Book Review: Star Trek Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History | TrekMovie.com
jump to navigation

Book Review: Star Trek Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History May 20, 2012

by Robert Lyons , Filed under: Books,DS9,Review,TAS,TNG,TOS , trackback

Lucsly and Dulmur are running out of time in the fast-paced new novel from Christopher L. Bennett. Once again the Department of Temporal Investigation is on the case in the new Star Trek novel, “Forgotten History,” and for this outing they are dealing with the guy who has the biggest time travel rap sheet, James T. Kirk. The TrekMovie review follows.

 

 

REVIEW: DEPARTMENT OF TEMPORAL INVESTIGATIONS: FORGOTTEN HISTORY
by Christopher L. Bennett
Massmarket paperback – 368  pages
PocketBooks – April 2012 – $7.99

Following up on last year’s feast for nitpicking Trekkers (see TrekMovie review of "Star Trek DTI: Watching the Clock"), Christopher L. Bennett revisits the world of the Department of Temporal Investigations with “Forgotten History”, a story which takes the reader back to the time of the foundation of the department, and which gives new perspective to the mission of agents like Dulmur and Lucsly. In addition to the erstwhile twosome from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”, many of the DTI staffers from the previous novel return. This is a welcomed feature, because the action gets off to a pretty fast pace, and there’s no need to take the time to get to know anyone new.

As the book leaves the docks, a radically refit Constitution class starship – sans saucer – confronts the DTI vessel USS Everett… leading to a mystery that has its roots in the depths of the gravity well of the disintegrating Psi 2000 planetoid (TOS: "The Naked Time").

As the tale unfolds, Bennett weaves stories in two timelines – one a political and scientific accounting of the origins and development of the Federation’s governmental bureau tasked with research in temporal fields during the time of James T. Kirk; the other the other a blended timeline-preservation and moral-play set in the current post-TNG novel era.

Bennett spends generous and balanced time in each timeline, balancing the delicate need for gradual revelation of the Kirk-era timeline in order to leave the reader teased and somewhat in the dark about the development and ultimate resolution of the crisis that presents itself in the later era. In doing so, Bennett revisits and ties together many time-travel incidents from the Original Series and the Animated Series, allowing them to form a consistently woven tapestry behind the formation of the DTI. While the race to ‘connect the time-travel dots’ seemed overkill in the previous DTI installment, the addition of the formative storyline to embrace the original Enterprise’s temporal hopping serves to strengthen the author’s attempt to bring forth a consistent theory of time travel in the Star Trek universe.


Lucsly and Dulmur and DTI return for “Forgotten History”

There is much to love, and much fun to be had between the covers of “Forgotten History”, however there is also one serious disappointment, which is the loss of the depth of the characterizations that made “Watching the Clock” so successful. Without going so far as to label Lucsly, Dulmur, Kirk, Spock, Ranjea, Garcia, or the rest of the gang as whitewashed, a significant level of depth is missing in their portrayal in this book. While last year’s book engaged on a personal level, the new story focues more on the technical level.

That said, “Forgotten History” is by no means dull or devoid of characterization, it simply could have used more of it in order to continue to evolve the environment for DTI storytelling. If this becomes an ongoing series of books, one would hope that Bennett would restore a greater emphasis on individual character development in future stories, while keeping what, for me, was superior technical and historical storytelling found in the current book.

In spite of the connections to the previous DTI book, you need not have read “Watching the Clock” to enjoy “Forgotten History”. Even if you disagree with Bennett’s evolving theory of time travel and parallel universes, it is a well designed, deeply considered, and internally consistent technical narrative that serves to engage and excite the reader – at least this reader. Here’s hoping that further DTI books are on tap for the future.

"Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History" is available in now and can be ordered at Amazon.com.

