Monday, November 26, 2012

Silent Weapons

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations - Silent Weapons by David Mack
Published December 2012
Read November 25th 2012


Previous book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #1: The Persistence of Memory
Next book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #3: The Body Electric


Click to purchase Silent Weapons from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for Silent Weapons and the rest of the Cold Equations series!

From the back cover:
Three years after the disastrous final Borg Invasion, a bitter cold war against the Typhon Pact has pushed Starfleet's resources to the breaking point. Now the rise of a dangerous new technology threatens to destroy the Federation from within.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew answer a distress call from an old friend, only to become targets in a deadly game of deception. To protect a vital diplomatic mission, they must find a way to identify the spies hiding in their midst, before it's too late.
But Worf soon realizes the crew's every move has been predicted: someone is using them as pawns. And the closer they get to exposing their enemy, the deeper they spiral into its trap...

My thoughts:

Where to begin with Silent Weapons? There is a lot going on in this novel. There is a great deal to like and not very much at all to dislike.

Geordi deals with his feelings about
Data's death and his return.
First of all, I'm enjoying how David Mack is dealing with what we all knew was inevitable at some point: Data's return. I really love the ambiguity that accompanies his "resurrection." Is this really Data? The fact that it's not the same Data, exactly, makes this return an interesting one, not just "oh, everything's back to normal now." Again, is this really Data? We know he's not exactly the Data we've come to know and love over seven seasons and four films. For an artificial lifeform, what exactly is life? On the flip side, what is death? Did Data really "die" in Nemesis, and is he really back now? Or is this something completely different? In addition, I love the effect that his return has had on the people around him, especially Geordi. In some ways, Data's return is a double-edged sword. Geordi expresses the requisite relief and happiness at his return, while at the same time he experiences feelings of anger that the past four years of grief and remorse were a waste. This duality seems to be a theme that comes up a number of times in the novel. Data is both the same but different. Geordi is both happy and angry about Data's return. Beverly is both relieved and annoyed at Picard's easy acceptance of the idea of leaving the Enterprise, and then being both protected and "betrayed" by him when he saves her life. Even the Gorn, presenting two faces to the Federation while engaged in the ruse they were put up to by the Breen.

In Silent Weapons, we learn more about the new security chief, Lieutenant Aneta Šmrhová, who replaces Jasminder Choudhury, brutally and senselessly killed by the Breen in The Persistence of Memory. Šmrhová  is a very different security officer when compared to Choudhury. Jasminder had a personal belief in the ideals of non-violence, while Šmrhová seems to have a very different outlook. She can at times be very violent, but uses it effectively as a security chief. There were times when I was surprised by her use of violence, notably when she uses physical force to coerce people. Both Choudhury's and Šmrhová's tactics and outlook made them effective security officers, but their styles are radically different.

Orion: Libertarian paradise?
One part of the novel that piqued my attention was Mack's descriptions of Orion's society. In many ways, the Orion presented in Silent Weapons is a Libertarian paradise. Not to get onto the topic of politics too heavily, but often when I hear libertarian ideals of "small government" and "personal property rights," I feel that a libertarian utopia might look somewhat like Somalia. On Orion, there is poverty and famine. Mack describes Orion as a society capable of eliminating those problems, but chooses not to. I see a lot of parallels between this and the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" conservative mentality. The comparison as presented in this novel is very obviously not accidental.

The secondary characters of The Next Generation really get a chance to shine in this novel. In addition to the development we see for Lieutenant Šmrhová, another of the novelverse-only characters gets her chance to shine. I've always liked the character of T'Ryssa Chen, but it is in Silent Weapons that I've truly come to love her. While in command of the Enterprise, we see a side of her we've never seen before. At one point, she actually hides her rank insignia from the viewscreen while ordering a superior officer to withdraw the USS Atlas from the area. "That is an order, Commander!" had me almost cheering out loud.

As much as I enjoyed The Persistence of Memory, I feel that this installment is even better. The characterizations are dead-on, the stakes are high, and the drama feels truly real. In addition, I'm a sucker for political drama and intrigue. At one point in the novel, I actually thought to myself, "they're not actually going to kill President Bacco, are they?" Then I looked at the name of the author, and realized that yeah, it really is a possibility!

Final thoughts:

 As it stands, the first two books of the Cold Equations trilogy are, for me, the bar against which TrekLit novels should be measured. Silent Weapons, even better than the preceding novel, was a true pleasure to read and had me awake in the wee hours, saying to myself "just one more chapter!" I can't wait for the final book, The Body Electric, coming at the end of December. In a recent podcast interview, author David Mack said that many readers tend to skip the second book in a trilogy, and advised that readers definitely shouldn't do so for this one. I can't help but wholeheartedly agree. David Mack, you've done it again!

More about Silent Weapons:

Also by David Mack:



My next read:

The next novel on my catch-up list is the first in a series: Kevin Ryan's Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance #1: The Edge of the Sword. Coming soon!