Before Dishonor (Spoiler)

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Nov 11, 2007, 5:40:31 PM11/11/07
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S P O I L E R

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I love this book but I would love it even more if there weren`t one
aspect I will deal with at the end of my review. Nevertheless, it is a
book that has a lot to offer. I enjoyed the references to PAD`s classic
Borg novel “Vendetta” and smiled when I read the comments about female
Borg which is, of course, referring to the disclaimer PAD was forced to
put into “Vendetta” at that time. I laughed when I read about the
ongoing debate if Pluto is a planet or not.

I was very curious how PAD would build on “Vendetta”. I think he
succeeded to make the Borg scary and unpredictable again. He certainly
kept me surprised and wondering what will happen next. I read some
comments saying that PAD went over the top again but when I look at TOS,
I think some of what was shown there was certainly more fantastic and
unbelievable. All the changes made perfect sense to me and that makes
the changes shown in this book so interesting. I certainly felt a chill
when I read about the Borg absorbing ships now and even whole planets:
Pluto and its moons being eaten by the Borg is certainly not something
that left me cold and it definitely applied to the way the Borg
developed a new means of reproduction.

From early on there was the solution in form of the Doomsday machine
and the Endgame virus. PAD provided a good background for both in this
book, something I welcomed, and used them very skilfully. Until the end
I was kept on my toes, wondering how things will end. The drama built up
very well because there was no straightforward defeat of the Borg, as it
should be

It is not a secret at all that PAD is not a Voyager fan. I was really
curious how he will write Janeway and Seven. That Janeway didn`t listen
to Lady Q`s warnings didn`t surprise me and was definitely in character.
PAD didn`t put Janeway in a good light at all. In the TV series is was
often the case that Janeway was torn from one extreme to the other, she
certainly wasn`t developed consistently. I think it would have been
fairer to Janeway`s character to thrive for at least some kind of
balance but I can understand why PAD chose otherwise. When Janeway was
turned into the Borg Queen, my first instinct was feeling a strong wave
of Schadenfreude. Later I felt bad about that because nobody deserves
Janeway`s fate. I welcome it that at the end, it was Janeway who made
the defeat possible, who delivered the final blow that saved Earth from
destruction.

I would never have imagined that PAD would kill Janeway in this book and
that means, that Pocket Books was given permission to do so. I don`t see
any believable way to resurrect Janeway and that makes me wonder, is
that the end of Voyager Relaunch? I doubt it that it would make sense to
write these books after Janeway`s death. I must admit, the memorial
scene was touching. Me personally, I have no problems with Janeway`s
death. But I wonder if this move is fair to the Voyager fans who also
exist. I am sure, if Picard would have been killed instead, the outcry
would be huge and I very much doubt anyway that Pocket Books will ever
get permission to do that. I am actually surprised that Janeway`s death
caused so little reaction and by now, I have read quite a few comments.

I like it that PAD kept the reader guessing about Seven`s fate. I am so
glad that she survived because I would certainly be upset if PAD would
have killed her as well! The way PAD wrote her appealed to me very much.
He showed her complexity very well indeed and presented her as a very
likeable, brave character. I smiled when PAD also made comments about
Seven`s looks and I couldn`t agree more with him. Especially after this
book, I doubt it that there will be more Voyager Relaunch books as we
know them so far. But especially after this book I am hoping at the same
time that Seven will still have an important place in the current Star
Trek book universe.

Speaking of Seven, I want to use this opportunity to also comment on the
cover. After finishing the book, I can see even more that this simple
idea is also providing a powerful teaser. The reflections from the Borg
ship on Seven`s sad face look like tears. PAD described her loss very
well and it was appropriate to at least mention that Chakotay was also
struggling to come to terms with Janeway`s death.

