25 June 2012

Book 15 of 2010

15) Star Trek: Destiny #1 - Gods of Night by David Mack
There are four concurrent stories going on during the first part of this trilogy. First, the USS Columbia must deal with the consequences of a surprise Romulan attack in 2168. Second, third, and fourthly, the Borg are going nuts in 2381: Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew are on the front lines, Captain Riker and the Titan crew are on an exploration mission far from the battle, and Captain Dax (...WHAT?) and the Aventine crew have been tasked with investigating how the Columbia  crashed in the Gamma Quadrant two hundred years ago as a means of trying to discover a new tactic to combat the Borg.

My Star Trek mania in my high school years ran deep. And, trust me, I did myself no favors socially by loving Star Trek as much as I did. One time, I wore a Star Trek: Deep Space 9 t-shirt and two of my friends shunned me for the entire lunch period. Granted, those two weren't really great friends and that incident was indicative of larger problems at the foundation of the friendship (which didn't last much longer after that school year), but even that event didn't stop me from still loving Star Trek. A big part of my mania for the franchise involved reading the books.

Since I grew up on The Next Generation series and Deep Space 9, for my money, is the best Trek series ever produced, I found myself really intrigued when I saw a new novel pop up in the iBooks bookstore. It was based in the years following Star Trek: Insurrection, a movie that wasn't really good, but focused on characters beyond the Enterprise crew and involving the DS9 cast. However, that book's plot followed up on the events from this series, which brings together a host of characters across the four modern Trek series: TNG, DS9, Enterprise and...ugh...Voyager. But it's not all bad! Janeway is dead! Any series where Janeway is dead and Dax is captain instead can't be terrible! Plus, what better way to not feel woefully inadequate at meeting my 2012 reading goal than with a couple of popcorn Star Trek books?

It feels like there should be a huge quality line dividing a licensed novel from run-of-the-mill fan fiction that's available anywhere on the Internet. Often that line exists in the execution of the writing: a story idea might sound great but the author gets so bogged down in the minutiae of reference and flowery language that the writing suffers. Elmore Leonard once wrote a series of tips for writers, the most important being "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it" Holy crap, does David Mack's writing sound like WRITING. From over-the-top and unnecessary vocabulary to self-impressed descriptions of majestic scenery, there are many times when Mack could really benefit from getting to the point. However, when he does get to the point, the writing is banal and mundane with a ton of fan service wanking references.

The end streamlines the stories down from four plotlines to three, which should help things. There does seem to be an intriguing story here underneath all of the writing, enough so that I'd like to continue the series. Were it not for the fact that I dig the characters and the universe so much, though, dealing with the quality of writing would not be an option.

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