Thursday, December 23, 2010

Star Trek: Typhon Pact - Seize the Fire by Michael A. Martin

Spoiler Level: Medium

The Typhon Pact series continues, this time focusing on the USS Titan and the Gorn.  And unlike the previous Aventine book, this one is a full-out Titan book, picking up several months after the previous Titan book Synthesis and a year after the Destiny trilogy, so baby Natasha is now a year old.  (And as such, I'll be putting it with my Titan books on my shelf despite the Typhon Pact title.  Isn't your life complete now that you know that?)

The Gorn have suffered a disaster as the only planet that holds their warrior-caste creche is made uninhabitable.  Both the Titan and the Gorn discover an "ecosculptor," capable of instantly terraforming a planet from orbit.  The Gorn want it to build a new creche world; Riker wants it to help restore planets devastated by the Borg.  And Tuvok remembers how much death and disaster was caused by the previous instant terraforming deivce, Project Genesis.

(And just as an aside, I really like that term, "ecosculpting."  It makes much more sense than the Earth-centric term "terraforming" for a future with such a diverse range of different species.  But I digress.)

The story delves deeply into the Gorn culture, as it sets up that there are many many castes to the Gorn, and we've only ever seen one, the Warrior Caste.  It creates some great new characters, such as separated Gorn lovers S'syrixx and Z'shezhira (who in case you couldn't tell from the names, are lovers who are Gorn, not characters who love Gorn).  Through S'syrixx we get a fascinating view of the Federation through the eyes of the Gorn, who feel that there's no way that mammals could truly be capable of compassion and are repeatedly shocked to learn that they can.  It forces both sides to examine their own internal prejudices against such radically different looking species.

Since the book is dealing with the reptilian Gorn, we also get to see a lot with the more reptilian Titan crew members this time, such as Dr. Ree and Qur Qontallium.   The machine SecondGen White-Blue from Synthesis is still a regular character, which only helps to emphasize the ship's diversity.

Along those lines, pardon me while I digress for a bit here again.  With half of the crews on the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine novels being new, and more-or-less completely original crews for the New Frontier, Starfleet Corps of Engineers, Stargazer, Gorkon, Titan, Vanguard, and Aventine series, the Titan crew really, really stands out.  I'm sure part of it is because it has the most exotic crew with more alien races than any of the other books, but I think part of it is that this crew has really become like a family, and I don't feel like that's happened in any of the other series since New Frontier.  (Including Star Trek: Enterprise. Well okay, maybe except for the 15th Squad in the Gorkon books.)

While this book doesn't emphasize the Typhon Pact as the Federation's political rival quite as heavily as Zero Sum Game, it does delve into how the Gorn are now a part of that alliance, and how some of the Gorn aren't totally comfortable with it.  If a catastrophe like what the Gorn are facing where to happen in the Federation, the member worlds would be pulling together to try and help them find a solution; in the Typhon Pact, the Gorn feel they have to solve this on their own so as not to appear weak to the rest of the Typhon Pact and maintain their own strength.

Tuvok's given a lot to do as well; he seems to have pulled himself together much more since the previous books, where he's been grieving the loss of his son and daughter-in-law in the Destiny trilogy.  I really like Tuvok; he was my favorite Voyager character, woefully underused there, and at his best when he's struggling with his Vulcan discipline.  He's much more complex than the average Vulcan, and that makes him far more interesting than say T'Pol. 

All in all it's a great read and a very fun book.  Michael A. Martin has written a great story that held my interest from cover to cover.  And while this novel does wrap up its story, it leaves a very wide open element for its consequences in the next book.  Can't wait to see what happens to the Titan family next!

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