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Book Review: The Persistence of Memory

Whenever a Star Trek franchise celebrates a milestone, it’s time for something special, isn’t it? Well, to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, veteran Trek scribe David Mack rolls out a trilogy for us, Cold Equations. Join us for our review Book I, “The Persistence of Memory”.



by David Mack
Mass Market Paperback – 385 pages
Pocket Books – November 2012 – $7.99

All is not well when Geordi LaForge beams into Starfleet’s premier cybernetics laboratory in the wake of the theft of every Soong-type android the Federation possesses. The place is a disaster, the computer banks are empty, and Captain Bruce Maddox is left dumbfounded and deeply concerned. With the help of the crew of the starship Enterprise, it is hoped that the answers can be found… and quickly. More than technology is at stake – the memories of Data and the very existence of B-4 hang in the balance as a race against time begins to track down the stolen androids.

What is now a sprint for the crew of the Enterprise is simply the final leg of a marathon began decades ago by Dr. Noonien Soong… whose progeny has spent decades coming to grips with his predecessor’s lifetime of both achievement and stupidity. In the wake of the abduction of the androids, his own plans begin to unravel, and only a selfless revelation and a partnership with members of Picard’s crew will be able to prevent a galactic catastrophe at the hands of an unstoppable army.

One thing that is clear to anyone reading Star Trek these days is that you don’t call David Mack in to write a can story… he’s your go to guy when you want something explosive, unpredictable, and engaging. In spite of the fact the “The Persistence of Memory” contains several elements I generally find distasteful in Star Trek literature, I can say without hesitation that every single element of Mack’s story absolutely works.

The book is framed in three sections – the first, which uses the heist of B-4 and company as its main fixture; the second, which focuses on the evolution of Soong’s progeny, and a final section where covert operations and quick thinking come together to address so many plot lines (some stretching back to Star Trek: Nemesis) that it is hard to figure out a way to accurately summarize them all.

In addition to its connections with previous filmed Trek, the story is a direct sequel to Jeffrey Lang’s February 2002 novel “Immortal Coil”. Elements from and fallout from the previous tome pepper the pages of “The Persistence of Memory”, particularly in the second section.

To be sure, some readers will probably express some disappointment concerning this book, if for no other reason that the reasons I would normally dislike the story. But David Mack could probably take a steaming pile of cow dung and make it palatable; and the core story of “The Persistence of Memory” is far more appealing than that. While the action/adventure side of things definitely takes precedence throughout the story, there are finely woven threads tacked into the book, threads that serve to explore ethics, not just in the twenty-fourth century, but in our own time as well.

David Mack presents the reader with a story of redemption, renewal, and hope… as well as one of determination. Emotionally, there are sharp points, reminiscent of the masterful seventh season TNG two-parter “Chain of Command”; but at the same time, there are retrospective moments that seem to channel the spirit of “Data’s Day”. Each portion of the story feels like an episode in and of itself, and are paced to be enjoyed as such.

The end result is an outstanding story that needed to be told… and that will once again change the course of Star Trek literature – boldly in some ways, subtly in others – in a way that is absolutely satisfying. It is, at this point, the best Star Trek story I have read in 2012.


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November 5, 2012 6:56 am

Thanks, Rob. I always look forward to these reviews. I read maybe one or two Trek novels a year (I used to read ’em all until about ten years ago) so these reviews help me pick which ones to read.

November 5, 2012 7:00 am

PS. “In spite of the fact the “The Persistence of Memory” contains several elements I generally find distasteful in Star Trek literature…”

I’m not the brightest reader — which elements? That it depends on readng/watching previous Trek? Or the action-heavy stuff?

Emperor Mike of the Empire
November 5, 2012 7:47 am

I think I will check this one out. Looks like it could be a good read.

November 5, 2012 9:33 am

deleted by admin

Alex Rosenzweig
November 5, 2012 10:32 am

I’d say the fact that this reviewer really likes this book is pretty good news. And Thor’s link is *great* news!

The fact that 2013 is going to be filled with what promises to be really excellent Star Trek, both in print and on video, is also fine news.

Oh, yeah, there’s that movie, too. ;)

November 5, 2012 10:47 am

MJ, Aren’t book reviews part of “The Source For Everything New In Trek? At its some news and some people care about this site.

Dr. Cheis
November 5, 2012 10:49 am

Before reading the article I guessed there would be a complaint about the lack of more news posts within the first 5 comments. I just won myself a pat on the back!

November 5, 2012 11:01 am
November 5, 2012 11:27 am

I am glad to see the novels carrying on in the prime universe, cant wait to crack open the cover on this story. Thanks for the review

November 5, 2012 11:28 am

Thanks for that link thor, excited for that book as well!!

