Book Review- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons

David Mack really got his mojo on for “The Persistence of Memory”, but can he keep his game on for a follow-up? Well, Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the starship Enterprise had better hope so, because an interstellar operation is about to blow up right in their faces in the newly released second novel in the Cold Equations trilogy, “Silent Weapons." The TrekMovie review follows below.


by David Mack
Mass Market Paperback – 340 pages
Pocket Books – November 27, 2012 – $7.99

In spite of some lingering nasty side effects of the crew’s preceding mission, the Enterprise has gotten herself back into a routine, this time fiddling around with some of the science of metaphasic radiation – yep, the same stuff that they stumbled across back on the Baku planet in “Insurrection”. The experiment attracts the attention of the Typhon Pact, which is just fine, because the real fireworks are occurring somewhere else… specifically, on Orion, where one of the titans of interstellar banking is about to become the central focus of not one but two investigations that may well serve to forge elements of the future of local space. But, when Geordi LaForge receives a private distress call that could only come from one source, the crew walks right into the middle of a highly guarded secret – where the stakes are far higher than some stock dividends or casino winnings. The outcome of the secret game will have repercussions in both the Federation and Gorn halls of power, one that will ultimately end in quiet words whispered on the soil of Cestus III.

LaForge receives a private distress call, bringing the Enterprise to the heart of the action

As the reader enters David Mack’s new novel, “Silent Weapons”, two months have passed. As is typical of contemporary Trek literature, you can definitely tell that the universe has subtly altered. Worf’s most recent personal setback remains just a footstep behind him, Picard and Crusher’s relationship continues evolving along a new dynamic line, and the rest of the universe continues to spin inexorably around. And that is, of course, where the rub is – fortunately for us readers.

The relationship evolves

Never one to shy away from a complex story, Mack takes the reader into the heart of an operation that draws on some of the technological threads present in last month’s novel, “The Persistence of Memory”, while at the same time exposing a significantly deeper set of priorities on the part of certain members of the Typhon Pact. Détente has created some impressions of weakness among members of the Pact, and it didn’t take long for someone to recognize the chance to throw multiple monkey wrenches into the process.

Within “Silent Weapons”, we are treated to significant glimpses of the internal political activities of the Federation, as well as those of several members of the Typhon Pact. Federation President Bacco and her retinue make an outstanding and engaging contribution to the story, and Mack makes great use of them as the interstellar chess game plays out at their proverbial front door. In what is, quite possibly, Bacco’s finest contribution to the lit-verse to date, she is forced to realize the high price that civil office can exact from a states-person while, at the same time, leaving open the doors to the ongoing process of rapprochement with at least some of the Federation’s antagonists.

Among the welcome guest appearances in “Silent Weapons”, Captain Morgan Bateson’s was both entertaining and purposeful. His scenes open with what feel like a loving Starfleet send-up of shore patrol scenes from movies such as “Mister Roberts” before events of galactic significance leave the liberty mess far in the rear view mirror.

A welcome addition to the story

Equally impressive is the way that Lieutenant T’Ryssa Chen steps up in this month’s book. Chen bluffing her way into ordering a superior officer to withdraw in the middle of a potential battle situation was priceless, and Mack’s writing really allows Chen’s characterization to flower exponentially. In taking a gutsy tack while serious Federation interests are at stake, Chen probably earned herself a reprimand and, one could hope, a promotion… which hopefully means she’ll get some more extensive face time in future stories.

A deeper examination of general Orion culture and ethic is present in “Silent Weapons” than we have truly been exposed to previously. Mack uses his keyboard to more fully develop Orion society in a way that is able to comment obliquely (and, at times, directly) on contemporary first-world society, both as it is today, and as it could be if compassion and perspective are not present in the ongoing evolution of industrialized society. Star Trek has always provided a pulpit of sorts for social commentary, and Mack seamlessly works his thoughts into the story, ensuring that they serve to actually further the story while, at the same time, they comment on twenty-first century reality.

