Monday, November 5, 2012

The Persistence of Memory

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations - The Persistence of Memory by David Mack
Published November 2012
Read November 2nd 2012

Previous book (The Next Generation): Indistinguishable From Magic
Previous book (Typhon Pact): Brinkmanship
Next book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #2: Silent Weapons

Click to purchase The Persistence of Memory from!

Spoilers ahead for Cold Equations!

From the back cover:
A BRAZEN HEIST: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew race to find out who has stolen Data's android brother B-4--and for what sinister purpose.
A BROKEN PROMISE: One desperate father risks all for the son he abandoned forty years ago--but is he ready to pay the price for redemption?
A DARING MISSION: Against overwhelming odds, and with time running out, Commander Worf has only one chance to avert a disaster. But how high a price will he pay for victory?

My thoughts:

David Mack has long been one of my favourite TrekLit authors. From his amazing work in the Vanguard series to his outstanding Mirror Universe saga, Mack knows his Trek and can craft some truly engrossing stories. Perhaps his best known work is his 2008 Star Trek: Destiny trilogy, which pretty much set the stage for all of the 24th century Trek stories to follow. While this site has not reviewed those books yet, I'm certain I'll have to do so sometime in the future.

The Cold Equations trilogy
is a sequel of sorts to Immortal
The Persistence of Memory is the first book in yet another trilogy from this prolific author. Continuing a story from the 2002 novel Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang, David Mack makes the universe of The Next Generation a much more fascinating place than we ever could have imagined. The Persistence of Memory is presented in three parts: in the first, the Enterprise responds to a summons by Captain Bruce Maddox (see: "The Measure of a Man") to his laboratory on Galor IV, where a number of Soong-type androids are being studied, including the remains of Data's "evil" brother Lore, along with B-4 (Star Trek Nemesis), Data's daughter Lal ("The Offspring"), and the three prototype forerunners of Data and Lore ("Inheritance"). Someone has broken into Maddox's lab and made off with the androids, prompting the Enterprise crew to launch an investigation. During the course of their search, they discover a surprising ally in their quest to recover the androids.

The second part of the novel is told in the first person by this ally, none other than Dr. Noonien Soong, Data and Lore's "father" and the foremost genius in artificial life. It seems that his apparent death at the end of the TNG episode "Brothers" wasn't as permanent as we were led to believe. The middle section of this novel covers his exploits during the seventeen years between that episode and this tale. Finally, in the third part, a strike team from the Enterprise must work with Soong to thwart the plans of the kidnappers and derail the horrific plans of one of the Federation's adversaries.

For the most part, I really enjoyed The Persistence of Memory. In particular, the middle section in the form of Soong's first-person recollections was a truly enjoyable read. I cannot recall reading much TrekLit that has employed a similar literary device. Seeing the events of Data's life through the eyes of his creator, especially Data's death, was truly heartbreaking. As usual, David Mack sheds light on aspects of the Star Trek universe in ways I hadn't considered before. For example, numerous times throughout TNG we are told that Data doesn't have emotions. This isn't entirely true, as Soong points out at one point. Data doesn't have human emotions, but he does have emotions, even before Soong's emotion chip is installed. One cannot witness his reaction to Kivas Fajo killing Varia (in "The Most Toys"), for example, and still come away believing that Data is entirely emotionless. They may not be human emotions, but he does indeed possess feelings of a sort. Kudos to Mack for putting this into words perfectly!

The conclusion to The Persistence of Memory is fascinating, compelling, wonderful, and troubling, all at the same time. I won't spoil the ending here, but the events of the final moments of this novel are available online if you choose to look. My advice is to read the novel and make your own judgement. I'm very excited to see where these events lead, and especially eager to get my hands on the next two installments of this already-compelling trilogy!

At the heart of this story is Dr. Soong's relationship with his creations, especially Data.
One final note regarding another large-scale character moment in the novel: Worf just can't catch a break, can he?

Final thoughts:

Another winner from David Mack. The Persistence of Memory was exciting, tragic, and wonderfully written. I highly recommend this novel, and I personally can't wait to read the next two installments.

More about The Persistence of Memory:

Also by David Mack:

My next read:

Next up for my catch-up reviews is Dayton Ward's e-book Vanguard coda, In Tempest's Wake.

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