Date: 12 Jul 2014 18:43 Title: Celestial Fire
Wow. This was, overall, an incredibly thought-provoking story. All parties involved had valid points of argument, and it's a hard truth the face for the kid that people like him really are a necessary evil.
Well done, CeJay. Well done.
Author's Response: I'm glad that you could see both sides of the argument. I wanted to make a conscious effort not to favor one too much over the other and may not have always succeeded. Thanks for reading.
Date: 25 Apr 2014 15:53 Title: Celestial Fire
Wow. I mean, I kinda thought - hoped - that Rhory would decide to pull out of it. That something would trigger in him to make himwalk away from it. But no, you did the brilliant thing story wise to have him remain a part of it. Worse that, he accpets his role and skills that help play the part. He uses his analytical mind to come up with the targets and is encompassing in it. He calculates in the collateral damage and even if he can reason that the collatoral damage would be less now that later it is a horrifying and dark transition of character. Not only that, but Rhory himself accepts, knows and believes this about himself. That's what is scarier still.
A brilliantly political, ethical and disturbing tale CeJay. More than that, it is a great glimpse into a character and a story telling device employed not too often, were you allow the main character to willingly become 'bad' - even if they convince themselves it is for the right reasons they are paying all sorts of wrong prices. Additionally, it is a great expansion of your Eagle universe and the wider United Trek story tale weaved about the Talarian Incursion. UT can always go to the dark places and still have a sense and feeling of being Trek.
As for the character of Rhory, I hope that some day you may return to his story at some later juncture in his life perhaps. In many ways, he is a Talza Star in the making. Someone who will need to find redemption but someone who may not go seeking it or finding it easy to achieve it. Brilliant job.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the kind words. As for the ending, to me that had never been in doubt even though perhaps his transition happens a little faster than even I liked. But I wanted to keep within the format of the Lower Deck Tales series and not let this become a full blown novel. As for him going 'bad', I'd like to put forth the counter argument that perhaps he's doing the right thing here. Perhaps the Federation needs a few people who are a little darker to keep it safe. No, I'm not talking about Section 31 dark -- even though who knows it may lead to that eventually -- but just people who are willing to make difficult decisions. Of course the idea of this story is for the reader to decide for themselves. I also really liked your comparison to Tazla Star. I didn't consciously think about it but of course just like Rhory she was much in a similar situation once when she had to make a difficult choice with real consequences. It didn't work out to well for her. Here's hoping that it won't be as bad for Rhory. Again, thanks for your awesome and insightful reviews.
Date: 25 Apr 2014 15:39 Title: Celestial Fire
It seemed fitting that the Professor should make such a point in lecture. Was it always on their curriculum or they specifically chose to explore that theme following recent events. I can rather imagine them doing so. They have the mission to teach and instil the values that will make the officers of the future, the ones who will make the calls that perpetuated this crime (little knowing that one of the players is seated in their lecture).
Despite the lecture it seems it only took another Talarian attack to occur and to bring casualties on the Federation scoreboard for many of the cadets to quickly forget their consciences and get mad wanting revenge.
Then we come to Rhory himself. He's struggling with all of this naturally and it is good to see that the others were too. He isn't the only one with guilt and a conscience here but when words start to get whispered into his ear and theirs will they remain so steadfast?
Author's Response: There is always, I suppose, a level of disconnect between that what people teach and what they actually do. Nowhere is this more true than at a school like Starfleet Academy with so many different types and races attending, so many different viewpoints and temperaments merging in one place. Not everyone immediately thinks of revenge but it's certainly part of the spectrum of emotions.
Date: 25 Apr 2014 15:28 Title: Celestial Fire
Sometimes smart people are the dumbest. Sometimes those protesting they are protecting society and nation are doing things so abhorrent as to be the antithesis of said society and nation. Vincent is the rallying call for that charge and of course is impassioned in his railings. Kerra is dumbstruck at the carnage and at how a possible means of defending lives without putting unneccessary lives on the line has been subverted by the tactics employed. And then there's Rhory, the sweet innocent first year cadet is certainly no longer innocent.
I loved the spy game trick of serial transporter transits and the secret location. And then the reveal of the installation and its make up is such that we are shocked to discover Rhory's own role in this debate, shockingly so when the latter target transpires and is carried out. It was deftly handled and very effective.
Back on topic of the debate, it is shocking. One could argue at how it is young minds like Rhory's making these decisions. But they're just the analysts and one group feeding the choices to those who make the decision. However, it is telling that they deal only in the analytical data of the whereabouts of the strikes and don't get into the intel about what is on the ground.
In terms of the real life parallels, this is well executed. It isn't contrived and fits in-universe but has a strong message within. Even with the training schools and the possibility that such schools might be seen as legitimate military targets - pre-emptive strikes almost you can imagine a strategical mind thinking. And the truth of the matter is that it is young recruits who are staffing these drones in real life, who are sifting through the data and who are at an end of making or executing the calls. They don't get their hands bloodied or dirtied and that can either make them far too clinical about the strikes or they'll feel the blood on their conscience forever more.
