Friday, January 20, 2012

I,Q

Star Trek: The Next Generation:
I,Q by John de Lancie and Peter David
Published September 1999
Read January 18th, 2012

Previous book (The Next Generation): The Forgotten War
Next book (The Next Generation): Gemworld, Book One of Two
Spoilers ahead for I,Q!


From the back cover:

The enigmatic entity known as Q remains one of the greatest mysteries in the universe, yet no one, perhaps, understands Q as well as actor John de Lancie, who has played Q on television for more than a decade.  Now de Lancie and Peter David, the bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as Q-in-Law and Q-Squared have joined forces to send Q on an unforgettable cosmic odyssey, told from the mischievous trickster's own unique point of view.
The Maelstrom, a metaphysical whirlpool of apocalyptic proportions, is pulling all of reality into its maw, devouring the totality of time and space while bringing together people and places from throughout the universe.  The Q Continuum pronounces that the end of everything has come, but Q refuses to meekly accept the end of all he has known. Defying the judgment of the Continuum, he sets out to derail doomsday -- at whatever the cost.
Q has been everywhere and done everything, but now he's in for a cosmic thrill ride beyond even his own astonishingly unlimited imagination.  Old friends and adversaries wait in unexpected places, transcendent hazards abound, and the multiverse's most unlikely savior encounters wonders and dangers enough to render Q himself speechless.  Almost.
Can even Q, reluctantly assisted by Jean-Luc Picard, prevent the Universe As We Know It from literally going down the drain?  I, Q is a wild and witty voyage through the secret soul of creation -- as only Q can tell it!

About the Novel:

I,Q is a story told in the first-person by none other than Q himself.  While out on a "simple" fishing expedition with his family, Q witnesses his wife and son being swallowed up by a massive whirlpool, along with millions of other sentient beings.  In this maelstrom, he sees Captain Picard and Data being drawn in as well.  While he is unable to save his family, he is able to keep Picard and Data from sharing their fate.  What follows is Q's strange and surreal journey into the end of the universe to find and rescue his family, aided by Picard and Data.  Along the way, they meet some familiar faces who both help and hinder Q's efforts to save his wife and son.  Eventually, Q manages to confront, in a roundabout way, the force that is behind the calamity befalling all of creation.


My Thoughts:

I,Q is a difficult novel to review.  It breaks many of the conventions of the typical Star Trek novel.  The first-person narrative is an interesting way to approach the story, and is not something that is often done in Trek novels.  The only Star Trek story I can recall reading in recent memory that used a first-person perspective was the Vanguard novella "Hard News" by Kevin Dilmore, from the four-story collection Declassified.  I'm sure there are others, but it is definitely a rarity.  Fittingly, at times I,Q is written in first-person omniscient, perfect for the character of Q.


There were parts of I,Q where the authors did a great job of capturing the voice of Q, and you could hear John de Lancie's own voice narrating the action.  However, there were just as many parts that simply did not ring true.  There is a lot of modern parlance in the book; for example, at one point, Q calls Data an "asswipe."  While somewhat amusing, bits like that served mainly to pull me out of the novel.  While Q is certainly irreverent on the show, I've never known him to use modern slang like that.  At the most, he would call Worf things like "microbrain" and a "Klingon goat."


I also got the distinct impression that many parts of the novel were trying to be overly clever, and at times I was vaguely reminded of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.  The tone of some passages of I,Q, while similar, of course never approaches the cleverness and, dare I say, genius of Douglas Adams' most well-known work.


While some parts of I,Q are quite well-written and engaging, the work as a whole felt like it should have been more.  The stakes are quite high: the entirety of the multiverse itself. However, the feeling of true suspense and danger doesn't materialize often, and when it does, it doesn't last for long.  The ending does put a very interesting twist on things, and without giving too much away, it challenges Q's (and, I suspect, most of the the audience's) expectations.


Final Thoughts:

For the most part, I,Q is fairly middle-of-the-road.  However, it does explore one of my favorite secondary Trek characters.  The first-person point of view is interesting, but the right "voice" isn't always captured.  I,Q often also tries to be a little too clever for its own good.  Very much a "fluff" read, this story didn't really do a lot for me, and at times felt a lot like fan fiction rather than a true Trek novel.

I have to give I,Q a 5.5/10.  Not great.  Not completely awful, but not compelling enough for me to give much of a recommendation.