Library Computer: Review of “Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many” + more Trek book news | TrekMovie.com
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Library Computer: Review of “Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many” + more Trek book news March 31, 2010

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Books,Review,Star Trek Online , trackback

The ambitious new book "Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many" from ‘Jake Sisko’ and Michael A. Martin is arriving at book stores now. Pocket books uses an interesting format to tell the backstory for the new MMORPG Star Trek Online. Find out how it works out in our review below. Plus we have some news on Martin’s next Trek books.

 

REVIEW

Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many

Massmarket Paperback – 432 pages
Written by Michael A. Martin & Jake Sisko
[available at Amazon - $7.99] 

 

[SPOILERS ]

 

"Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many" is one of the more ambitious Star Trek books in years. CBS and Pocket Books are to be applauded for not only creating a first of its kind tie-in to the new Star Trek Online game, but to also offer a book in such an interesting format. "Needs of the Many" tells the story of the Undine War (that is the war between the Federation and various empires of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants versus those tripods formerly known as Species 8472). But it is not a normal Star Trek novel, but presented as a sort of ‘oral history’ series of interviews, very much in the style of Studs Terkel’s "The Good War: An Oral History of World War II", or Max Brook’s "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War."  In this case we have the oral history of the Undine War as told to Jake Sisko, explaining why Sisko gets an author credit on the book’s cover.

The conceit of "Needs of the Many" is that it is being written decades after the Undine War and the events of Star Trek Online. The book contains a series of interviews from many different perspectives on the war, from the front-line grunts to ivory tower academics. Along the way we meet new characters and many familiar faces, including Worf, Vic Fontaine, Kasidy Yates, Garak, Geordi La Forge, Seven of Nine, Quark, and Admiral Janeway. There are also interviews with some less well-known, but previously seen characters like Bruce Maddox (from "Measure of a Man") and agents Lucsley and Dulmur from the Department of Temporal Investigations ("Trials and Tribble-ations").

You may have noticed a mention of Janeway and wonder "but wasn’t she killed off in a book? Yes she was, but Star Trek Online, and therefore "Needs of the Many" exist in a bit of a continuity pretzel, especially for regular readers of the Star Trek novels. The game is set in the ‘Prime Universe’ of 2409 and adheres to some of the post-Nemesis 24th century novels, but not all of them. Although there is a nod to the pivotal Destiny series, STO and this book essentially ignore those events (most notably the elimination of the Borg). To make things even more complex, the game and the book do adhere to events of the "Star Trek Countdown" comic book prequel to the 2009 Star Trek movie. This means that Data is alive too. In fact, the morality of transforming B-4 into Data is analyzed in interesting interviews with Bruce Maddox and Geordi LaForge.

"Needs of the Many" takes on a big challenge by trying to bring readers up to speed on the events between Star Trek Nemesis and the setting of Star Trek Online, covering three decades. That means that within each of the interviews there is a lot of exposition going on. Along the way you learn much about the transforming big political picture of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, but also the events in the lives of some of our favorite heroes. And for any Trek fan, that is a lot of fun. This is especially important for players of Star Trek Online, who learn much about how the shifting alliances have resulted into the Klingon and Federation factions we see in the game. But we also learn the very human toll the Undine War has had, with their pernicious infiltrations into all corners of the Federation and beyond.

However, all of that exposition often comes at the price of character. The number of voices in this ‘oral history’ is vast, but the visit with each is fairly brief. And with so many voices, Martin sometimes struggles with getting the feeling right for some of these well-known characters. Of course, we are meeting them at a later stage in their lives, but it is hard to buy that the Undine War has changed these characters so much. This was especially true with Worf and Garak, who both come off as borderline deranged. And sometimes it appears that Martin will manipulate the spirit of a character just to make a political point, like having Vic Fontaine singing a civil rights song to celebrate holographic rights. But many of the characters ring true, such as the interviews with Seven, Janeway and Geordi.