I am glad that the book also included another guest. Especially because
I have been waiting for a new New Frontier book for a while now. I loved
Calhoun`s guest appearance towards the end of the book. I couldn`t help,
I had to remember that Seven lost the woman who was much more than her
friend but her mentor. The relationship between Picard and Calhoun is
not so different. Janeway shaped a lot of Seven`s life and Picard did
the same with Calhoun. It was great seeing Picard and Calhoun together
again, fighting together. I also had to think again that whatever turned
Jellico around in his attitude towards Calhoun must have been remarkable
because especially in early NF, I would never have imagined that Calhoun
would have been allowed to act as a commodore, leading several ships
into battle. PAD also inserted some nice humour here I very much
welcomed and I keep wondering, when will the next NF book be finally out?

PAD likes putting Spock into NF and it was a nice surprise to meet him
in “Before Dishonor” as well. He certainly is a very wise man and this
showed especially when he was dealing with T`Lana. I think PAD writes
Spock very well and I hope he will keep appearing in his books.

Looking at the regular TNG characters, PAD wrote Picard and Beverly very
well, very much in the NF style I like so much. Their parts don`t offer
any special surprised in this book but that can`t happen in every novel.
It was time to focus on other characters and I am glad that especially
Seven was given the opportunity to really shine in a novel.

Worf was great. PAD found a good balance I enjoyed very much: He was the
mature Worf he evolved into, especially in more recent books, but we
could see her more than usual nowadays that he is nevertheless a Klingon
warrior. I don`t think his emotional reaction towards the mutiny is a
throwback or even out of character. I think his reactions were very
understandable and they showed very well that it is not a good idea at
all to make a Klingon angry. PAD also gave him some great, hilarious lines.

I also liked the part Geordi played in this story. In his own way,
Geordi also left an important contribution by appealing to Seven`s
humanity and his empathy. PAD showed him as the kind, gentle and caring
man he is and I think it is about time that Geordi gets more to do in
future and is giving more background.

As I said, I love the book but there is one aspect I am definitely not
happy with. With the start of TNG Relaunch new characters were
introduced that looked promising: T`Lana, Leybenzon and Kahota.
Leybenzon but especially Kahota fit well into the crew and there was no
reason whatsoever to imagine they would start a mutiny against Picard
and certainly not for the reasons given. In the case of T`Lana I think
it is very regrettable that she regressed this much but I can`t say she
was not in character.

This threesome who initiated the mutiny displayed an amount of
stupidity, narrow mindedness and arrogance that was astounding. Their
reason for it was that Picard refused to follow orders and instead did
what he thought needs to be done. What they wanted was that Picard
returns to Earth as ordered and be one of many ships fighting against
the Borg in a suicide mission. It didn`t matter what arguments Picard
had, even what actually happened after this order was given, they stuck
to the idea that orders are orders no matter what. The longer the story
went on, the more ridiculous the whole background of the mutiny became
but still, all three were locked in a mindset that reminded me of a
broken record. Their minds were literally stuck, unable and unwilling to
move and adapt to what was actually required.

I was torn between laughing at their stupidity and clumsiness as well as
some of the jokes PAD inserted at their expense, being disappointed and
even a bit annoyed that characters that seemed promising have been
corrupted this way and feeling sorry for the next author/s who have the
task to deal with this mess afterwards.

T`Lana is certainly irredeemable after what happened. With the choice
Jellico announced, stay with Picard or resign, I think she will resign
and good riddance to her. T`Lana could never function as counsellor on
the Enterprise again. Instead Jellico could have been honest and offer
her a post as Starfleet`s watchdog. Picard would have done his best to
keep her as far away from him as possible and I can`t imagine that many
people would come to her with their problems. I am hoping that T`Lana
will indeed be gone in the next TNG Relaunch book and I am not
interested to meet her again.

