Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Singular Destiny

Star Trek: A Singular Destiny
© 2009 Keith R.A. Decandido
384 pages

Only days have passed since the culmination of Destiny. The Federation and the Klingon empire, still licking their wounds from the Dominion War, have been ravaged: billions are dead, and large portions of both their fleets are destroyed or remain only as shattered hulks. Although other powers contributed ships to the Battle of the Azure Nebula,  the Borg's collective wrath (ho, ho) targeted the longtime allies. Now, overwhelmed by refugees and the detritus of war, both the Klingon chancellor and the Federation president are working overtime with too few ships to maintain a semblance of civilization.

Unlike most Star Trek books, A Singular Destiny focuses on civilians -- the Federation president, a university professor who moonlights as an diplomat, and the supervisor of a civilian mining operation. (Most civilians seen in the Star Trek and TNG shows wear strange uniforms, run science and mining posts in the middle of nowhere, and show up only when their planet or their sun is about to be destroyed in some way.) Starfleet isn't absent from the book, as Captain Ezri Dax and the Aventine's efforts tie the book's various subplots together to reveal that in the wake of the Federation and Klingon defeats, other minor nations are attempting to take advantage of the power vacuum...and the result will change Alpha-Beta quadrant politics forever.

Singular Destiny ties together the now-laid-to-rest Borg-themed TNG relaunch and the next generation of Relaunch books. In essence, it's a light political mystery in which professor/diplomat Sonek Pran sees a pattern emerging from various incidents -- mine explosions, diplomatic snubs, and trouble for the Klingon Empire after a border polity declares war on them and uses ships sporting Breen disruptor's and Romulan shields. DeCandido works Destiny into the overall continuity nicely: before sending the Aventine to Romulus,   we get a neat recap of the civil conflict and secession that resulted from the death of Shinzon: there are now two Romulan factions, the old Star Empire under Shinzon's co-conspirator, and the new Imperial Romulan State under Donatra, the captain who assisted Picard at the end of Nemesis.   DeCandido uses letters, memos, casualty reports, and news service articles to tell the story of the week following Destiny, and works subtle references to other Trek books into them. The casulty lists mention two people who are officially dead but who aren't really, referencing the events of Kirsten Beyer's Full Circle and Unworthy

A Singular Destiny was...good, though it pales beside Destiny, Full Circle, and Greater than the Sum. I knew the grand revelation beforehand, which may have spoiled my reading. The author is one of the regulars in the Relaunch series, though, so I expect I'll read more of him sooner or later. I wonder if we'll be seeing more of Pran, his...fascinating Bajoran/Vulcan/Betazoid/human character who has pointed ears, a Bajoran nose, a Vulcan's philosophical disposition, and a human kind of folksiness -- complete with slang and a banjo. According to DeCandido's annotations, he's based on Arlo Guthrie.

On a minor note, I was amused and pleased to see that Doctors without Borders is around in the 24th century. 


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