In the end, although it is overly long and a bit repetitive at times, "Needs of the Many" accomplishes its task well. The reader gets fully briefed on the backstory for Star Trek Online and also picks up lots of easter eggs tied into actual missions from the game. The book is recommended to any Trek fan playing the game, or those considering the game. If you have no interest in Star Trek Online, "Needs of the Many" is a bit of a mixed bag, but still an interesting read. The unique format and diverse cast of characters is worth checking out for book readers who can handle a bit of divergence with their continuities.

 

"Star Trek `Online: The Needs of the Many" is arriving at book stores this week and is available now at Amazon.


[available at Amazon]

 

BOOK NEWS: Martin talks upcoming Trek books

In a new interview with Unreality SF, "Needs of the Many" author Michael A. Martin talks about his new Star Trek Online book, and also reveals what he has coming up. Martin discusses his 2009 book "Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor’s Wing" at length, but calls it the "first segment" for the story of the war and reveals there will be "at least one more Romulan War book." Martin also discusses the "Needs of the Many" book (reviewed above), saying he hopes it will also just be the first of a series, but that will depend on sales. The author says that he has already proposed a follow-up book tied to STO, but it would be "more of a traditional novel" as opposed to the interview style of "Needs of the Many". Martin also discusses his upcoming Titan Typhon Pact novel "Seize the Fire" which has a big Gorn component. Read the full interview for the details.

Martin’s "Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor’s Wing" is available now, and "Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire" comes out in November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

  

 

Comments

1. Mark - March 31, 2010

World War Z was a great book…looking forward to the movie

2. That One Guy - March 31, 2010

I do love the books. The way they’ve made it into one big timeline has actually convinced my brother who’s a big Star Wars book person to finally pick a few of these up. After I showed him the “A Time To…” series, he’s been hooked.

The ONLY book I have not liked lately is “Before Dishonor” which was possibly the single biggest piece-of-crap-of-a-book that I have ever read in my life…. And I love Peter David. But what the FRAK was that?!

But aside from that monstrosity, I truly am loving every paragraph of the written Trek Universe. Though, I hope they come out with a “Full Circle”-like novel for DS9. I really liked how they tied Voyager in to the “present.” Hopefully the Typhon Pact book will do the same, or maybe they’ll come out with another at some point.

2010 and 11 are going to be great years for Trek lit. Also, can’t wait for the new Myriad and Mirror Universe books.

3. Bill Williams - March 31, 2010

I’m currently reading “The Needs of the Many” and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I got past the whole Janeway return subplot, and I’m like, WTF is up with that??? I wish this could be addressed in a novel down the road – still haven’t gotten through all of “Before Dishonor” and the other TNG Borg novels yet (reading them right now).

4. Pointy-Eared Dyale - March 31, 2010

I want to say I’m not sure if I’ll pick this one up or not…. I’m not playing the game, but might in the future. But to be honest, I buy 95% of the ST books, and will no doubt get this one too… :)

5. Bryan - March 31, 2010

Just finished it today, I loved it and couldn’t put it down. The segment with Dulmer and Lucsly was very clever.

6. Bucky - March 31, 2010

Do they say why Janeway is alive or just ignore it altogether? I can actually buy the Borg coming back from “Destiny” because they’re the frickin’ Borg. They’re like cockroaches.

7. Commander Crooner - April 1, 2010

The Destiny trilogy books were excellent, if breezy to read. I loved how they tied up the Borg story that has been running since early TNG. It was a gratifying way to tie up years of devotion to the Star Trek universe, using the version of ST that introduced me not only to Star Trek, but Sci-Fi in general.

Now, if only Star Trek Online had been developed with the knowledge of the books. Oh well, continuity lost…

8. James Durdan - April 1, 2010

I’m glad that Anthony picked up on the forced political voices in the book. Unfortunatly it’s a fairly common occurance in Mr. Martin’s books. I remember that I was reading the first Romulan War novel the same week the White House announced the gutting for the NASA budget. I came across a mention in the book of a UESPA earth station called Obama. It took me out of the story for a second or two thinking that as of now that would probably never happen. It dates the book, horribly.

