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Errors in Deception "Errors"

Elseweyr November 29, 2013 User blog:Elseweyr

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While most fans have turned their gaze to the next Mass Effect game, some of us are still clinging to old hopes – such as that of a revised edition of Mass Effect: Deception.

The novel's various issues are well known to most fans of the series, and many have likely at least glanced at the google doc that is referred to as a "list of errors" on the novel's page here on the wiki. The purpose of this document is evidently to protect Mass Effect canon, but despite doing an overall decent job of it, the doc itself contains too many inaccuracies to qualify as a valid source of information (which any references here should naturally do). Perplexingly, some of the corrections or explanations provided in the doc contradict canon even more than the very errors they call out.

Furthermore, regardless of whether we ever get a revised edition, the original is still a work entitled to fair treatment and should not be criticised under false or inadequate assumptions.

Excerpts from the doc are transcribed verbatim (hence the sic tags) for easier following, with the order and enumeration of the items preserved.

  • Red-marked items should not be considered errors.
  • Yellow-marked items might be actual errors, but the reasons provided are flawed or insufficient.

I realise I'm horribly late to the party and I don't expect this post to rouse much interest, but it'll exist, at least.

At the end I'll add a few errors and oddities that aren't accounted for in the doc, just for the record. Anyone who wishes to contribute or comment is welcome to do so.

Errors

Lore

1. The Citadel is described as being star shaped - Whilst the Citadel does have five arms arranged around a ring, even when it is fully opened, the arms are not in the same plane as the central ring; rather, they are oriented straight forward: [image]
[Error: Lore]

Topologically, it doesn't matter much which plane the arms are in – and if Drew Karpyshyn uses this analogy, it should be good enough for the rest of us. Revelation: From here, several thousand kilometers away, [the Citadel] resembled a five-pointed star: a quintet of long, thick arms extending out from a hollow central ring. (p. 89) At another point, Karpyshyn describes the Citadel's open form as a "five-armed star" and its closed form as a "long, cylindrical tube."
The only problem with describing the Citadel as a "huge star-shaped space station" in Deception could be that the perspective isn't specified: in the story, you are on the Citadel when its shape is mentioned. Hardly an error, though.


4. Citadel surrounded by stars - The Citadel is in the middle of a nebula with only one star - Widow - nearby and clearly visible. A few others are only faintly visible through the gas. [Error: Lore]

Widow has little to do with this, as almost every star you see at any given spot in space would be from other clusters and galaxies anyway. There are in-game images (as mundane as one of the loading screens in Mass Effect 3) where the foggy nebula is transparent enough for other stars to be perfectly visible in the background, and Kai Leng's vessel was approaching the Citadel from a distance. Not an error.


6. Deception claims the asari found the Citadel first and subsequently learnt to use mass effect technology - The asari could not have reached the Citadel without using mass effect technology. [Error: Lore]

That they "could not have reached the Citadel" without mass effect technology can hardly be stated as fact. We know that the Protheans learned to use mass effect technology before discovering the Citadel, but I don't think it's been established whether it's truly impossible to reach the Citadel, say, by merely using the mass relay network.
Given the Protheans' involvement in asari history, it does seem unlikely that the asari learned to use mass effect technology only after they started exploring the galaxy and reached the Citadel, although technically this assumption falls under speculation.


11. The public is allowed in the Citadel Council chamber - In the first Mass Effect game, Avina states that very few people are granted access to the Council Chamber. Certainly not the vocal crowds described in Deception. [Error: Lore]

Deception doesn't claim that the "public is allowed" in the Coucil Chambers, only that all the seats were filled. Avina states that "[t]ypically, only the Councilors, ambassadors, and high-ranking officials, along with various support staff, are allowed access" and that "[o]nly a handful of visitors to the Citadel are ever granted [a hearing with the Council]." Even if most citizens and visitors are never let into the Chambers, there's no reason to assume there aren't enough elites, aforementioned officials, etc. to fill the audience.
Additionally, in Revelation we learn that a hearing can well become a "spectacle for public show" (p. 223) unless the Council explicitly decides to keep spectators out. Not an error.


19. "No" to the quarian embassy - The asari Councilor objects to a quarian embassy "because it implies the existence of an cohesive government", despite the fact that the quarians have a very well-structured government and have had one for centuries. [Error: Lore]

It's equally strange that the quarians are suddenly back on the Citadel pleading for an embassy while they're preparing to finally take the geth on and their homeworld back, having long since abandoned hope for Council help in solving any of their problems.


