Review by C.J. Bunce
Insidious. That’s the nature of the threat to all life in the trilogy of novels called Star Trek Coda, which winds-up in David Mack’s character- and action-packed novel Oblivion’s Gate, coming to bookstores tomorrow. Star Wars gave us the Death Star, but at least you could try to negotiate with the Empire. The enemy here is more like a virus, where resistance may–this time–actually really be futile.
For every effort worth fighting for, somebody will stand in the way, attempting to thwart actions even when they are aimed to benefit everyone. In this tale that role falls to Will Riker, although readers will find a different twist, different from doppelganger Thomas Riker but also similar, more Tuvix actually. And despite the twist this Riker is as brilliant as ever. As with Coda book one, Dayton Ward’s Moments Asunder (reviewed here), and book two, James Swallow’s The Ashes of Tomorrow (reviewed here), Mack pulls some of our favorite supporting characters in for a swan song of epic proportions.
One of the best of the short-lived heroes of the NextGen era was K’Ehleyr, a character readers may find to be even better in her Mirror Universe incarnation (yes, book three has a big Mirror universe component). I found myself wanting to speed through the other subplots to focus on what was happening between her and normal timeline’s Worf and Alexander. I was not disappointed.
One thread of battle takes readers back in time to the events of First Contact (the movie, not the episode). Which means “our” man Picard must face his inner-Locutus fears again. Another thread sees Vedek Kira Nerys in a last-ditch effort to seek help from her gods to save the universe. So many stories are possible with the Vulcan (and part Romulan, depending on your source) Saavik, and we see a new side of her here, back again with a familiar Vulcan of her (and our) acquaintance. It doesn’t fare as well for them as expected. But it’s fun.
“Not faring well” is the foreboding theme throughout this hefty read, full of your favorite crew members working with or against those other crew members from the original series, NextGen, Deep Space Nine, and to a lesser extent Voyager. A particularly good sequence finds Picard in a sort of dream state, going back through his life with the horror of the Borg Queen’s face appearing in the role of various people from his past. It reminded me both of a John Carpenter moment and the kind of thing Q would have done during the NextGen series. Good stuff. Mack also breathes life into a character I’d lost interest in sometime around the second season of Deep Space Nine: Doctor Julian Bashir.
Back to Star Wars analogies: In the End, Oblivion’s Gate ultimately is a strange mix of Luke Skywalker as seen in the third trilogy with the weight of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Readers will find interesting treks across time with characters that are familiar and expanded stories that fit the tone of the rooms full of writers who hashed out the television series, as well as 20 years of tie-in novelists.
If you aren’t a fan of killing off beloved characters, Oblivion’s Gate–and the entire trilogy–likely is not for you. It’s worth a study for someone someday to determine why writers so frequently resort to killing off characters when there are so many more stories to tell. But you’ll need to argue that point with the owners of the licenses for not just Star Trek, like Star Wars, Marvel, DC, James Bond, Harry Potter, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Firefly… it’s a long list. But if you liked watching that clambake of Enterprise ships on the brink of destruction in the TNG classic episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” Oblivion’s Gate is for you.
The dread of TNG’s finale “All Good Things…” and Voyager’s finale “Endgame” concludes. David Mack’s Oblivion’s Gate is available for pre-order today here at Amazon, available everywhere tomorrow, November 30). Don’t forget to first pick up Dayton Ward’s Moments Asunder, available here and reviewed here, and James Swallow’s The Ashes of Tomorrow available here and reviewed here, all from Simon & Schuster.