Ornae, an ;At, or a Lahit?

2. And then there's the ;At, and "entertaining angels unawares". What do we all think of the ;At? What do the ;At think of us? Kirk & the ;At is, in some ways, another example of what Duane did in Spock's World: setting up some characters to do a lot of talking at each other about the Federation's philosophy. It's easy for that to get annoying, and for a super-powerful guardian being like the ;At to get annoying, too. I found, on the re-read, the most endearing parts were where the ;At showed vulnerability, that it wasn't powerful so much as different.

How does the ;At's somewhat infantilizing attitude toward the rest of Flyspeck reflect on the Federation's attitude toward less-advanced planets, and real-world politics? What role to you think the ;At really plays in the universe? And the big question: how many ;At are there really?

3. McCoy in commad of the Enterprise! How awesome is that? No, really, how awesome? McCoy is a psychologist too, and here we see perhaps the seed of Starfleet's decision to put psych specialists on the bridge...

What do you think of his tactics? Too over-the-top? Not enough? It's interesting how Duane managed to write about McCoy in command and holding his own, but still *not* have him go Mary-Sue: they need the Captain, sooner or later, and meanwhile McCoy gets to shine, and give us a new POV on a starship captain's life. (the story also always reminds me that in Mirrorverse, McCoy was the most similar of them all to his counterpart. But that goes both ways....)

What would you do if you were stuck in the hot seat? :D What would happen if you re-wrote this story with someone else stuck in the Captain's Seat (I vote Uhura, but I bet Sulu or Scotty would have been entertaining, too.)

4. We get sort of a really rough, outline sketch of what Diane Duane's Klingons would be like. What we get here is quite comedy-focused, yeah, but with an underlying layer tragedy (they *really* need a single-payer health care system, apparently!) What did you think of these Klingons and their role in the story? What do you imagine a fully-fleshed out Duane-verse Klinzhai, running alongside the Rihannsu, would be like?

The next book on the list is MY ENEMY, MY ALLY

Yay, Ael at last! This is the first of the Rihannsu books, which introduces us both to the best Romulan Empire ever, and Ensign Naraht the space cadet Horta.

You know where to go if you need the e-book! And I promise I won't leave you hanging in the middle of Rihannsu saga: we're going to go through them in five weeks neat if I have to injure myself doing it.

PS: You all saw where [personal profile] wintercreek posted an amazing mp3 of Enterprise, Starship, right? And said she wanted a bunch more voices to do a singalong version? I posted my voices with hers. You should all try it, too, so I'm not alone out there and feeling silly.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-24 12:50 pm (UTC)
elspethdixon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elspethdixon
I think my favorite moment of the whole book is McCoy essentially telling the Klingons, "I'm sorry, we've upgraded to Windows Vista now, and no files we send you will be compatible with your old Windows 98 systems. :P" That, and the little bit and pieces we see of the botany team and other crewmembers analyzing things from Flyspeck.

For some reason, though I love the Underdwellers from Spock's World, the 'At struck me as slightly twee and forced. On the other hand, it and Kirk's comment about angels are exactly the kind of slightly twee and forced that you occasionally get in TOS episodes where the writers had decided to deal with Deep Philosophical Issues like the nature of evil (by having Abraham Lincoln and Ghengis Khan fight. I love that episode). So it felt slightly clunky, but also in the spirit of the show.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-25 05:30 am (UTC)
starlady: (moon dream)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I read this book maybe ten or twelve years ago, and I have to say it's probably the Duane book that suffered the most on reread for me. I found the gratuitous Switzerland prologue exceedingly gratuitous, and very much missed my does of my favorite Duane side characters such as Naraht.

I did very much like, however, the more or less realistic tactics McCoy employed at the end, and the real science with which Duane explained them. She's good at not indulging in hand-waving.

I found the Lahit to be one giant rehearsal for Filiff or whatever his name was from the last two YW books, as well. I don't know if "twee" is the word I'd choose for the ;At, but yeah, I think that whole interlude is very slightly off-key. I can buy philosopher!Kirk, but maybe not a whole book of philosopher!Kirk. I'm not a big fan of the Preservers, either, which may have something to do with my reaction.

Yay female Klingon being in charge! And that's what I have to say.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-29 11:58 pm (UTC)
sineala: Detail of The Unicorn in Captivity, from The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestry (Default)
From: [personal profile] sineala
Duane is usually very very very good with non-human characters. Seriously, if I start naming all the original characters of hers I like a lot -- Ael, Arrhae, Sunspark, Naraht, Fred, Ed, Rhiow, K's't'lk, Hwiii -- Arrhae there is the only one who's human, and even she's a Romulan most of the time. But in this book it was kind of a letdown. The Lahit pretty much had nothing to do and felt like a dry run for Filif from the Young Wizards books. I know the ;At were integral to the plot, but I find omnipotence kind of boring, and she pretty much did the same non-corporeal thing with the na'mdeihei in Wounded Sky and the mdeihei in The Door Into Shadow (with the same name, even). And come to think of it, also the Underliers in Spock's World.

But here I really only liked the Ornae, and that's just because Hhch was so charming.

I do like Janice Kerasus (ha! a human I like!) and the linguistics subplot, what with "too many verbs." I, sadly, am not a semanticist, and spent about thirty seconds trying to think about how lambda-calculus would work with almost entirely predicates (as described) before I gave up. I am so not a semanticist. But I [heart] that there appears to be something like linguistics going on here. Also, they kept saying they didn't have enough verbs and yet pretty much everything that came through the translator stilted (like they didn't know what the rest of it was) *was* a verb -- like the repeated discussion of "examine." Anyway.

I like her Klingons a lot, and I think if she'd done a Klingon-verse it would have been interesting. I really enjoyed McCoy dealing with the Klingon commander. My only complaint is that, since the situation is mostly played for laughs and since the whole thing uses the Klinzhai-type Klingons, it begins to start running together in my mind with How Much For Just the Planet? and then I start expecting everyone to burst into song.

The thing I thought really came out well is McCoy in command. I think she writes a good McCoy, though I admit to finding him more kickass in The Romulan Way. The thing is, I just saw "The Galileo Seven" for the first time (yes, I have appalling gaps in my TOS viewing) and when watching that I was struck by how much everyone on the shuttle seemed to utterly loathe Spock's command decisions (and, you know, his Vulcan-ness). So reading this is kind of a weird contrast with canon, where no one's, say, angry at McCoy for not really knowing what he's doing with any confidence. In the Duane-verse I think people are generally nicer. Which I appreciate.

And I really did like how the plot gave McCoy a chance to shine. But the plot itself was really kind of silly and draggy (and it didn't help that I didn't like two out of the three aliens), which is why for me this is the worst of her TOS books. I don't read it much, but I do like the McCoy-being-awesome bits a lot. And hey, it's better than that book with the velociraptors! (Right? Right?)

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