Book Review: ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation: Shadows Have Offended’ Is A Fun Romantic Adventure

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.

Available now

Shadows Have Offended was released on July 13, 2021. You can pick it up at Amazon in paperback for $13.99 or Kindle for $11.17.

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


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I will say that it’s nice to see a novel not set in the behemoth post-DS9/Nemesis/VOY world. I still can’t figure out the reading order of that, and it’s super intimidating to try and start.

Will definitely pick this up!

I haven’t tried this one of course, but I can say that the recent string of tie in novels have all been very good.

The Relaunch Litverse continuity has some amazing books. There are some that are great science fiction not just great Trek tie in fiction. It’s worth the effort if you’re a voracious reader like me.

It has several strands though. I picked it up with the post DS9 books and later went back to the TNG and Titan ones. Voyager books are pretty much each a separate thread outside the crossover event miniseries. I used Goodreads to help me figure out the order.

There are however a couple of authors that I decided weren’t for me even if it means skipping books in the series or entire chunks of continuity.

For example, I did not like the sequence of Christie Golden Voyager books and bailed after the second one. Much of that is on the limits the IP owner placed on the publisher rather than the author, but it just wasn’t a future for those characters that I wanted to read. By the time Kirsten Beyer was given the reigns for the Voyager books, she was allowed to bring it back closer to the television series.

If you’re someone who just wants to read a few great books, I would suggest just picking up the Destiny trilogy by David Mack or the Titan series of books. There’s enough in those to fill you in.

https://www.thetrekcollective.com/p/trek-lit-reading-order.html?m=1 this is a great flowchart for the litverse I’m not sure how up to date it is though, but I would say the best bet is to pick your favorite series, start there, and then go until you get to a crossover book, then switch to another series. IE Read the DS9 relaunch books up to the Destiny trilogy, then the Voyager then then Titan

I got to about the 6th book in the DS9 relaunch. There’s a point where following it all just feels like work.

I will not stand for any more ragging on Lwaxanna Troi. Her first 2 appearances were a bit much, but her lare appearances as the Auntie Mame of the Federation were beautifully realized by Majel Barrett (who is underrated as an actress).

I don’t think she is a good actress at all. Having said that she is at her utmost best in TNG season 4 ”Half a Life” A powerful episode on ageing, an episode which is completely forgotten and unpraised. Majel gives it her all… and succeeds beautifully.

I’m not sure I was ragging on Lwaxana Troi. I was expressing my personal feelings toward the character, a character whose appearances I do not enjoy. I am glad that you DO enjoy her character, I simply do not. I thought Majel Barrett was fantastic as Number One and as Christine Chapel in TOS, and there are certainly moments during her portrayals of Lwaxana Troi that I do enjoy.

Live long and prosper!

Lwaxanna is a lot better than Alexander.