by joseph walter
I always make it a priority to visit an antique shop that has a large collection of comic books. I've discovered some rare and unusual books, from comic companies that have long since disappeared. After flipping through the comics this past vacation, I decided to see what the shop's novel selection was like on a whim.
I found nearly every single Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in existence, along with an aged Battlestar Galactica book. In the mood for something a little heavier than the comics, I decided to purchase "Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vendetta - The Giant Novel" for the sheer dopiness of it all.
The cover was beyond silly, featuring the least threatening Borg I've ever seen, and a generic-looking Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Patrick Stewart. Hell, even the title was beyond generic: Vendetta. Really? And worse yet… "The Giant Novel." The Giant Novel. How stupid is that?
I figured it'd be a decent romp to read while my feet hung off the edge of the island, dipped into the refreshing water.
When we got back to camp, I brought it with me to the edge of the water and told myself I'd read one chapter before diving into the much more alluring "The Boy Who Loved Batman" by Michael Uslan.
It only took one chapter.
Without giving anything away, I'll try to vaguely summarize it by saying that this opening involves the most chilling, detailed, developed and haunting description of what an extinction-level event would be like. It's like the author was transported by Q himself to witness these events, far off in the Delta Quadrant. And despite the boring, non-threatening Borg on the cover, make no mistake: The Borg mean business in this book, and you'll soon fear them.
Lucky for me, the excellence of the first chapter didn't end with the words "Chapter Two." Instead, I was treated to an excellently paced and rich story about the nature of vengeance, chasing one's dreams, and the consequences of devotion.
One of the stand-out elements of the book was how author Peter David described the body language of each character. Not only were the characters' voices very distinct, their unique actions were also very interesting to read. They gave a totally different layer to the depth of each character, and I've never seen this kind of attention to detail in any other book.
Along with the main cast getting the royal treatment, I was also pleasantly surprised and impressed to see that nearly every single minor character, whether simply a name in one sentence or more recurring, to be exceptionally three-dimensional. Special details were given to the reader to paint a picture of each one, whether it was a quirk, a reputation, or even a little bit of body language, the author made each seem like a real person in a very, very short amount of time and space.
Peter wrote very densely, but never in an overbearingly dense way like The Lord of the Rings. It flowed quickly and smoothly. The writing, despite some minor spelling errors, made use of an excellent vocabulary, and even the patented "techno-babble" that Star Trek is famous for was extremely digestible. I never had trouble taking in every detail and was quickly able to zoom through the book.
The story itself was a great addition to the Next Generation universe, and it also incorporated quite a few elements from the original series as well, along with more than a few nods to previous events in the lore.
In short (and spoiler free) the ever-marching, one-minded, cybernetic-nightmares, the Borg, have returned to pose a threat to the Federation once again. However, they are met with an ancient opposition for which they were unbelievably unprepared for.
Aware of both the return of the Borg and now this new, extremely powerful threat, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the skilled crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise must investigate both of these players in a desperate attempt to protect the Federation.
But something is amiss. Guinan, the mysterious long-time friend of Picard, and bartender of the ship, has fallen ill, as a powerful psychic presence is calling to her. And whatever it could be may spell doom to thousands of worlds.
My only gripe with the tale was that one character (who was integral to the plot) often had cheesy lines (well, it was 1991) and that a certain element, which was seemingly supposed to be a twist, was not only extremely easy to figure out, but also slightly cheesy as well… a very harsh contrast from the rest of the book's gravitas.
Speaking of gravitas, the climax of the book lasts through many chapters, but never once did I feel exhausted by this. Mr. David managed to keep me on the edge of my seat through the entire sequence, with the stakes being constantly raised.
The descriptions of the space battles and technical aspects of the Enterprise and other ships were thrilling to read, which was a surprise, as those elements can be harder to convey without the accompanying visuals of the television shows and films. Nevertheless, David delivered.
I'd actually recommend this book to not only Star Trek fans, but also sci-fi fans in general. It's that good.
If you manage to see a copy and are slightly intrigued, I suggest picking it up immediately. Resistance is Futile (I'm sorry. I had to do it)