Date: 01 Nov 2011 20:01 Title: Act 6
First, welcome to Ad Astra, and thank you so much for participating!
One of the first things I always look at when I see a new author (who is a native English speaker), and that largely determines whether I am going to continue reading new works from that author or not, is technical soundness. You've got that down pat; I didn't feel like I was being hit over the head with bad spelling and grammar, and it's clear that you take your time in writing and editing. Always the first "plus" an author gets in my book. :-)
I also think you did a very good job with the plot; that the Orion slavers would treat Vulcans as a hot commodity. And as jespah says, I think the way you wove ENT into this continuity was very well done. You got all of those references in there without making it look gratuitous. Personally, it makes a lot of sense to me that we would see a lot of "atavisms" in a version of the Federation that was as hard-hit as the Trek XI universe was at such an early time in its formation. One gets the idea that the treacly-sweet Pollyanna Federation of TNG is not going to happen in that continuity, and that we will see more of a debt to the feistier, less-refined Coalition of Planets from ENT. So well done on that. :-)
I'd like to give you a few pieces of feedback to consider, but please remember before I do that, that I am glad you participated and I want to see you do more. :-)
First, I think you might want to consider greater ethnic diversity among your human characters unless there is a compelling reason in your world's history that this wouldn't be the case. Most of your characters had either Anglo-Saxon or Germanic names (even your ship). Unfortunately, none of the five Star Trek series set a good example in this regard, and I suspect it's because the suits decided that names like "Spirodopoulos" aren't good TV in the US. In writing, though, you have the opportunity to overcome that.
The other area where I couldn't really find a reason that made sense was the fact that the officer who pulled a phaser on his roommate wasn't hauled straight to the brig. In a military, lack of weapons discipline is completely unacceptable, and if someone did that for real, with an actual weapon, they would be in deep doo for it. That is someone who is potentially unstable, or at the least, dangerously undisciplined. The rest of the banter in that scene was great, and made me laugh--but the phaser bit just did not work for me at all.
As for this final point, I thought about it and I wonder if perhaps the point I'm going to raise is something you did on purpose to make the reader think exactly what I'm thinking now. Basically, I wasn't impressed with the Andorian's "reasoning" about her hate for the Vulcans. "I can't help it; I was raised that way"? Give me a break. That is a really spineless comment to make.
But I suspect that was exactly what you were trying to show: just how lame the excuses for prejudice really are. When you get down to it, that really is how stupid most bigots sound when we are unfortunate enough to have to hear from them. And the human speaking to her rightly nailed her on the ridiculousness of her line of thought.
The other reason I realized this had to be an intentional choice is because it makes her later act of courage all the more surprising and striking, because the reader is "lulled" into thinking that she doesn't have that in her. Yet you rip the rug right out from under us and prove that perhaps we, the readers, were making assumptions too.
Overall, I think this is a good debut work and you have a lot to build on for your future works. :-)
Author's Response: Thank you for the critique!! As for the ethnic diversity, yeah, I totally get that. I tend to draw names from either people around me or names that just come to me. Unfortunately, as a native english-speaker, most of the names that just come to me...tend to be on the American side. I'll work on that for the next time the Whiston shows up (or any other ship with a very human crew). As for the phaser drawing episode, I wrote it because it came out that way, and I honestly didn't think "hmm...this could get him in a lot of trouble, despite him being the chief of security." I'll try to find a way to get it to make sense and have him not be completely mental, but thank you for the sanity check. And, yes, sh'Aleen's arguements were intentionally weak and stupid. I hope I didn't make it TOO obvious when I wrote it that way. lol
Date: 27 Oct 2011 07:48 Title: Act 6
Well done, TemplarSora! Very nice, engaging piece for your first story here (a helluva lot better than my first, I might add ;)).
I actually liked the wide variety of characters, although I'll admit that reading jespah's review first sparked me to concentrate fully on who was who, where they were assigned, and what their job was. It felt very much like a pilot episode to me - you are introduced to a number of characters, some more memorable to you as an individual than others, but with time they all emerge as an important part of the whole.
Interesting premise, too - I'll bet Vulcans would be worth their weight in gold (or dilithium, maybe) to slave traders now. But I must admit, my favorite concept was how you dealt with individual prejudice, and how centuries of ingrained and irrational hatred could be overcome when one considered their professional responsibility.
Overall, well-characterized, well-plotted, well-paced; nice mix of action and everyday life. Can't wait to read more about this crew.
Date: 20 Oct 2011 16:07 Title: Act 6
Your first story! Your first challenge! Your first review! W00t!
This was very well told. I am an ENT fan (there are so few of us) and I greatly appreciated the shoutout to Travis and family and Paul of course from the Horizon episode. Nice touch, as was the pilot (?) named Crusher. Great use of names to bridge the distance between ENT and TNG. Also, very reasonable to give the Andorian character a hatred of Vulcans (oh, and you even mentioned P'Jem. You definitely did your homework on this one).
The crew were interesting and had strong personalities. I think (this is, I hope, a constructive comment) that at times there were a few too many characters, though. Particularly in the slave market scene. I realize you needed to have a serious fighting unit go in, plus you needed for there to not be enough room on the shuttle. Requiring the beam outs was a part of the plot of course. But the large number of characters (I am thinking of Tomas - maybe I am just quibbling about one person) did add what was perhaps a little too much of a layer of complexity for the first introduction to your world.
For me, I want to keep track of the characters, and to my mind that was, maybe, one too many (I am sure plenty of other people would disagree but that was the impression that I got). I am sure this is where the whole redshirt concept comes from in the first place - there are just some people who are "crewman number five" in the credits. Nothing wrong with that - it's more that the reader or viewer can concentrate on the others. I hope that is not unclear as it is a minor issue and probably just me being odd. ;)
You have started things off with a bang. I would love to see where you take these characters next.
Author's Response: Thanks for the critique! I realize I had a lot of one-shot names that might have gotten confusing; my issue was not wanting to write "another security officer" or "random crewmember 5" over and over. "Ships have crews, crews have names...ok, cool, I'll give random people random names." Sorry if it got a little confusing. Don't worry; you didn't miss much not knowing who the people were. Glad you got a lot of the references to ENT and TNG; I put em in for fun. Horizon was originally supposed to be Fortunate, but then I did my research and realized what the correct ship name was, lol. Oh well. 5 bucks if you can get why the ship is called Whiston!