"Star Trek: Destiny" Review


It goes without saying that I love Star Trek. I 'll proudly say that I 've watched every movie, every episode, of every series. Yes, even Voyager, although by the end I felt I was doing so on principle. I 've read a couple of Star Trek novels in my youth, but they were never a big part of my fandom.

Star Trek is not without it 's warts. It 's a very American-centric show despite it 's multi-cultural ethos. (Another blogger aptly described it as where "...the US way of life has conclusively won.") Ethnic stereotypes often bleed through the depiction of aliens. Plots often hinge on strawman depictions. All of this is doubly so for Star Trek novels. The writing quality, while never a high bar, is often lower in these licensed works.

I came across the novel trilogy, Star Trek: Destiny while randomly reading articles on Memory Alpha, and its sister site, Memory Beta. I had been conducting some light research into the history and origin of the Borg. The television shows and films make no solid claim as to the beginnings of Trek 's ultimate foe. We are left with the impression that they began as a completely organic species that progressively took on more and more cyberization. At some point in their distant past, this cultural fad became a virulent quest for perfection that was taken to the stars through brutal assimilation.

Destiny, however,spells out just what happened while managing to fold in an explanation for the uncomfortable existence of the Borg Queen.

Approximately 16 months after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, in 2381, many of the characters we 've come to know in the television shows have moved on. Riker has left the Enterprise to take up the captaincy of the USS Titan. Worf has left DS9 and the Klingon homeworld to become Picard 's first officer. Ezri Dax, through actions taken in previous novels set in the same universe, has found herself the captain of the USS Aventine, a highly experimental Luna class starship. Many of the characters have paired up -- Riker with Troi, Picard with Crusher -- and are trying to start families. And then, the Borg show up. Only this time, assimilation is abandoned for wholesale destruction of entire worlds.

200 years earlier, Captain Erika Hernandez and the crew of the NX-02 find themselves without warp drive or subspace communications. They hatch a plan to overdrive their Impulse Engines to reach the nearest habitable planet and encounter an astonishingly advanced race, the Caeliar. Upon arriving, however, the landing party is informed they are now permanent guests of the reclusive aliens.

The trilogy jumps between multiple points in time to convey the story. Initially, the story jumps between the 2380s, and the 2150s. Eventually, a disaster occurs that scatters the characters in several places in the past. While this sounds like a jarring way to tell a story, I actually consider it one of the better examples of it being done. Each instance you jump to another time period, there 's a sense of strong correlation with the events being described. It blends together in a nice way that communicates the tale effectively.

While I don 't want to give away too much (read the articles on Memory Beta if you want a complete synopsis, Gods of Night, Mere Mortals, Lost Souls), the trilogy depicts the origin of the Borg as something that is comprehensible and finally brings some damned sanity to the madding presence of the Borg Queen. So much so that after reading, I consider the origin depicted by Destiny to be canon.

While the story is actually quite interesting, the writing itself fails in a number of ways. As I laid out at the beginning of the post, the bar for Star Trek novels isn 't the highest. There 's always an amount of poor writing, and fannish devotion to the franchise. Destiny is no different. The prose often comes across as an attempt to novelize an existing episode of TNG or DS9. There are blocks of exposition stuffed in that never seem to feel like they fit. Yes, exposition can fit, but it takes a deft hand to make it work. The choice of prose often left me wanting to find the author and take away his thesaurus. Or worse, threaten to bludgeon him with it while shouting, "It 's okay to use plain words a few times in the same paragraph!" Thankfully, this problem is worse in the first book and improves in the latter two installments.

The actions of the characters also leaves something to be desired. Nothing Picard, Troi, or Riker does in this story feels like it 's something they would actually do. It 's like the characters are playing themselves with a script that could have used another pass. I could say the same about Ezri Dax, but the portrayal of the character does seem like a more experienced, stablised Ezri that finally integrated with the experiences of her previous hosts.

That being said, what does work is everything about Erika Hernandez and the crew of the Columbia. Throughout the trilogy, I eagerly looked forward to the next chapter involving them. Their actions felt natural, and the prose flowed much more readily. It 's possible that the reason for this is that the writer had a blanker canvas for the characters and thus made the writing easier. To be honest, I would have far preferred much more of the story involving them and much less of the old TNG crew.

Star Trek: Destiny is actually an enjoyable read despite the warts. If you 're interested in the origin of the Borg, the mysterious Caeliar, or how Erika Hernandez came to be over 800 years old, the series is a good read.