Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Darkness Drops Again

Star Trek
Mere Anarchy, Book Four
The Darkness Drops Again by Christopher L. Bennett
First Published February 2007
Re-published in the omnibus collection Mere Anarchy in March 2009
Read October 26th 2015


Previous book (Mere Anarchy): Shadows of the Indignant
Next book (Mere Anarchy): The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Original e-book cover

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Spoilers ahead for The Darkness Drops Again and the rest of the Mere Anarchy series!

From the back cover:
The rebuilding of Mestiko is starting to make progress: the atmosphere is partially restored, and Federation scientists are introducing new methods of replenishing the planet's biosphere. But their efforts are being stymied by the growing power of the mar-Atyya, who shun all offworlders.

The arrival of the Starship Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk proves less than fortuitous, as the ship becomes a flashpoint for all of Mestiko's troubles. Now Raya elMora, the leader of the planetary council, finds herself facing exile--which could spell doom for Mestiko...

My thoughts:

The fourth installment in the Mere Anarchy series, The Darkness Drops Again by Christopher Bennett continues the story of Mestiko into the period of time between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

This period of Star Trek history is a very interesting time that isn't featured often. Not much is known about the second five-year mission that followed The Motion Picture, apart from a few novels here and there (the best of which have also been penned by Christopher L. Bennett). However, not only do we get to see a little of that mission, but we also get a glimpse at the period afterwards, when Kirk briefly retired from Starfleet to live with Antonia (see Star Trek: Generations).

Part of this story features the period in which Kirk is retired and sharing his home with his girlfriend, Antonia, and his great dane, Butler.

The story itself is pretty interesting, with Raya's government on Mestiko being deposed via a coup and religious fundamentalists capturing the government. Because the Federation is on Mestiko only at the invitation of the government, Starfleet must pull out when the new government orders them to, with Raya and her supporters being put into exile.

As Raya and her people deal with this seeming betrayal by the Federation and Kirk, we see how Kirk himself has matured since his "cowboy diplomacy" days of The Original Series. However, although it isn't immediately apparent, Kirk does have the best interests of Mestiko in mind and is in fact playing the long game.

We see some of Spock's stint as captain of the Enterprise in this story.

This brings me to my favorite aspect of The Darkness Drops Again: the characters. Bennett nails the voices and actions of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. This is a singular time in the lives of these characters, and Bennett is very familiar with it. There are some wonderful moments featuring Spock in command of the Enterprise, showing his evolved sensibility with regards to logic and emotion. His interactions with Bones are particularly fun and show just how much their relationship has evolved over the years.

Final thoughts:

A poignant story about ignorance and fear dominating the public discourse. While the "message" of the story is heavy-handed at times, I believe it is an important one. However, my favorite aspect of the story is how Bennett writes the characters of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. This glimpse into an often-ignored period of Star Trek history shows just how far these characters have come since the original five-year mission.

More about The Darkness Drops Again:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Star Trek: Mere Anarchy:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

We return to the Q Continuum trilogy with TNG #48: Q-Zone by Greg Cox!