Pocket Books, out now
Will Riker has two major problems: the secession of Andor from the Federation means that his Andorian crew are to be removed, and the perils of the Vela Pulsar – and the secrets of the planet Ta’ith at its heart…
Slowly but surely catching up with the machinations of the 23rd Century Star Trek timeline brings me to this Titan entry from 2012, set shortly after the initial Titan Pact books and the shock move by Andor to leave the Federation. Out in the Beta Quadrant, you’d think that the Titan would be safely out of the way, but now the Federation has slipstream technology, Will isn’t quite as removed from events as he could be.
The diversity of the crew of the ship is now taken for granted by the authors of the series (which frankly is how it should be), and so a plotline derived from one of their species has connotations that wouldn’t perhaps appear in other Trek novels. An encounter with an Andorian vessel (with some rather dangerous allies on board), as well as a rendezvous with another Federation ship lead to Riker finding an interesting solution – although not realising that his problem has in fact multiplied.
The other plotline, on and around the planet, is a little more predictable, leading to discussions of the Prime Directive, and rather too quick a resolution to some of the moral dilemmas that Tuvok has been facing. (Yes, they take the book to be resolved, but I seriously expected this to be an underlying thread for some time to come.) The idea of a gestalt entity isn’t a new one to the Titan line, let alone Star Trek in general, and this doesn’t really do anything particularly new with it.
Martin’s style is pared back compared with some of his other recent work (notably his Enterprise: Romulan War novels), and this works to the benefit of the story. He’s clearly more at ease with this crew than some others, and it all makes for his most polished work in some time.
Verdict: A good combination of a Titan-style hard SF story and the contemporary politics of the Federation. 7/10