This week the Library Computer takes in the second installment of David Mack’s Destiny trilogy, "Mere Mortals". Can this second part of this ambitious project live up to the high standard that "Gods of Night" set? (see TrekMovie review) See below to find out.
REVIEW: STAR TREK DESTINY II – MERE MORTALS
(Please Note: This review contains mild spoilers concerning the Destiny trilogy, and major spoilers concerning previous post-Nemesis novels.)
Having finished the first book in the Destiny trilogy, I wasted no time jumping into the follow-up volume, "Mere Mortals". Usually I like to break my Star Trek reading with other fiction, but Destiny is different. Mack’s writing style draws you in, and really leaves the reader hungry for more. "Mere Mortals" does not disappoint. The intricate-yet-comprehendible nature of the storyline, the vibrant characterizations, and the rich settings for the tale truly did justice to the ideals of exploration that Star Trek has always sought to extol.
Without a question, the Columbia (the NX-02 from Star Trek Enterprise) storyline is at the heart of "Mere Mortals", and explores the long-term consequences of the decisions made by the crew of the Columbia in the preceding tome. In "Mere Mortals" we are given a chance, in brushstrokes, to witness the evolution of Erika Hernandez as she lives out her life among the Caeliar, introduced in the first book in the trilogy. At the same time, we are left with open questions about her – questions that only the third book in the series will be able to answer.
"Mere Mortals" has its share of action, to be sure. During the course of the story, Captains Picard and Dax meet up, together with a massive armada of starships from throughout the quadrant, all intent on stopping the Borg… but given the way the Borg are living up to their new credo of extermination; such deployments seem, well, futile at best. Their interactions with one another provide for interesting moments, as much for their differences as the situations they find themselves in. There is a great deal of desperation aboard both the Aventine and the Enterprise (and, probably, on every other ship in the armada… well, except the Klingon ships; after all, every day is a good day to die!), and the pages of their story serve to highlight both the practical and emotional sides of the tension that desperation can cause. From a mother’s uncertain goodbye to her family, to the conversations among friends, Mack helps the reader to immerse him- or herself into the world of a starship officer whose entire existence is facing nothing short of oblivion.
Not to be forgotten is the crew of the Titan, who find themselves in their own quandary as they visit an unexplored world several months away from Federation space. Their story ends with one of the most difficult decisions of Will Riker’s career, and with Deanna Troi learning firsthand just how badly an unadvised pregnancy can bite.
Of all the stories that call out for attention in "Mere Mortals", though, it is Hernandez’s that truly steals the show. It is poetic, and in some ways evokes within me memories of the best moments of the sequels in the Rama series (the parts that Clarke actually seemed to write as opposed to Lee). Not to say that anything else is bad – there isn’t a bad page or exchange to be found in "Mere Mortals"… but the author’s ability to conjure up a story out of thin air and tell it in such breathtaking sweeps is amazing, enjoyable, and makes for a vitalizing reading experience.
Generally, follow-up books that are released in quick succession are expected (and, often, forgiven) for being weaker contributions to an ongoing storyline; but, in this instance, "Mere Mortals" hits the shelf as an even more impressive book than "Gods of Night"… and those of you who have already read "Gods of Night" realize exactly what a heady comment this is.
More info on Star Trek Destiny
Mere Mortal excerpt (Chapter 1)
Synopses for all three