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Thursday, June 15, 2006
Summer Reading, Book 2: Star Trek: Titan - The Red King
I have to start this out by saying I've read more than my fair share of Star Trek tie-in novels over the years. For years, I bought and read every one that came out in paperback and, more often than not, got the hard cover ones either on sale the first week they were out or from the library. It was only in the mid-90s when Pocket started putting out multiple books a month as well as crossover event novels that I began to lose some of my enthusiasm for the Trek novels. Well, that and it was difficult to justify the expense of keeping up with every single novel that came out.

In the midst of that, Pocket took a new direction with the books. Instead of just crossovers between the series or multi-part novels, Pocket decided to expand the Star Trek universe. The first such expansion was Peter David's highly successful New Frontier series. The New Frontier novels were, for better or worse, became the template for future expansions of the Star Trek universe.

Of course, not all of them have been quite on the same level that Peter David's New Frontier are. But then again, that was true of all Trek novels before New Frontier burst on the scene. (In my mind, it was Peter David and then everyone else...though recently Trek author Keith R.A. DeCanddido is approaching Peter David-like, must-read status on my Trek reading list). There were the wildly successful series (DS9 relaunch), the good but not great series (Stargazer) and then the ones that didn't do much for me (Voyager reluanch).

In the past couple of years, Trek fiction has done what most hard-core Trek fans would like it to--fill in the gaps from the movies and shows and expand the Trek universe. Whereas in the 80s and 90s we had lots of stand-alone Trek novels, these days we have more stories that take place within a consistently imagined universe.

Then came Nemesis. And while it didn't directly violate much established Trek litereature continuity, it did bring up some interesting questions about how the characters got were they were and what would happen next. And to give Pocket credit, it took advantage of those raised question to step up the game in the Trek literature universe with novels and stories that answered those questions.

Star Trek: Titan is one of those off-shoots. Titan chronicles Riker as he takes command of his own ship and the crew member he will be working with. Some are familiar faces from the TV shows, some are familiar faces from the novels and some are new characters.
The series started off well with Taking Wing, a novel that was so anticipated by fans that it made the USA Today best-seller list. Taking Wing ended on a a cliffhanger that led right into the next novel in the series, The Red King.

When we left off at the end of Taking Wing, Riker and the crew of the Titan were searching for a missing Romulan fleet. Their investigation led them to a spacial anamoly that sent the ship 200,000 light years across space. Now, the crew must find a way to get back home and find out what happened to the Romulan fleet.

On the journey with them are Romulan and Klingon ships, both of whom mis-trust each other greatly.

The Red King is not only a continuation of Taking Wing, but it's a sequel to The Lost Era's The Sundered. We meet up again with the alien race, the Nygel, a human off-shoot that colonized this area of space. Riker and company's journey to this part of space has awakened a new proto-universe that will, if not stopped, expand and destroy the section of space the Nygel live in.

In a lot of ways Taking Wing and The Red King feel like a giant two-hour premiere for Titan (if we're talking in TV terms). In them, we meet the crew, set into motion some of the group dynamics and see how the group works together for the first time. Taken togehter, the two novels are a great introduction to to the series, though I'll admit I liked Taking Wing more. There are parts of The Red King that get a bit bogged down by the technobabble of the new universe and what's going on. Also, there are long passages of the crew trying to connect with the xenophobic Nygel that get a bit repetative.

But the story has a strong start and a strong finish. The middle sags a bit, but I can see what the authors were trying to do, so I'll cut them some slack.

Titan is definitely a keeper of a series and has some great potential.




posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/15/2006 09:58:00 AM | |
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