Sunday, December 14, 2014

Intellivore

Star Trek: The Next Generation #45
Intellivore by Diane Duane
Published April 1997
Read November 13th 2014


Previous book (The Next Generation): #44: The Death of Princes

Next book (The Original Series): #46: To Storm Heaven

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Spoilers ahead for Intellivore!

From the back cover:
The Great Rift lies between the Sagittarius and Orion arms of the galaxy. Stars are scarce there, beyond the authority of the Federation, and legends abound of lost civilizations and of ancient monsters that prey on those who dare to venture into the vast darkness between the stars. When several ships and colonies mysteriously disappear into the Rift, the USS Enterprise leads an expedition to investigate various disturbing reports. Accompanied by two other Federation starships, Picard and his fellow captains discover a bizarre menace of unimaginable power. And the only way to trap this destructive entity is to use the Enterprise as bait.

My thoughts:

Reading a previously un-read book by an author you've come to love is like slipping on an old pair of really comfortable shoes. They may be old and somewhat left behind by newer models, but there's just something about how comfortable, how "right" they feel. Such is the case with reading a Diane Duane novel I've never before had the pleasure of reading. A few years ago, I fell in love with Duane's depiction of the Romulan people and their culture, as well as her singular style of writing. While Intellivore features the TNG crew rather than the classic Trek gang, Duane's style still leaps off the page, feeling both fresh and familiar at the same time.

Intellivore is one of the very few Diane Duane Trek stories I had not yet read prior to reading it for the purposes of this review. As such, I was not sure what to expect. Most of her stories have involved the original Star Trek crew, and I hoped that her wonderful writing style would translate well to the Next Generation setting. For the most part, I was not disappointed. I feel as though Duane's grasp on the original crew is slightly stronger, but I had no problem hearing the voices of the TNG cast in her writing.

In the novel The Romulan Way, the ancient legend of the Intellivore is mentioned almost in passing. Intellivore picks up on that legend and explores the entity behind it. The Intellivore turns out to be a massive, warp-driven planet that consumes the mental energies of intelligent species. In a region known as the Great Rift, the Intellivore has hunted, consuming civilizations and hapless colony ships who wander into its vicinity, leaving its victims as mindless shells with no hope of recovery. Promising a fate more terrifying than death, the Intellivore is a true horror of deep space.

Diane Duane brings her particular brand of intelligent and beautiful prose to the pages of Intellivore. I have always loved her ability to take a scientific idea and create real jeopardy around it, all the while drawing the reader in with her colorful descriptions of the depth and loneliness of deep space. It's difficult to describe the exact feelings that her writing elicits, but I always get a sense of wonder and enchantment while reading Duane's work, whether it's her explorations of the history of Vulcan, or a depiction of the battle of wills between the Intellivore and one of its humanoid victims.

Final thoughts:

Diane Duane novels are always a treat to read, and in that respect, Intellivore did not disappoint. In some ways, it is a "smaller" story than her other novels, such as the Rihannsu series or Spock's World. However, the stakes are high, and Intellivore comes replete with the numerous character moments that I love. There is real emotion in this novel, and while it is most probably Diane Duane's least-known Trek work, it holds to the high standard of writing I've come to love from her.

Look for my review of her novel Dark Mirror in the coming months!


Also by Diane Duane:

Star Trek #13: The Wounded Sky (1983)
Star Trek #18: Rihannsu #1: My Enemy, My Ally (1984)
Star Trek #35: Rihannsu #2: The Romulan Way with Peter Morwood (1987)
Star Trek: Spock's World (1988)
Star Trek #50: Doctor's Orders (1990)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Dark Mirror (1993)
Star Trek #95: Rihannsu #3: Swordhunt (2000)
Star Trek #96: Rihannsu #4: Honor Blade (2000)
Star Trek: Rihannsu #5: The Empty Chair (2006)

My next read:

The brand-new e-book exclusive novella from Christopher L. Bennett, Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors. Really looking forward to this one!