Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2012: "Fallen Gods"

As the starship Titan continues its journey of exploration deep into the Beta Quadrant, the Andorian succession issue serves up an added complication in the midst of an already tricky mission in a dangerously unstable region of space as Michael A. Martin’s new novel “Fallen Gods” hits the ground running.
by Michael A. Martin
Mass Market paperback – 368 pages
Pocket Books – August 2012 – $7.99

The planet Ta’ith is home to two competing tribes of sentients – the Deconstructors and the Preservations; and their continued existence is imperiled by the growing radiation field being generated by the Vela Pulsar. The two sides, however, have completely opposite strategies for dealing with the problem. For the Preservationists, it is only the technology of their predecessor race – known as the ‘Fallen Gods’ – that will be able to save them. The Deconstructors, however, believe that the technology is the source of all their woes, and that only its destruction will serve a propitious purpose.

Of course, this background information is unknown to Captain Riker and the crew of the Titan, who find themselves anticipating the arrival of one of the Federation’s new slipstream starships to remove, through ‘reassignment’, the ship’s Andorian crew members. Riker does not take kindly to the request, but this is only the beginning of his complications, as an Andorian warship shows up demanding the repatriation of every last Andorian under his command
A little help, please?
As “Fallen Gods” scope expands, the reader discovers two very disconcerting truths. One, which threatens Tuvok’s sanity, has a root planted in the soil of Ta’ith and it’s predecessor race; the other takes place among the corridors and transporter chambers of the Andorian warship. The former signifies great potential for gain and loss in the life of Tuvok and in the Titan’s mission of exploration, while the latter represents a dangerous turning point for Andorian/Federation relations.

Martin does a convincing job of painting Ta’ith’s environs… it was easy to envision both the aliens and the Starfleeters sojourning across the radiation-scoured wastes of the planet’s surface, and through his word-smithing, they are some of the most vivid images I have been able to generate from a Star Trek novel. The simple dichotomy of the positions of the planetary inhabitants lent itself well to the visual impression as well. Here were two parties, nearing a total dead end, whose fundamental disagreement threatened the existence they had. Onward they went, oblivious of what was present in their Sacred City… bent on a hellish path of death and destruction whose finality was reflected in the lands and skies of their home.

It is not, however, the truly alien (to a Star Trek fan) that Martin alone masterfully weaves. His treatment of the Andorians, a race very well known to fans through Star Trek: Enterprise and the recent novels examining their place in the local galaxy adds a unique and interesting spin on how we view their armed forces in particular.

Who invited them to
the sector?
Combined with a recent re-watch of the Enterprise episode “Proving Ground”, visualizing the Andorian ship and populating it with Martin’s creations was an intensely satisfying change of pace… one which serves the continuing evolution of the current Star Trek literary journey well.

“Fallen Gods” wraps itself up with both neat endings and hanging threads: endings which continue to demonstrate the resourcefulness that can come about when infinite diversity is allowed to work in infinite combinations, and which add chilling new potentials for frightening after effects for many members of the Titan’s crew, as well as for the Federation.

“Fallen Gods” is, quite possibly, the best solo work by Michael A. Martin that I have ever read. It is definitely worth your time and money if you are looking for an action-packed Star Trek adventure that still has plenty of moral implications… isn’t that the reason we all got into Star Trek in the first place?

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