© 2007 Geoffrey Thorne
While exploring a dark-matter nebula, the USS Titan receives a distress call from her sister-ship Charon. Braving inexplicable subspace turbulence, Titan proceeds through darkness to find a topsy-turvy solar system where people live in terror of a god whose eye haunts their sky and rains down destruction at the slightest provocation. Sword of Damocles is more a high-concept book than Taking Wing (political/action thriller) and Orion's Hounds (scientific/adventure thriller): the plot is driven by a magnificent distortion in the space-time continuum, one involving temporal mechanics and multidimensional shenanigans. The book begins with its own epilogue, and the plot is similarly contorted, told from multiple perspectives within time and dimensions. As fascinating as the story was, trying to wrap my head around the central idea left me making "o_O" faces at the book, a face not relieved by my perusing of articles on tesseracts.
Though the scientific paradox at work takes up most of the book, Thorne also engages in a good bit of character development, focusing on some of my favorite characters (Commander Christine Vale and Cadet Dukal, the ship's resident Cardassian). He uses two characters -- a mystic Bajoran scientist named Jaza and a strictly rational ensign who sees faith as 'perverse' -- to explore the relationship between science and religion, though it's a timid venture and not altogether successful. Both characters lacked the nuance necessary for an effective take on that subject, though I enjoyed seeing their friendship grow throughout the book. It's not as though they had much of a choice in the matter, given that they had been thrown thousands of years into the past and were mucking around the ruins of a Luna-class ship, ostensibly the Titan.
Sword offers an interesting story and a fair bit of character development in a mind-twisting setting. Definitely memorable and mostly enjoyable, though I'm hoping for a little lighter fare next time. This is apparently Thorne's first full-length novel: strong first showing, I'd say.