"All Great Neptune's Ocean"
by David E. Sluss
23 January 2001
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THE BOTTOM LINE: There's a potentially respectable story here, but the execution is deadly dull and painfully contrived.
CYNICS CORNER RATING: 5.5 (F+)
CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: Where do we start? The whole assassination plot hinges on the Chancellor knowing a lot more than he has any business knowing and getting extremely lucky. It's dumb luck that President Lee would insist on receiving his apology from Tyr in private in a locked room (especially when there would seem to be little served in the way of face-saving protocol by a forced apology that none of Lee's people would see). It's dumb luck that Tyr happened to be carrying his force lance at the time. It's dumb luck that the shock from Tyr's "unauthorized" use of the force lance would cause amnesia (and of course it seems un-Commonwealth-like to have a weapon that would cause that severe a trauma to unauthorized users). It's dumb luck that half of Andromeda's crew would fall all over themselves confessing to murder. And it's pretty much impossible that the Chancellor would know that the force lance can be operated by remote control, considering that Colonel Wig, a security guard and someone said to have an interest in Andromeda's gadgetry, did not. It's also unlikely that the Chancellor could, in the few seconds after he saw that Lee and Tyr would be alone in the room, see his opportunity and concoct a computer virus to force Andromeda to carry out the assassination. In short, the way in which this tale plays out is complete bull. This "sci-fi mystery" had enough going against it as it was, such as the fact that there were only two suspects (unless you count the cameraman) and the fact that this type of story has been done to death; poor execution was the nail in the coffin.
CONTINUITY GLITCHES OF THE WEEK: No, not that kind of continuity, the other kind. When Lee is killed while everyone else is standing in the hallway, we (and they) hear the following: two shots from the force lance; then Lee yelling "What are you doing?"; then the sound of the electric shock. In the subsequent reconstruction that Tyr watched, we see and hear the following: Tyr drawing his weapon, Lee yelling "What are you doing?"; two shots from the force lance; Tyr putting the force lance in his pocket (or was he just happy to see me?); Tyr getting shocked by the force lance. A couple of problems:
COMMONWEALTH INSECURITY OF THE WEEK: The weapon "trigger lock" is not only cruel and unusual, but also not very secure. After all, while in Tyr's "unauthorized" possession, the force lance fired two lethal shots before shocking him. On a related note, we now know that the force lance can fire in "smart bullet" mode; that's apparently the alternative to the "Imperial Stormtrooper" mode we've mostly seen up to this point...
ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Andromeda boarded -- again! Though in fairness, the crew sort of let it happen on purpose this time.
CULTURAL IMPERIALISM OF THE WEEK: One might have hoped that with three galaxies in the mix, this series would show us some more aliens, but instead what we seem to be finding is that the Andromeda universe seems pretty close to a "Homo Sapiens and Variants Only" club. I'm sure that budgetary concerns play a part in this, but with this big a canvas, this series in my opinion is somehow going to have to show a little more diversity in order to be credible.
GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The good news is that someone joined
the Commonwealth. I guess the Castalians are the second signatory; the Than
"recognized" the Commonwealth in "Double Helix,"
but that's not the same as joining it, while the Perseids signed up in "The Banks of the Lethe" (something I forgot until a little
birdie reminded me via email; thanks, Zack). Hooray! The bad news is that they've just
fallen into a civil war. Hunt can't win for losing, apparently. Of course we have to
wonder why exactly the Castalians would join the Commonwealth; while Lee seemed to be
almost as big a sap as Hunt, the new President didn't, and he would seem to have other
things to worry about. On the other hand, "placating that deluded fossil with the
big-ass ship so he'll go away" is a pretty good reason to sign the charter...
in the Ashes"
Next: "The Pearls
That Were His Eyes"
|NEXT WEEK: Q shows up and makes Beka's eyes all funny and stuff.|
since 31 January 1999
This review is copyright
© 2001 David E. Sluss