Book Review: Resistance

Retread is a verb in the English language.  It’s second definition, according to dictionary.com is "to repeat or do over, especially without the boldness or inventiveness of the original."  A perfect example of what it means to retread is found in J. M. Dillard’s new Star Trek: The Next Generation adventure, "Resistance." Dillard’s novel, a part of the relaunch of the Next Generation franchise, pits Captain Picard up against the Borg once again… and I could swear that I was watching a fan-remix episode pieced together from elements of "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Star Trek: First Contact".

From the first page you have a pretty good idea of what is going on aboard the repaired Enterprise.  Picard is having visions of Borg dancing in his head, his relationship with Beverly is existent (if not a bit strange), and he’s coming to grips with having an empty house with all the children gone.  If "Nemesis" was the "Wrath of Khan" of the Next Generation era, then "Resistance" is it’s "Search for Spock".

New crew members show up, most of whom you can tell are destined for oblivion.  The one you can tell is not, T’Lana, the new Vulcan counselor, becomes an immediate pain towards Worf and, in time, finds herself pitted against Picard.  B4 gets less than a chapter of treatment before he gets shipped off (which is never adequately explained)… and the Enterprise seems utterly devoid of life.

So much promise… so many exciting stories to tell… a sensitive diplomatic mission on the horizon, a chance to get to know T’Lana and some new crew members.  "Resistance", in spite of a weak beginning, has so much going for it… except it doesn’t, because you already know the crew isn’t going on their diplomatic mission.  From page one you know this story is about the Borg.

Once again, Admiral Janeway shows up (it appears she is now part of The Next Generation’s future) and things go from bad to worse when Seven of Nine’s name gets invoked.  Picard, in a defiant moment decides to disobey Janeway’s orders and put himself smack dab in the middle of the new and improved (to the Borg) Borg.  So, enter the new ‘Nastyborg’, a reluctant acting First Officer, a captain who is sleeping with the medical officer, a conveniently located bionic arm, some nanites, Locutus, a bunch of royal jelly, and a pissed Janeway, and you wind up with the final result.

Now, don’t get me wrong… "Resistance" is as well written as anything that J. M. Dillard has put out.  It’s tight, a quick read, and one that will keep your attention… except that it just fails to pioneer any new ground.  Instead of boldly going where one has gone before we wind up going where we’ve all been before. There’s nothing nasty about the new Borg.  All they have done is trade in one bit of un-inventive nastiness for another. 

Picard is basically written straight out of "First Contact"; LaForge gets so little time in the story that its pretty much useless to comment on him.  T’Lana gets some marginal development time, but will need more to grow on the average reader. And Crusher is just off. Only Worf really comes across as an outstanding character in "Resistance".  In this tale he is able to face his own personal demons from his time on Deep Space Nine. (when he rescued Jadzia Dax instead of fulfilling a mission).  Worf’s internal struggle and the way it plays out among the crew is a real treat, though his interactions with T’Lana (particularly his thoughts) seem a bit forced and out of character for the thick-skinned Klingon.

While "Resistance" is enjoyable enough for what it is, I fear that Next Generation is suffering from a dry well. Given the upcoming releases in the Next Generation story, I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

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Oceanhopper

Come on – one duff book does not mean the franchise has run dry. There’s still scope to the TNG universe, it just needs authors to try some new ideas and not remain fixated on Borg / romulans / Picard as rebel / working in Voyager or DS9 elements, etc.

Lukas

That scope should’ve been explored more on the big screen at least one more time :(

James

I ma looking forward to reading this, as a TNG Borg story should be good, and I want to see how the Ent-E looks after Nemesis. However, I’d like to see a genuinely new sense of awe and scope for TNG; pick up on the premise of boldly going where no one has gone before!

mikeg

I was buying ST books when James Blish was writing the short stories (based on episodes) and “Spock Must Die.” Along the way, there were some really great books (“The Entropy Effect,” and “The Wounded Sky,” to name just a couple). I stopped buying ST books when they began to number seeming in the millions… I think the problem with the books is that there are too damned many of them. So many of the books — of whichever series — seemed like they were written by number. They didn’t get the characters right (according to my mind), the stories were slightly above comic-book level, and the writing could range from bad to worse. And I don’t think the books specifically suffered from “fan-ism” since some of the best stories came from fans in the “New Voyages” and “New Worlds” compilations. I think the problem is simply one of over-saturation. Nowadays, I am more apt to read Shatner’s ST books, simply because he’s the real deal. I’d love to see a book from Shatner/Nimoy. I’d like to see some books from writers like Harlan Ellison, or even Stephen King, just to add some legitimacy to the book franchise. I know this is just wishful thinking, but ST, itself, is all about wishful thinking. Will I read “Resistance?” I like JM Dillard, so I might look for it in the library. But I don’t feel any intense urge to run out and buy it.

Storma

Come on… it was the best book since ARTICLES OF THE FEDERATION.

Pure TNG, and seeing the new crew was also great. 5 of 5 stars for sure! Even professional authors gave it positive reviews (www.trekweb.com).

So to all: Make up your own mind. Superb sequel, which would have made an awesome movie.

Ron

#1: Actually we’re looking at two in a row: no one cared all that much for “Death in Winter” either, as I recall.