23. Kai Leng is said to have been in the Alliance Marine Corps - While he was an Alliance marine, there is no “Alliance Marine Corps”. It is not a separate service branch. [Error: Lore]

There are a couple of incidental mentions of it in the War Asset descriptions in Mass Effect 3, though it appears one of them should have Division instead of Corps, and the other doesn't capitalise neither marine nor corps.


32. The Dark Star is described inaccurately - It is said to be on the 28th floor of a generic skyscraper, and to have an excellent view of the Presidium ring. In addition, it is said to be a quiet place filled with people in formal wear and gaming machines and not the sort of place to find a “working stiff”. In actuality, it is on the 28th level of Zakera Ward, has no view of the Presidium (though Zakera Ward itself does), is a loud dance club with no gambling and a place where you can talk to blue-collar folk, like the Presidium groundkeeper [sic]. [Error: Lore]

In terms of description accuracy, claiming that anything is located "on the 28th level of Zakera Ward" is no better: a ward is one of the arms of the Citadel, not some thirty-storey building. Which is precisely what part of Zakera Ward you can visit in Mass Effect 2, and where the Dark Star Lounge is located.
The ignorance of this might explain why part of the text was clearly misinterpreted in the first place: the novel says the bar is "located on the twenty-eighth floor of a high-rise with a spectacular view of the Presidium ring;" hence the view clearly (and correctly) pertains to the building itself. Compared to the bizarre misconception of Zakera Ward outlined above, a few extra gambling machines are largely negligible lapses – or quite possibly changes in a bar's fittings, image, etc. and the kind of clientele it attracts.


34. The surface of Omega - At one point Leng is said to have returned to the “surface” of Omega. Omega is a space station built into an asteroid, it has no proper surface. (Cited: “Having been returned to Omega’s surface Leng had elected to visit one of his favorite restaurants rather than return to the safe house.” p.225 Google Preview). Also, at one point there was mention of a door leading to a complex built underneath rocky hills. Due to the already explained structure of Omega, where the actual station hangs from the asteroid above, there is no way something natural like rock could be part of the structure, let alone hills of the mineral. [Error: Lore]

Karpyshyn's original description of Omega:
Built from the remains of a massive, irregularly shaped asteroid, the heavy-metal-rich core had been mined until the asteroid was almost completely hollow, providing the initial resources used to construct the facilities that completely covered every exposed inch of its surface. – Mass Effect: Ascension, p. 45.
It seems Omega's design was altered to some extent for Mass Effect 2, but the images remain pretty vague, and I don't know whether these can be said to be outright discrepancies.
Shifting the focus to Deception, Kai Leng departed the space station to meet up with the Illusive Man on a vessel that was in Omega's close vicinity. "Surface" seems an, if not optimal, at least acceptable word to express that he returned to the station itself. William C. Dietz also uses an expression like "the outer surface of the space station" and, more importantly, draws a parallel to a royal orb, suggesting he is at least aware of Omega's general shape.
All things considered, just because a large part of the station is "hanging" from the asteroid, there's no reason to assume nothing could be built into the rock itself, or even on some part of the asteroid's surface.


38. Omega’s Eezo - Deception states that Omega is still a source of eezo, even though the mines have long since been tapped out. “Now, thanks to both the element zero mines and its location deep inside the lawless Terminus systems, Omega served as a tax- free [sic] port where pirates, mercenaries, slavers, assassins, and criminals of every race could trade, rest, and enjoy their profits.” [Error: Lore]

I don't know where it's stated that the eezo deposits have been depleted, but the original description above claims nothing of the sort, and even the Omega Codex entry says that "[t]oday, Omega is a major hub of narcotics, weapons, and eezo trafficking." Also, the Omega DLC obviously shows us otherwise. Not an error.

Technology

1. Quarians referred to as “Gas suckers” - Their masks only look like gas masks; their actual function is the filtration of air. Whilst this term is probably being used in a derogatory manner, the fact that quarians use enviro-suits hasn’t been used mockingly in the past, making it odd. A more precise, or possibly wider accepted racial slur would be “buckethead.” [Error: Technology ]

On Illium in Mass Effect 2, for example, an advertisement makes it pretty clear that quarians and volus are discriminated for their suits (to some degree, at least). Tali's mention of suit-rat in Mass Effect 3 speaks for itself.


5. No Kinetic Barriers - In the ME games, as well as previous books, all hardsuits come with kinetic barriers (AKA" shields") that must be broken before the user can be killed by ranged weaponry. In Deception, there is only mention of weapons "chewing through armor" or poor references to biotic barriers on characters wearing hardsuits a là [sic] Nick. [Error: Technology]

There is some mention of "kinetic shields" (eg. p. 162), though there could probably have been more.


