This week the Library Computer looks to the hallowed halls and sacred ashes of the Federation and the Alpha Quadrant as the after-effects of the Destiny trilogy begin to take root in Keith R.A. DeCandido’s new novel "A Singular Destiny". We also have the third and final entry in Destiny trilogy giveaway trivia contest
REVIEW – Star Trek: A Singular Destiny – by Keith R.A. DeCandido
The Federation, though not quite in ashes, certainly lays in a state of uncertainty in the wake of the events of the Destiny trilogy. Worlds are completely destroyed, peoples are displaced, and the fleet is stretched thin. So what do you do on the morning after the apocalypse? Invest in aspirin. Lots and lots of aspirin.
In Keith R.A. DeCandido’s new novel "A Singular Destiny" Federation president Nan Bacco is given the chance to discover just how vital painkillers can be as she looks out to the Federation and sees a people on the brink. Bacco isn’t alone; nearly every major power in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants have been grievously wounded in the wake of the Borg decimation – some of them, apparently, just struggling to get by. So imagine the puzzlement when Praetor Tal’Aura’s regime suddenly stops accepting aid shipments from the Federation… or when things start blowing up… or when any other of a number of oddities begin creeping up all around.
It’s obvious from the outset that "A Singular Destiny" is a different book… varying, as it does, between narrative prose, letters home, news stories, and even casualty lists, DeCandido forges a very somber feeling for his post-apocalyptic epic, one that strikes a strange chord coming from DeCandido. It’s not that "A Singular Destiny" is bad… with the variety of environments, situations, and complications present in the story, it’s hard to be a bad book. But, somehow, something in this tale just doesn’t sit right.
Perhaps it’s the connective nature of the story – wrapping up loose ends and turning the corner (so to speak) into the new TNG-era reality that lays ahead. Perhaps it’s the preponderance of folks you feel like you would have to have read nearly every Star Trek published over the past few years book to know well enough to actually care that much about. Perhaps its Sonek Pran… a brilliant quad-breed professor who comes across, well, just plain wrong in a "I want to like this guy, but I don’t" sort of way. I wish I could pin it down to one or two things I could actually say make the story bad… but I can’t. The story has plenty of meat, is told at a fair clip, and does an excellent job at transitioning out of Destiny mode.
So what is it about this book that doesn’t do it? I hate to say it, but for me, "A Singular Destiny" just falls flat. I mean, seriously, how often do you expect to hear "Keith R.A.DeCandido didn’t make me care about the Klingons"? That’s like Bob Newhart messing up deadpan humor – it never happens, yet I had not an ounce of interest in the Klingon situation this time out; and with all that is starting to spring forth in their little corner of the universe, I should have! But the Klingons weren’t the only ones that I really didn’t care about. I didn’t much care about the Capellans, or the Kinshaya, or Captain Dax and the USS Aventine.. and then you have the dueling Romulan factions under Donatra and Tal’Aura. The two seem to be more interested in acting like preening teenagers (okay, Donatra had a bit more maturity than Tal’Aura) than they do in either salvaging their own Romulan factions or the Romulan people as a whole. I expect a degree of dissembling and deceit on the part of Romulan leaders, but I don’t expect childishness. Given my personal affinity for the Romulans throughout Trek history, "A Singular Destiny" is dissapointing when it comes to our pointy-eared friends.
As for the flashes between chapters – letters, news reports, and the like – the news clips, counselors reports, and even casualty lists felt solid, but the letters surrounding Pran’s family life felt out of place given the nature of the rest of the interludes. Too much Pran, too much of the time. All that being said, while the star of the story was clearly intended to be Sonek Pran, it was really Bacco and the close advisors of her administration that gave the strongest performance, and revived many of the positive feelings that DeCandido’s last book Star Trek politics book, "Articles of Federation," spawned in my mind when giving consideration to the Federation’s inner machinations.
Perhaps "A Singular Destiny" could use a second pass on my part… certainly some little details (and it feels like there are ‘easter eggs’ everywhere) probably passed me by at warp speed; with all the subplots going on, I find myself wondering if I just spaced some major component of the story or an underlying aspect of the story… all of which is disappointing because it isn’t what I expect from DeCandido.
"Singular Destiny" available now at Amazon and other retailers
SIGNED DESTINY TRILOGY CONTEST – Week 3
A few weeks back TrekMovie kicked off new trivia contest to give away three sets of the Destiny Trilogy, signed by author David Mack. A winner has been selected at random from the correct entries from the second week of the contest.
The question was:
Author Keith R.A. DeCandido’s "Klingon Empire" (formerly IKS Gorkon) series came about in the wake of the success of a Next Generation novel. Name the TNG novel.
And the answer is: "Diplomatic Implausibility." Congrats to Eric K. of Grandville, MI for getting that right.
And now you have your third (and last) chance. There is another trivia question already up on the Destiny Trilogy contest page
Please do not discus new trivia question in comments section below. The correct answer and winner of the contest will be announced in the next ‘Library Computer’ column.
Coming up next, we check in with Captain Riker with a review of the fifth book in the Titan series, Christopher L Bennett’s "Star Trek Titan: Over A Torrent Sea"
Our next book to review:
"Titan: Over A Torrent Sea"