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Overpowered Protagonists

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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by tlb   » Fri Sep 18, 2020 5:15 pm

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GloriousRuse wrote:The Meta however, will not allow it. The powers that be have decreed that they will always be sparkling paragons of progress and virtue whose every move is wise, utterly effective, and just - and that should they ever have so much as an inkling if a threat, just-in-time technology will save them. Their opponents can only ever be wrong-bad-dumb incapable of even the slightest success, and the only hard working or competent people on the other side will be those about to defect or those shown to be the victims of continuous catastrophic leadership from the wrong-bad-dumbs.

Which is why I root against Manticore...

Of course, if your meta response were the full answer, then it is a form of masochism to root against them. I admit that in broad terms, the meta response seems a valid description of much of the recent story; particularly when the opponents were the Madarins and the Solarian Navy. But it should be pointed out that they were in reality just the low level myrmidons serving the purposes of the Mesan Alignment. So far the Mesan Alignment leaders might be bad and wrong, but definitely cannot be considered dumb.

Then we do have examples of hard working and competent people working against Manticore; such Isabel Bardasano, who was only taken out when one of those defectors had to suicide to escape her. Both Rob S. Pierre and Oscar Saint Just were also motivated, hard working and competent people, who worked against Manticore.

Also there are examples on the Manticore and Grayson side of people who were never sparkling paragons of progress and virtue whose moves were wise, utterly effective, and just. The whole High Ridge cabinet were far from paragons.

Finally there are people like Thomas Theisman, Eloise Pritchart and Shannon Foraker who were all motivated, hard working and competent people that together caused major problems for Manticore until they were beaten by the just in-time technology. However they were not the victims of continuous catastrophic leadership.

Although I do not accept the simplistic terms of your meta response in general, I do agree that the conflict with the Solarian League was disappointing and could be used to justify what you wrote. I have hopes that next book with Eric Flint will give us a more satisfying adventure.
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by Jonathan_S   » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:30 pm

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Brigade XO wrote:The universal testing for DNA in the SL doesn't have a candle's chance in a typhoon when the MA is involved. Heck there are too many people who probably want to avoid any more contact with their local, certalinly the SL government than possible.

Quite good points. Plus you've got the issue that -- even if you get DNA, and the right DNA, from everyone to test -- the MAlign beta tested all their genetics in slaves long before incorporating any of them into Star Lines - plus various lost branches of Star Lines. So there are vast numbers of people, across multiple generations, that have actual MAlign DNA yet have nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, the MAlign's dastardly plans.

So first you have to figure out what genes you're looking for, and then have to wade through the millions or billions of red herrings. (And even then you miss all the people who are recruited into it, rather than bred into it)

All of which is further complicated by the points you made about people resisting widespread DNA security screening.
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by GloriousRuse   » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:54 pm

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As the meta in question relates to where the protagonists are and are going, hardening back to the good old days isn’t all that helpful.

That being said, it is masochistic to root against Manticore, but sometimes an author makes a character or entity so hateful that even though you know it’ll have no effect, you can’t help but despise them. Manticore crossed that line in the recent series.

I also notice that your competent and challenging examples were either old line books, or eventually became valued members of the SEM with much the same personality and ethos as the Manties. And even so, some of the old guard ones were portrayed as “somehow tyrants” who despite running their positions ruinously and failing continuously we were supposed to accept as capable on principle.
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by tlb   » Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:13 pm

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GloriousRuse wrote:As the meta in question relates to where the protagonists are and are going, hardening back to the good old days isn’t all that helpful.

That being said, it is masochistic to root against Manticore, but sometimes an author makes a character or entity so hateful that even though you know it’ll have no effect, you can’t help but despise them. Manticore crossed that line in the recent series.

I also notice that your competent and challenging examples were either old line books, or eventually became valued members of the SEM with much the same personality and ethos as the Manties. And even so, some of the old guard ones were portrayed as “somehow tyrants” who despite running their positions ruinously and failing continuously we were supposed to accept as capable on principle

I am not disagreeing with you about the recent books and the conflict with the Mandarins and the League Navy. This is what I said:
I do agree that the conflict with the Solarian League was disappointing and could be used to justify what you wrote. I have hopes that next book with Eric Flint will give us a more satisfying adventure.
The early books were much more satisfying and I can only hope that the fight with the Malign can rise to that level.

However a part of your complaint is simply inevitable: the Hornblower books are technically accurate and the action, characters and plots are interesting; but no one should start them thinking that England is going to lose to France.

If you really find Manticore hateful, then I am not sure that there is anything that the author can do to change your mind.
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by cthia   » Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:58 am

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Jonathan_S wrote:
Brigade XO wrote:The universal testing for DNA in the SL doesn't have a candle's chance in a typhoon when the MA is involved. Heck there are too many people who probably want to avoid any more contact with their local, certalinly the SL government than possible.

Quite good points. Plus you've got the issue that -- even if you get DNA, and the right DNA, from everyone to test -- the MAlign beta tested all their genetics in slaves long before incorporating any of them into Star Lines - plus various lost branches of Star Lines. So there are vast numbers of people, across multiple generations, that have actual MAlign DNA yet have nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, the MAlign's dastardly plans.

