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OK... but too much too soon (contains spoilers)
on 29 September 2013
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I have been enjoying the new Next Gen books (actually, I've been enjoying the new Trek books in general) and when I saw that David Mack was writing another Trek trilogy, given the awesome job he did with the 'Destiny' trilogy, I had high hopes... then I saw the cover. As soon as you put Brent Spiner's face on a Trek book (given that Data is dead in the Trek universe) you're basically advertising what your book is going to be about and you lose the mystery. Yes boys and girl, they are bringing back Data. Is this a problem... well, yes it is.
Say what you want about 'Nemesis' (and there is SO much to be said) it did do one thing very well; it gave Data a MEANINGFUL death, which is something Star Trek doesn't tend to do when it bumps of main characters- Tasha Yar got murdered by an oil slick for no real reason, Jadzia Dax was in the wrong place at the wrong time... and the less said about Kirk on the rickety bridge the better. But Data's demise had meaning, we see that his evolution has gone from the android who couldn't whistle 'Pop Goes the Weasel' to a fully rounded character who is willing to sacrifice himself for Picard- not just because he's his captain, but because he is his friend. In sacrificing himself, he then goes on to save Picard, the Enterprise and the entire Federation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Data-hater (there are several other Next Gen characters I would have preferred they kill off), but they did it well and it meant something.
Then, along comes 'The Persistence of Memory'. So, plot in a nutshell: McGuffin-Bot... sorry B-4 is kidnapped (complete with the downloaded copy of Data's memory), the Enterprise crew investigates, discovers Data's creator is now an android himself (oh boy, really stretching suspension of disbelief here), the plot then slows to a crawl and Noonien recounts what he's been up to (this takes up most of the book), before plot resumes, they find B-4 and Soongh transfers Data's consciousness/memories/self (whatever you want to call it) into his own body and hey presto... Data is back (more or less) and we have cheapened about the only good thing that 'Nemesis' was able to give us.
Given that we are dealing with a trilogy and that we were obviously going to be bringing Data back, I was surprised that Mack went down the road of blatantly telegraphing his plot and then wrapping it up in one book. As such, we wind up getting a lot of information thrown at us in a very short time. I would have spaced things out a bit more, maybe (given that we seem to have to go down this route) have the crew discover Noonien being the climax of Book 1. The only twist this book gives us is when they kill off Lt Choudhury in a pointless Tasha Yar-esque display of the villain proving that he's bad. Again, the moment is meaningless and we lose the most developed and my favourite of the new Next Gen characters.
'The Persistence of Memory' is a tough book to like for me. As with all the new Trek fodder, the writer has a good grasp on the established characters, so this does feel like a true continuation of 'The Next Generation' and the Trek universe. Also, like the other Trek books, it is an easy read; the kind of book I like to read when I need a break from the heavier-going books but still want to be entertained. But...for the first of three books, it does too much too quickly and suffers from Titanic-syndrome; we all knew the boat was gonna hit the iceberg and once you start reading this, you know that Data is coming back. Maybe things will pick up in Book 2