A terrific tale. And I love the story telling premise of it to be honest.
Author's Response: Yeah, I probably let myself influence a little bit by Ender's Game when it comes to the massive amount of responsibility which rests on Rhory's shoulders as well as on those of his barely much older colleagues. I'm assuming that Starfleet at some point realized that young minds are the brightest when it comes to analyzing intelligence data. I wouldn't rule out however that SI has many different think tanks and not all of them are wet behind the ears cadets. Really glad you enjoy this.
Date: 25 Apr 2014 15:07 Title: Celestial Fire
Oh edgy political stuff here but I like it too for the fact that in universe it makes sense, especially under UT's President Satie. After a long exhauting war with the Dominion it isn't surprising that Starfleet has been planning alternatives to fighting a war. Given the supreme firepower a starship holds there is something truly frightening about these UWCVs. The might of a starship is always constrained by the person in charge, the captain, and the crew from being wielded at its utmost. But the UWCVs are designed with the expressed purpose of being deployed for full military precision and impact. A highly dangerous and tempting way to continue wage war.
Then to garner the debate you focus on the family home of the Owens. Nice to see some extension to the person Owens with his cousins here. It adds more to him but in their very own they are a neat unit to explore this theme from different perspectives. Despite this, they don't come across as mere mouth pieces for the debate. Instead, they're a family having breakfast, slight bickering between the married couple and some ribbing and prodding of their child in the process who plans to buck things and do things his own way.
Author's Response: Thanks for reading and reviewing. And you're right, the UWCV's are a real departure for Starfleet in a away. There probably hasn't been a more military centric design in Starfleet since the Defiant-class project and even that, as a starship, can arguably fulfill more than a single function whereas the UWCVs cannot. Considering the Dominion and Borg threats the Federation has faced in recent years, this shift of thinking made a lot of sense to me. It also ties into the United Trek storyline of a presidential administration less interested in exploring the galaxy and instead fortifying its own borders.
Date: 13 Apr 2014 02:42 Title: Celestial Fire
Oh, this is a tough ending. I also love how the guy in tweed has no name. For the Devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape, eh?
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked it. Tweed Jacket is the devil only to some. To others, no doubt, he's the guy who gets it.
Date: 13 Apr 2014 02:28 Title: Celestial Fire
I love how Rhory and the others weren't told the specifics of the strike, and now of course it's turned from an academic (almost fun, dare I say) exercise into something so much more horrible.
Author's Response: Yep, keeping people in the dark is Starfleet Intelligence's business model. Even when their own people are involved.
Date: 15 Dec 2013 22:09 Title: Celestial Fire
Rhory's lost. I don't know exactly how one comes back from something like that. It has to be possible, there has to be some kind of redemption a person can find, but to find it you have to go looking for it. But he's given up; as smart as he is, he's given up.
Really amazing story, CeJay. It strikes home.
Author's Response: Don't give up on Rhory yet. He has at least one attribute in his favor. Youth. Which means he has plenty of time to re-adjust his moral compass down the road. Different readers have taken different things from this story, which I think is the most interesting aspect of this tale. Really appreciate your view on this. Many thanks for reading and commenting.
Date: 15 Dec 2013 22:05 Title: Celestial Fire
It's like the serpent in the garden of Eden there at the end. It really is. Poor Rhory; keep your soul clean if you can, and don't listen to that claptrap. I mean, the argument sounds convincing on the surface, but the chill that went down my spine when the cadets ran by blood thirsty...
You really do know how to bring the reality, my friend. And do so well.
Author's Response: Thanks again. I love the Garden of Eden analogy. I wasn't consciously aware of it when I wrote it but it seems very fitting, especially if you don't agree with "claptrap" here.
Date: 15 Dec 2013 21:58 Title: Celestial Fire
Ohhh, God. Yes. Yes, this. Yes, you're really fricken good, CeJay. You bring home the reality and the pain with the delightfully even eye -- of course, the strategy of taking out a general, but what about the collateral damage?
Author's Response: The cost of war at its ugliest. Really appreciate the kind words here. Thank you very much.
Date: 15 Dec 2013 21:50 Title: Celestial Fire
Oh, and again you bring the amazing parallels to real world conditions today. I'm with Vince, myself; yes, no one wants casualties in war, no one wants people to die, but when comes the day that war becomes the easy, cheap solution to problems, when it no longer requires living beings to fight it, what's to stop us from waging it? And when that happens, how long before it's the civilians, not the soldiers, who are dying in droves because the other side figures out how to do the same thing?
Author's Response: I'm glad you found a voice in this story that spoke to you. I really wanted to try a capture both viewpoints and let readers decide which one they thought was more convincing. Thanks for reading.
