Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Part 3: Talin chapter 1
In our last installment we finished part two of this novel. Now we return to the story’s present day, so now we know the crew was blamed for what happened not just for political reasons but because of gross incompetence. Not the happy Federation we all know, is it kids? With so many red flags a bull would go insane (if they weren’t actually color blind) the now former Enterprise crew has to be the ones to check things out because Starfleet is too dumb to do their jobs.
One thing we didn’t get to see in part 1 was what happened to Spock, who suddenly decided to quit and thus leaving Uhura to face the rug-sweepers alone. Now everyone has quit over this so the Federation can put this aside rather than find out what actually happened, and for a crew this celebrated, and their first Vulcan (half-Vulcan but whatever) recruit, at least in this continuity, pushed aside they must think ignorance is even better than bliss, and I’m not sure I’m a fan of this interpretation. Surely the crew could have still investigated and been up against one official investigator of questionable competence (as much as I dislike that trope) rather than make the whole of Starfleet and the Federation look this pathetic. Sorry, I went a bit off topic because now we’re going to finally find out what happened to Spock.
Well, we may be getting our Prime Directive debate in this story after all. Or not. See, Spock goes to a Vulcan ambassador in order to gain an appearance with the Federation Council. Apparently they’ve left this to Starfleet’s jurisdiction, which sorry to say still makes you look like dopes, folks. Spock wants to convince them this was a mistake by challenging the Prime Directive itself, acquiring the aid of known Prime Directive dissident Marita Llorente, because even in the 23rd century college students like to show dissent without actually hearing all sides. I hear he’s also getting advice from one Charles Sonneberg, but that could just be a bunch of rumor “debris”. (The right people got that joke. The rest of you are still cool, though.) While the ambassador is suspicious of Spock’s motives (and strangely so am I, and it makes me wonder if I HAVE read this before) Spock talks him into making the meeting happen.
If Spock has learned one thing from Captain Kirk, it’s how to bend the rules while still following the spirit of those rules and not really breaking them. My guess is he resigned from Starfleet so as a civilian he could address the council. I guess if you’re an active part of the Navy you can’t arrange a meeting with Congress, which would be the equivalent here. Marita is one of those people who thinks the Directive overall is bad and that they should go around helping the lesser planets. I’m going to have to bone up on my Prime Directives commentaries from SF Debris since he says it better than I can but he doesn’t like other websites posting his videos. So I’ll link to the three I think will become important if indeed this story discusses the Directive, and frankly if it doesn’t I’ll feel like an opportunity has been missed. Star Trek is one of the few franchise who used to get these kinds of discussions right, because it doesn’t preach (except for the times it did, and those weren’t very good episodes) but tries to make you think. I really want to see what the Reeves-Stevens end up doing. Anyway, the important reviews to watch:
- Pen Pals: Data ends up accidentally making contact with a little girl on a planet about to get pulverized. It’s the first big discussion of Starfleet General Order One since the TOS episode “The Apple” that introduced it. Sadly he hasn’t reviewed that one yet or it would be on this list. This episode features a fascinating debate with the cast of the time as to whether or not to help Data’s friend.
- In The Pale Moonlight: It’s the follow-up that matters here. The episode review is just for context, which will also be the case with the final entry. (There’s also a Voyager episode where Janeway and Tom argue about it in relation to their situation but I don’t remember which one it was.) The episode has Sisko and Garak tricking the Romulans into joining the war against the Founders on this side using some very immoral acts. This is more of a general discussion about Starfleet rules and the right to agree or disagree, which I’m expecting will be important in the Spock portion of this story. Unlike the rest of this list it’s not a must-see as it is only relevant on general purposes.
- Examining The Prime Directive: If you only watch one video on this list, here is the one. After reviewing the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Dear Doctor” the follow-up video below is a deep dive into how the Directive is used and misused by some writers in the franchise, and this was made before the Secret Hideout “Prime” timeline was created. It also goes into why the Directive exists in the first place, which Marita apparently should watch. I agree enough with the opinions here that if you want to know my thoughts, here’s where you go. I’ve also done a look at the Prime Directive at one point when discussing the comic sequel to “The Apple” and the failings of both the episode and the comic return.
My apologies if you watch these while Dailymotion is still stopping the video for an ad every two minutes. Luckily the most important video doesn’t use that garbage player. And it’s from there I will address one issue that Spock is using to gain his audience while Marita pushes a bit too hard. Should Starfleet now get involved with helping the survivors of the Talin missile strikes? In this case yes, but not for the reasons the characters put forward.
It is incorrect to say that Starfleet isn’t involved. They believe the attack was caused by the presence of the Enterprise led to the mutually assured destruction simply because a few of them seemed to be targeting the ship itself…which doesn’t make sense when you figure all the others were clearly NOT targeting the Enterprise, which is really the biggest red flag along with everything else that appears to have gone wrong, including the warning message that an exploration ship was in the area not reaching Uhura’s communications. If it turned out somehow Starfleet’s assessment was right, then they made the mess and should help clean it up. The First Contact Office agents assigned to Talin IV as they began the process of learning for a fact that the outside world exists and trying to come say hi to the neighbors screwed up on numerous occasions before Kirk showed up. They were spotted. I’m not even sure how the Talin supposedly learned there was a starship flying around their planet to attack it but if the view is that Kirk stopping the missiles the first time due to an accident is what caused the second strike that we still don’t know for a fact was planned, then they already know “we’re” out here and thus there’s nothing wrong with going in to help.
Marita’s short argument however is that we should help all the “lesser” species (my term) because we have the power to do so. Spock appears to be prepared to argue this as well, but it is hubris to do so? The broader argument of the Prime Directive may come up later, but at the very least we’re looking at this specific situation, and that’s how violations should be judged: case by case. Rules and guidelines exist for a reason and I’m all for them, Marita seems to want to ditch it altogether but at least when it comes to Talin IV a case can be made. There’s a reason the Richter Scale was created to judge whether a planet is ready, and I’m curious how many of those will be touched upon as the book goes on. I suspect that not all of the reasons will because the focus should be on this particular incident. That’s what I’m curious to see going forward.
Next time it’s back to Scotty, the “last man standing” as it were until his resignation is confirmed. What’s happening back on the planet? Maybe we’ll learn some more.