It is time for TrekMovie to catch up on its reading list. This edition of the Library Computer opens up our look at the four book Typhon Pact mini-series which began in late 2010 and continues into 2011. With the first book we start with Julian Bashir discovering that girl trouble is the least of his concerns in David Mack’s “Zero Sum Game”.
REVIEW: Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game (Chapter 1)
by David Mack
There are certain universal truths, and one of them is that no matter how disastrous things are, nothing can truly stop the political enterprise. And so it is that, in the wake of the destruction visited upon the Alpha and Beta Quadrants during the recent Borg invasion, a new conflict is brewing – one that will run the risk of hitting a boiling point in the lap of Julian Bashir, Ezri Dax, and Nanietta Bacco.
When the plans for the Federation’s super-secret slipstream drive are stolen (with malice) from the Utopia Planitia construction yards, the Federation calls upon Julian Bashir to enter the fray, dangling before him an irresistible carrot in the form of Sarina Douglas. Douglas, a fellow genetically modified human being, was liberated from a catatonic state by Bashir years before, but left DS9 and the doctor behind as a romantic relationship appeared to be on the horizon.
Now, having forsaken scientific research, Douglas has taken on the role of deep cover operative and is heading for what is believed to be a Breen-run shipyard on a small planetoid known as Salavat. Responding as much with a sense of personal obligation to Douglas as any sense of duty to the Federation, Bashir agrees to join the mission – one which is guaranteed to cause him a high degree of personal angst as he discovers yet again that playing secret agent in the holosuite is a far cry from living out the dream in real life. Ezri Dax attempts to pound said message into Bashir during their journey to the mission’s staging point, but Julian will have none of it.
As Dax and her crew aboard the USS Aventine struggle with maintaining position as the mission’s rescue party, she finds herself facing her own problems, and playing a bit of politics herself.
Throughout the story, Federation president Nanietta Bacco weaves in and out of the action, authorizing missions, working diplomatic contacts for support, and pondering her own future as the chief executive of the Federation.
As the mission heats up on Salavat, Bashir and Douglas make contacts within Breen society that reveal some long-hidden truths about the masked species, and about what is really going on behind the scenes of their society. What Bashir and Douglas never fully discover, however, is the reality behind the Typhon Pact… a reality that the Breen’s slipstream prototype designer, Thot Keer, is all to maddeningly aware of. Keer is under the gun, both from his own government, and from the leadership of allied nations, to get a prototype slipstream starship out of the building slips and into service… and to turn the technology over for the entire Pact to exploit. But Keer is a patriot, and walks a very delicate line all the way through the story – one of loyalty, personal pride, and national ambition; a line that will lead to confrontations that will ultimately determine the outcome of his work, and the legacy
that he will establish for himself.
As always, David Mack demonstrates an ability to generate amazingly vibrant worlds – creating them out of whole cloth. His development of the Breen is one of the most outstanding examples of world-building in recent memory. It’s detailed enough to be completely engaging, and yet vague enough to leave room for further exploration. He is equally adept at bringing to life Thot Keer and other Breen leaders – even those who make what are essentially perfunctory appearances in order to move the story along. Each and every character in “Zero Sum Game” has a sense of fullness about them, even when their presence could be dismissed as trivial.
Of course, Mack nails Bashir in every respect. He balances well the doctor’s insecurities, idealism, sense of romance and adventure, and his ultimate commitment to his profession. At the same time, the game is entirely changed on Bashir in the process, and he never even suspects the true depth of the subversion.
Sarina Douglas, who admittedly comes off at first as a cheap lure for the good doctor finds a true place for herself in the course of the book, one that ensures that you actually do care about her when critical events unfold around her. She has a far deeper role to play in “Zero Sum Game” than one might initially feel – so hold out a chapter or two after her first appearance if you have qualms… as they will be quickly swept away.
“Zero Sum Game” is one of the few truly single-sitting books out there. It takes on a life of its own, with a frenetic pace that refuses to let go. Rarely have I seen a book make such effective use of scene and chapter breaks, and all of them simply serve to add fuel to the desire to finish the book immediately.
With strong writing, excellent characters, a new culture to explore, and a little bit of James Bond thrown in, “Zero Sum Game” is highly recommended, and a fitting introduction to the Typhon Pact series.
3 more Typhon books
Zero Sum Game was followed by a "Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire" by Michael A. Martin , "Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts of Empire" by David R. George III. Coming next will be "Typhon Pact: Paths of Disharmony" by Dayton Ward. TrekMovie will have full reviews of all of these over the coming weeks.
Pocket Books provided a copy of this book for review purposes.