Following Star Trek Nemesis, Wil and Troi Riker left the USS Enterprise E to star in their own series of books, set aboard the USS Titan.This week, the Library Computer discovers some very intentional programming kinks as it looks at James Swallow’s “Synthesis”, the fifth Star Trek: Titan novel, .
Review: Star Trek: Titan: Synthesis
by James Swallow
Pocket Books mass market paperback – 400 pages
NOTE: Contains spoilers, including spoilers from previous novels.
As the Starship Titan continues her journey outbound on a mission of exploration and discovery, curious sensor readings lead to an abrupt encounter with a mysterious ship and a powerful force as James Swallow brings “Synthesis” to the bookshelf.
Looking strictly at the Titan elements of “Synthesis”, Swallow does an outstanding job of painting a vivid environment of storytelling – from the region of space in which the tale is set, right down to the emotional environment in which the action plays out. Captain Riker is beginning to find a very strong niche for himself among other Trek CO’s in this outing, balancing his various influences and tendencies in an obvious progression through the Titan series, leading to the events of “Synthesis”.
Christina Vale, Titan’s first officer, also finds some new purchase in the evolution of the Titan story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that she hasn’t had significant impact on the series thus far, but Swallow is able to take her and place her in a position that is immediately transcendent of her previous experiences – one that they have all prepared her for, and one that her character will be the stronger for.
Resolution and rapprochement is in the air between Dr. Ree and Deanna Troi in the wake of his actions in recent stories, while Pazlar, Tuvok, Ra’haverii, and Keru are given good, substantial parts to play while never detracting from the main storyline.
“Synthesis” itself makes for great science fiction (in fact, probably for greater general sci-fi than Trek) with its exploration of the nature of consciousness and sentience, as the Titan is faced with a culture and (at least to a few on board) a familiar face to engage in the midst of a crisis.
The Sentry culture that Swallow populates the story with is one conceived in the greatest traditions of science fiction, one that forces us to look at ourselves, our prejudices, and our assumptions head on when we encounter those different from ourselves. They are given a unique life all their own, one which is compelling and complex without ever bogging down the book in unnecessary back-story. At the same time, the Sentries are so interesting that one may wish for several more books about them in the future. I know I would be in line to pick one up, though others may find them to be an interesting enough race for one book and be glad to move on.
The most unsatisfying element of “Synthesis” has to be the inclusion and use of Minuet, the holodeck-generated jazz lady from the TNG episode "11001001". In some respects, her appearance is only fitting, considering elements of the Bynar society from the episode and their relation to elements of the Sentry culture in “Synthesis”, but at the same time, her usage as the ‘avatar’ of an important character in the book becomes an occasional roadblock to accepting the evolution of that character on its own terms. Somehow it was difficult to take the concept of Minuet seriously in the role, and others may join me in preferring the selection of a different ‘avatar’.
With a classic sci-fi feel to the Sentries and the Avatar, and a solid, well rounded crew aboard Titan, James Swallow hits himself an unqualified, enjoyable success with “Synthesis”; one that is most definitely worth picking up.
The official release date "Star Trek Titan: Synthesis" is October 27th, but it is already available at some retailers. You can already order it from Amazon.
[pre-order "Synthesis" from Amazon]
UP NEXT: New Vanguard
In November Pocket Books returns to 23rd century era and Starbase 47 (aka Vanguard) with David Mack’s "Star Trek Vanguard – Precipice," the fifth novel in the series. "Precipice" promises espionage, intrigue, Klingons and even Carol Marcus. Look for our review next Month.
[pre-order "Precipice" at Amazon]
I’m enjoying the Titan books. They’re the only Trek I’m reading, and they scratch the sci-fi itch I’ve had recently quite nicely.
I’m sorry, but Riker’s shirt being open on that cover makes it look like a cheesy romance novel.
Vanguard Rocks!!! Mack and Ward really make this the best series out there!
I like Titan but I’ll check it out of the Library.
