01/01/2012. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy
pub: Simon and Schuster/Pocket Books. 370 page paperback. Price: GBP 6.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US), $ 9.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4165-2694-0).
check out websites: www.simonandschuster.co.uk , www.startrekbooks.com and www.startrek.com
The Starship Titan is commanded by our old chum Riker and his lovely wife, Deanna Troi. It has a crew which includes many aliens who have left behind their own meagre cultures to embrace the infinite diversity of Starfleet. These include Bralik - a Ferengi geologist, Nazem Jaza - a Bajoran engineer, Ensign Torvik - a cybernetically enhanced Choblik, Doctor Ra-Havreii - a genius hedonist Efrosian and others. Prose fiction allows more diversity in aliens as actors don‘t have to play them, which is good, but there are, perhaps, too many new characters in this book. At times, it is hard to remember how many arms and legs someone has when he or she is talking.
Titan is a deep space exploration vessel and as the story begins, our heroes are in a region they have nicknamed Occultis Ora which has exotic matter plasmids, areas of dark matter invisible to the naked eye in orbit around a neutron star. Oddly, this all goes for nothing as Titan receives a distress call from another starship, the U.S.S. Charon, and hares off to help. The trouble comes from a planet called Orisha which is circled by a celestial body called the Eye, worshipped and feared by the Orishans as a god who watches over them constantly. Time and space are folded oddly around the planet and it sends out pulses of warp energy that nearly destroy Titan. A shuttlecraft is launched and crashlands on the planet after which most of the book is dedicated to the adventures of its crew and their encounters with the Orishans.
The novel largely focuses on new characters not familiar from the television screen. Riker and Troi are bit parts, as is Tuvok who is Chief Tactical and Security officer on the bridge of Titan. However, the lack of familiar characters was one factor that prevented the easy reading one normally associates with ‘Star Trek’ books. Easy reading was further hampered by the wordiness. Perhaps feeling that space travel in the 23rd century is not dissimilar to sea travel in the 19th century, the author has decided to write in the style of Joseph Conrad, more or less. There is a lot of detail. The books of Joseph Conrad are very easy to put down and quite hard to pick up again but worth the effort of doing so. ‘Sword Of Damocles’ is similar, ultimately, but it’s quite a struggle.
Annoyingly, to me, Geoffrey Thorne concludes with a chapter in which several characters meet up and have relationship dénouements post-adventure. So ‘he’ is walking through the woods and encounters somebody and ‘she’ does this or that. There are several of these incidents in the closing chapter and the he or she is not identified by name. Mister Thorne believes that the characters were so gripping throughout that the merest hint is enough to identify them at the end. He is wrong. This kind of arty obfuscation is not suitable to popular literature and it would have been better to drop names. It was an irritating conclusion to a book that wasn’t easy in the first place.
A sincere, well-crafted and dedicated effort by a worthy author but perhaps a bit heavy for franchise fiction. We pick up ‘Star Trek’ for easy reading and familiar characters. If I want heavy literature I’ll pick up…well, Conrad. I fear Mister Thorn has the urge to write a serious novel and he should certainly go forth and do so but perhaps not in this format.
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