Star Trek Cold Equations Book 2: Silent Weapons
I really enjoyed The Persistence of Memory, the first book in David Mack’s new Star Trek trilogy, “Cold Equations,” so I was very excited to move on to book two. In Silent Weapons, Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves entangled in a complex web of politics between the Federation and the Typhon Pact, the new alliance of many of the Federation’s enemies. Federation President Bacco is engaged in a secret meeting on Orion with representatives of the Gorn Hegemony, members of the Typhon Pact. A peace treaty between the two powers would drive a wedge amongst the Typhon Pact powers, but are the Gorn negotiating in good faith, or are they attempting to lure the Federation and Starfleet into a trap of some sort? The already complicated situation is worsened when the peace talks are disrupted by an attempted attack by a Soong-type android.
In writing about book 1: The Persistence of Memory, I commented that while the book was set firmly in the continuity of Pocket Books’ 24th-century-set Star Trek novels, most of which have been dealing with the advent of the Typhon Pact and its repercussions on the Federation, I enjoyed that the book wasn’t focused on the Typhon Pact. The novel didn’t have the “Typhon Pact” subtitle, it had the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” heading, and with good reason — the book delved deeply into Next Generation story-lines, focusing on trying up many dangling plot-lines concerning the seemingly-deceased Data and his cyberneticist “father”, the also-seemingly-deceased Dr. Noonien Soong.
Book 2, however, is very much a “Typhon Pact” novel. While Data and Soong-type androids factor into the plot, they are not nearly as significant elements of the story as I had expected. Instead, this book is really focused on the politics of the Typhon Pact situation — especially as concerns the Gorn and the Breen — and Federation President Nanietta Bacco’s attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the rising tension. Silent Weapons is also very much a mystery novel, as Captain Picard and President Bacco attempt to sort out a byzantine scheme before their enemies can get the better of them.
Ever since his fantastic DS9 novel Warpath, I have always been impressed by Mr. Mack’s ability to build tension, and there’s a terrific sequence about mid-way through the novel in which it becomes increasingly clear that something really bad is going to happen at the peace talks. The fifty-or-so pages leading up to the event are, together, probably my favorite part of the whole novel — it’s a real white-nuckle sequence. And, when things do come to ahead, we see that once again Mr. Mack is pretty brutal in terms of killing off popular characters. I will say no more!
Over-all, Silent Weapons is a terrific novel. My only comment in the negative is that I am not yet seeing the shape of this trilogy. There is some carry-over of story-lines (Data’s search for the Immortal, Worf’s grief) between the two books, and some thematic continuity (both stories involve androids), but the two books feel very much like entirely separate novels. Their subject matter and focus are entirely different, and they don’t exhibit that much more continuity than the other recent 24th-century-set Pocket Books Trek novels have had from book to book, even as different authors write each subsequent novel. In fact, there was far less continuity than I had expected. After finishing book 1, I expected that either we wouldn’t hear from Data at all for a while, OR that his story would continue to be front-and-center in book 2. But instead we get a weird middle path, in which Data is present in the novel, but on the periphery. (He spends a huge chunk of the book sitting in an Orion holding cell.) It feels like a weird choice to me. And as for Worf, I was glad to see Mr. Mack exploring the repercussions of the events at the end of The Persistence of Memory, but although Worf’s inner turmoil gets a few mentions, it doesn’t factor into the plot in any kind of significant way. It will be interesting to see if these story-lines pay off in book 3 of the trilogy.
My only other quibble with the novel is that I felt that, as happened in book 1, Mr. Mack telegraphed the big death more than I would have wanted. SPOILERS HERE, so to stay pure please skip to the next paragraph!! OK, there’s a scene early in the novel in which two characters are having dinner, and we get a lengthy chunk of inner monologue in which one character remarks how much the other feels like a part of her family now. It went a bit too far, in a way that drew my attention. As soon as I read that paragraph, I thought, “uh oh,” and sure enough that character does not make it through the novel unscathed. I wish that internal monologue hadn’t been in the book, so that I would have been caught more off-guard by the big death. As for the death itself, well, as in The Persistence of Memory, I was pissed to see a great character knocked off the board, but of course that was the point. It’s nice to see there being a sense of danger in these books.
I quite enjoyed Silent Weapons, though as I remarked above I am not really seeing how these two books fit together in a trilogy. I think my opinion of book 3 will really affect my over-all thoughts on this trilogy. Mr. Mack has clearly taken a very different approach than he did with his previous Star Trek trilogy, Destiny (click here for my review), which was one huge story split into three novels. I respect Mr. Mack for trying something new, but nevertheless I think book 3 will tell the tale as to whether I feel these three books fit together as a successful trilogy.
Previous Star Trek novel reviews:
Star Trek: Voyager – Full Circle
Star Trek: Mirror Universe (Books 1 & 2) – Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards & Shadows – Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire — Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions – Star Trek: Myriad Universes (Books 1 & 2) – Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Shattered Light