Date: 26 Sep 2013 06:26 Title: Celestial Fire
A very sobering tale that delves into the very real ethical dilemmas that arise in warfare. Young Rhory comes to realize that war is a messy, imprecise and deadly affair. In the end, he seems to accept his role in the think-tank but I fear he has been irrevocably changed. I wonder if we will see more of this group of analysts in future stories?
Author's Response: Thanks for the review. I ain't got any immediate plans to revisit Rhory but then again, never say never. It would be interesting to revisit him at some point to see how his new view of the universe, and his role in it, may have shaped him.
Date: 25 Sep 2013 00:57 Title: Celestial Fire
I was expecting a conspiracy of some sort, the ending surprised me... I did like it, but kinda have a hard time believing Starfleet would go this far... Overall a nice story though
Author's Response: Glad you liked the ending and that it came as a surprise. I wanted this to be a very personal story for Rhory with an ambiguous ending to allow the reader to make up his or her own mind about the way Starfleet and the Federation was conducting itself and if it is justified. I don't think the actions taken here were all that much of a stretch. Keep in mind that this happens just after the end of the incredibly costly Dominion War in which millions lost their lives. The Federation wants to send a clear message here: Never Again. Also, if you recall Admiral Noah Satie from TNG's The Drumhead as the President of the Federation, I'd imagine she'd be more than willing to go to these lengths to secure the safety of the Federation. Or at least as she perceives it.
Date: 24 Sep 2013 19:58 Title: Celestial Fire
I like the post-war Federation tensions, it seems believable that after a prolonged and bloody conflict the Federation would be more martial and aggressive initially.
I did think it would be questioned a lot more during the press conference, it seems a bit unlikely that it wouldn't be questioned a whole lot more
Author's Response: Thanks for the comment. I would imagine a lot more questions were asked at the press conference (and the later briefing), and in fact we leave it while it is still in progress. I just didn't want to spend too much time on it. After all this is the story of Rhory and the decisions he must make and I wanted to focus on that instead.
Date: 17 Sep 2013 11:49 Title: The Longest Day
I love this story, it is short and well structured. I always loved the lower decks episode from TNG, and similar episodes on VOY... it's usually always about the high ranking seniors, but its the crew on the lower decks that keep a ship together! Nice!
Author's Response: Thank you, glad you liked it.
Date: 16 Sep 2013 23:56 Title: Celestial Fire
Well CeJay, I’m glad you finally choice which flame to go on the cover for this story ☺.
Well this is an interesting story start, the Federation does seem to keep falling into war with ever one of its neighbors, it will wear on the conscious and federation resources. I felt your news briefing with the federation media felt believable, thou I was surprise more journalists didn’t try to get a question in.
The Home scene between Vincent and Kerra was well written and well balanced between the two of them. Between the two sides of the merits of the use of unmanned warp combat vessels, nice metaphor for modern drones. Be interesting to see how this one develops.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review. I suppose I had to exercise a bit of brevity with the press conference. You ever watch one of those? They go on forever.
Date: 07 Sep 2013 20:40 Title: The Longest Day
Nicely done. The KM scenario was well-delivered, and the reader gets a very good sense of being there. The characters come across well and as individuals and not as types.
Author's Response: *bows graciously* Glad you enjoyed it. One of the most important things in writing a story tends to be that the characters come across as believable. Good to know I achieved that.
Date: 07 Sep 2013 20:17 Title: The Longest Day
Again, you are very good with below decks characters and unlikely or at least unfamiliar heroes. Srena's day is not going well at all, but it makes a great deal of sense in the context of warfare. The grunt soldiers (and she isn't, truly, a soldier, at least not a ground force one) take all sorts of punishments. The shower and the replicator were particularly good and personalizing touches.
Author's Response: Yeah, I was aiming for a certain degree of realism for this story. I don't always do this, but here it felt appropriate. Life in Starfleet isn't all glamor and even battles are not necessarily an everyday occurrence. Endless days filled with training and superior officers breathing down you neck, however, that never goes away.
Date: 07 Sep 2013 19:46 Title: My Everything
I read this some time ago, and read it again recently. It's a short piece, but punchy, and I really do like how sweet Dee was at the end there. I don't know her terribly well, but that one act definitely elevates her in my opinions by a quite considerable margin, and Nathan's crush might seem kind of boyish and silly, but still sincere and sweet. I like how there is definite tell of an after at the end, even if it's left to the reader to decide if it's real or not. Well done!
Author's Response: Thanks. I do like to think that Deen's act at the end, sums up her character quite nicely. She's got a big heart, that one.
Date: 20 Aug 2013 06:43 Title: Beyond Acheron
I can't believe I didn't review this the first time I read it. Savannah breaks my heart here; she's trying so damn hard to make sense of it and deny it all at once and that is so intensely human. I'm really glad that she didn't go alone in the end and that it might not even truly be and end but a beginning. Achingly well done, CeJay.
Author's Response: Oh thank you very much. It's a sad tale of course, but you're right, it has a somewhat happy twist to it. I supposed if I have to kill off characters, I tend to try and make them go out with a smile at least.