I am not sure if I would have been so forgiving towards Leybenzon and
Kahota, maybe just dismissing their actions as an attack of madness.
What possessed them is a mystery to me and if it was a kind of madness,
what will happen the next time when there is a serious crisis and Picard
decides to follow his own judgement against orders? Leybenzon is a
veteran of the Dominion War who wasn`t shaped in the Starfleet Academy.
I would have thought he is much more able to be an original thinker who
knows that the situation you are faced with can change very quickly and
that just relying on orders from people sitting far away can even be
dangerous. Not to mention that Picard`s history with the Borg should
tell him that he knows better what he is doing than anybody else, except
Seven. And Kahota, who was hand picked by Data and has her family
including three young children on Earth, is actually agreeing that it is
better to be part of a suicide mission, to be one amongst many ships?
Her lack of trust in Picard and participation in this insane mutiny
makes no sense to me whatsoever.

I think instead of writing a mutiny that seemed more of a dark comedy
than an actual drama, it would have been better if these people actually
had a reason to mutiny I could understand. Understanding such motives
and agreeing are not necessarily the same but I would have liked to
continue to respect at least Leybenzon and Kahota.

We also shouldn`t forget that this threesome had a lot of help on board
by officers who followed them. Why did they do that? Are these three
instigators of the mutiny that much respected, did they have so
compelling arguments or a charisma they couldn`t resist? I don`t
understand that because I would answer all these questions with no.

I wonder how this mess can be fixed. I would think that jJust never
mention it again is not an option that would be available. I am very
curious how Christopher L. Bennett will handle the Enterprise crew in
the next TNG Relaunch book, “Greater than the Sum”.

Baerbel Haddrell

.

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Nov 29, 2007, 7:14:44 AM11/29/07
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PAD invited on his website to also add comments of his book "Before
Dishonor" and I compied my review there as well.

It was interesting that quite a few people defended the mutiny story and
only a few agreed with me.

PAD also added comments I found very interesting to read:


****

Posted by Peter David at November 26, 2007 07:17 PM
I was never sent a copy of Q&A prior to my writing "Before Dishonor." I
was sent "Resistance" and read that, and I don't believe there was
anything in "Before Dishonor" that contradicted that. If the fans want
to pillory me for not hewing to a book I never had...*shrug.* Not much I
can do about that.
PAD

(someone asked:)I do have one question though. How does one go about
getting rid of two such important characters?
Do you submit the idead to the publishers/series runners? or do they
give you a guideline to workwith? I have always been curious about how
writers do that.
Thanks

Posted by Peter David at November 27, 2007 02:07 AM
The idea was initiated by editors at Pocket. It never would have
occurred to me to approach them with a story that involves doing away
with characters.
PAD

****

These are the comments I gave so far:

I still think that following Picard`s idea of trying to reactivate the
planet killer makes much more sense than insisting to return to Earth
and be one of many ships trying to stop the Borg in a direct
confrontation. Picard had Spock and Seven with him. If someone could do
it, it was them. To me the logic is so obvious: If it works, great! If
not, they would return as quickly as possible.

Starfleet/the Federation should be glad that they have or had captains
like Picard, like Kirk, like Calhoun - and others like them, people who
are original thinkers, who have the instincts and skills to adapt
quickly to new situations and are confident and brave enough to do what
is right or what seems to be right at the time, no matter what Admirals
who are sitting far away think.

I still think the mutiny story makes little sense. All this mistrust
towards Picard and this "orders are orders, no matter what" talk, that
the Admirals were not thinking "Let Picard try it. Who knows, it might
even work", first of all reminded me of episodes like "The Pegasus",
"Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" and "Valiant". "Stone and Anvil" also shows
how cadets are drilled from early on to follow orders without
questioning them, that even older cadets are considered to be superior
officers and even when they obviously misuse their authority, including
bullying, cadets have to obey or get into trouble. I find that very
disturbing and in that light, "Before Dishonor" also left a bad taste in
my mouth.

Instead of blaming Picard, I think it is about time Starfleet`s Admirals
learn to be more flexible and trust captains more to do their jobs.

(end)

Maybe someone else wants to comment?

Baerbel Haddrell

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