For centuries, the planet Eerlik has had a thriving civilization, completely run, maintained, and administered by a giant sentient computer. But now that computer is breaking down and the desperate inhabitants are helpless to repair the damage. Only the crew of the U.S.S. da Vinci, accompanied by Geordi La Forge, can hope to fix the massive computer before the Eerlikkan society collapses entirely. Their mission grows more dangerous, however, when they discover evidence of sabotage — and learn firsthand that hostile forces will do whatever it takes to stop Gold and his crew from saving the imperiled planet!
Straight off the bat I’ve got to say that this story is so much better than the last; just at setting up our main crew and cast. Yes Geordi and Scotty are still here but Scotty serves to give us a bit more on Captain Gold as he chats with someone not under his command about something other than the mission at hand. Meanwhile Geordi isn’t just filling page space here but is serving to give us a look into the head space of Sonya Gomez a woman who until now was known only for spilling hot chocolate on Captain Picard. Don’t worry if you didn’t remember that fact about her as they make sure to bring it up here as though it was the only bit of lore they had on her. Which until this point was true. I’m sure if I went back to New Frontier they would bring up Shelby’s experience with the Borg but I feel like that makes more sense than bringing up one snafu from ten years ago as though she has done nothing since then. No drunken nights, no dates she regrets, no accidental over sleeping. It’s stuff like this that makes it feel like they had just grabbed some unknown extra and added her into their book for some ‘member berries. Something I’m not a fan of.
Sorry I was being positive wasn’t I? The thing is we use her better in the rest of the book by having her bristle about having her old boss running around on top of the somewhat guilt of now being past him on the command chain. Heck we bring Bart into this book after what I think was a name drop in the last episode and I now think I’ll remember his name for part three. He’s a kind compassionate person with a partner off ship and an erratic sleeping patter. This is more than I learnt about anyone last episode and he’s someone, that I’m fairly certain, is brand new for the book. He’s not even part of the mission but just someone to give 110 someone to talk to after the death of their partner last episode.
One thing I do like with this direct we seem to be taking 110 is that we’re not exploring the species, going forward, but exploring the character; perhaps even better than we did with Worf when TNG first started. Yes there is talk of societal pressure on him to re-bond after the loss of their mate but by having him go against this it feels like we’re not just holding him up as the token Bynar for all to follow.
As for the plot of the book we again balance the technobabble nicely by not having the away team just beam down and talk through the problem at hand. Instead they quickly realise the idea of treachery and have a rather tense, and well written, climb down to the central core where they can make things right. Of course in this way you again wonder how engineering this book is going to be and again it does feel a little like this ship could be given to any Starfleet crew. This plot could slot in nicely into most series of TNG or Voyager. I understand the tight rope that needs walking here as I’m already complaining about technobabble in both my reviews, thus far, even though there really hasn’t been any but I can’t help but wonder if we had dropped the title the series could have done more. Medical disasters, politics, murder mysteries that writers in the future will have to jump through hoops to make work in this series. I complained for many years that a lot of Voyager scripts felt like they were simple rejects from TNG but I only did that because they were stranded light years from home. Excalibur is doing it’s own thing and the idea of a series following a crew going round inside federation space keeping things ticking over sounds fine to me. It’s something they will try to do with the crew of the Enterprise once Nemesis had landed; and they spent nine books trying to clean it up. It’s something that they tried to do with DS9 but the whole thing was too connected and epic to draw new readers in. Voyager has had two stabs at it but again that’s on the other side of the galaxy and I haven’t read enough of them to comment. This is something I wished they had done with Dax Aventine following Destiny but instead we’re just keeping her knocking around for the next crossover event because the Star Trek books seem to have just become Marvel. Or at least they had. Now I’m not sure what they’re doing.
Still none of this is relevant to the book I’m supposed to be reviewing and maybe it’s because there’s not much to say. It’s a solid little follow up with a decent new alien species that feels just fleshed out enough to be real without taking up too many lines in the book. There’s a bit of hand waving going on, that you just have to take, with this peaceful species able to take down a ship from the federation which has just been in a long and bloody war. However I felt this was fine for the sake of the plot and some drama overall. Maybe it just stuck out after the rather unique space combat from episode one.