WAAAY off subject, but why did keyhlar(sp) talk as though she was possesed by the ghost of mae west? i loved the character but it always made me smile when i watched a tng episode with her in it.
The Question is how does Troy get past the fantising that any red blooded male (i.e. Riker) has when he see’s a lady that fills his Sexual desires. I know Troi states in TNG that she had to train her mind not to be poluted by the many wondering mines of the Enterprise. And did she learn the ability to sence Worf’s mind and primal desires of Klingon minds. And is that why she dumped Worf after TNG.
I know that could imply millions of men magazine type letters or reply’s, but I ask it in the Sociological frame.
#2 – Thought the same thing. I only read part of one Titan novel, and it was so full of schlocky relationship-heavy nonsense that I stopped in mid-novel. No thanks.
Vanguard, however, I’m hooked on. Love it.
I’ve seen many requests for Star Trek to become a weekly series again, I still feel it is a little to soon in time. And I understand the Jones’in that many fans have. When Gene got TNG ti start, it was mostly aimed for the science angle.
Tital aims more as a Social angle . thats more of a soap opera line of feed than if it was used as the plot for a new Show, it could attract a lady’s interest better than the male machine/mechanics angle.
If it became a series, you know Q is a potential zillion if not De’Lance another Q who loved the first Q’s adventures. But I’d like even better the Romulan Wars based between NX Enterprise and NCC Enterprise. But that being more focused on a specific event, it would best be filled by a Mini Series of 4 to 10 shows.
Then for Series Era’s I originally started writing Paramount after hearing DSN and Voyager should only last as long as TNG. My idea was even pre Enterprise and aimed at getting back to the Moon. And from there Mars and the rest of the Solar Systems exploration and filling the Sol solar system with Humanity.
I was really happy when G.W. started the NASA Constellation program. because much of it’s plans were almost the same as what I wrote Paramount about for. My first series name I thought of was ‘Above and Beyond’ but with in 6 months of using that as my idea’s name someone started a Series by that name.
I’m not saying that they used my show name or I used their name. I got the name from some Starlog article. All I’m saying is with simular ideas, simular names can be used.
Then I was getting many negative comments that my Sci-Fi idea was to close in time and it would be preaching how to explore the Sol star system. Oddly that was kind of the aim when I first thought of the idea in the latter part of the 80’s. I felt that to speed NASA up they had to be shown how to do it, thus get the public interest started so money/funding would reach NASA faster.
My big problem is I may have ideas but I’m no author, and is not family pets spelled DAWG and KAT. But thank god for on-line auto spell checking and correction. Not perfect but it fixes 98% of my errors.
I thought that was Tom Selleck on the cover for a minute.
Star Trek PI
I’m looking forward to Titan-Synthesis checking in the hospital “our primative ones” for backword surgery LOL it will arrive from amazon in time. Good cobcalalecence reading. Concerned about e use menuete Will is now a married man! Looking forward to Pezlar’s character. Always wanted a follllowup and character developement on this unique lady. Good eeeading ahead!
Noticed a small error in the article, the article says Synthesis is the fifth Titan novel, when it’s actually the sixth Titan novel.
I have been a fan of the Titan novels from the first one. I have always hoped they would be either a Straight-to-DVD movie or a Series based on Titan
Okay okay okay, I’ll get one – haven’t read
any of this series but I trust you guys –
I’ll try it!
(The unfortunate side-effect is that I will
want them to make an actual movie or
mini-series out of this AND THEY WON’T!)
Isn’t Wil Ryker’s name spelled with two l’s (Will)?
The covers alone have kept me out of Titan. Looks like chick-Trek.
Vanguard is a “maybe” when I finish with my Douglas Adams box set.
#16: Now now, you should never judge a book by its cover.
No, it’s definitely ChickTrek. The bit of one that I read had Troi and Riker crying about having a baby, then Riker crying to his first officer, who’s in love with him.
I stopped reading after that.