Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Root of All Rage

Star Trek: Prometheus
The Root of All Rage by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg
Translated into English from the original German Der Ursprung allen Zorns
Release date: May 29th 2018
Read June 5th 2018


Previous book (Prometheus): Fire with Fire
Next book (Prometheus): In the Heart of Chaos


Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Publisher's description:
A dangerous evil is flourishing in the Alpha Quadrant. In the Lembatta Cluster, a curious region of space, fanatics who call themselves the Purifying Flame are trying to start a galactic war, and the warlike Klingons are baying for blood. The Federation have sent the U.S.S. Prometheus to settle the crisis, and the crew must contend with both the hostile Renao: the secretive inhabitants of the Cluster, and the Klingon captain of the I.K.S Bortas, who is desperate for war.

My thoughts:

It is certainly not a new idea, but one that remains absolutely true: science fiction is a terrific vehicle for examining issues that face our world today, but in a fantastical setting that can sometimes reveal more about us than fiction set in the modern day can. If you read my review of the previous Prometheus book, Fire with Fire, you may remember that I was a little skeptical of the whole Prometheus series, but that I was proven wrong and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed that novel. Well, The Root of All Rage continues to bring readers a great story in the tradition of Star Trek-style social messaging, further solidifying the Prometheus series as a great addition to the Star Trek universe.

The Root of All Rage continues the Prometheus series, a trilogy that was originally published in German by CrossCult, a Germany-based publisher who is also responsible for German-language translations of Pocket Books' Star Trek novels. Originally released in 2016, the Star Trek: Prometheus trilogy was conceived of as an idea to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. As such, the story features cameos from a number of Trek characters, most notably Spock, but also features characters such as Lwaxana Troi and, briefly, Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Lwaxana Troi plays a role in this novel, much to my surprise.

I initially bristled a bit at the inclusion of these characters, feeling that their use in this story contributed to the "small universe syndrome" that Trek literature often falls victim to. However, they are used to fairly good effect here. I'm still a little wary of just how much of the story involves Spock; it may be just a bit too much, but perhaps book three will further justify his use here. There are certainly indications that his prior experience on the Enterprise during TOS will come in handy!

One issue that this series is tackling head on is bigotry and racial prejudice. The Purifying Flame, a terrorist group made up of the Renao, is responsible for terrorist attacks against the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Renao citizens are the target of bigotry, mostly from the Klingons, but also from Starfleet officers and even civilians on Earth. This is most directly seen through the character of Jassat, a Renao officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Prometheus. As the story progresses, he is persecuted more and more by his fellow crewmembers. Adding fuel to the fire is a strange form of radiation that seems to be affecting people, further driving their feelings of hate and bigotry. We discover the source of this radiation, and I'm happy to say I guessed it: an entity similar to the "Beta XII-A" entity seen in the TOS episode "The Day of the Dove," which caused the Enterprise crew to be locked in battle with Klingons under the command of Kang. There is even a reference to the Enterprise-E's encounter with this entity in the Q Continuum novel trilogy by Greg Cox, which I was not expecting at all.

An entity similar to the Beta XII-A entity (seen here aboard the Enterprise in TOS's "The Day of the Dove") seems to be responsible for the escalating violence in the Lembatta Cluster.

Another character that serves to explore the topic of racism is Raspin, a jeghpu'wI' ("conquered species" in Klingon) serving aboard the I.K.S. Bortas. His mistreatment and abuse at the hands of some of the Bortas crew are so internalized as to cause him to see himself as worthless. There is an important lesson here: our actions and beliefs can have far greater consequences than we can even imagine, and seeing things from another person's perspective is incredibly important if we are to break the cycle of violence. Sadly, there are some who will never learn the lesson, but one of the great things about the Prometheus trilogy is that it doesn't treat the Klingons like a monolithic species, and there are some who are more nuanced in their view of alien species.

Despite the efforts of the more level-headed people among the crew, a conflict between the Bortas and the Prometheus seems inevitable.

Things are definitely coming to a head in this series; thanks to the influence of the mysterious entity that lies in wait in the Lembatta Cluster, tensions continue to ratchet higher, with a face-off between the Prometheus and the Bortas clearly on the horizon. As I mentioned earlier, Spock's experience with the entity from "The Day of the Dove" will prove invaluable, so there is a lot that has been set up for the final chapter of Prometheus, which will arrive in December for those of us on the English-speaking side of things.

Final thoughts:

Perplies and Humberg have a great grasp on what makes a good Star Trek story. The characters of Prometheus are compelling, and I feel like they took a page out of Keith R.A. DeCandido's book with their use of diversity and variation among the Klingon crew in particular. They have also managed to craft an engrossing story that has an important social message in the best tradition of Trek. The story uses the typical Trek tropes to good effect without overusing them, which is sometimes a difficult line to walk. They have set up the final book in such a way that I find I am really looking forward to seeing how this all plays out, and I'm definitely excited for the conclusion, which will be available in English in December. Rest assured I'll be reviewing it shortly after its release. 4/5.

More about The Root of All Rage:


Also by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up: an older Deep Space Nine novel from back in the numbered days: DS9 #5: Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh.