Monday, February 6, 2012

Engines of Destiny

by Gene DeWeese

The next two weeks, I step into the science fiction world with two reviews on Star Trek books. I usually don't take a sci-fi book unless there's something that peaks my interest. I can count on one hand the number of series I've read, including Doctor Who, the Rama series, and a couple of others. I actually started read Trek as a youth but the first book I picked up was Triangle and I didn't understand it and didn't read another Trek novel for many years. Now, I've collected nearly all of them. You might see other Trek or Who novels here in the future, if I deem them worthy.

Bored by retirement and depressed by Jim Kirk’s death, Captain Montgomery Scott is drowning his anxieties in various taverns in Scotland. One night, he meets an enigmatic woman (Guinan) and soon after embarks on the mission which would ultimately lead him to his adventure on Picard’s Enterprise in the story, Relics.

This story picks up almost immediately after Relics. Scott, wandering around the universe in a shuttlecraft, encounters aliens trying to escape their planet’s corrupt rulers. They ultimately lead Scott to a Klingon Bird of Prey. After helping the aliens to escape, he returns to the Enterprise to obtain the information on how Spock took another Bird of Prey back in time as seen in the movie Star Trek IV. Scott wants to repeat the process to ion order to prevent Kirk from dying. Followed by Picard, they all end up in an alternate universe where the Federation doesn’t exist and the Borg are dominant.

I’ve read many Trek novels throughout the years and, like any other series, some are pretty decent, and some are not. This novel deals with time travel which, in any sci-fi book can get confusing as the science behind it. This plot differs from the usual ones where the crew encounters aliens on a planet and deals with bad guys either on the planet or shooting it out in space. I like the time travel novels although the reader has to pay attention to the story or risk getting lost in the details. I also enjoy the featuring of a minor character, Guinan, in a more prominent role.

The usual cast

Captain Jean Luc Picard
Commander Willam Riker
Montgomery Scott
Captain James Kirk

There are others who fill crew positions on the Enterprise and the alien ships in both the ‘real’ universe and the alternate one. Usually, authors of Trek books do a decent job of portraying the characters as seen on TV.

As mentioned above, it stays true to the characters. The reader can be confident, for example that Sarek isn’t going to go off half-cocked and spout wild emotional soliloquies. It’s basic Trek.

Detailed. As mentioned above, if you don’t focus, you’ll lose the flow of the story. It even begins with a little confusion until you are a few pages into it. However, as with many Trek novels, the science is relatively easy to understand, unlike many other sci-fi books dealing with time travel, quantum theories, etc. However, like many Trek novels, there is a period in the middle where everything drags along as the story moves toward the climax. This is not mean the story gets boring, but rather this reader’s mindset is attuned to the television broadcasts where a story is told in its entirety in an hour. So, one wants the novel to move along quicker. Other readers may not have this ‘problem.’

My Ranking

Blue Belt

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