This Blog is rife with spoilers on ST: Titan – Over a Torrent Sea. It's also filled with another of my rants – so be warned.
They say that a good book causes debate.
Well – they also say that a good mediation is when both sides walk away from a settlement angry.
Does that mean that ST: Titan – Over a Torrent Sea is good?
Frankly – I don't think so.
OaTS ended up being one of the most transparent attempts by a Trek author to weave what appear to be his personal beliefs about abortion and women's place in society that I think I have ever seen. And frankly, I'm furious about it.
I'll admit it – the Titan books were always better in my mind and they (Pocketbooks and their team of authors) found a way to get the Titan back to exploring now that the Borg have decimated the UFP and have vanished themselves. I was pleased to find out that the Titan wouldn't be subjected to the droll political landscape that they've turned the Trek universe into – that at least SOMEONE from Starfleet was actually exploring…you know – the foundation of the show to begin with?
Christopher Bennett was pegged to pen this book and while I rather enjoyed Orion's Hounds (his first Titan novel) I can't say the same for Over a Torrent Sea.
If you have read any of my previous blog entries – you will understand that I've been a TAD sensitive about how women are portrayed in Trek.
In the Destiny Trilogy, Deanna Troi has been told that her fetus was unviable. For all intent and purposes she was carrying a dead child and that carrying that child was placing her in an unquestionable life-threatening position. (And you have to understand – she was still on active duty, so by refusing to submit to terminating the HOPELESS pregnancy, she placed her mission in jeopardy as well – and when you place a mission in jeopardy – you place your teammates in jeopardy.)
Don't get me wrong. When I thought Deanna and Will were going to lose their second child, I was heartbroken. Now, I know that the Caeliar were going to "save the baby" because I don't believe for the life of me that Deanna would have jeopardized her team by carrying a dead fetus at the risk of her own life – but that's exactly what she did in those books. However – it was a plot device in order to get Deanna and fetus to the Caeliar so they could "fix her" and the baby. Voila! Done.
Yet in Over a Torrent Sea, we have Deanna and her physician, Ree, beefing over the fact that Deanna felt pressured into having an abortion. Well guess what? FAIL. Ree did the right thing in the Destiny Trilogy. It was clinical for him – it may not have been for her – but Deanna has been written as someone who no longer takes the crew or the ship as her first consideration – she's all about herself and the baby now…no matter what position that places her crew.
Thanks for that Bennett. Thanks for reaffirming that Deanna Troi doesn't really care about any oath nor have a sense of duty to her crew, but let's make sure that Ree is called out on the carpet for trying to do the right thing in the Destiny Trilogy – oh and while we're at it, let's make sure he really pays penance and have him knowingly break the Prime Directive to save the child once more.
This baby has become the most incredible source of anti-Trek I have ever seen!
(Message here is: Mothers should die for dead fetuses and wait for God (Caeliar) to save them. Once that's done – make doctor feel guilty for trying to save her life with real science.)
Now for my thoughts on Aili Lavena:
I've been chewing on this for two days now. When I first read the scenes between her and Riker as they were separated from the Titan I admit – I was fascinated. Because we all knew these two had "a history" from the very beginning of the Titan novels I was curious as to how such scenes would be handled.
And I'm sorry to say – once again – male Trek writers just don't seem to get how insidiously insulting the messages they put out about women are.
You see, Aili may have had a former relationship - oh hell, let's call it what it really was: a one night stand – with Riker before he met Deanna. So what? Riker had plenty of them. So did Aili. But apparently this is something she's supposed to feel guilty about. So Bennett decided he needed to make her feel REALLY guilty by writing Aili's character as having 8 children that she didn't care enough about. So much so, that she ran away to the circus of Starfleet to avoid caring for them.
(Message here is: Women shouldn't join the military because it leaves children motherless. Women shouldn't sleep around before they're married because they'll feel unfulfilled as women.)
But let's take it one step further shall we Mr. Bennett? Aili is spectacularly placed in the position of having to care for a severely injured and naked Riker. Riker – her current BOSS. He's so sick as a matter of fact that he ends up defecating all over himself and his leafy diapers. Now – Aili having to care for Riker is one thing. If I were in her position, you bet your ass I would have wiped his rear, cleaned him up and cared for him.
It was used as the virtual "healing" process not for Riker – but for Aili. Now that she uses her experience in cleaning and caring for the helpless Riker, she resolves that she's a better woman for the ordeal because she cares for him like the babies she "should have" cared for.
She busted her fins saving that damn planet but the only thing that REALLY heals her heart is changing Riker's diapers?
Are you kidding me?
Do you comprehend what I'm saying here?
Why couldn't Aili just get a sense of self-worth an accomplishment and the SECOND PIP without having to wipe her boss' ass?
Mr. Bennett – would you have dared written the same scene if it were a MALE in Aili's position?
What if it was RIKER in Aili's position and instead of Aili being injured and naked – it was a male admiral? Would Riker, knowing he (using your own metaphors) should feel guilty for being such a whore in his life before Deanna and feeling like he wasn't ready for fatherhood take the same bizarre sense of self-fulfillment from washing, cleaning and changing his admiral's diapers?
Do you get it?
I found this whole scene to be so utterly insulting to women and those who are trying every day to find equality in the work force and this book did nothing but cement the frustrating stereotypes that women are only good enough when they're caregivers.
While Riker may have given Lavena the second pip after this – I never got the sense that she felt she earned it for her spectacular professionalism – I got the impression she felt she earned it because she did something "womanly."
Next time you sit down and write a female character Mr. Bennett…do you mind?