Library Computer: Review of Peter David’s New Frontier: Treason February 25, 2010by John Tenuto , Filed under: Books,Review,TNG , trackback
This month Pocket Books is releasing the mass-market paperback of last year’s "Star Trek New Frontier: Treason", written by Peter David. The book is just arriving in book stores, so TrekMovie is reposting our original review. Check it out below.
REVIEW: STAR TREK: NEW FRONTIER -TREASON
Star Trek New Frontier Treason
written by Peter David
Mass-market Paperback, 448 pages (reprint of 2009 trade paperback]
[review contains spoilers for this and other past Star Trek books]
The crew of the USS Excalibur faces challenges from within and without in the newest New Frontier adventure. On board, the once loyal Dr. Selar (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) has become desperate to save her son (who is half Hermat and half Vulcan) from his medical condition of aging too quickly. Selar betrays her crew and Starfleet by stealing a patient and Robin Lefler’s infant son Cwansi in what she believes is an attempt to help her own son. Meanwhile, the crew and its current and former shipmates deal with outside threats such as attempted assassination, treachery, aliens with a unique yet dangerous goal, and personal intrigue.
In sociology’s functional theory there are the notions of manifest (intended) consequences and latent (unintended) consequences. The idea is that social policies have a duality, intended effects and unintended effects. The same could be said of the New Frontier books by Peter David. They were intended to create a line of Star Trek books where there could be lasting consequences because it involved either minor characters from the television shows, or original characters such as Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. David would be freed from the constraints of resetting everything at the end of the book which was the norm for traditional Trek texts, at least until more recently novels. "Treason" shows this notion in abundance as there are lasting repercussions to the characters. One beloved character dies. Another original character from the novels dies and a well known TV show character is disfigured. Characters such as Robin Lefler and Selar experience conversions and changes to their
All of these repercussions are amid a good narrative which features both personal and galactic intrigue and has plenty of adventure and action. While Peter David has written what is my favorite Star Trek book of all time (Imzadi), his texts recently have shown a tendency for too much humor at inappropriate times. Frankly, some of the books have been almost self referential and congratulatory pats on the back (for example, the way Captain Kathryn Janeway’s death was treated by David in his book "Before Dishonor"). However, I am happy to report that none of this is present with Treason. It is David in perfect form and readers will laugh and cry as he takes them on an emotional adventure.
However, like everything, there are latent features to the New Frontier books, and that, too is true of "Treason." The New Frontier books, and especially "Treason," are more Star Wars than Star Trek. Calhoun is definitely Han Solo meets Starfleet (perhaps he should be renamed Calhan?). The banter between Kalinda and Calhoun’s smart alec pirate son is so reminiscent of Han and Leia that it is distracting. There is too much Obi Wan Kenobi type symbolism (including a character named Cwan…ObiCwan?). It isn’t that "Treason" is devoid of Star Trek themes or ideas. It is that characters talk and act as if they belong more to the universe of Lucas than Roddenberry. Somethings go well together, but Star Wars and Star Trek and not peanut butter and chocolate. This problem is abated somewhat by the fact that many of the characters are likeable despite their flaws and there are nods to Star Trek’s history.
All of that being said, "Treason" is definitely recommended as it is exciting and intriguing. Not to be proverbial, it is a book that is difficult to stop reading because of the way David weaves the narrative together. There is a very interesting conclusion to the book and there are threads here for good sequels. For those who have not read a New Frontier book before, there are enough "pointing arrows" to help navigate this unusual version of Star Trek, although you may want to engage the IDW New Frontier comic books to get visual references for some of these characters. It is a good book to read as a "first" in the line or for those who have been fans all along. In summary, David has shown again why he is arguably the best Star Trek author, even if his New Frontier world skews to the Force. This is a recommended title.
"New Frontier Treason" (available now)
COMING IN MARCH: 3 TREK BOOKS
There is a lot more Star Trek reading coming to your book store in March. First up isthe "Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins" trade paperback collection of novellas exploring different Trek races, using the classic seven deadly sins as a framing structure. Later in March comes "Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many", the ‘oral history’ as told to Jake Sisko (via Michael A. Martin) which is a tie-in to the new massive multiplayer game Star Trek Online. And also coming in March is Margaret Wander Bonanno’s "Star Trek: Unspoken Truth", a TOS movie era novel focusing on Saavik.
For more see TrekMovie’s Updated 2010 Star Trek book schedule