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.
More upcoming Trek books from Amazon