So first you have to figure out what genes you're looking for, and then have to wade through the millions or billions of red herrings. (And even then you miss all the people who are recruited into it, rather than bred into it)

All of which is further complicated by the points you made about people resisting widespread DNA security screening.

IINM, there was a device used in CoG which can scan your DNA with or without your consent. It was used to track Berry and Lars.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by tlb   » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:09 pm

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cthia wrote:IINM, there was a device used in CoG which can scan your DNA with or without your consent. It was used to track Berry and Lars.

The device appears in two stories, but never to track Berry and Lars. In the first story Helen was being tracked (although that did come to include Berry and Lars). In From the Highlands, the Sixth Day (part of Changer of worlds):
"Did she kill them?" asked Victor.
Fallon nodded, pointing to the small tracking device in his left hand. Victor was unable to interpret the readings on the screen. The chemo-hormone sensor was a highly specialized piece of equipment. As rare as it was expensive.

In the second story (Crown of Slaves, chapter 22) it is Princess Ruth that is being tracked:
Naomi's frown was more pronounced than her uncle's. "What I don't understand is why you're so confident that Templeton will even find his sister." She glanced at the door which opened into one of the space station's public corridors. "Victor, I'm not sure you have any real idea just how convoluted those passageways are. Sure, there are holo-guides. But those aren't really all that easy to use, especially for someone who's never been here before—which I'd be astonished if Templeton has, given his theology."
--- snip ---
"Exactly," Victor nodded. "And the Grayson-Masadan genetic variant is quite distinct. The equipment needed to pick it up out of stray molecules suspended in the air is extremely costly, true. But the Masadans have piled up a lot of loot from their piracies over the past fifteen years—on top of a pile which was very substantial to begin with. Templeton's not stupid. I can't imagine he would have tried this stunt if he didn't have such a chemotracker."
Naomi's eyes widened. "I've heard of that sort of equipment. But is it really that good?"
"Yes," replied Victor firmly. "I've seen the gear in action. In the hands of someone who knows how to use it, it's almost like magic. Mind you, if they were trying to track Zilwicki's daughter in this crowded madhouse, it wouldn't do them any good except at close range. But that's because she's Terran, and her DNA traces would be impossible to distinguish from most people's until they got within a few meters of her. But with the princess, it's a different matter altogether. Especially since Templeton's crew is all male, so they can set the readings to filter out anything but a female from their genetic stock. Closer than that, in fact, since she's Templeton's half-sister and he can use his own DNA to key the settings."
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by Brigade XO   » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:36 pm

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cthia wrote: Mind you, if they were trying to track Zilwicki's daughter in this crowded madhouse, it wouldn't do them any good except at close range. But that's because she's Terran, and her DNA traces would be impossible to distinguish from most people's until they got within a few meters of her. But with the princess, it's a different matter altogether. Especially since Templeton's crew is all male, so they can set the readings to filter out anything but a female from their genetic stock. Closer than that, in fact, since she's Templeton's half-sister and he can use his own DNA to key the settings."


Helen Zilwicki's is the daughter of two Manticorians. He's from Gryphon (not any detail other than that I can remember), not sure where her mother was from but, again Manticorian and an officer commanding a warship. So "Terran"- yeah, in a very general sence of the word and with no interesting bits like Grason-Masadan as a filter, could be tough. Grayson (and Masada) were settled by the same bunch of people and the people who (most of them) now on Grayson sent the now-Masadan's to Masada to get them off planet. So they are (except for recent additions like the members of the Eylesan Space Navy who have become citizens (or are in the process of doing so) MOST of the Grayson and Masadan population has a relitively identifyable DNA signature....and then there is that "little" fix the Grayson medica/geneticists made to help the Graysons survive. Not sure if that was recognized varient in the tracker.
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Re: Overpowered Protagonists
Post by tlb   » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:52 pm

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In the second story (Crown of Slaves, chapter 22) it is Princess Ruth that is being tracked:
Mind you, if they were trying to track Zilwicki's daughter in this crowded madhouse, it wouldn't do them any good except at close range. But that's because she's Terran, and her DNA traces would be impossible to distinguish from most people's until they got within a few meters of her. But with the princess, it's a different matter altogether. Especially since Templeton's crew is all male, so they can set the readings to filter out anything but a female from their genetic stock. Closer than that, in fact, since she's Templeton's half-sister and he can use his own DNA to key the settings."

Brigade XO wrote:Helen Zilwicki is the daughter of two Manticorians. He's from Gryphon (not any detail other than that I can remember), not sure where her mother was from but, again Manticorian and an officer commanding a warship. So "Terran"- yeah, in a very general sence of the word and with no interesting bits like Grason-Masadan as a filter, could be tough. Grayson (and Masada) were settled by the same bunch of people and the people who (most of them) now on Grayson sent the now-Masadan's to Masada to get them off planet. So they are (except for recent additions like the members of the Eylesan Space Navy who have become citizens (or are in the process of doing so) MOST of the Grayson and Masadan population has a relitively identifyable DNA signature....and then there is that "little" fix the Grayson medica/geneticists made to help the Graysons survive. Not sure if that was recognized varient in the tracker.

In the Crown of Slaves incident, the two girls are Princess Ruth and Zilwicki's adopted daughter Berry of unknown Terran ancestry. Helen is busy studying at Saganami Island and has no major role in the story.
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