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4.2 out of 5 stars
Cold Equations: the Body Electric (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
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on 29 September 2013
So, we now reach the conclusion of David Mack's trilogy with 'The Body Electric'. Now, I won't lie; I did not have high expectations of this book (read my reviews of the previous two books and you'll see why) and when I realised we were going to be dealing with Wesley Crusher (by far my least favourite Star Trek character ever) I could feel the bar lowering. But, I persevered (Dad always taught me 'you don't know you don't like something unless you try it') and got the book. When the first words of Chapter 1 were "Wesley Crusher...", there was a very loud voice in my head screaming at me to run and never look back; but with Dad's words echoing in my ears, I shrugged off the little devil on my shoulder and read on... and I am very glad I did.
Plot in a nutshell; Wesley encounters the Machine (a giant space killing thing that sucks in and destroys entire star systems), his fellow Travellers decide that it is above their pay-grade and bravely run like hell, so Wesley goes to seek help from... you guessed it, the crew of the good ship Enterprise, another ship of androids throws a spanner or two in the works, Picard and the crew come up with an 11th hour plan that inevitably saves the day and indeed the whole galaxy. Oh, and Data (if anyone actually still cares at this point) is still searching for the scientist who can help revive Lal who is conveniently on the android ship.
Don't ask me how he did it, but David Mack has actually managed to make Wesley Crusher tolerable in this book. I still don't like the character (Mack's good but he's not a miracle worker), but he doesn't annoy the hell out me the way in did in the past. This whole book feels much more complete than the previous two offerings; it is well paced and (even though the plot twists weren't entirely unexpected) the book held my interest throughout. As the 'villain' of the piece, it would have been all too easy to turn the Machine into a cheap Borg-esque rip off. Instead, they go down a different route with it and you end up with while no means a sympathetic antagonist, certainly one whose point of view you can see (once you get passed the mass murder and destruction) The androids, on the other hand, I got pretty sick of them pretty quickly. I can see why they were there, but they didn't comes across as all that pivotal; I could see ways Mack could have worked without them to get where he needed to go. This book also has little throw-away details that I liked that, while not necessary to the plot overall, just made my inner-fanboy smile; details like Worf being offered the chance of promotion or Q's cameo appearance. Once again, Mack nails the characterisation of the Next Gen crew that we all know.
But, I'm afraid the damage is already done. As far as I'm concerned 'Cold Equations' falls flat as a trilogy. If it was absolutely necessary to bring Data back from the dead, most of the material you needed was in Book 1 and could have been convincingly stretched out to fill out a trilogy in itself. Book 1 should have ended with the discover that Data's creator was now an android, Book 2 could have ended with the death of Lt. Choudhury (if it was felt absolutely necessary) and then Book 3 should have been when Data was resurrected. The Machine could still have been used as the impending threat that (from the story's POV) made Data's resurrection not just a dream but a necessity. Instead, we are left with 3 books that don't really hang together that well as a trilogy (one of which really belonging in a different set of books altogether).
'The Body Electric' is, in my humble opinion, the best of the three (not perfect, but it's merits outweigh it's flaws). But I am left with one small niggle (hardly worth mentioning, but it bugs me so why not); it is not a Worf-driven story... so why is he on the cover? That's a bit of a tease.
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on 18 January 2013
Book three of the Cold Equations trilogy by David Mack, author of the amazing Destiny trilogy and two brilliant novels already this time, is something of a disappointment. A grave threat to the galaxy and beyond is discovered by Wesley Crusher, and the Enterprise is the only ship that could possibly save the day. Meanwhile one former crew member is hunting for the one man who can bring his daughter back to life.

The parallel plots (neither seem to be more prominent than the other) work well in parallel, but the situation the Enterprise is thrust into is reminiscent of some of the old Trek novels of the nineties and doesn't seem in keeping with the more recent, and more realistic, approached to cross-series continuity in the novels. The level of danger is so extreme that it becomes impossible to expect anything but success for the characters, removing any tension from this side of the story. It's like a game of peril one-upmanship gone too far.

The other half is stronger in premise but feels weakened by a lack of attention and limited action. As a work of science fiction it has a good basis, and there are lots of new characters who explore the available possibility space in a number of interesting ways, but as characters they aren't explored in any real depth and the situation in which we find them doesn't seem consistent with how they are presented.

Until the final quarter, the narrative progresses slowly and I did not feel compelled to read on in any great rush, even taking several days in the middle to read something else. Overall I thought this was a weak conclusion for a Mack book which are usually some of the best in the series.
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on 11 January 2013
Whilst I agree this is not the best trilogy we have seen and it is no Destiny ... It is far better then the reviews below. I do agree that i was not a fan of bringing data back ( for that reason i was not a fan of bringing Janeway back ) It was done for a reason and the data we have now is not the data that died at the end of nemesis. Pick this up and you can read far worse.

I just want to pick up on an reviewer that said that "too many star trek books where the whole galaxy is affected by the outcome of these individual stories and think the franchise could do with the same well written stories on a smaller scale" I strongly disagree with this. Whilst there is a place for stand alone books in the TOS series, a lot of writers and work have gone into the universe going all the way back to A Time To Be Born The universe we have now spans across all of the series and characters such as the crew of the di vinchi and president bacco , the crew of the Titan and soo many more. I really would not want someone to press the reset button as i have spent years invested in the universe. I would much prefer the series titles be dropped and all the books will just be called star trek.

Pick this up now.
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on 24 March 2014
This is a three book series.
Its good.
In fact its better than good.
My favourite Trek writer has a way of describing things to give the impression of 'Bigger'.
Bigger everything. The galaxy, the federation, the crew. Even down to using hundreds of the ships crew to brain-storm a puzzle. Described as a form of multi-level parallel processing.
You are always given the impression that the Enterprise requires more than seven people on the bridge to keep it running. And that the federation is more than just one admiral who pops up on a viewscreen for some exposition.
Nice touches like that keep me buying.
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on 5 January 2013
A book that though I feel was resolved too quickly, was still a very good read.

I do feel however that we are seeing too many star trek books where the whole galaxy is afftected by the outcome of these individual stories and think the francise could do with the same well wqritten stories on a smaller scale
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on 26 December 2012
I felt the story moved into somewhat fanciful areas towards the end as the Body Electrics` motives were finally revealed and I was never a fan of bringing Data back as it seems that David Mack has fallen into the reset button mentality that killed the ST TV shows off.
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on 22 March 2013
Loved it, great trilogy of books. Great ending and individual story lines linked. Story progressed easily throughout this book and found it very difficult to put down. Took me less than 2 weeks to read these series of books so I would highly recommend them to all.
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on 18 April 2013
A brilliant series what with its twists and turns. It's great that data and lal are reborn. Also it was nice that westley made an appearance a must buy worth every penny I spent. I read the three books in a couple of days could not put them down.
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on 1 August 2013
Having read all three cold equations books the third one proved to be a let down. A strange back story of a relationship with a chen and then Wesley solves a problem all the other travelers have been unable to. Real not up to much at all.
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on 26 July 2013
In the present computer age and all the gadgets its a warning to see where they could take over but hearting to see where it treated well man can work with the machines instead of fighting them as in terminator
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