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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than The Sum by Christopher L. Bennett

01/02/2010. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than The Sum in the USA - or Buy Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than The Sum in the UK

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pub: Simon and Schuster. 353 page paperback. Price: 6.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US), $ 6.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84739-277-0.

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Resistance is futile! The Borg are back to plague Picard and his new crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. First, though, they attack the starship Rhea which is investigating odd quantum energies in a certain sector of the galaxy where warp travel is made difficult by multiple sub-space anomalies. I'm not quite sure what quantum energies or sub-space anomalies are and I am clueless about plasma which can be reversed, up-ended and turned inside out by Geordi La Forge to do almost anything. It matters not. This vocabulary merely provides the setting for the story and the characters.

As usual with 'Star Trek' books there are new characters introduced to accompany the old favourites. There is now a breed of security officer who don't like hurting people, which is a bit off putting to Mister Worf. Jasminder Choudhury blends eastern mysticism with far eastern martial arts in her defensive philosophy. Her assistant, Rennan Konya, is a Betazoid empath who hates violence and really feels it when he hurts someone. Key to the story is Lieutenant T'Ryssa Chen - a half-Vulcan who has completely rejected all notions of logic and emotional control to be a fun, free happy spirit. She spends quite a lot of her time naked, so I look forward to the movie. When the Rhea is assaulted by Borg, she is whisked instantaneously across the galaxy to safety in a quantum slipstream generated by an alien super-being. When she tells Starfleet the Borg are back, Picard and Doctor Crusher, now married, are sent off with the Enterprise to prevent the Borg getting their hands on quantum slipstream technology, hopefully by persuading the awesome alien life-form that has it to take their side. Action and adventure are inevitable.

Apart from Black Omne, featured in 'Star Trek' books by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, the Borg are my favourite 'Star Trek' villains and certainly the best on the silver screen. Judging by the number of appearances in the various shows, they are a favourite of other fans. too. I suppose there is something about the fear of losing your individuality that strikes a deep chord in our self-centred society.

Familiarity with the history of past Borg encounters is useful as they are often referenced. Happily, all the 'Star Trek' shows are endlessly repeated on cable TV now so it is not hard to catch up, especially if you're unemployed or have afternoons off. However, background knowledge is not essential to follow the plot.

Christopher L. Bennett has produced a competent yarn that upholds the traditions and values of Starfleet and of Simon and Schuster pocketbooks which continues endlessly to produce new volumes in this lucrative franchise. It's lucrative because they get good writers to tell good stories - not brilliant, original, awesome, classic or anything - but good. For a different take on the threat of collective mentalities one might pick up 'Hellstrom's Hive' by Frank Herbert of 'Dune' fame. It's not franchise fiction but it's okay. (Have some irony, it's good for the blood.)

Eamonn Murphy

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