Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sight Unseen

Star Trek: Titan
Sight Unseen by James Swallow
Release date: September 29th 2015
Read October 2nd 2015


Previous book (Titan): Absent Enemies

Next book (Titan): 


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Spoilers ahead for Sight Unseen!

From the back cover:
In the wake of political upheaval across the United Federation of Planets, Admiral William Riker and the crew of the USS Titan find themselves in uncertain waters as roles aboard the ship change to reflect a new mandate and a new mission. On orders from Starfleet, Titan sets out toward the edge of Federation space to tackle its latest assignment: to work with an alien species known as the Dinac, who are taking their first steps into the galaxy at large as a newly warp-capable civilization. 
But when disaster befalls the Dinac, the Titan crew discovers they have unknowingly drawn the attention of a deadly, merciless enemy; a nightmare from Riker's past lurking in the darkness. Friendships will be tested to the limit as familiar faces and new allies must risk everything in a fight against an unstoppable invader; or a horrific threat will be unleashed on the galaxy!

My thoughts:

When the Star Trek: Titan series began in 2005, it promised to be a new take on the Star Trek universe. Featuring a diverse crew from all manner of species, Titan would explore the frontiers, boldly going where no one had gone before. However, with the events of The Fall, Titan was recalled back to Sector 001. Riker was promoted to the rank of admiral and charged with investigating the conspiracy within the Federation, while Commander Vale was left in temporary command of Titan.

The USS Titan will stick a little closer to home in this novel and, presumably, going forward.

Christine Vale, seen here in IDW's
Hive comic, is now Titan's CO.
With this novel, Sight Unseen, we get a new start for the Titan and her crew. In many ways, this novel can be seen as the "season premiere" for another chapter in the Titan story. Admiral Riker is assigned to be "sector commander" for the area of space that Titan will be patrolling, and he has elected to keep his flag aboard the ship. Commander Vale is promoted to Captain and given command of Titan. While many would assume that Commander Tuvok would be promoted to first officer, he retains his post as Security Chief while a new XO is brought aboard: Dalit Sarai, an officer with a somewhat checkered past. First introduced in The Fall, Sarai aided President Pro Tempore Ishan Anjar in his attempt to stop Julian Bashir.

Another new character joins Titan as well: Ensign Ethan Kyzak, a Skagaran who grew up on North Star, seen in the Enterprise episode of the same name. The addition of Ensign Kyzak adds an interesting dynamic to the crew. Coming from North Star, a world founded by captured humans from the old west, Kyzak lends a sensibility to the crew not unlike the presence of Trip Tucker in Enterprise.

Ethan Kyzak is a Skagaran from North Star, the same species as this character, Draysik.

The Titan's first assignment in this new region of space is to rendezvous with the USS Whitetree and work with the Dinac. However, this mission is disrupted by the reappearance of the aliens from the TNG episode "Schisms," whom Starfleet have designated the "Solanae." They are once again kidnapping crewmembers and experimenting on them, this time en masse, having brought the crews of both the Whitetree and a Dinac vessel into their domain.

Sight Unseen was an absolutely engrossing adventure, sucking me in from page one. It was a treat to see the Titan and her menagerie of characters again. One of my favorites, Ensign Torvig, got his moment to shine, and all of the other major players such as Melora Pazlar, Ra-Havrei, Zurin Dakal, and Vale are adequately served by the story. Even the restored White-Blue is featured, one of the most unique characters on Titan. And that is saying something!

On full display here are some fundamentals of good Star Trek: the idea of coming together for the greater good; the fact that we are stronger when working in common cause rather than in opposition; great characters and an engaging story that never lets up. Several times in the novel I felt that the characters were in real jeopardy, and the crew does end up having to pay a painful price in the course of the story. Featuring James Swallow's trademark amazing storytelling, Sight Unseen was a terrifically fun read.

Final thoughts:

A real page-turner that features everything that I love about Star Trek novels. There are a lot of stories out there in the wider Trek universe, but it is books like these that keep me buying Trek lit. I realize this has become a familiar refrain of late, but in my opinion this is the best of the Star Trek novels released so far this year. They just keep getting better!

If you are at all a fan of Titan or are a new fan looking for a good place to pick up the story, Sight Unseen should not be missed. Ushering in a new and promising chapter for Titan, this story has everything you could want in a Trek novel.

More about Sight Unseen:

Also by James Swallow:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next week, look for my review of the third instalment in the Mere Anarchy series: Shadows of the Indignant by Dave Galanter.