Friday, August 10, 2012

Do Comets Dream?

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Do Comets Dream? by S.P. Somtow
Published July 2003
Read May 27th, 2012

Previous book (The Next Generation): The Battle of Betazed
Next book (The Next Generation): A Time to Be Born

Spoilers ahead for Do Comets Dream?.

From the back cover:
Every five thousand years, so the people of the planet Thanet believe, the world ends in fire and a new cycle of creation begins.  Now the Last Days are once again upon them, and a fiery star draws near.  This is the Death-Bringer, the Eater of the World, whose coming heralds the end of all things...
But to Captain Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise, the Death-Bringer appears to be nothing but a rogue comet, easily destroyed.  Picard faces a difficult dilemma: how can he save the Thanetians' rich and intricate civilization without destroying the very beliefs upon which their culture is based?
This quandary is challenge enough, yet the captain's position becomes even more complicated when Deanna Troi discovers that, incredibly, the comet is alive!

My Thoughts:

Do Comets Dream? is a bit of an anomaly. Most of the Next Generation novels written during this period were set aboard the Enterprise-E and took place during the TNG movie era. Do Comets Dream? is instead set aboard the Enterprise-D and during the Next Generation television series era. While I enjoy moving the stories forward (especially in the post-Nemesis relaunch period), it was nice to go back to the familiar setting of the television series. It was kind of like being able to go back in time and visit your friends from high school, not as they are now, but as they were then. Refreshing, in a way, but at the same time, a little strange.

In this novel, the Enterprise crew deals with a civilization whose beliefs state that they are the center of the universe and that every 5000 years, their world ends and is reborn anew. We eventually discover that this is the result of a supposed comet impact that will nearly destroy the Thanetan civilization. However, the comet's origin and purpose are shocking. Picard and his crew find themselves in the position of having to convince the people of Thanet that the comet can be stopped, while at the same time trying to stop it in a way that doesn't destroy the lifeform aboard it, whom they discover to be nothing more than a frightened, brainwashed child.

Do Comets Dream? has a large cast of characters, and while most of them seemed a little one-dimensional, they were still interesting, and the final role they played in stopping the destruction was fascinating. Each character took on a role in an ancient story set on a world which turns out to be Thanet's ancient enemy. The comet is a devastating weapon, and the cast of characters led by Deanna Troi must convince the child pilot not to allow Thanet to be destroyed.

One thing I enjoyed about this novel was that it featured one of my favourite bit-part characters from TNG, Simon Tarses, the young man who was one of the victims of Admiral Norah Satie's witch-hunt in the episode "The Drumhead." Although he seemed a little out of character here, it was interesting to revisit his story.

Crewman Simon Tarses: one of my favourite small roles from TNG, and featured in Do Comets Dream?.

Final Thoughts:

Do Comets Dream? was an interesting read, but ultimately in my mind, a little unmemorable. The problem and the eventual solution were interesting, but at the same time the plot ended up feeling a little bit "paint-by-numbers." I can't exactly explain the reason why I came away from this book feeling this sort of ambivalence. I can recommend the book if you're interested in eating up an afternoon reading about some classic TNG era exploits, but Do Comets Dream? is far outside the realm of "must-reads" in my opinion.

My next read:

Much like last year, I've once again gotten far behind in writing about the Trek novels I've read over the past few months. To make matters worse, in approximately two weeks I am embarking on a month-and-a-half long trip across two continents, during which time my ability to upload reviews may be limited. I'm quite busy right now as well, wrapping up my life here in South Korea. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I will have the chance to get a few more reviews published. Here are the novels I've read that still need write-ups:

  1. Star Trek #15: Corona by Greg Bear
  2. Spock's World by Diane Duane
  3. Star Trek #21: Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan
  4. Star Trek #26: Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson
  5. Errand of Vengeance #1: The Edge of the Sword by Kevin Ryan
Currently, I'm reading Errand of Vengence #2: Killing Blow, also by Kevin Ryan. Add to these the new releases that will be coming out during my trip. These include:
  1. Voyager: The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer
  2. Typhon Pact: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack
  3. Vanguard: In Tempest's Wake by Dayton Ward (e-book only)
I will also be reading constantly while hour after mind-numbing hour passes by on the trans-Siberian railway. This ensures that I'll have a TON of material for this blog over the next few months. I'll definitely be kept busy!

Hopefully I can keep up a bit while on my trip, but be prepared for some lengthy periods with no new reviews.

Hope everyone is well, and I'll have the next review up soon!

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