Friday, June 14, 2013

Star Trek: A Singular Destiny (Star Trek: Destiny book 4) review



    Star Trek: A Singular Destiny is the epilogue of the Star Trek: Destiny saga. With over sixty billion sapients killed, entire worlds lit on fire, and half of Starfleet looking like Wolf 359--it's been a profoundly crap week for the Federation. Taking a novel to deal with the consequences of this immense devastation, the reactions to it, and the changes in the political landscape is an excellent move by the writers.

    The best part of the novel is, in my humble opinion, the stories of people reacting to the Borg invasion. One chapter consists entirely of listing casualties from the battles against the Borg. Another is a suicide note about a man who left his family to go to a pleasure planet only to have them die along with his entire world. Another still is the story of a Starfleet officer murdering a bunch of ex-Borg. These add context to the immense emotional toll exacted by the Borg upon Starfleet.
   
    A Singular Destiny has a number of plots coming together but they appear to, initially, be separate. How they all connect turned out to be genuinely a surprise and I applaud Keith R.A. DeCandido for managing to come up with a way to reveal the big twist without telegraphing it. I won't spoil the twist but the changes it results in are ones I am eager to explore.

    My favorite part of the book probably relates to the examination of the Romulan Civil War's aftermath. In real life, too often, the consequences of armed conflict are overlooked. People think of the death toll in purely military terms without thinking about the resulting casualties from famine or disease. It's interesting to see how the Romulan State splitting in two affects things, resulting in an almost a North Korea-like situation for one. Sadly, said state is doomed as its heart will be annihilated within a few in-universe years thanks to JJ Abrams.

    A character I particularly enjoyed was the teacher/ambassador, Sonek Pran. While this character seems to have been set up to be deliberately "quirky" (he plays the banjo amongst other things) he actually serves as a nice embodiment of the Federation's values. A multi-species academic and peace-maker who is loathe to use violence--he's wonderfully evocative of what the UFP wants to be. While I think he persuades certain characters a little too easily of what he wants them to do, it's nice to see diplomacy (as opposed to phasers) work for a change.

    Another element I enjoyed was the Kinshaya and their war against the Klingon Empire. This is where I'm going to turn off a lot of my readers by saying I love the Klingons but I prefer them as villains. Don't misunderstand, The Undiscovered Country was awesome, but they're a vicious gang of killers who get too often romanticized. The Kinshaya, a race of griffon-like religious theocrats, had my full support when they went to war with the Klingon Empire during this book. They seem entirely in the right given what we know of Klingon conquest policies.

     Oddly, the part of the book which moved me the most was one Star Trek rarely touches on: a tribute to religion. Using the Bajorans, who exist so Star Trek can deal with issues of religion without touching on Gene Roddenberry's vision too much, it takes about how people of faith and those without it both come together in the aftermath of crises seeking answers. As a person of faith, it left me feeling touched. People are free to believe as they want but its important to note everyone is seeking comfort and we shouldn't lose hope for a better world.

    Am I entirely satisfied with the way this book works out? Not quite. I would have liked to have seen more of the political fallout from the Borg invasion. Hearing about survivors having to deal with the loss of their homes and planets would have been potentially traumatizing but I suspect the author was up to the challenge. Likewise, I would have liked to have known about how people felt about the revelation the Borg were partially the creation of humanity.

     In conclusion, I'm really impressed by this book and think it's an excellent wrap-up for Destiny while also a great jumping-on point for the post-Destiny Star Trek EU. I applaud the author's work and hope to see more from him in the future.

9/10

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