Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Book 2: Silent Weapons
Three years after the disastrous final Borg Invasion, a bitter cold war against the Typhon Pact has pushed Starfleet’s resources to the breaking point. Now the rise of a dangerous new technology threatens to destroy the Federation from within.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew answer a distress call from an old friend, only to become targets in a deadly game of deception. To protect a vital diplomatic mission, they must find a way to identify the spies hiding in their midst, before it’s too late.
But Worf soon realizes the crew’s every move has been predicted: Someone is using them as pawns. And the closer they get to exposing their enemy, the deeper they spiral into its trap…
I’m a big lover of Star Trek books, and a big lover of Star Trek books by David Mack. Mack has an energy and way with his words that keeps me flipping the pages, reading for hours on end. The Cold Equations trilogy, though, has been disappointing so far. I found the first book largely followed a character I dislike and, though Mack did a fine job of it, I had trouble getting into it. By the time I reached the end of that book, I had trouble garnering the enthusiasm I normally hold for a book.
This one was a much better balance across characters and I enjoyed that aspect of it. However, I found I had trouble maintaining my enthusiasm for this novel, too. It took me a long time to figure out what was putting me off with this book, and I think it has to do with when Mack chooses to reveal vital plot information. When writing in third person limited point of view, there are things you hold back from the reader, because putting all your cards on the table just spoils a lot of the fun and surprise of a book. I found that Mack played his cards far too close to his chest. There are scenes that, initially, are confusing and unclear — and only in hindsight do they piece together. But by the time I reached that point of clarity, my interest in the plot was wearing thin. With how tight Mack kept his plot secrets, it often felt like surprises were being thrown in randomly, rather than feeling like the carefully crafted novel it truly is.
And I find that the more I’m pulled out of the plot, the more I examine the writing. (And in a good book, you shouldn’t notice the writing.) I felt that there were many passages that were telling rather than showing, a handful of odd characterization moments, and Mack makes several odd word choice decisions (which I’ve previously noticed in Mack books, even when I’m not examining the writing).
However, despite its flaws, it was an interesting book. One thing I truly like about David Mack’s books is that they often move the general Star Trek universe forward. I often feel like the Star Trek novels don’t do much in terms of the overall story arc of the universe, but Mack’s books tend to give it a kick forward with characters dying or moving on or vast movements in politics and such. (Though I wonder if the editors of the Star Trek books specifically give Mack those stories to write…) The Typhon Pact stuff has been a muddled mass of hit and miss stories that loosely bundle together — I find that this book gives the Typhon Pact line some serious meat and something interesting finally happens with it. Mack has a way of bringing things together nicely.
As well, this book, and this trilogy as a whole (and, heck, most of Mack’s books) do a very nice job of integrating a diverse array of characters from various books, series, and guest spots across the Star Trek universe. It takes a great knowledge and love of Star Trek to pull that off without it coming off as cheesy. So, hats off to Mack for doing that.
So, overall, this book was interesting but not phenomenal, which is reflective of the series so far. (And I’ve just read the first chapter in the third book — so far it seems to be proceeding on similar style lines.)