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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/16/2005 Archived Entry: "Trek book review: After the Fall"

Startrek New Frontier: After the Fall
by Peter David
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review by Richard Mellott

I would recommend this book for those who are interested in how this author is fleshing out his sector of the universe, which isn't quite under the protection of the Federation. The 15th book in a series, After the Fall by Peter David, takes place in the remnants of the Thallonian Empire, now called the Thallonian Protectorate, a loose confederation that Si Cwan, the offspring of the previous Imperial family, is trying to strengthen. The various characters whose life stories we are following include: Starfleet Captain Mackenzie Calhoun; his thought-to-be-dead son, Xyon; Moke, an adopted Calhoun son, disturbed by the reappearance of his older bro; Soleta, a half-breed Vulcan-Romulan, suffering the dilemma of being unacceptable to both sides; Kalinda, the kidnapped sister of Si Cwan, the love interest of the major plot.

I'm so old I have trouble remembering names and dates, so don't ask me in which month or year I saw my first Star Trek serial show. I'm a science fiction fan turned book reviewer in my decline. Go Figure! The Star Trek New Frontier series, to which I have been newly introduced, seems geared to the sparse teenager sci-fi crowd, or the average Trekkie. This novel reminded me of how eagerly I used to tune in to the original Star Trek episodes on the little screen, back in the day.

Happily, I found this work to have a more modern approach to the morals of tomorrow than that straight-laced show. The use of language related to sexual behavior was really casual, yet respectful and humane. In a short time reading, with minimal review, I was able to relate to previous times, places, technologies, ships that go fast, and various aliens who share amazingly human qualities and quirks.

I was enthralled at the opening conversation with Spock, only to find it was a hallucination on the part of the introductory character, Soleta, during her post-torture and trauma disassociation. In other words, the author is adept at turning unexpected corners. "This is the only logical thing to do..." and quickly we believe.

The portrayal of these archetypical characters was droll and I was amused by the way the characters often anticipated and mocked each other. The author's character development left me with the sense that I had been witness to the conflict of "old souls" who desired "intelligent conflict." As a continuation of an ongoing series, the writer accomplished leaving the reader aching for more, at the end of the book, by leaving everyone hanging in the abyss.

In following the various conversations that make up the majority of the story, you are not informed much about the appearance of the planets, how atmospheric differences are accommodated, or any such issues are handled, etc. This bothered me at first, but was secondary in this case. This isn't a "hard science" fiction at work. The author throws in a little Trek Tech when describing the space transportation, and the use of universal translators, but for the most part, this story is about relationships of powerful people and intercultural politics. While most of the characters are alien, with some even appearing to be part squid, the sense of humor and the dilemmas are definitely humanoid in nature.

The background mystery subplot, one of ancient races and intercultural warfare, is woven in and out of the storyline. It dominates the conclusion of this novel, and sets up the beginning of the next in the series. However, the battle scenes are mostly fistfights and martial arts, with our hero, Mackenzie Calhoun, being the protagonist. His gargantuan sidekick, Zak Kebron, the ship's counselor, backs him up. His opponents, Fhermas and Tiraud, are another father and son duo. They have the dual tasks of recovering Kalinda, Tiraud's betrothed, and having Mackenzie's son, Xyon, the kidnapper inspired by love, put to death for their dishonor. The twists and turns of this political and familial conflict are the main meat of this story, delightfully skewered. The author's colorful depiction of those in power gives breath to what could otherwise be a very stale and predictable tale of heroes and villains.

Replies: 2 comments

When is the next book coming out?

Posted by Trevor @ 05/16/2005 08:41 PM PST

Wish I knew when the next book is going to be out. However, you can set an alert here http://www.simonsays.com/content/content.cfm?sid=44&pid=368280&app=alert_me. I've never used it, but I'm told this notification thingy works well and they don't send you any spam.

Posted by Editor @ 05/16/2005 10:19 PM PST

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