Monday, June 24, 2019

Literary Treks 272: A Fun Borg Romp?

Star Trek: The Next Generation
by J.M. Dillard

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The Borg are no longer a threat thanks to the decisive blow delivered to them by the crew of Voyager upon their return to the Alpha Quadrant... or so everyone believes. When Captain Jean-Luc Picard begins to once again hear their thoughts in his mind, he knows the truth: The Borg are back in the Alpha Quadrant, with plans not just for assimilation, but annihilation. Starfleet is skeptical, but Jean-Luc is certain that if he does not act immediately, the entire Federation is in jeopardy.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss the TNG novel Resistance by J.M. Dillard. We talk about the return of the Borg, the Enterprise's new Vulcan counselor, drama among the secondary characters, Picard's relationship with Locutus of Borg, the nature of the Borg Queen, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we judge the upcoming Discovery: The Enterprise War by its cover, and report on the sad news of artist Keith Birdsong's passing. We also respond to feedback from the Babel Conference about Literary Treks 270: Kirk is Dabbing Like a Warp 4 Loony!

Literary Treks 272: A Fun Borg Romp?
The Next Generation: Resistance by J.M. Dillard

Previous episode: Literary Treks 271: To Thine Own Self Be True
Next episode: Literary Treks 273: Unintended Consequences


  1. This was a first time read for me so when I saw that you guys were about to review it I thought now would be as good a time as any to check it out. I had skipped over this one because of so many negative reviews, but after reading it I decided that it was much than its reputation...

    ..and then I listened to your review and decided I was wrong.

    Like too many Trek books, this one comes so close to being really good but is hampered by some easily correctable mistakes. Lots of potential, but it seems rushed and, as you guys said, it feels "shallow" at times.

    The Borg Queen: I may be misremebering, but weren't the Borg originally conceived as an insect like race? I'm one of those fans who dislikes the idea of the Borg having a queen to begin with and I thought the idea of the "royal jelly" sounded silly at first, but it kind of works if you keep the insect concept in mind.

    Another interesting thing about the idea of the Borg drones being androgenous is that it makes the Peter David/Richard Arnold feud about there being no female Borg make a lot more sense. I had always taken PAD's side but if Arnold meant that there were no true female OR male Borg than I can understand his POV.

    First Contact: It's been 20 years since I've watched the movie, so I didn't notice all of the parallels between this book and the film. Now that I think about it - wasn't there an episode of Voyager where janeway purposely infects herself with nanoprobes in order to infltrate a cube?

    Janeway: Is it perfectly in character for her to be a hardcase and laying down the law with Picard? Yes. Would it have been perfectly in character for her to do as you said and jump on a shuttle with Seven and join up with the Enterprise? Yes. Would it have been perfectly in character for her to do both in a single 60 minute episode of Voyager? Also yes. But which choice would have been a better story? Her being a stickler for the rules just added cheap drama. She and Picard teaming up, or having Seven on board verbally sparring with Worf or working with Geordi and Crusher to defeat the Queen would have been awesome.

    WTF? All Federation ships have cloaking devices? This was pretty rediculous. Geordi had absolutly nothing to do in this book; would it have been too much to ask to give him a couple of pages to come up with some sort of technobabble solution to get aboard the cube instead of this pointless retcon?

    Locutus: Again this is something that had some potential, but to the reader it happens too fast. Plan A: beam 4 security guards over to kill the Queen. Plan B - have the captain play Artemus Gordan and slip into the lion's den and risk a second Wolf 359 in a half assed attempt to assassinate the queen. In fairness, Picard views this as the last stand. I mean, he doesn't know that we're only have way through with the book like the reader does. I think the transformation into Locutus should have happened at the very end of the book to make the reader think that Picard was going to secure the victory. Beverly should have beamed over at the story's climax as soon as Picard fails to drop off the Queen's prescription for an ass kicking.

  2. Sorry for being so long winded.

    Things that I liked:

    - I loved seeing Beverly in an action oriented role. She's a very underused character, imo.

    - I liked how Dillard handled Worf. There didn't seem to be much in the way of consequences after Worf sacrificed the life of that Cardassian spy in order to save his wife and I was happy to see her resurect that plot thread to explore his character a bit more. I thought the scenes between he and Crusher were actually well done.

    - T'Lana: I like the idea of a Vulcan couselor. I love the idea of her mistrusting Worf's judgment because of his choice regarding Jadzia and how she believes that his actions contributed to the death of her captain. Her immediately having the hots for Worf and vice versa seemed like an element that should have been introduced in a sequel. I think the character had some potential that was quickly squandered in subsequent books. The TNG relaunch has struggled with creating a good supporting cast for a long time, imo. A lot of the best new crew members seem to get nuked after brief runs.

    - Speaking of new characters having the life spans of Mayflies: Dillard did a good job of fleshing out Lio and Nave. She has a knack for building up secondary characters as evidenced in her late 80s TOS novels. Her two biggest strengths as a Trek novelist, imo, are her ability to create strong "lower decks" style characters and the fact that she writes a great Leonard McCoy.

    - I like the fact that Picard kind of blew it and freely admitted to doing so.

    Final thoughts:

    Resisting the idea of just following orders, and instead, doing what you think is right is the major theme of the book. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Ditto for women, Klingons, and androgynous drones. For all the novels faults, I think it did a good job of getting that point across. The book had a lot of potential, imo, but it needed one more rewrite to make some minor changes and maybe add a few more pages in order to flesh out the character's thoughts and motivations.

    My rating: an average 2 and a half jars of Semi-Organic Artisanal Borg Drone Jelly