10. Asari Air Kisses - At one point Gillian and another biotic have an “asari air kiss” (which has never been mentioned in previous works) that causes the air around them to crackle with their biotic power. Nothing has ever suggested that biotic power works this way. [Error: Technology]

It is true that "asari-style air kisses" (to quote the novel) haven't been encountered before, and it could also be considered odd that this only happened once in Deception, though maybe Gillian's introduction to Zon was the only kind of meeting that warranted such a procedure.
More importantly, the air is not said to crackle with "biotic power," but static electricity – which all biotics generate naturally. Recall that in Ascension, for example, Kahlee touching Nick does produce a noticeable spark (p. 27). (Since electrostatic discharge only happens when two objects at different electric potentials come into contact, however, I don't know how this would work between two biotics.)

Characters

10. Referring to Aria as “T’Loak” and Kai Leng as “Leng” - In previous works, these characters are either referenced by first or full name (e.g. "Aria wants to speak to you") but now subordinates simply call Aria "T’Loak." This is not so in Invasion, therefore it cannot simply be new subordinates referring to her by this name. [Error: Characters]

In Mass Effect 3, "Leng" is used in some in-game texts and The Illusive Man calls him that at least once. In Deception, however, TIM and Kim refer to him as "Kai," which I don't think happens anywhere else. (Amusingly, the doc itself refers to him as "Leng" several times, and also just as "Kai.")


16. Hendel was given the title “Hendel Vas Idenna” by the quarians for seemingly no reason - A quarian’s “ship name” is only earned after he or she has completed the Pilgrimage and has presented a Pilgrimage “gift” to the captain of the ship that he or she wishes to serve on. [Error: Character]

The quarians refer to Shepard as "Shepard vas Normandy" even when the Commander is only a visitor to the Flotilla – that's how the quarians roll. Since having the ship you serve on as part of your name is obviously an integral part of quarian identity, why wouldn't this be done for a grown-up outsider who earns a permanent place in their society?
The idea that Hendel would have been expected to embark on a Pilgrimage at some point is pure speculation – besides, it's not even required of all quarians. It could instead be argued that it's weird to capitalise "Vas" or leave out "Mitra" for whatever reason.

Oddities

Lore

4. Female salarian mercenary- A female salarian merc appears at one point during Deception. It is well established that 90% of the salarian population is male, and, being such, females usually stay on their homeworlds as wielders of significant political power. Despite this, her presence in a low-rent Omega merc band is not considered at all remarkable. She’s simply there to be a red shirt in one scene. [Oddity: Lore]

Anderson employs a female salarian information broker in Revelation (p. 135), which, given the hardly risk-free business of off-world information trading, should be considered equally odd. The step to a guntoting merc is arguably not entirely tiny, but perhaps not great enough for this to be an "oddity" worth mentioning.


7. A salarian is said to have “Big , luminous eyes” - Salarian eyes do not glow. Nor has there ever been one with eye coloration that would allow this to make sense figuratively. [Oddity: Lore]

Luminous doesn't have to mean "emitting light on its own" or "bright in colour." A young human girl is also described as having "luminous brown eyes," so the word could well carry the notion of "shining" as in "reflecting light" in both contexts. Trivial and hardly an oddity.


8. Keepers strangely absent - Despite large parts of the novel being set on the Citadel (including scenes in the lower levels of infrastructure), keepers are neither encountered nor mentioned. In Mass Effect lore, they are an [sic] ubiquitous presence on the station. [Oddity: Lore]

The keepers are also described as so inconspicuous, they are sometimes forgotten to exist altogether. You can likely move around on most parts of the Citadel just fine without constantly tripping on them.


11. Watching the sunset - Anderson and Kahlee watch the sunset on Eden Prime, though as the planet has a 64-hour day, this would last quite some time. [Oddity: Lore]

Here's the deal:
The sun is partially below the horizon when Kahlee and Anderson start watching it set. On the very first mission in the original Mass Effect, an unscientific visual observation of the sky suggests that Utopia might look about as big from Eden Prime as the sun from Earth. However, even if we for the sake of argument assume it looks exactly as large, the rest of the sunset could actually take less than six minutes, depending on where on the planet you are.
Since we don't know the size of Utopia, however – only that Eden Prime is about 1.3 times bigger than Earth and nearly twice as far away from Utopia as Earth is from Sol – nothing can be inferred about the duration of the sunset anywhere on the planet. Not an oddity.


