Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lost Souls

Star Trek Destiny: Lost Souls

© 2008 David Mack
453 pages

As far as cliffhangers go, I don't think I've ever encountered one as dramatic as the final pages of Mere Mortals,  the second in the Destiny trilogy, but Lost Souls' conclusion exceeds it in intensity. It is easily the most emotionally provocative Trek book I've ever read. Lost Souls begins in the horror of a general Borg invasion of the Alpha Quadrant: the Allied fleet is literally smashed to pieces, powerless against the Borg armada -- seven thousand ships strong.

Captains Picard, Dax, Hernandez, and Riker were spared from the opening moments of invasion by their own missions and perils, but regroup at the eye of the hurricane: while the Borg armada deploys in all sectors of the quadrant, attacking the Allies' worlds simultaneously, their three ships make repairs and contemplate the apocalypse. While fleets throughout the quadrant charge at the Borg fleets with a courage born of desperation,  the four captains contemplate what, if anything, can be done. They only have hours, a few days at most before every Allied planet in the Alpha quadrant have been destroyed -- but there remain still a few straws to grasp at.

The action unfolds quickly here, throughout a half-day. Although Mack's emphasis is on the struggles and actions of the four captains and their respective crews, he frequently cuts to Klingon commanders fighting holding actions  and the Federation president, who can only watch the ominous black fleets devour her worlds and advance steadily toward Andoria, Betazed, Vulcan, and Earth. Mack also takes breaks from the action to follow a group of temporal refugees, the MACOs (space Marines) from Captain Hernandez' ship, whose mutinous actions nearly destroyed the Caeliar. The squad is trapped seven thousand years in the past on a bitterly cold planet, facing death with a few members of the Caeilar who were flung into time with them. At first I thought the diversion odd, but they play a most important part in the momentous finale.

The finale is...epic, and turns an already successful story into a staggeringly well-done work. Horror is transformed into a joy and a nightmare scenario into a conclusion that is truly in the spirit of Star Trek's highest aspirations.  Lost Souls is a stunning finale, well-worthy of being read not only by Trek lit fans, but by anyone who has watched The Next Generation or Voyager enough to become interested in the Borg. I highly recommend Destiny

On the cover: Johnathan Frakes as Captain William Riker and (I assume) Ada Maris as Captain Erica Hernandez. 


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