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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-24 14:14
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Body Electric by David Mack
The Body Electric - David Mack


Wesley, now a Traveler in his own right, discovers a terrifying machine at the galaxy's core, a machine which creates random wormholes and pulls entire star systems through it to feed a massive black hole. Neither the other Travelers nor Q can offer a solution, so he asks Picard for help in this crisis which could change, and destroy in the longterm, the whole galaxy.

Meanwhile, Data is faced with a terrible choice in his quest to resurrect his daughter.


I expected a bit more of this final part, to be honest. Again, it was a page-turner, but it wasn't as emotionally engaging as I had hoped.

The main adversary wasn't really terrifying to me in an emotional sense because, even with his record, Mack wouldn't destroy subspace and thus render any further stories moot. To me, the impact of the destroyed worlds got a bit reduced by the multitude of death and destruction in Destiny. So, the only question was who he'd sacrifice to sacrifice the situation. Somehow I feared it would be Data, but fortunately it wasn't. *g* But I wouldn't have put it passed him to shock us readers by such a move. The rest of the machine-plot contained a bit too much technobabble for my taste, and I'm just happy that there wasn't some kind of deus-ex-machina solution, i.e. Wesley hyper-warping the thing to another galaxy or into the blackhole etc. but a solutions that satisfied both sides.

I enjoyed seeing Wesley again, and I loved the scene with Q, but I was a bit perplexed by the crew's nonchalant reaction to him. I mean it's not every day a being like a Traveller pops in unannounced. Of course, I don't know if he made any appearance in another relaunch novel, but I got the impression that no one has seen him since that Riker/Troi-wedding visit-fiasco. So I'd have loved to see a scene with him being introduced to Rene and dealing with Picard being his stepfather. And it kind of bothered me that the rest of the crew called him Wesley or Wes (Smrhova), despite their knowing him for little more than a day (at least, that was my take on the timetable in this book after Wes warps the E-E to the machine). It's a bit the same issue I had with the crew and Data's interaction in Silent Weapons.

On to Data whose part was to me the most interesting one - small wonder, since I only picked up this trilogy because of what the cover for part 1 suggested would happen. Was there really any question as to whom he would sacrifice, given the choice between Rhea and Vaslovik (sorry, he'll always be Vaslovik to me *g*)? Of course, I'd have loved to see them be together, after all Data deserves a loving partner as much as anyone. But this was his chance to bring his daughter back to life - and maybe prevent any future offspring from suffering from the same flaws. And I think any parent would choose like that. I was surprised, though, that Vaslovik found it within himself to still help Data. What a loss it would have been if sacrificing Rhea had also robbed Data of his most heartfelt wish.

As emotional and heart-wrenching as this situation was, I feel kind of cheated that Lal's return's just got dealt with in the epilogue. As I said, to me Data and his mission were the glue that held this trilogy together - so I'd have loved to see this reunion in more detail. And actually I'd have loved if this had happened on the Enterprise with Data and Lal being among friends happy for them.

As for Data torturing Vaslovik... Even if it was apparently mainly for show (though, what kind of "secrets" did Vaslovik reveal?), he still inflicted injuries and submitted to being blackmailed - though, he must have known that doing so doesn't necessarily save Rhea. Or did this play into his hand in questioning Vaslovik after all?

On another note: Didn't Picard and Beverly agree on 3 or 4 more years at maximum on the Enterprise in Silent Weapons? Then why does Picard tell Worf that the wait for Picard to leave the Enterprise (and therefore to Worf's own command) could be a long one? OTOH, I definitely didn't get that "ready to settle down"-vibe from Picard any more which is kind of strange shift when it was so strong still in Silent Weapons.

Finally, I'm looking forward to what's in store next for especially Data and Lal. But it's kind of funny that all 3 most senior officers of the TV-series now have children. I can already see the next generation of Enterprise officers forming. *g*

As for this trilogy, to me the highlight definitely was Soong's sacrificing himself for Data. Unfortunately, the following parts didn't quite live up to the emotional impact of this moment. But Mack at least accomplished something: He got me interested in TNG-novels again, especially by leaving Data's future open.




review originally written in 2012

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-24 14:12
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons by David Mack
Silent Weapons - David Mack


While on a routine research mission, Geordi is contacted by Data who calls for help. He got arrested on Orion for an attempted break-in into their bank, one of the most secure buildings in the galaxy, and murder of an Starfleet Intelligence officer. The evidence, the bank's sensor data indicating a Soong-type android strongly suggests his involvement. And so, the race is on to clear him and uncover what's really going on on Orion... who's behind it and why.


First of all, it was a much easier read than PoM, certainly because there was no present tense or 1st person-PoV. There was enough adventure and quick action to make this book into a page-turner. But even though, it lacked the emotion depth of the last part of PoM. Again, I repeat what said in my reaction to PoM: Maybe that's because I'm a mere casual reader who has no knowledge of the prior parts of the TP. Granted, this book could be read on its own, but there's a lot of contextual information that's only hinted at - and not knowing the details IMO distracts and minimizes the pleasure of reading the story. I've often said here that I'd wish for some kind of "What happened earlier" in the books, especially in books connected to each other. But the way it was I didn't quite get the Breen's apparent obsession with that propulsion system, leading them to literally throw away the Soong androids which really could have secured them dominance if used wisely. And of course, the intricacies of the whole political situation escaped me almost entirely.

My reaction to Piniero's death was... indifferent, again. Frankly, I'd have felt more if Wexler had been killed and then used as a traitor.