Rose (as in Keachick)
November 5, 2012 12:06 pm

Yes, Robert Lyons, like Jack, I am curious as well as to what elements in Star Trek literature that you find distasteful. Just wondering

“In spite of the fact the “The Persistence of Memory” contains several elements I generally find distasteful in Star Trek literature, I can say without hesitation that every single element of Mack’s story absolutely works.”

I take this to mean that what you find distasteful does not just occur in this book.

November 5, 2012 12:51 pm

**** The Post @5 is not me *****

The poster in @10 and @11 has been exposed as Stunkill.

November 5, 2012 12:52 pm

What the hell is the point if mentioning something you don’t like in an interview without saying what it is???

Remington Steele
November 5, 2012 1:06 pm

Thanks for the article!

In before more MJ whining….oh wait…

November 5, 2012 1:16 pm

Toon, I tend to agree with you on that , I can only guess that perhaps its such a minor part of the story Robert Lyons didnt feel it would matter to go into specifcs over it.
I will say this ,that after reading that review i headed over to Amazon and placed an order for the book.

Eric Cheung
November 5, 2012 1:53 pm

Chain of Command was in the sixth season.

November 5, 2012 2:44 pm

Another book review,,, maybe you can change the name of this site to….

November 5, 2012 3:32 pm

9. Craiger. Yep, saw that too. And I’m glad you mentioned the bit about them editing the sequel, which he’d said on Conan as well — this is what they’re working on these days. We’ve got just under two weeks until we’re at the 6-month mark.

November 5, 2012 3:38 pm

Actually, the bit about the walk-on roles confused me — because it mentioned the super 8 contest, fine, and then a bit about fans paying for walk on roles… it wasn’t clear whether he was just saying it as an expression, as in ‘people would pay to do this!’ Or whether it actually happened — that people, in fact, paid to do it — because ot also said something about a good cause. Charity? Which charity?

Generally – wha?

That said, I read it at 6 this morning so it might be perfectly clear — but I was still half asleep.

November 5, 2012 3:59 pm

Thanks for another great book review Father Lyons! You, Joe, and Kayla have been doing a great job carrying the torch around here while Anthony has been away. Don’t let the complainers get to you.

I’m really looking forward to David Mack’s latest extravaganza! I’m so burnt out on the Typhon Pact stuff. He never fails to disappoint and I’m sure it will be as amazing as the Destiny trilogy was!

(the real) Montreal_Paul
November 5, 2012 4:08 pm

I just picked this book up yesterday and looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the review! I always look forward to them.

November 5, 2012 5:20 pm

21. Agreed. I feel lousy for criticizing Joe’s op-eds — they spur some interesting discussion. I just got used to the newsy style of the site, back in the day.

November 5, 2012 5:49 pm

I liked Mack’s Destiny Trilogy/

November 5, 2012 5:51 pm

Haven’t seen a novel worth reading since
The Return… this one looks pretty good so
far. Thanks for the review!

November 5, 2012 6:55 pm

Michael Giacchino posted a photo on his twitter of sheet music

I asked him if it was from Star Trek Into Darkness and he replied back to me – Perhaps!

November 5, 2012 6:59 pm

nice, anyone in music want to decode that for us?

November 5, 2012 7:03 pm

“Haven’t seen a novel worth reading since
The Return…”

Didn’t Katie Price ‘write’ that?

Furry Ackerman
November 5, 2012 8:23 pm

@CSTribune: University of Wyoming Star Trek tribble named Furry Ackerman

MJ (the original)
November 5, 2012 8:29 pm

All, seeing as how no one on this sties reports much anymore, I am going to break this story here myself then:

“The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that award-winning television and film producer and director J.J. Abrams will be honored with the 2013 Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television. The award will be presented to Abrams at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. “J.J. Abrams has produced some of the most iconic and highest-rated television shows of the past decade and longer, series that have changed the landscape of television,” said Producers Guild Awards Chair Michael DeLuca. “His talent is astonishing, and through his commitment to ingenious storytelling, compelling characters and television programming of the highest quality, he truly lives up to this award’s namesake. We are so pleased to honor J.J. this year with the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television.” “It is an incredible honor to be asked to accept »

Trek Novels Stink
November 5, 2012 8:49 pm

I’ve never seen a Trek novel worth reading…

November 5, 2012 9:04 pm

Come on, MJ:, these comments are brimming with news! It’s now wikitrekmovie!

November 5, 2012 11:08 pm

I agree that JJ has earned it for his work in a variety of genres in television. TV is the medium he most suited for

November 5, 2012 11:57 pm

Interesting review thanks Robert, looks well worth a read.

November 6, 2012 1:12 am

@ 30. MJ
a Hollywood Tuxedo circle jerk is hardly news.

November 6, 2012 3:23 am

Looks interesting. On a sidenote, Chain of Command happened in Season 6, not season 7.

November 6, 2012 4:11 am

I wrote a story for a fan site that not only explains how Data emerged from B4, but also explained B4’s origins as I was disappointed on the premise of “The Needs Of The Many.”

