Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fallen Gods

Star Trek: Titan: Fallen Gods by Michael A. Martin
Published July 31st 2012
Read August 5th 2012

Previous book (Titan): Synthesis

Previous book (Titan characters): Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire
Next book (Titan): Absent Enemies
Next book (Titan characters): The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice

Click to purchase Fallen Gods from!

Spoilers ahead for Fallen Gods and other books in the Titan series, as well as events from the Typhon Pact series!

From the back cover:
The Starship Titan continues on her outward voyage of discovery in this latest exciting novel.
Though the Federation still reels from Andor's political decision that will forever affect the Federation, Captain William T. Riker and the crew of the USS Titan are carrying out Starfleet's renewed commitment to deep space exploration. While continuing to search the Beta Quadrant's unknown expanses for an ancient civilization's long-lost quick-terraforming technology - a potential boon to many Borg-ravaged worlds across the Federation and beyond - Titan's science specialists encounter the planet Ta'ith, home to the remnant of a once-great society that may hold the very secrets they seek. But this quest also takes Titan perilously close to the deadly Vela Pulsar, the galaxy's most prolific source of lethal radiation, potentially jeopardizing both Titan and what remains of the Ta'ithan civilization.
Meanwhile, Riker finds himself on a collision course with the Federation Council and the Andorian government, both of which intend to deprive Titan of its Andorian crewmembers. And one of those Andorians - Lieutenant Pava Ek'Noor sh'Aqabaa - uncovers a terrible danger that has been hiding in plain sight for more than two centuries...
My thoughts:

Ever since reading the first Titan novel, Taking Wing, I've been a fan of the series. The premise is a great one, and Titan is all about getting back to the roots of one of the things that makes Star Trek great: the spirit of exploration, that very human drive to see what's over the next hill or across the vast ocean. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of the politics and other machinations that have characterized most of the rest of Star Trek fiction of late. But there is something very appealing about a series that deals with exploration and discovery again.

That said, the last two novels in the Titan series have fallen somewhat flat. While not quite as disappointing as the previous entry, Seize the Fire, Fallen Gods suffers from a number of shortcomings. It's hard to pin-point exactly what makes this novel difficult to read. There is no one thing that can be pointed to that makes it a bad novel per se. However, many little things add up to create a feeling of inadequacy.

The crew of Titan has always been one of the more fascinating aspects of the series. Made up of a very diverse assortment of species, the crew is always fun to learn about. However, in Fallen Gods, it feels as though the character development has stalled. Issues that previously plagued the characters are once again brought to the forefront, long after I felt they had already been dealt with and resolved. Most notably, Titan's chief engineer, an Efrosian by the name of Xin Ra-Havreii, has an on-going issue where he feels responsible for the destruction of Titan's class prototype, the USS Luna, which was destroyed in an accident that began in the engine room. This issue has been brought up many times over the Titan series, and quite frankly, it's getting tiresome. If there were something new to be learned about Xin's character or some way in which he moved forward on this issue, I wouldn't be complaining. But as it stands now, the incident seems to be mentioned whenever we need a little bit of angst in the plot, and for no reason other than that.

The world-building in this novel was handled competently, if not overly compellingly. The artificial intelligence introduced in this novel was interesting, but I still don't understand how a computer program could transport itself across space, and then run itself in the brain of an organic being such as Commander Tuvok. I understand that Star Trek is often fantastical, but phenomena such as this is usually explained a little better than in Fallen Gods. I was a little disappointed at the lack of plausibility in this novel.

Finally, the subplot of Fallen Gods dealt with the fallout of the events of the Typhon Pact series of novels, most notably the secession of Andor from the United Federation of Planets in Paths of Disharmony. The Andorian government has issued an order that all Andorian citizens of "reproductive age" are to return to the homeworld immediately. Starfleet, of course, does not compel the Andorians within its ranks to follow this order; however, Starfleet does decide to reassign all Andorians serving in sensitive positions to posts of lesser import. Needless to say, the idea incenses both Captain Riker and his crew. Meanwhile, the arrival of an Andorian warship complicates matters when its commanding officer demands that the Andorians aboard Titan be turned over. The commander of the Andorian vessel really comes across as a ridiculously evil, moustache-twirling villain here. His plan to repatriate the seven Andorians aboard Titan using transporter-duplication trickery is really ridiculous. Also, just how far away from Federation space is Titan at this point? How is it even remotely possible that the Andorian vessel could traverse that distance in such a short period of time, merely for the purpose of capturing seven Andorians? There is no indication whatsoever that the Andorian vessel is equipped with quantum slipstream technology, and I don't see how the warship could have traversed that distance any other way. The entire subplot smacks of ridiculousness and cartoonish villainy.

Final thoughts:

Fallen Gods is not a terrible novel. It's just kind of... there. The prose is bland, and the story is not terribly engrossing. There are some positives in the novel: for example, Tuvok's reaction to the loss of the eco-sculpting knowledge from the previous novel was very interesting, and I would have loved to have the author explore that idea a little more.

Fallen Gods seems to retread a lot of ground previously covered in other novels. Nothing really happens to advance the characters all that much, and while I'm interested in seeing the Andorian situation developed in the future, this novel makes me wary of the direction it seems to be taking. The idea that a lot of what is going on could be the result of nefarious Tholian mind-control worries me about what the next turn in this tale will be. Time will tell, and I'll certainly be reading. But Fallen Gods is definitely a bit of a miss in what has been a series of hits in Trek literature lately.

More about Fallen Gods:

Also by Michael A. Martin:

My next read:

The next book on my list of novels to review is S.P. Somtow's Do Comets Dream?, while later this month sees the release of Kirsten Beyer's next Voyager entry, The Eternal Tide. I'm really looking forward to this one after last year's excellent Children of the Storm. Stay tuned!

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