I found the character moments on the E-E much more interesting. First of all, there was no real dealing with Worf's loss. Of course, Silent Weapons occurs a couple of months after PoM, but still, save for some problems with Smrhova which were mentioned in passing (because their actual interaction was quite limited), he was pretty much sidelined to putting some of the clues together. Except for 2 or 3 mentions of Choudhury, it was like nothing ever happened - which reenforced my red-shirt point of view. I'd have wished for more here.

OTOH, I quite liked Smrhova's portrayal, but I guess her ambition and her need to prove herself, coupled with her badass attitude could lead to troubles in the near future.

I didn't quite get what Beverly's problem was. Honestly, somehow I thought *she* let it go to her head that she's "the captain"'s wife and shouldn't quite worry so much about Rene. It's not news, after all, that Picard has troubles keeping his relationship with a woman under his command and his duties as officer apart - that was the issue why he and Darren separated in "Lessons" after all. Back then, his focus was on his career. The only shift in attitude from Picard was that now he's ready to resign himself and put the relationship above his career. So, what does that tell about Beverly and her perception of their relationship? And why does she criticize Picard? After all, she could have put herself between "Piniero" and Bacco as well. And if one goes one step further: What if Rene had been there? Would she really have expected and accepted Picard sacrificing his son? This was a "Change of Heart"-kind of situation. And actually, considering that his first officer has a mark on his record for that incident with Jadzia, perhaps Picard and Beverly should have made plans to prevent such situations (not going on away missions together etc). Well, the signs are there that they will leave the E-E in the near future... Who knows what will happen then to stories set on the E-E...

Finally, I was a bit disappointed by Data's role here. I loved the way he contacted Geordi and had confidence that his former colleagues would come. Then again, save for grins, smiles and his overall human appearance his return to being the Data of old, solving puzzles, making use of his android speed, felt a bit too convenient. Especially his integration into the entirety of the Enterprise crew during the "think tank"-parts. I mean, they all know of Data, they might have heard of his return... but they don't know him and at least displayed no obvious curiosity towards him. To me that seemed a bit too much like business as usual.

I hope the 3rd part will continue Data's storyline (as the epilogue suggests it will), and in doing so be a bit more emotionally engaging than this novel. I realize that most of what I've written here is critical, but, overall, Silent Weapons is a good book. However, I'm not satisfied with good.




review originally written in 2012

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-24 14:07
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Persistence of Memory by David Mack
The Persistence of Memory - David Mack

Star Trek: TNG hasn't been on my reading list for quite some time, actually since David Mack's "Destiny"-trilogy, but when I saw the cover of this first part of his new trilogy, celebrating the 25th anniversary of TNG, I knew I had to pick it up.



Dr Soong's androids which were stored at the Daystrom Institute on Galor IV are stolen. The Enterprise, already en route to Galor IV because B-4 was on the verge of experiencing a cascade failure and Maddox requested Geordi's assistance, investigates the theft. Their sole lead, a man who also appears to have an interest in the theft and apparently can follow a cloaked ship that's suspect of having the androids on board, leads the Enterprise to a planet with a Breen research station. Worf, Choudhury and Geordi are sent on a secret mission to retrieve the missing androids. On the ground they are already expected by their lead - who turns out to be Noonien Soong. But not the Dr Soong who died in "Brothers", but a Dr Soong in perfect health and youth. And so Soong tells the away team what happened to him after the Enterprise left back then.


It took me a while to read this novel because, especially the first half of Soong's "monologue" dragged on quite a bit. It got better, though, when Soong shifted his focus from his own needs and wants to his sons', and especially after he got the news of Data's death. Then he really grew a heart and soul, and became more than just a creator of extraordinary life-forms, he became a father, willing to ultimately sacrifice everything for his children.

So, in a sense, the monologue did its job in portraying Soong's shift in perception and motivation, but its length and the 1st-person PoV just didn't quite work for me.

On to the Enterprise-part: As said above, I haven't read any of the relaunch-novels except Destiny - and I wasn't really thrilled by the E-E-parts in that trilogy, either. Maybe because (excepting Picard) there're no longer any of my favourite characters on the Enterprise, maybe because I didn't know all the background of the new characters up to Destiny... I don't know. Choudhury's sudden and senseless death didn't really affect me at all. In that situation it was obvious that she'd be the one who'd be killed because she's not a canon character where any studio/PTB etc could oppose her death for franchise-reasons. I regard any of the characters created exclusively for TrekLit as red-shirts, so, maybe that's another reason why I rarely form any attachments to those characters (the exceptions are Keru, Vaughn, and the captain of the research ship of the fleet in Children of the Storm - his name escapes me right now), come to think about it... Worf is really doomed in his relationships... but even that doesn't really affect me since he's one of my least favourite characters of all of Star Trek.

So, to sum it up, I was a bit underwhelmed up until the 90%-mark of the novel (read it on my Kindle). But I simply *loved* Data's return. Soong's sacrifice, the way Data didn't want him to sacrifice himself, the joy and wonder, especially Picard's and Geordi's, at seeing Data again, Data's doubts about who he now is... that was simply perfect.

Despite all his strengths, Data now is as fallible and perhaps torn as everyone else. And that offers plenty of opportunities to explore him. For example, to what lengths will he go in order to revive Lal? Will he step over the line now in order to get Vaslovik to at least spill how he revived Julianna?

So, consider me hooked at least for the remaining parts of Cold Equations.
review originally written in 2012
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