November 6, 2012 4:11 am

And if the moderators think my comment is too graphic….have a look at David Mack’s trek Universe…………

November 6, 2012 4:16 am

Please can someone tell me why my own review of David Mack’s books keep getting deleted? No swear words or any kind of profanity…I’ll keep posting and I have multiple proxies so just let me speak

Bob Tompkins
November 6, 2012 5:31 am

In the comic leadup to the first Star Trek mivie, which is considered new universe canon, Data did indeed evolve from B4.

Hodge Podge
November 6, 2012 8:12 am

Destiny was great, but this sounds like a proper TNG story rather than a war story, and that is incredibly appealing.

November 6, 2012 8:51 am

Deleted by admin

MJ (the original)
November 6, 2012 9:14 am

@35. Sorry, I forgot that YOU are the person who gets to decide what is news and what is not news. Sorry about that!

Alex Rosenzweig
November 6, 2012 10:55 am

#31 – On balance, IMHO, the Trek novels have been better than Trek on film for nearly 30 years. And I see no sign of that changing.

#43 – Perhaps the more important question is, which news is of importance to which people? For me, Trek book news is very important, and Abrams movie news…well…isn’t. For others, it may be the reverse. News is news, really; it’s just a question of what one cares to focus on.

Rose (as in Keachick)
November 6, 2012 11:48 am

The music is very, very loud and it appears to use both very high and very low notes (and those in between). It speaks to something very powerful, momentous, relentless?… It also may mean that it is written for the alto-saxophone.

Rose (as in Keachick)
November 6, 2012 11:53 am

#39 – Either someone does not like/agree with your review or more likely, you are using some silly, obscure word that keeps getting the post deleted. This site has had, for a while, one or two *interesting* anomalies like not being able to correctly spell words like p*rn, ins-ra-ce, Fi**pino etc. Look for a word that you don’t see used that often, if at all, in what you are trying to post and then just test with just that word…

MJ (the original)
November 6, 2012 12:25 pm

“Perhaps the more important question is, which news is of importance to which people? For me, Trek book news is very important, and Abrams movie news…well…isn’t. For others, it may be the reverse. News is news, really; it’s just a question of what one cares to focus on.”

Yours and Romulus’s comments here are giving me a new perspective on why Anthony and others may not be providing much “news” anymore. I go through the trouble of posting something interesting in the news about JJ Abrams, and I get all of these people bitching and moaning about. it.

I’ve been guilty of this myself of course, complaining that the few articles we get now here are largely on comic books and non-Trek content, but this response I got here from trying to provide some interesting news on JJ gives me pause to think that in retrospect, I should not have been so critical of people who have at least tried to provide us some news on this web site.

Steve J.
November 6, 2012 1:52 pm

Anyone see “Castle” last night — episode title “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”? Murder at a sci-fi convention…Beckett and Castle investigate the murder, which happened on a “set” — now a “fan experience” venue — of the cancelled sci-fi show “Nebula 9.” Castle says he’s not a fan of such cheap sci-fi, but does like “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” and “that Joss Whedon show.” The episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, and there’s an appearance by Armin Shimerman…and sort of a cameo by William Shatner at the end. Fun but ridiculous plot. Lots of “Star Trek” references. Reminded me of a similar episode of CSI from a year or two ago.

November 6, 2012 1:57 pm
“Yours and Romulus’s comments here are giving me a new perspective on why Anthony and others may not be providing much “news” anymore. I go through the trouble of posting something interesting in the news about JJ Abrams, and I get all of these people bitching and moaning about. it….” Exactly. News is news. Every story these guys puts up gets at least a few commenters complaining that it shouldn’t be here, or that another site had it a few hours before, or that they should also have had some other story that some other site had. Even the movie news gets complaints because it’s not enough movie news or the right movie news. Sure, it’s usually actors saying the usual ‘we can’t say anything” stuff. The site doesn’t make these stories — it’s like blaming a local newscast for telling stories about local crime… it’s happening, so it’s news. People complaining on the internet isn’t going to change. I say, if it’s connected to Star Trek or the people who make it or have made it — it belongs here. And the general sci-fi/science news interests me here too — I was a fan of the scifi round ups and Kayla’s science columns. The book, music, comic and DVD news and reviews I love. Just one man’s opinion — but I’m not a fan of op-eds unless they’re from someone with a bit of perspective on the topic. Unless, the site took submissions for regular Huffpo-style op-eds from folks… Read more »
November 6, 2012 2:05 pm

Hey Stunkill, check this out: — last night’s ratings show that Revolution far exceeded Hawaii Five-O’s once again:

NBC Revolution: 2.9; 8

CBS Hawaii Five-O: 2.0; 5

ABC Castle: 1.9; 5

So much for your “trend theory”.