12. HMBA amps - Whilst in "Hu-Town," Gillian has her old implants removed and replaced with implants produced by HMBA. Disregarding that implant removal is in of itself nearly never done, HMBA-produced amps are listed as gear for Citadel Spectres [sic]*, only available through a licensed requisitions officer. It is unlikely that any vendor in "Hu-Town" (a ghetto) would be selling them.

As is astutely observed at an earlier point in the doc, implants and amps "are wholly different things," although technically implants are biotic amplifiers as well. Regarding the manufacturers, HMBA and Kassa Fabrication are not known to produce implants either (only bio-amps, like the equipment in the original Mass Effect) and we don't really know that much about implant manufacturing in general.
Dietz somewhat accurately talks about implants in the nervous system and the port at the back of the neck through which the implants can "be accessed," but suddenly "upgrading" requires the kind of surgery implant replacement would. It seems Dietz thinks implants and upgrades are the same thing, and that upgrading literally means replacing the implants with better ones.
If we assume Gillian upgraded as in acquired better bio-amps, I suppose it wouldn't be impossible that the HMBA amps were illegitimate: it was a pretty shady place and operation altogether, and Gillian didn't care about anything but becoming superlethal and fast. That said, it certainly seems Dietz just went for the boss amps without knowing much else about them.
*It's Council Spectres, not "Citadel Spectres."


14. The Grim Skulls - In Revelation Saren wiped out most of the Grim Skulls mercenary group, while they appear no worse for wear in Deception.

Aside from the fact that it's been twenty years, in Revelation the organisation is initially described as having a few dozen members (p. 124). There was only talk of a group of Grim Skulls mercs being present at the arms deal; if you take a dozen at face value and make the calculations, thirteen mercs died directly or indirectly by Saren's hand on Juxhi. Therefore, it can't be assumed that even half, let alone "most" of them, were wiped out.
What is strange, however, is that the group's ethnicity has curiously (and without explanation, of course) shifted from human to alien in this time: the whole reason Saren went to wreck the arms deal was because he was distraught by the idea of turians selling weapons to humans, ie. the Grim Skulls. Since it's strongly implied that the group was all-human, it's a little far-fetched that even in a couple of decades the organisation has become turian-dominated (with the odd biotic salarian female to boot) yet kept the name for some reason.


15. Boxes of ammo - “Boxes of ammo” are mentioned in Deception- though this could refer to thermal clips.

The notion of ammo boxes should be obvious to anyone who has played Mass Effect 3.

What could've been thrown in there

Errors

Subsequent quotations are from the novel.

1. Intergalactic travel possible – A "Prothean Egg" containing maps for a system in another galaxy and the suggestion that someone might travel there is a major contradiction to canon: nothing has suggested that any known race in the Mass Effect universe has ever achieved this, and the Reapers loll about on the fringes of the galaxy in unreachable dark space specifically to avoid being discovered.

Dietz's poor knowledge of Mass Effect lore as well as general astronomy is thrown into sharp relief by his claim that "because the map is not consistent with any part of known space, experts assume that the system depicted lies somewhere beyond our galaxy, and must have been important to the protheans [sic]." There are hundreds of billions of systems in the Milky Way alone, and according to the Citadel Space Codex entry less than 1% of them have been discovered.

Interstellar travel possible with FTL speeds; spreading across galaxy possible with mass relay network. Intergalactic travel... problematic.

2. Aria's stage in life – Aria is said to be "an asari matron." While we don't have much information on Aria's life in general, according to Retribution she is over a thousand years old and likely already in her Matriarch stage (if she can be described in such terms at all).

3. Salarian Councilor called Dia Oshar – The only possible salarian Councilor at this point is either Valern or Esheel.

4. Spelling and terminology:

  • There's no organization called "the Eclipse Mercs."
  • The club is called Afterlife, not "the Afterlife."
  • It's not "mass effect relay," either.
  • Unless Barla Von (or some other unintroduced Von) is part of the Biotic Underground, "Zon" is presumably referred to as "Von" several times.

Oddities

1. Duct rats not having names – Some orphans might not have anything other than nicknames, but being a duct rat hardly automatically implies namelessness. Since this was not stated by the narrator but spoken by a character, however, it can sort of be disregarded.

2. Uncharacteristic volus-speak – Since when do volus refer to humans as "your Earth friend", "the Human Mitra" or "the Mitra person"? Earth-clan is a common alternative to human, but all encountered volus have used names without oddities like these.

3. There are "no addresses on Omega" – It seems pretty inconceivable that in all this time, no naming system for the station's streets, alleys, etc. (formal or otherwise) would have formed.

4. Spelling and terminology:

  • The stubborn use of "Council member" instead of "Councilor."

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