9. Maggie - April 1, 2010

Killing off Janeway was seriously idiotic….lol. What on earth were they thinking. However, she is in the Continuum so can easily be bought back. Also, I don’t regard the books as cannon so for me, she’s not really dead anyway.

10. Bill Williams - April 1, 2010

Unfortunately, neither Martin nor the Cryptic team have bothered to explain how Janeway returned – it’s voila, there she is! Cryptic’s take is, let’s ignore the whole TNG Borg storyline, the “Destiny” trilogy, and the after-effects in the post-“Destiny” VOY novels, and include her in the game. This makes no sense whatsoever. Yet it’s ironic that the game would seemingly fit within the Shatnerverse, given that Janeway is alive and well in “Captain’s Blood” and “Captain’s Glory”. Go figure.

That’s the whole thing, what’s canon and what’s not. Apparently Cryptic considers the “Countdown” comic prequel and the J.J. Abrams film canon, given the “B-4 turns into Data” subplot that’s expanded into both sources, so someone should at the very least explain how they got Janeway back alive and well for STO.

11. Bill Williams - April 1, 2010

I should clarify that last paragraph to refer to “both sources” as “Countdown” and STO. Sorry for the confusion there!

12. Ben - April 1, 2010

I can’t wait for the next ENT Romulan War book.

13. Eli - April 1, 2010

The whole “holographic rights” thing is so stupid on it’s face. All you have to do is turn off the power and good-bye holograms!

At least androids like Data have a foot to stand on, considering they are entirely self-sufficient. But when you need a holo-matrix to keep your physical form projected, or an electronic armband running off a futuristic watch battery to keep you running, it’s harder for me to believe that you’re a true life-form. And if you are a life form, as soon as that futuristic watch battery dies or you’re the victim of a black-out, sorry, you’re now a dead hologram.

At least the funerals are cheaper when there’s no real bodies to bury…

14. I'm dead Jim - April 1, 2010

The B-4 into Data plot was going to happen anyway before Countdown used it, if they had made any more TNG movies. I thought it was painfully obvious at the end of Nemesis.

15. I'm dead Jim - April 1, 2010

@13: I kinda agree with you. But take oxygen, or various other forms of sustenance, away from us and we’re just as dead and smell even worse. ;-)

16. Franklin - April 1, 2010

First off Star Trek online doesn’t need to explain Janeway being alive because Star Trek online takes place in a more canon continuity. It borrows ideas from some of the novels, but ignores the rest. As far as I am concerned the fact that Leonard Nimoy participated in Trek Online makes it canon. The Borg war concept was horrible and fan boyish. I love the Typhon Pact concept though. I just hated the Borg War and see no canon value to the Trek Novels Before Dishonor and everything afterward

17. Milka - April 1, 2010

@10

What’s canon for you, isn’t canon for another. Cryptic chose their sources and made a story of their own. In their universe Janeway is there, in yours she isn’t.

I don’t see the problem.

18. Bryan - April 1, 2010

@10

Bill I thought they explained it in the Dulmer and Lucsly segment. Star Trek Online takes place in a separate timeline from the novels

19. MorbidGorn - April 1, 2010

Just got my STO novel.

And yeah I agree with #18, STO takes place in another timeline. A timeline where the Borg War did not occur and the war against the Undine did.

Thank you TNG episode “Parallels” for making all this so easy to explain.

20. Garm Bel Iblis - April 1, 2010

I posted this over at trekbbs, going to paste it here

*ok i started this last night…. i dunno…i’m only a few dozen pages in, it just seems irritating when such a peacenik writes a war story…Stiles is all “Boo yah, I”m a marine!” I’ve never met a cocky soldier like that, i dunno.

