Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Book 1: The Persistence of Memory
A BRAZEN HEIST Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew race to find out who has stolen Data’s android brother B-4–and for what sinister purpose.
A BROKEN PROMISE One desperate father risks all for the son he abandoned forty years ago–but is he ready to pay the price for redemption?
A DARING MISSION Against overwhelming odds, and with time running out, Commander Worf has only one chance to avert a disaster. But how high a price will he pay for victory?
This was certainly an interesting book, but I didn’t find it all that captivating.
The book starts off well enough, with the brazen heist, as the back cover describes, that includes the theft of B-4, as well as other Soong-type androids (including Lore and Lal). This leads to a planet-wide search and then a chase through the stars. They follow a small ship following a large ship. It’s presumed the large ship is of the people who stole the androids, and the smaller ship is of someone else wanting to find the stolen androids. What a covert team from Enterprise finds when they land on a small planet is… the long-presumed dead Dr. Soong, looking particularly youthful and, well, alive.
The novel then launches into a very long section told in first person through Dr. Soong’s POV, following him from the moment TV viewers thought they witnessed his demise. Turns out he transferred his consciousness to an android body. We follow him for years as he traverses the stars, accumulates obscene amounts of money, and hurries through life. When he learns that Data has died, as shown in Star Trek: Nemesis, he grieves. When he learns that Data had uploaded a copy of his memory engrams to B-4’s brain, Soong sets out to build Data a new body and bring him back to life. And this new body is later destroyed during the Borg attack, as depicted in the Destiny trilogy of books.
My biggest issue is that I don’t find Dr. Soong to be a particularly likeable character. However, I don’t think Soong was ever particularly likeable, and from what I can remember of his character on TV, Mack did a good job of writing him. I found the tie-ins along the way, of Soong following Data’s mission logs, to be interesting, as it allowed us to see Soong’s reaction to Data’s work and life. David Mack, though, is a very skilled and entertaining writer — I strongly suspect that in anyone else’s hands this novel could have been dreadful and tedious.
When Mack leaves the first-person POV section and returns to the main storyline, things move along smoothly and some energy is brought back to the book. The reason the androids were stolen was, well, interesting. Mack also has a tendency to kill of characters — so I knew the “red shirt” guy would be offed. But Mack usually goes further, killing significant secondary characters. The ones who die were interesting choices. However, I didn’t find the deaths too shocking or moving. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve numbed myself to deaths in Mack’s books or if I had disinvested myself from the narrative during the first-person POV section.
My biggest issue has nothing to do with David Mack or this book, but with the Star Trek universe.
In Star Trek, death has no meaning.
Spock died in The Wrath of Khan and was brought back in The Search for Spock. Kirk died in Generations and was brought back in the book The Return. I think a couple original series characters died and then were revived within episodes. Kai Opaka died and was revived in an episode of DS9. And Janeway died in a Peter David book and I think she’s about to be revived in the next Voyager book I read. And Kirk died and was revived in Into Darkness — and in the process, they seem to have created an immortality serum, potentially forever removing the threat of death. And, as discussed, Data died in Nemesis and at the end of Nemesis there were hints that it was possible to bring him back — and that’s the main thrust of this novel. These are just the examples off the top of my head — I’m sure there are a few more.
There are some characters that, when they die, they stay dead. But it doesn’t seem to be many. (And oddly enough, it seems to happen more in the original series and Next Generation storylines — perhaps there is more fan outrage when those characters die?) The deaths of characters in Star Trek has really lost all meaning to me. If a character dies, even if it’s my favourite one, I’m left feeling like “So what?”
Anyway, back to this book.
The story was interesting — and any weaker points were saved by having David Mack as the author. It’s the first book in a trilogy, though, so I’m hoping things pick up from here. There were some interesting threads left tantalizingly untied-up at the end.