Sunday, August 2, 2015

Reunion

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman
First published November 1991
Read July 15th 2015


Previous book (TNG publishing order): #18: Q-in-Law

Next book (TNG publishing order): Unification

Previous book (TNG Unnumbered Hardcovers): Vendetta
Next book (TNG Unnumbered Hardcovers): Imzadi



Spoilers ahead for Reunion!

From the back cover:
Before he commanded the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard was the captain of the legendary deep space exploration vessel, the U.S.S. Stargazer, on an incredible twenty-two year voyage. Now, Picard's past and present collide on board the Enterprise as he is reunited with his former crew in a fantastic adventure that takes the Enterprise crew into the heart of the Romulan empire. 
Together, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, Lt. Commander Data and the rest of the Enterprise crew must join forces with the former crew of the Stargazer to solve the mystery of Picard's past before a ruthless assassin unleashes a terrible revenge that threatens the entire galaxy.

My thoughts:

For years, Reunion has sat on my shelf. As a kid, I absolutely fell in love with the Peter David novel Q-Squared, and later got Reunion in hardcover as well. I attempted to read it a few times, but I apparently grew bored each time and never finished it. Recently, I found it in a box of my old things and decided to give it another go with an adult sensibility. I'm glad I did, because I found the experience quite enjoyable.

Reunion is a solid story, and Michael Jan Friedman has done an excellent job with the original characters in it. Often, the "guest" characters feel unrealized and unrealistic, but all of Picard's Stargazer alumni were presented as interesting, well-rounded individuals with histories and personalities all their own. I especially enjoyed the interplay between Worf and the newly-crowned Daa'Vit leader, Morgen. Like the Romulans, the Daa'Vit have a sordid past with the Klingons, and Worf has an ingrained sense of mistrust of them. However, he and Morgen overcome this animosity to form an unorthodox friendship.

Members of Picard's old crew from the Stargazer come aboard the Enterprise to accompany Captain Morgan to his home planet of Daa'V to witness his ascendancy as its new ruler.

At its core, Reunion is a murder mystery. Someone is apparently trying to murder Morgen, and a number of the visiting crew from the Stargazer fall under suspicion. While it makes sense that one of the visiting dignitaries is the likely attempted murderer, I found it odd that not once is the possibly brought up that one of the crew of the Enterprise could be responsible. I mean, there are over 1000 people who make up the company and crew of the Enterprise; why is any involvement of an Enterprise crewmember or passenger discounted without any kind of investigation?

Of course, the would-be murderer is one of the former Stargazer crew (I won't reveal the guilty party in this review). There are a couple of other plots that make up this novel, including a peril to the Enterprise that I thought would be revealed as another machination by the suspect in the murder, but turns out to be a weird subspace anomaly of the week that just happened to wreak havoc on the Enterprise while the murder plot is going on. Throw in some small involvement with the Romulans towards the end of the story, and you have all of the elements of a mid-series TNG episode in novel form!

There were a couple of things in the novel that irked me somewhat, including the continued use of the com-badge as the one and only way of tracking a person on a starship. I don't understand why the computer of the Enterprise can't tell when someone has removed their communicator to elude detection. Heck, my phone can count my steps and track my sleep cycles, but a com-badge from over 300 years in the future can't tell when it's sitting on the floor versus being worn on a person's chest? Add to that the fact that someone evades capture by using this technique earlier in the novel, and the same tactic works again on Worf, and he doesn't even think of the possibility that the perpetrator might have done this again! Come on, Worf, you're smarter than that!

Once again, someone removes their com-badge to evade capture, and once again, it fools not only the Enterprise computer but Lieutenant Worf as well!

Final thoughts:

A fairly solid entry in the TNG novel universe, having the feel of a season 4 episode of TNG. Some great character work with the Stargazer crew makes me want to pick up the Stargazer series of novels by Michael Jan Friedman, a series that hadn't really interested me before. It would be interesting to see these people back in their heyday, before the events of this novel. Has anyone out there read the Stargazer series? What did you think? Let me know, and I may add them to my list to review in the future.

My next read:

The all-new Seekers novel by David Mack: #3: Long Shot. Look for that review next week!