Book Review: Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures

Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures

Christopher L. Bennett

A new nation has arisen from the ashes of the Romulan War: the United Federation of Planets, an unprecedented union of diverse species cooperating for the good of all. Admiral Jonathan Archer—the former captain of the Earth starship Enterprise, whose efforts made this union possible—envisions a vibrant Federation promoting galactic peace and a multispecies Starfleet dedicated to exploring strange new worlds. Archer’s former crewmates, including Captain T’Pol of the U.S.S. Endeavour and Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer, work with him to secure that bright future. Yet others within the Federation see its purpose as chiefly military, a united defense against a dangerous galaxy, while some of its neighbors view that military might with suspicion and fear. And getting the member nations, their space fleets, and even their technologies to work together as a unified whole is an ongoing challenge.

When a new threat emerges from a force so alien and hostile that negotiation seems impossible, a group of unaligned worlds asks Starfleet to come to its defense, and the Federation’s leaders seize the opportunity to build their reputation as an interstellar power. But Archer fears the conflict is building toward an unnecessary war, potentially taking the young nation down a path it was never meant to follow. Archer and his allies strive to find a better solution . . . but old foes are working secretly to sabotage their efforts and ensure that the great experiment called the Federation comes to a quick and bloody end.

I’m a little late in catching up with my Enterprise books, as this one was released in 2013.  While I don’t dislike Enterprise, it’s certainly not my most favourite of Star Treks, so that was probably why I held off for so long.  And… as I discovered… I read the books a little out of order.  The last Enterprise book I read was the first half of the Romulan War duology — I haven’t read the second half yet.

All that being said, this was quite a good book.  This takes place after the Romulan War and after the founding of the Federation.  (In the final episode of Enterprise, they flashed forward a few years to show the founding of the Federation — so this takes places a few years after that.  I think in all it’s around eight years after the Enterprise series, not counting the timeline of the final episode.)  A Choice of Futures ably handles a very large and complex cast of characters spread across multiple ships and planets; a task that many writers would struggle with.  Bennett follows all of the various Enterprise cast members, even though they no longer all serve together and even though the Enterprise ship itself is no longer in service.

I presume the rest of the Rise of the Federation novels (I’ve got book two in my to-read pile and I just bought the newly-released book three) will follow the successes and failures of establishing the United Federation of Planets.  So far, Bennett is the only writer of this series — and he’s doing a good job from what I’ve seen.  A Choice of Futures captures the struggles of mixing together different races who are not used to working with outsiders, while mashing together their respective technologies when they were never designed to work this way.

While not the strongest Star Trek book by Christopher L. Bennett, A Choice of Futures lays out a lot of fodder for him to seize upon and strive forward with in future novels.  Having read other Star Trek books by Bennett before, I know that he can work with this material and create excellent books down the line.

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