MORE: new and upcoming Star Trek novels

Other recent Star Trek fiction releases include "Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions" by David Mack (TrekMovie review), Greg Cox’s "Star Trek: The Original Series: The Rings of Time," Dayton Ward’s "Star Trek: That Which Divides" (TrekMovie review), David Mack’s
"Star Trek: Vanguard: Storming Heaven" (TrekMovie review)

 

Next up are two TNG novels from David R. George III that will continue the Typhon Pact storyline. "Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night" is due in stores next week and "Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Raise the Dawn" comes out at the end of June. 

 

 

Comments

1. Harry Ballz - May 20, 2012

Let’s try to find the time to read this, shall we?

2. MikeTen - May 20, 2012

I’m looking for a new book to read after finishing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I’m going to order it next week.

3. Ahmed - May 20, 2012

@2. MikeTen – May 20, 2012

” I’m looking for a new book to read after finishing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

Is that the novelization of the movie with the same title ?

4. Sebastian S. - May 20, 2012

I tried reading this at my local Barnes & Noble but sadly, it just didn’t hold my interest for very long. Maybe I should give it another try. Sometimes it’s not the book, it’s the frame of mind of the reader, and that could very well have been the case. As Dulmer and Lucsly might say; timing is everything….

;-P

5. Erik Parrent - May 20, 2012

#3 – Ahmed – The movie is based on the book, and it’s a great read.

6. Steve J. - May 20, 2012

I’m reading “Watching the Clock” now. One of the best Star Trek books I’ve ever read, and lots of neat time travel “techno babble,” which I love! There is even an explanation given for how Capt. Christopher is beamed back into his own body at the end of “Tomorrow is Yesterday.” One of the characters mentions sci-fi TV shows in the 1960s-1970s…of course no Star Trek! There is also a very quick reference to a fictional time machine that actually exists, stored in a DTI vault…Lots of good stuff in this book!! Looking forward to reading “Forgotten History.”

7. Hat Rick - May 20, 2012

Scully and Muldur — I mean, Lucsly and Muldur, no doubt named after the X Files characters — are some of the most interesting characters in Trek from the standpoint of future development.

Pun intended. ;-)

8. Hat Rick - May 20, 2012

Also, I would have loved to see a picture of the radical refit described in the book as noted in the summary, above. It would have been an amazing cover, or at least frontispiece.

9. Jim Nightshade - May 21, 2012

arent some of us fans kinda tired of the time traveling storylines, and the temporal police plots? ahh well

10. CmdrR - May 21, 2012

Thanks for the price point.

Love that in Starfleet, everybody gets their own fleet. “DTI Ship” ??

Naked Time may be Trek’s first foray into big things in space that go boom. WHY would a planet disintegrate? We KNOW you can even hit a proto planet, like say Earth, with something the size of Mars and a few billion years later you get a lovely Earth-Moon combo. Don’t even get me started on Ceti Alpha VI.

11. Damian - May 21, 2012

I read this book in 3 days (it usually takes me about 2 to 3 weeks to read a book). A great read, especially for someone like myself who tries to look for consistency in the overall Star Trek timeline. Bennett did a good job here of trying to explain the various inconsistencies and actually make them sound reasonable.

Both novels also do a good job of allowing for the possibility of different forms of time travel to allow for time travel like “The City on the Edge of Forever” where you can change history, or like Star Trek (2009) or “Parallels” from TNG where you create a parallel timeline.

He also did a good job bringing a backstory to characters we only glimpse, not just Lucsly and Dulmur, but also characters seen in “Yesteryear” from TAS.

12. Paul - May 21, 2012

Nah, sorry, no time for temporal investigations. :-P

13. Robert H. - May 21, 2012

With all of these books about temporal investigations, what if scenarios and so forth, why can’t they make a series of books like Star Trek: Voyager – The Erased Years, or something that depicts Voyager remaining 16 year voyage home that Admiral Janeway erased?

14. Damian - May 21, 2012

13–An interesting idea. The Crucible:McCoy book did something like that, depicting McCoy’s life after he saved Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever” and altered history.

