The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tangled Webs - A Review of Star Trek: TNG: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons by David Mack

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons by David Allen Mack (2012)

Set just a little over four years after the events of the motion picture Nemesis, and picking up where the first book in the Cold Equations trilogy left off, this second installment is another good story by the celebrated Star Trek author, David Allen Mack.

Just to briefly recap the events of the first novel, cyberneticist Noonien Soong has transferred his memories and essence into a superior android body and goes on a quest to restart a relationship with his estranged former wife, Juliana.  He learns about Data’s death while saving Picard from Shinzon and that Data had uploaded his memories into the android B4.  Knowing that B4 would soon suffer a cascade failure as he was not designed to handle the information given him by Data, Soong sacrifices himself by uploading Data’s information into himself from B4.  Thanks to this sacrifice, Data is “reborn” in a highly advanced android body.  But not only does he Data possess his own memories, but he also has retained all of the memories and knowledge of his creator, Soong.

In the midst of this, the crew of the Enterprise discovers and destroys a Borg installation that Data’s brother, Lore, was using to create Soong-type androids.  After the Borg were destroyed, it was learned that the Breen were using the installation to create an unlimited supply of android soldiers to aid their attempt to take over the Alpha Quadrant.

Data was offered to have his commission reinstated, however he refused to go off in search of another cyberneticist named Vaslovik, also known as Flint; an immortal who spent centuries perfecting his technique to create the perfect companion for himself.  Data believes that with Vaslovik’s help, he might be able to bring Lal back into existence.  Lal was the daughter created by Data in the TNG television series who suffered a catastrophic cascade failure of her neural network.

Now we pick up with Silent Weapons.  Data is on the planet Orion working to find the whereabouts of Vaslovik.  In the meantime, the Bank of Orion is attacked by an android and an intelligence officer that is aiding Data in his search is murdered by an android.  Being that Data is the only known android on the planet, he is accused of the crime and arrested.  Using a small but powerful transmitter, Data summons Geordi La Forge aboard the Enterprise-E.  The crew of the Enterprise was currently engaged in the investigation in the disappearance of a small Starfleet patrol vessel and the two-person crew aboard.  When Picard learns of Data’s distress signal, and realizing that the patrol vessel’s crew would have ran out of air, the rescue mission had turned into a salvage mission.  Picard decides that he owes Data his life and must head to Orion to aid his former officer.

As the Enterprise arrives at Orion, it is discovered that another starship, the USS Atlas is already in orbit.  In no uncertain terms, Picard is informed that he and the Enterprise are not welcome and should leave immediately.  Picard soon learns that Federation President Bacco is on Orion in negotiations with representatives of the Gorn government.  Since the events in the first Cold Equations novel, the Enterprise has been under close scrutiny by the Breen. 

We learn that the Gorn government has been instructed by the Breen to drag out the talks.  At some point the president’s most trusted advisor is murdered and replaced with an android who shoots a weapon at an official reception in an apparent attempt to assassinate the Gorn and Federation leaders.  Data and La Forge capture the android and discover that it doesn’t have a positronic brain, but rather uses a telepresence system which allows it to be controlled by telepathy.  It is also determined that the Breen are behind this plot.  This gets the Gorn ambassador thinking that the Breen might be willing to sacrifice his people at the talks, so he tells the Federation president all about the duplicit nature of the talks.

The crew follows the signal that the Breen are using to control the androids but find that the controllers that send the signals have been killed.  Starfleet tracks down more androids that are being controlled by the Breen but Picard figures out that that almost everything that has happened to this point has been a ruse to divert attention from the real goal; a crashed ship that is capable of creating artificial wormholes.  Picard orders the ship destroyed.  The Breen Domo (their political and military leader) is deposed, thus apparently ending their attempt to usurp power in the Alpha Quadrant.

 With all that done, the Gorn and Federation reopen their talks on an apparently more serious note.

 Data again departs from the enterprise to continue his search for Vaslovik only to learn from his “mother,” Juliana, that Vaslovik has been abducted and his whereabouts are unknown.

David Mack gives us a look into the wheeling and dealing of the Typhon Pact, a conglomeration of powers that have been known to be hostile to the Federation.  Perhaps he is giving us a look into the beginnings of the breaking down of the Pact as some of its members begin striking out to advance their own agendas of power grabbing.

Silent Weapons also gives us a look into the personal lives of Picard, who tends to live a very private life.  Picard and Beverly Crusher are married in this series and have had a son, and we see how Picard is now reassessing his role in life while he struggles with the responsibilities of captaining the Enterprise, and being a father.  It would seem that he is actually thinking of taking retirement.

As it was in the case of the first Cold Equations novel, the voice of the characters is clear and Mack has them down so well that I could actually hear them as I read the book.  I am very much looking forward to the final installment of the series in which I assume Data searches for and finds Vaslovik. 

This is a good quality story that I really enjoyed and would recommend.

Podcast News

The Scifi Diner Podcast has released Conversations Episode 83.  In this episode there are further thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness as well as talks about the Arrow finale, Once Upon a Time, and After Earth.  I have also learned that the Diner will soon be releasing an interview episode with Mike Schilling who will discuss the this year’s Shoreleave  Convention.

With the imminent opening of the new CBS series, Under The Dome, based on the novel by Stephen King, Wayne Henderson and Troy Heinritz are planning to release an episode in which they discuss the book and will discuss how aspects of the book may be included in the series, or not due to the extremely graphic nature of the novel.

Admiral Marius (Rick) at Starbase 66 is planning the release of another of his Round Table discussions on the subject of Dr. Who.  He informs me that this should be coming out quite soon, so watch for it.

As for me, I am planning to next read the next novel in the Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson: Green Mars.

Well, there it is…