*Its the sterotype that all soldiers are thickheaded grunts. I HATE it. That’s probaly why i hated Avatar so much. oh well, I’ve put down hard cash, I’m going to press on, I’ll try and be ready for the “George W. Bush Prison Planet” or the perhaps Risa has been renamed Obama. We shall see.

*That’s what happens when Code Pink writes the war stories.

I’m also gettin’ real tired of “oh please don’t call your enemy by slang names, its inapropriate.”

I believe this book has produced an emotional response. I think I hate it.

*Ok, i hate to make this a list of criticisms,but Jake just met with Vic Fontaine and Vic refereed to himself as a lightbulb.

JAKE SEES THIS AS RACIST!!!! ARRRRGHHH.

Then Vic starts singing we shall over come!!!

This is such an insult to compare the racism towards blacks in America to HOLOGRAMS. I’m a tolerant guy but this is getting stupid.

*It burns me, I think I am done with Martin and Mangles. They are so disparaging towards soldiers but hold up Casey Sheehan just becaue they agree with his mother.

I jsut realized what I am reading: “The Peoples History of the UnitedFederation of Planets.”

Goes into ereader and deletes “needs of the money”. Bring on “Unspoken Truth” !

*The entire book isnothing but transcripts. Its basically like reading Keith Olbermann’s show notes.

21. Franklin - April 2, 2010

I agree with the above poster. Martin is always putting his politics into his works of art. Even when I shared Martins politics (I don’t now) I found it annoying. As far as I am concerned all pocket books Trek Novels have no canon value because the poltics ruins them.

This is non screen Trek canon

1)The Countdown limited series Story by Orci and Kutzman.

2)The Nero limited Series Story by Orci and Kutzman

3)Star Trek Online Nimoys voice and it incorperates elements of the above stories in it.

None of those works has the authors political views in them. Obviously to the authors of Star Trek novels Progo political views and Star Trek go hand and hand. In laymans terms Progo Trek authors think Rodenberry crafted the Trek Universe and based it on their political philosophies.

22. P Technobabble - April 2, 2010

I am reminded of the “holographic universe theory”…. that all of THIS may be nothing more than a galactic hologram. We think we have rights… what makes us so special, anyway?

23. Damian - April 4, 2010

It was mentioned before that Star Trek Online does not follow the novles beyond a certain point. In STO the Destiny trilogy never happened, This was because they wanted the Borg in the game, but since Destiny ended the Borg, they could not include that info. For me this is no big deal. I am not a computer game person so I will continue to follow the novels and ignore “The Needs of the Many.” I enjoyed the Destiny series as it finally brought the whole Borg threat to an end. It was always going to be us or them, and David Mack did a nice job of bringing it to a conclusion while also explaining the origin of the Borg.

I would like to eventually see the novels join up with the Countdown series eventually. We still have a few years for that as Typhon Pact takes place in 2382 and the Countdown was 2387. Plenty of time to bring the two series in sync.

I also can’t wait for the next Romulan War book.

24. dixonium - April 9, 2010

@9: On the death of Kathryn Janeway, I couldn’t have said it better myself. What on Earth were they thinking?!?

25. Q-uerry - April 15, 2010

agree with @9 why did they have to kill off one of the best female characters to grace the star trek universe?

was it because she was too bold, too assertive or just…

too far into the future for writers to handle?

26. kapact - April 18, 2010

I read this book because I couldn’t afford STO, and because I’ve enjoyed the Enterprise relaunch books.

But Klingons agreeing to settle a dispute with the Borg on a baseball diamond?
Vic Fontaine singing “We Shall Overcome?”
Every foot soldier is a racist?
Conservativea are not only all racist, but they can’t spell?

You know, not all Trek fans are liberals. I’m glad I read someone else’s copy of this, because while it wasn’t entirely a waste of time, I would be pretty mad if I spent any money on it…

27. muhammad ismail - December 3, 2010

pls answer,
needs of computre in library?

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