Break out the Warnog and buckle up your battle armor… this week’s Library Computer takes us on a journey deep into the heart of the Klingon Empire with Keith R.A. DeCandido’s "A Burning House". Also on tap for this week: the future of Star Trek eBooks, and new details on David Mack’s forthcoming “Destiny” crossover trilogy.
STAR TREK – KLINGON EMPIRE “A BURNING HOUSE”
Let me start with a confession. I’m not exactly what you would call a big fan of the Klingons. Oh, sure, they have their place, but I always preferred the Romulans. I find Klingons boringly predictable and am not happy about how they have managed to overtake so much of Star Trek lore. As a result, I suppose it is only natural for you, the reader, to assume that this week’s review includes a lambasting of Keith R.A. DeCandido’s “A Burning House”.
Boy would you be wrong.
DeCandido returns to his world of Klingon intrigue originated in 2001’s Next Generation work “Diplomatic Implausibility”. From there, through a series of works formerly published under the I.K.S. Gorkon moniker (“A Good Day to Die”, “Honor Bound”, “Enemy Territory”, and a crossover portion of the second book of “The Brave and the Bold” duology), he has steadily built up a foundation upon which stories from the heart of the Klingon Empire can be told from a unique, interior perspective. Certainly there are humans and Romulans here and there, but DeCandido’s focus is the Klingon story, told from a Klingon perspective. Even though I had only read two of the previous Klingon books, “A Burning House” was a simple enough to get into as DeCandido provides enough background information to bring the reader quickly up to speed with the action.
As the Chancellor-class I.K.S. Gorkon limps into Praxis Station to begin after-action repairs, the ship’s crew scatters throughout the Empire. Several foot soldiers head to the Empire’s bread-basket, while another discovers that home is not always what you perceive it to be. The ship’s doctor peddles her barbaric (Federation-taught) medicine to the chagrin of her fellow physicians, and Captain Klag finds himself in the midst of both Imperial politics and a battle for the honor of his family. As the story unfolds, one is deeply entrenched in what it means to be a Klingon. While you would probably expect a great measure of head-butting and blood-letting (and there is that!), there is another side to the Klingon Empire, a side that DeCandido brings into clear focus with each successive chapter of “A Burning House”. In the midst of this multi-layered story, DeCandido exposes the reader to extremes in Klingon culture. From the halls of the High Council to a farming community on Pheben III, he is able to bring a level of reality to Klingon culture that few writers have previously been able to channel. DeCandido forges a complete concept of Klingons in his work, one that stands in sharp contrast to the warrior mentality that most filmed and written accounts of the species reflect. We find in “A Burning House” much to pity for the residents the city of Krennla, we discover the joys (and shortcomings!) of modern Klingon opera, and we encounter a many very familiar faces; Doctor Bashir, Ezri Dax, Ambassador Worf, and one Lieutenant Rodek whose past is, literally, coming back to haunt him.
DeCandido brings his usual sense of humor to the work as well, resulting in just as many laugh-out-loud moments as a work like John M . Ford’s “How Much for Just the Planet”. Yet, with DeCandido, the laughter can come on a batleth’s edge just as easily as it does with a bottle of the finest in Klingon spirits. He exhibits an almost British restraint when it comes to the application of humor, one that suits the Klingon culture well.
Regular readers will know that I tend to view most crossover works fairly critically. “A Burning House”, while featuring crossover elements (including a visit to Deep Space Nine), doesn’t overdo it. Every character that is brought in from another series is brought in for a legitimate reason that no new character could fill. They appear for long enough to play their role in the story, and then they disappear. This level of skill also demonstrates the deep imagination that DeCandido has… several situations in the novel could have been served by just tossing in some other person who had been featured in an episode here or there, but he has elected to create new, interesting figures who populate the story. This, however, is usual for DeCandido, whose track record in previous works should speak for itself in this regard.
With “A Burning House”, Keith R.A. DeCandido has solidified his reputation as the principal authority on Klingons in the writing community today, and has transformed an annoyingly predictable and overused species into a people of great depth and breadth. And, in the end, that has to be the greatest compliment that I can pay to the words that have flowed from his pen.
"Star Trek – Klingon Empire – A Burning House" is available now from Amazon
EBOOKS GO ON ‘HIATUS’
Pocket Books has announced that their line of original Star Trek eBooks, including the Corps of Engineers series, is going on hiatus this month. The last book in the line for the time being will be the Next Generation/DS9 crossover story, “Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment”, which concludes the Slings and Arrows miniseries. The eBooks that have already been released will remain available, and compilation paperbacks will still be issued. On his blog, eBook editor Keith R.A. DeCandido also announced that tentative plans exist to release the TOS anniversary mini-series “Mere Anarchy” sometime in 2009; possibly coinciding with the release of the new feature film.
EARLY PLOT POINTS FOR THE “DESTINY” TRILOGY
Pocket Books has released a brief synopsis for "Star Trek: Destiny: Gods of Night" , the first of the ‘big event’ cross-over trilogy coming this fall. Not a lot to go on, but here are the high points:
- The Borg are major players, pursued by the Picard and the Enterprise E
- Will Riker and the crew of the Titan discover a mystery world, and a Starfleet captain long assumed dead
- Newly-promoted Captain Dax and her crew find the starship Columbia (NX-02) wrecked in the Gamma Quadrant, a ship that has been MIA for over two hundred years
As this week’s Library Computer closes up, more books have just arrived. So, in short order, I’ll be delving into James Swallow’s new Lost Era tale "Day of the Vipers". This is definitely one I have been looking forward to, as it launches the three-volume Terok Nor trilogy.