Musings of a fandom geek

Sometimes, you’ve just got to say “The laws of time and space? Who gives a smeg?”

Review – “To be regarded in his own age as a classic…”

Posted by Michael Warren on January 22, 2009

A Singular DestinySo, Destiny has reshaped the state of the Star Trek universe. And now, the ripples from that catastrophic trilogy are beginning to spread. A Singular Destiny is the first novel to explore this new horizon – and it sets the seeds for the next two years’ worth of stories.

Did it live up to expectations? Find out below…

Ever since ASD was announced, I’ve been looking forward to its release, particularly since Keith R.A. DeCandido described it as “Clancy-esque” (I’ve been a fan of Tom Clancy ever since I read Red October at about age ten – well, of everything up until The Bear and the Dragon, anyway… but that’s an entirely different post). It’s a rare beast, this – a political thriller – which, like Clancy’s work, fits a lot of apparently unconnected events into a grand tapestry that leaves us hurtling along with the story.

It’s a few months after the end of Lost Souls, and the devastation isn’t going anywhere. Across the galaxy, empires and civilizations are struggling to rebuild, and to cope with the enormous refugee crisis that has accompanied the Borg invasion. Supplies are shorter, fleet resources are scarce, and hungry eyes are focusing on those weakened by invasion.

As the first book in the sequence helpfully titled “Cleaning Up Mack’s Mess”, A Singular Destiny has a lot to deal with. But, by not tying the story to any of the main casts, DeCandido is once again able to encompass a larger portion of the Star Trek universe, and address issues that have a more wide-ranging impact. After such a universe-affecting event like Destiny, this is exactly the book to follow it – showing how that universe as a whole is affected, instead of focusing on the effects on one small group of people.

Blending in between chapters are snippets of various documents, transcripts, and other material – along the lines of DeCandido’s work in the Shards and Shadows story “Family Matters” (of which, more soon) – to further establish the situation the Star Trek universe finds itself in. And these aren’t just throwaway asides, either – two in particular have major impact, one (between Chapters 7 and 8 ) especially so, which had me cursing DeCandido rather loudly for being such a magnificent bastard… 😀

The new character we are presented with, Sonek Pran, is very much in the Jack Ryan mould – the man in the middle of it all, slowly piecing things together to realise the full scope of what’s unfolding. Being a brand new character thrown straight into the narrative, there is always the danger of appearing far too good to be true; whilst there are brief moments the character grates, it never gets to the point where the character appears larger than life – there’s no convoluted past relationship with every major character, nor endless discussions about his history (the bits that do appear are relevant to the plot, or right at the start, when the character is introduced) – or overpowers the storyline.

Throwing more focus on newly-promoted Captain Ezri Dax and the Aventine is a good move, since we didn’t get a huge amount of time in Destiny to explore this new ship and her crew. The continuing look at the political figures of the Federation – established by DeCandido in A Time for War, A Time for Peace, and explored still further in the wonderful Articles of the Federation (to which there is a minor callback – or, at least, an addressing of a continuity question that resulted from AotF and Before Dishonor) – helps to further develop the universe. And there are lots of wonderful little hints about, and cameos by, familiar characters, in some cases pushing their individual stories forward a little bit more since we last saw them.

The Kinshaya intrigued me – hopefully, we’ll get to explore them a bit more in the coming novels.

So, now we have a new power on the scene – the Typhon Pact – who outnumber, outgun and surround the Federation. Now, my hope is that we don’t just dive back into another war in 2010 when The Typhon Pact miniseries begins, but that we get a tale of political machinations and a cold war. Personally, I think that bouncing from crisis to crisis can get a little bit tiresome – note the ongoing discussions in the comic book world about “event fatigue” – and something a bit different could be called for this time around.

All in all, though, this is another strong novel from DeCandido – poignant, witty, exciting, and heartfelt. It leaves you wanting to know more about what’s coming next – and the handy release schedule on the inside back cover certainly helps with that!


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