Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic - by Jeffrey Lang
Cast of Characters:
Data * Lal * Professor James Moriarty * Countess Regina Bartholomew * Geordi LaForge * Albert Lee * Harcourt Fenton (Harry) Mudd * Kivas Fajo * Alice (series) * Reginald Barclay * Vic Fontaine * The Doctor * Jean-Luc Picard * Worf
Alpha Quadrant * Deep Space 9 * Quark's * Veridian III * Orion Prime * Daystrom Institute
The main events in this narrative are from November 2385 (ACE). It has been a year since Data had decided not to rejoin Starfleet and instead dedicate his life to his daughter, Lal. ("Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations," trilogy.)
"The Light Fantastic" is the sequel to Lang's own "Immortal Coil." (2002), which, when I first read it was a Whoa, Nellie, seat of your pants thrill ride.
From Cold Equations:
Doctor Soong returns in the novel Cold Equations: "The Persistence of Memory, (2012)" which reveals that he survived his death by transferring his mind into an android body far more human in appearance than Data's. After his remaining 'children'- his three early prototypes, B-4, Lal, and Lore- are stolen by the Breen, he is able to rescue them with help from the Enterprise-E, but subsequently sacrifices himself to transfer Data's memories from B-4 into his own body, unable to complete the new body he had been attempting to construct due to the recent Borg invasion and the Breen's subsequent attack on his lab. This transfer results in Data acquiring some of Soong's memories and a new ability to use contractions (Although he still chooses not to use them out of habit).
Lang has done a wonderful job wrapping up a truly amazing arc, (birth, death, and resurrection) of Data's character. We get to find out how Data's been spending the last two years of his life. Data, packed his bags and left the Enterprise with Lal and is off to Orion Prime. We get a brief passing look into his life since retirement, and his subsequent parenthood. His daughter Lal, who has been giving him a rough time as a parent, is in her adolescent years.
Doctor Noonian Soong, sometimes listed as Noonien Soong and nicknamed "Often Wrong," was one of the Federation's leading cyberneticists during the 24th century. It so happens that the eccentric doctor had a few investments on Orion Prime and now Data has an inheritance. So, Data is a rich SOB and doesn't have to answer to Starfleet any longer.
Parenthood for Data is tenuous at best and he has to hire a nanny to keep an eye on his daughter. The relationship between Lal and the nanny, you'll be surprised to hear where she has come from, is like a best friend relationship, pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes relationship, and an advice counselor all wrapped into one. This relationship is carried on throughout the book and becomes useful when the time is right. It can be witty, hilarious, bitchy, frustrating and plays well off of both characters. Of course, being who Alice is lends an interesting twist of events in the story.
This is where Lal and Alice are kidnapped by none other than Professor James Moriarty. You see after the crash of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D the computer housing the holographic program was damaged and Moriarty's world has been severely disrupted. The holographic program was shipped to The Daystrom Institute after the crash, but hasn't been fully repaired. This is the problem and herein lies the crux of the matter.
Professor James Moriarty was a hologram created by Geordi La Forge, based on the fictional character of the same name. He was created for Sherlock Holmes Program 3A as an adversary capable of outwitting Data.
Data and Geordi are now searching for Lal and Alice as Moriarty is using them for leverage for Data to solve the problem as it becomes more and more ominous for Moriarty. We are now along for this adventure and tale which brings in characters from the different genres of TREK. Harcourt Fenton Mudd, Vic Fontaine, Kivas Fajo and of course these characters add their own unique flavor to the story.
Overall, I enjoyed reading "The Light Fantastic" as it brought back memories of past TREK in a new light as the characters are older, but nonetheless, as shifty as ever, subterfuge, trickery, larceny, and deceit aren't far from this cast of characters. Data has shared memories with Doctor Noonien Soong and doesn't sound exactly like the Data of the past. The narrative moved quickly the characters were spot on, save for the hybrid Data.
The Moriarty's were guests of Harry Mudd's to the mystery planet and with a slack-jawed, silent Alice, in tow These androids - Alices, Maisies, Doloreses, Sydneys and the Stellas, all have astonishing amounts of information about history of this galaxy and even more importantly their galaxy. This may cause a problem for future episodes, as the game is afoot. I highly recommend the book for a summer quickie in the TREK universe. Rumor has it Harcourt Fentom Mudd is under extreme guard for his "health".
The Moriarty's and family are out traveling the galaxy in new android bodies. Data and Lal have a more stable relationship due to an interesting turn of events from the ubiquitous Doctor Noonien Soong. It seems the Soong's are a very resilient group of guys.
Effect of Moriarty:
After the first encounter with Moriarty, the Enterprise-D turned its findings over to Starfleet's most experienced theoretical scientists. Moriarty, however, didn't become public knowledge at that time, even to Enterprise engineers. (TNG: "Ship in a Bottle")
The events surrounding Moriarty's re-emergence were ultimately taught at Starfleet Academy. Before his graduation in 2370, Harry Kim was one of the Academy cadets to learn of Moriarty. (VOY: "Alter Ego")
Moriarty's history would be covered under the Starfleet database and included on all starships. In 2373, Chakotay looked up the information on the USS Voyager's database when investigating the possibility of another sentient holodeck character (although the character was later revealed to have come under the control of an outside intelligence rather than having become sentient herself). (VOY: "Alter Ego")
For the reader, some interesting history relating to this narrative.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Persistence of Memory: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons: Book Two (Mass Market Paperback)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Body Electric: Book Three (Mass Market Paperback)
Immortal Coil (Star Trek Next Generation (Numbered) (Mass Market Paperback)
Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 29: Elementary, Dear Data [VHS] (1987)
Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 138: Ship in a Bottle [VHS] (1987)
Star Trek: The Original Series Episode: TOS 041 - The Deadly Years
(TNG: "The Most Toys")
(DS9: "His Way", "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang")