In Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation–Cold Equations: Book I of The Persistence of Memory Trilogy by David Mack

Published by Pocket Books, October 30, 2012. Paperback at $7.99.

The cover: A young Noonien Soong smiles over his shoulder as a mature Geordi La Forge looks at “something.” Surrounding their images are mathematical formulae, perhaps the book’s namesake, the “cold equations.” An uncredited cover that got me, along with the author, to pick this book up. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover: “A Brazen Heist: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew race to find out who has stolen Data’s android brother B-4–and for what sinister purpose. A Broken Promise: One desperate father risks all for the son he abandoned forty years ago–but is he ready to pay the price for redemption? A Daring Mission: Against overwhelming odds, and with time running out, Commander Worf has only one chance to avert a disaster. But how high a price will he pay for victory?” Okay, Mr. Mack, you’ve got me wanting to read this book. The first paragraph is about Picard, the third Worf, but the second…? Could it possibly be…? Having Soong on the cover gives away the paragraph, but, how–he’s dead. Right? Overall grade: A

The characters: The cover image and the back’s tease give away Noonien Soong being in the book. He is the protagonist of this novel, any you’re asking yourself, “But he died in the espisode ‘Brothers’. How can this be?” That’s a big reveal, and I won’t give it to you, but you do get it in the first third of the book, so you don’t have to wait for it for too long. The middle of the book is devoted to Soong and adds so much depth to a character we barely got to see on the small screen. Picard is Picard: to the point, decisive, and standing behind his crew. We also get to see him as a father–he married Dr. Crusher and they have a son, Rene. This all-to-brief moment with his child is a perfect parallel to what’s going on in the main story. The other major character is Worf, who is in a relationship with Lt. Jasminder Choudhury. He’s had the worst luck with women, and I’m surprised that this hasn’t marked him among Starfleet’s females. It was nice to see Worf as Picard’s Number One and to see him relax and be intimate with another: Heaven knows he’s earned this. But conflict creates drama, so their relationship takes a turn in Chapter 29. There are villains in this book, but I can’t say who they are or what their motivations are without giving away major plot points. But they are good, and their motivations make sense. Now, to steal a line from Star Wars, “There is another…” Another character appears late in the book. Every fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation will want to read this book for this character’s appearance and what follows it. I actually got misty eyed because this character gave me something I’ve wanted for several years and will, sadly, never see filmed. Overall grade: A

The settings: The book opens on the Starfleet Annex portion of the Daystrom Institute on Galor IV. If the entire book had been set there, exploring the facilities, I would have been a happy man. But the story demands other locales, and we venture about Galor IV as the Enterprise crew searches the planet for someone. Now in Part Two (there are three parts to this book), 205 pages are devoted to Soong roaming the galaxy. Each setting is unique, and I loved how the past history of Trek novels played into his moving to different planets, especially in the year 2381. The book’s final setting is neat, albeit comic book-ish, but I went with it and loved it! This book roams the galaxy without losing its story. Overall grade: A-

The action: Part One is the build up, with lots of chases and plenty of action. The escape sequence is cinematic perfection, once you’ve learned how it was accomplished. Part Three is also movie level action with the angry mob of protagonists being a nice touch. Part Two has no action per se, as it deals with Soong’s travels. A Trek fan, like me, found it fascinating as Mack had us travel for fifteen years with the Doctor. A non-Trek fan might find this too be too much that doesn’t deal enough with the “current” story. I’m torn as a die-hard fan and what a newbie would think. Because of that, I have to lower my fan grade of an A. Overall grade: B

The conclusion: Wow. No, really–wow. I got something that I’ve wanted for a while and Mack gives it to me, and then twists things again with the last page–and don’t you dare peek, or you’ll hate yourself! Incredible ending! Overall grade: A+

The final line: Every Star Trek fan will want to read this book. First, this is a 385 paged novel and I felt the size justified the price. Second, it is a complete novel unto itself, as the main protagonist achieves his heartfelt goal. And, third, My heart begins to race when I think that the saga will continue, because I have absolutely no idea what can happen next. That is the best gift an author can give a Star Trek fan. Overall grade: A

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