Lukas

Only TNG Books I’ve read are the two Maximum Warp ones with the dead zones, they weren’t bad IMO and Dysons Sphere which was a load of boring crap with some weird sounding aliens and a Shuttle Craft called Balboa (which was the most interesting thing out of the whole damn book)

Kirk: The Jack Bauer Of Space

I’m going to read Resistance soon. I don’t mind one more Borg story, but I really do hope it’s the last. I tried–really tried–to read Death In Winter. I may have gotten in 100 pages. I don’t half-read books, it was out of character for me. It was just THAT bad….

I believe there will be another TNG film someday before long. I can foresee JJ’s TOS franchise successful, a new series on TV (how about abord the Enterprise L?), AND a re-launch of at least one TNG film all going on at once. Nirvana!!!

Star Trek The Next Generation ran for 7 seasons, over 120 episodes. After all that, no one can think of an story not having to do with the Borg?

3 – James, this is not a comic book, there are no pictures inside, and the Enterprise was shown rebuilt at the end of Nemesis anyway?

steve623

I *might* read one Trek novel a year, so I’m probably not the most informed person to comment on the TNG relaunch books. I do have very good memories of J.M. Dillard and her abilities to capture the voices of Trek’s characters, but it does sound as if going back to the Borg AGAIN is like trying to wring the last drop of blood out of a very mangled turnip. The Borg started to get tired as far back as TNG’s “I, Borg”, but by the end of “Voyager”‘s run, I *never* ever wanted to see another Borg story as long as I lived.

Kirk: The Jack Bauer Of Space

#9–Good point, I may not be as Borg weary as you and other trekkers as I didn’t watch that much Voyager. They had a lot of Borg, didn’t they?

As just an occasional Voyager watcher in the 90’s, I remember thinking that it seemed to improve significantly after Kes left and they got Jeri Ryan in as Seven… but I never got enthusiastic over Voyager. I never much cared for the character of Janeway, or the acting of Mulgrew. But I did like Tuvok, and Tim Russ’s acting. Liked Harry Kim, but not the Klingon Engineer… tepid on Chakotay, and tepid on the other guy….oh yeah, Paris…

But agreed, enough of the Borg. I’ll read Resistance, but come on, let’s move on after that, shall we?

Best TNG Borg story I ever read was VENDETTA. I still contend that it should have been the basis for the second TNG film, in the same way I believe they should have shelved the story for YESTERDAY’S ENTERPRISE and saved that for the first feature film.

DavidJ

#9

I still don’t get the problem some people have with “I, Borg”. Yes it made the Borg slightly more sympathetic and not quite as ominous and mysterious as before, but who cares. It was still a BRILLIANT episode.

For me, “Descent” is when the Borg really lost their edge (even though I still kinda like the idea of Lore being their leader). I didn’t find them remotely frightening in First Contact. The last time they were truly intimidating was in the “Scorpion” 2-parter, but then of course VOY had to go and run them into the ground after that.

DavidJ

Sorry, I meant that for #10. heh heh

RandyYeoman

I know some people want comfort food in their books. They just want to read about their favorite characters and have it all seem nice and the same. But this TNG releauch is really not grabbing me. Death in Winter was very boring and this one…the borg….again. Even worse if you look at the next two there is yet another borg….and with 7of9 no less….and then Q. It is strange that they are putting TNG into this holding pattern when the DS9 and Titan books are so good. I loooked at some of the reviews of this one on amazon and this review seems kind in comparison. I guess my message to pocket is…dont be afraid to do something new.

ZoomZoom

I’ll wait for the Movie. Oh no, thats right, its a TNG book, so that won’t be happening. Ever.

Kirk: The Jack Bauer Of Space Editorial Clarification

oops.. My post in #11, first paragraph should have been addressing #10. steve623.

Oh, and #16 ZoomZoom, read 2nd paragraph of my #8 post and have faith, that the universe will unfold as it should. :)

seangh

from review: If “Nemesis” was the “Wrath of Khan” of the Next Generation era, then “Resistance” is it’s “Search for Spock”.

Scratching my head on that one.

Beese

I’m not going to get around to reading this for the best part of a decade most likely (I’ve got lots of others to read through first), but frankly I’ll reserve judgement on it until then.

# 12

I seem to be in a minority, but I didn’t really like Vendetta that much. It was OK and fairly well written (every other Peter David novel I’ve read has been excellent), but it just didn’t seem to gel particularly well for me.

It may have a lot to do with the fact that because he wrote about such a large event in his book that it was sure to end up contradicting subsequent canon (which it did). There were things in it, like Picard’s reaction upon coming face-to-face with the Borg again that didn’t seem to reach maxmim potential.

Maybe if I’d read it at the time I would have enjoyed it more…

mntrekfan

I liked this book. Yes, it seems a retread of previous Trek stuff, but….
I’m not a fan when the crew is put in just so it can be called a “Star Trek” novel. The plot revolves mostly around the aliens and the ST crew are ther to react.

Beese

Hmm, I was just looking through my Trek novels to see if I’ve read anything else by JM Dillard and I notice he also co-wrote Possession, which is among my favourite Trek novels.

Just a numbered stand-alone one, with a fairly established plot type, but I thought it was a really well written book that did a really good job of capturing the characters.

Frankly I look forward to reading this.

steve623

Just an FYI, J.M. is a *she* :-)

Beese

Woops! Thanks for the clear up, it’s hard to tell when someone uses their initials!