Star Trek: The Next Generation: Shadows Have Offended
By Cassandra Rose Clarke
Published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, ebook, and audiobook
REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS
For a moment, everyone was quiet while the wind whistled around them. In the darkness, the station didn’t look like a beacon, even though it was wreathed in warm light. It felt as if something was lurking inside, keeping itself hidden.
“Dammit. I’m stumped,” Crusher said, turning to Riker, and she didn’t know if that was fear she saw in his face.
Someone has stolen three of Betazed’s most sacred ancient relics right from under the noses of the entire planet’s best security forces – and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. Meanwhile, a routine last-check survey mission on a thoroughly-studied planet about to undergo colonization goes haywire as both Federation technology – including Lt. Cdr. Data – and personnel begin behaving in erratic, dangerous ways. Solving these parallel mysteries will tax the best efforts of Lt. Worf, Counselor Troi, Cdr. Riker, Dr. Crusher, and their crewmates, just as much as mollifying a desperate Lwaxana Troi will tax the best efforts of their Captain.
Cassandra Rose Clark’s first Star Trek licensed novel, Shadows Have Offended, doesn’t really weave these two stories together, but spins each tale off in intriguing ways. Set just before the Star Trek: The Next Generation finale, “All Good Things…” one of Shadows’ storylines draws from the tropes of romance novels, while the other embodies ideas from the best traditions of horror and science fiction. And while the separateness of the two strands prevents the novel from having thematic cohesion, the sheer enjoyment provided by each story makes this a book well worth reading.
Clark, who in her young career has become known for award-winning speculative fiction tales that excel in world-building, clearly understands the Star Trek universe and embraces it as a fan, while bringing her own unique sensibilities to the work. We get strong glimpses of the romantic relationship between Deanna Troi and Worf, in passages that bring a welcome emotionalism to what can sometimes be a heady franchise and helps us make sense of the ways in which the two of them complement each other well.
As Worf and Troi chase down the culprit in the relic heist, the story moves from romance to swashbuckling adventure, introducing us to spies, and schemes, and secret bases. Meanwhile, the science mystery taking place light years away indulges in mildly creepy horror, and the terror of high technology run amok, before plunging the reader into a first contact scenario with a race whose alien-ness fires the reader’s imagination and wonder. It was great to see Dr. Crusher take a starring role as a scientist and a doctor, trying to piece together a puzzle whose pieces simply don’t seem to fit together at all.
Somewhat sidelined is Captain Jean Luc Picard, whose role in all of this seems to be to stay behind and manage Ambassador Troi and the Betazoid authorities, while griping internally about the ceremonial pants he is required to wear. As a fan who almost always found Lwaxana to be a cringe-inducing character, and who did not enjoy the humiliations she imposed on Captain Picard (and later, Odo), I could have done without these indignities, brief though they were. Although I have to admit, these scenes were well within the established onscreen characters of both Picard and Mrs. Troi. It’s not that Clarke isn’t writing these characters well – it’s that I generally dislike even the canonical interactions between the two.
One of the chief joys of the Short Treks TV series was the experimental feel of many of the episodes – taking Trek into new genres and areas of fiction, and introducing new writers, directors, composers, and actors into the Trek family. Shadows Have Offended plays very much into this theory that Trek is a concept that can work well in a variety of shades and tones. Cassandra Rose Clarke is a worthy addition to the pantheon of Trek novelists, and her unique contributions to the TNG palette are welcome and enjoyable.
It is also available as an audiobook on Amazon and Audible. Listen to a sample below.
More new and upcoming Star Trek fiction
August 17 – Picard: Rogue Elements by John Jackson Miller
September 28 – Coda Book 1: Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward
October 12 – Coda Book 2: The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow
November 30 – Coda Book 3: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack
December 21 – DS9: Revenant by Alex White
April 26, 2022 – Picard: Second Self by Una McCormack
Find more news and reviews of Star Trek books at TrekMovie.com.
DISCLAIMER: We may link to products to buy on Amazon in our articles; these are customized affiliate links that support TrekMovie by earning a small commission when you purchase through them.