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Catching up on Star Trek books (spoilers) January 9, 2016

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews, Star Trek.
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I was burned out on Star Trek for a little while (and a lot more interested in Doctor Who). But for a variety of reasons I’ve decided to get back to Trek. It’s the 50th anniversary, after all, and the whole mess of the Axanar situation spurred me on to watch some fan films and hang out on TrekBBS and next thing you know I’ve started to put a dent in the Trek books backlog.

Jeffrey Lang’s The Light Fantastic follows on from developments in his own Immortal Coil (was that really in 2002?) and David Mack’s The Persistence of Memory (2012). Like Immortal Coil, it deals with the one theme Star Trek keeps introducing and then dropping like a hot potato: artificial intelligences. This time around we get the welcome return of the holographic Moriarty, as well as the new and improved Data, his daughter Lal, and their pal Alice, along with a few others. It’s not a cursory bit of checkbox-ticking but a novel that continues the work of explaining Trek’s AIs while treating them as growing, interesting characters in their own right. Good stuff.

Tony Daniel’s Savage Trade is… mostly fairly enjoyable but also frustrating. It has a tendency to throw something new into the mix when what’s already there should be developed more. We’ve got a mission to a distant world with a Vulcan diplomat. And slave traders and raiders with some connection to a long thought dead civilization. And a bunch of Excalbians in human form like the ones in the episode “The Savage Curtain.” And a bunch of other Excalbians, aggressive and definitely not trying to take on the personalities of important figures of Earth history. And a Demiurge that has destroyed Excalbia and threatens the remaining Excalbians and the Enterprise. Is it any wonder that the storyline about the dead civilization fades into the background and is just barely given a quick resolution? Is it any wonder that the issue of how human the transformed Excalbians really are doesn’t get challenged as much as one might expect? Is it any wonder that some questions — why did the Excalbians take on only human form this time around, and why only humans from the 20th century and earlier, and how they adapt so easily — don’t get much of an answer? The book needed at least a couple of complications knocked out and more focus on the first few plot elements.

I’m well into David Mack’s Seekers 3: Long Shot and really enjoying it. More on that later, I expect.

 

 

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