I doubt they’ll be a new Voyager series though. Voyager was probably the least popular of the TV series and we’re probably lucky to get the continuing stories by Kirsten Beyer right now. I doubt Pocketbooks would spring for an alternate series of books. The best you could hope for would be someone writing a single novel covering that alterante timeline, probably something that ties into the current timeline.

Look at Enterprise. Pocketbooks only commissioned 2 novels for The Romulan War, probably the most pivotal event in Star Trek history as it led to the Federation (I still think there should be a “Tales of the Romulan War” like the one they did for the Dominion War–it could help fill in the missing details using The Romulan War novels as a framework).

15. Ben - May 21, 2012

I really, really enjoyed the first book in this series. As a time travel and Trek nut, it was a perfect storm.

This book is in the mail. I ordered it last week, but, of course, being a CHEAP time travel and Trek nut, I ordered it with free shipping. :)

One of my favorite parts of the book is the groan that Lucsley (I think it was him) had every time someone said some sort of time related joke. I mean, let’s face it, he’s just saying what we do when it happens in our time travel fiction.

If the time travel episodes are favorites of yours, the first book is a nice book that ties them all together with a neat bow. I was worried that there wouldn’t be any more, and delighted to see I was wrong.

16. kjseek - May 21, 2012

Absolutely LOVED the first book and cant wait to start this one!!! The first one was a very challenging read with what i like to call “advanced fictional theoretical time travel physics” technobabble, but it was rewarding in its challenge. I am looking forward to see what kind of trouble Lucsly and Dulmur get into next….or before? hahaha

17. Danpaine - May 21, 2012

Like the book cover -

18. Phil - May 21, 2012

If it reeks of technobabble, I shall pass. Do we really need a book series where future Starfleet have to “fix” time, anyway? As I’ve mentioned earlier, science without ethics begs the question on this concept, what could possibly go wrong…….

19. Chistopher Pike - May 21, 2012

@13 Great idea, I would like to read about the “what if” stories that we had from the various tv series. What if Picard was killed by the borg (one of the timelines in Parallels) what if The defiant crew stayed in Gaia, the Visitor timeline, All Good Things timeline, original Voyager timeline (pre Endgame) etc. After all we know that the Star Trek universe is actually a multiverse.
As for the DTI: Forgotten history I think I’ll pass. The premise is not that interesting.

20. Ben - May 22, 2012

The conceit in the first book is not so much that future federation types are trying to fix the past, but to protect their own timeline. Again, I really enjoyed it. Yes, there is a lot of technobabble, but it has some emotional twists and turns and is really about the people more than the tech.

21. Phil - May 22, 2012

Exactly the problem with time travel stories, it presumes to know how events unfold – unless you travel forward you would have no way of knowing if Emperor Wesley Crusher, Evil Overlord of the Universe was a problem or not. If you have the ability to monitor the timeline, who decides what is right?

22. Martin J. Pollard - May 23, 2012

#18 – If you hate technobabble and have no desire to read books about temporal shenanigans, then obviously this series isn’t for you, and probably isn’t for a lot of people, to be honest. Me, I’m a time travel/alternate history junkie, so this series is right up my alley. I just finished reading the Kindle version of “Watching the Clock,” and am about to order “Forgotten History.” They’re the first Trek books I’ve purchased since Greg Cox’s Khan trilogy (which were the first Trek books I’d purchased in ages, as the “relaunch” and post-TNG novels did not appeal to me), and quite frankly, I’m enjoying the hell out of them.

23. Al Hartman - May 30, 2012

I liked the book, and the clever way a lot of loose ends from the series were tied up.

It really had never occurred to me that the various time travel stories had inconsistencies in how they treated time travel.

I too would have liked to see the time ship on the cover.

24. Jason - June 17, 2012

I’ve read the first half of the book and I was bored to death. I don’t think I’ll finish it or read another book in the series

TrekMovie.com is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.