Orion culture gets some further exposition

“Silent Weapons” is another outstanding story, expertly crafted, and powerfully presented. Mack’s pitched two winners in a row… and, in just a few short weeks, he’ll go for the series sweep with “The Body Electric”. Something tells me that it just may be the time to shine up an MVP trophy.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons: Book Two" is in book stores now and can be ordered from Amazon.


This is the second book of the trilogy, The first book (Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Persistence of Memory: Book One) came out at the end of October and the third (Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Body Electric: Book Three) is due at the end of this month. You can order all 3 from Amazon below.

Review copy provided by Pocket Books

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This trilogy must not be in the same continuity as the countdown comics/Star Trek online novel.

Big Fan of David Mack one of the better trek authors.

Its not. Right after the events of Nemesis, the two time lines divulge.

Star Trek: Colon: Punctuation: Out of Control

3. Pointing Out The Obvious – December 7, 2012

Its not. Right after the events of Nemesis, the two time lines divulge.

Divulge what? The name of the villian in “Into Darkness”??


Nice. I made similar mention of that over on Amazon I think. I wish they’d just standardize to things like Star Trek TNG at least. It does get rather ridiculous. (and impossible to read on things like the iBookstore over at iTunes, where you just get STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERA… and that’s it. You’ve got to know what you’re searching for)

I’m having a hard time getting back into reading anything that’s not TOS-era because of all the cross-series referencing and crossover novels that become required reading for anything in the post-Nemesis Trek universe. I read the TNG Relaunch Series (starting with A DEATH IN WINTER) all the way through LOSING THE PEACE, as I recall; really enjoyed the whole DESTINY series and the Borg Resolution, as it were. I’d like to jump back in but don’t really get what the whole Typhon Pact is about. Seems like there’s too many prerequisites to just enjoy a Trek story.

Again, though, that’s why I like anything written in the TOS-era (from pre-Kirk through to the Crucible Trilogy, which I kind of personally consider the end of the TOS era); the stories are typically self-contained and quite entertaining. Some are crap, sure; but it’s nice to pick up one of the books and know that I’ll finish the story when I get to the end of the book.

@6 do historical research. The Typhon Pact is a Star Trek version of post WW2 Warsaw Pact where a group of nations banded together in an alliance against a common enemy. From that point the general ambiance of the Typhon Pact/Federation dealings mirror the Cold War to a degree.

As for these novels being in a separate continuity, its a very complex continuity post-Nemesis, so possibly not. This all still takes place prior to the destruction of Romulus but with 2 Romulan states, one the enemy of The Federation and the other friendly to it. As for the Data Factor, multiple possible explanations are seeded in these novels as to why Data looked his typical self in Countdown yet is described as human-looking in these novels. Without getting TOO spoilery, a new class of Soong-type androidsthat have the ability to alter their appearance at will were developed, of which NuData is one. There are other ‘differences’ but not necessarily ones suggesting two timelines, but rather details yet-to-be-clarified. Perhaps cover story vs. reality, etc.

The Romulan states have already reunited in “Rough Beasts of Empire”, set in 2382.

The Litverse continuinity foreshadows developments of “Countdown”, e.g. introducing the black-haired, female Human tactical officer and Picard’ soon step-down from command. Some things are different, though, e.g. the methods of Data’s return.

Careful, folks… I’ve avoided spoilers in the reviews. Please avoid major spoilers in the comments as well.

@9 I forgot that one. thanks for reminding me. Aside from that though, y earlier hypothesis still holds. Any great writer, if he or she chose, could invent a plausible, non-alternate timeline way of explaining the differences in Data’s return methods. Also, I vaguely remember something about there being 2 Datas by then, the uberData in Cold Equations on, and the B-4 version, which was probably the one seen in Countdown.

Books and comics always seemed to exist in their own worlds. However, the novels do seem to be working toward taking some of Countdown into account (i.e. Picard considering diplomacy for the future, Data’s return). In Raise the Dawn, Sisko made an inference to Red Matter I believe when he thought what would happen if the artificial wormhole created by the Breen was used on a star. I think as we get closer to 2387 in the novels, you’ll see more of that taken into account. Obviously, the destruction of Romulus is canon, so that definitely will be seen in the novels. It may spell the end of the Typhon Pact, since Romulus is a huge part of the Pact.