Friday, November 17, 2023

A Singular Destiny

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published February 2009
Read December 31st 2019

Previous book (Chronological): Destiny, Book III: Lost Souls
Next book (Chronological): Titan: Over a Torrent Sea

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E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for A Singular Destiny

From the back cover: 
The cataclysmic events of Star Trek: Destiny have devastated known space. Worlds have fallen. Lives have been destroyed. And in the uneasy weeks that follow, the survivors of the holocaust continue to be tested to the limits of their endurance.

But strange and mysterious occurrences are destabilizing the galaxy's battle-weary Allies even further. In the Federation, efforts to replenish diminished resources and give succor to millions of evacuees are thwarted at every turn. On the borders of the battered Klingon Empire, the devious Kinshaya sense weakness -- and opportunity. In Romulan space, the already-fractured empire is dangerously close to civil war.

As events undermining the quadrant's attempts to heal itself become increasingly widespread, one man begins to understand what is truly unfolding. Sonek Pran -- teacher, diplomat, and sometime adviser to the Federation President -- perceives a pattern in the seeming randomness. And as each new piece of evidence falls into place, a disturbing picture encompassing half the galaxy begins to take shape...revealing a challenge to the Federation and its allies utterly unlike anything they have faced before.

My thoughts:

Star Trek frequently has an issue with following up on major events. With the exception of "Family" exploring the aftermath of the events of "The Best of Both Worlds" (as well as chapters of Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and more modern Trek), major happenings within the Star Trek universe are often treated in the episodic nature of the series in which they take place.

However, when the event in question involves the loss of over sixty billion people and the destruction of multiple worlds throughout the Federation, Klingon Empire, and beyond, exceptions must be made.

The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack depicted a truly horrific cataclysm for the United Federation of Planets, as well as much of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. With such far-ranging and lasting consequences, it would be truly baffling if there weren't some sort of follow-up. Thankfully, the publishers of the Star Trek novels recognized this fact, and we were treated to the unorthodox and fascinating novel A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido. The book features a number of different plots and vignettes detailing the aftermath of the Borg invasion, from small personal stories of victims and survivors, to large quadrant-spanning political fallout among the major powers.

A Singular Destiny explores the inner workings of the Federation government, as Keith DeCandido has become known for doing.

The stories themselves are a fascinating insight into life in the Federation both on and off the bridge of a starship. As he has become known for, DeCandido does an amazing job of making the lives of characters within the Star Trek universe feel very real. We don't often get very much insight into the lives of civilians when we watch Trek, and it's refreshing to get that perspective.

With Destiny impacting all corners of the Trek universe, it makes sense that A Singular Destiny would touch on many different characters and situations throughout the intricate literary universe. In the pages of this novel, you will find stories involving the crew of the Enterprise-E, the Aventine, the Titan, the government of the Federation at the Palais de la Concorde in Paris, the crew of the USS daVinci from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, the Klingon series I.K.S. Gorkon, and many more. However, I feel that it is not necessary to be up-to-date on all of those series in order to enjoy A Singular Destiny. I myself was not very familiar with the Corps of Engineers or the I.K.S. Gorkon stories when I first read this novel, and was still very much able to enjoy and understand it. I would say that Destiny is required reading, but anything beyond that, while certainly adding to the experience, is optional.

While A Singular Destiny features crews from across the Star Trek literary universe, the ship and crew that features most heavily is the USS Aventine and the crew under the command of Captain Ezri Dax.

A new character created for this novel is Professor Sonek Pran, recruited by Federation President Nan Bacco to troubleshoot various political situations between the Federation and the neighboring powers. In the wake of the Borg invasion, trade has been disrupted, refugees are numerous, and there are elements at work to take advantage of the precarious situation. Over the course of the novel, Sonek Pran will ultimately uncover the next "big bad" that will dominate the political landscape in the books that follow.

Additionally, there are a few tantalizing threads left hanging in this novel that will entice readers to continue on to the next Star Trek adventure. For example, pay close attention to a casualty list that appears at one point. There may be a familiar name or two that will pique one's interest...

Final thoughts:

I very much enjoyed A Singular Destiny, and this novel is a perfect demonstration of why I love Keith DeCandido's writing. The stories that are woven together form a fascinating tapestry of life within the Federation and beyond in the aftermath of one of the most horrific events imaginable. I have always loved stories that explore the politics of the Federation and its neighbors, and DeCandido has done so here in a way that makes that fantastical future setting seem very real. A Singular Destiny has at its core two main objectives: first, to take a breath after the action-packed Destiny trilogy and regroup, taking the time to really reflect on what the calamity and incredible loss of life from those novels has wrought. And second, to set up the shape of things to come by introducing the next major obstacle to challenge the Federation. In my humble opinion, it absolutely excels at both, while at the same time delivering all of the heart and humanity one comes to expect from a Star Trek story.

More about A Singular Destiny:

My next read:

Next up is a movie-era novel from back in the TOS numbered novel days: The Fearful Summons by Denny Martin Flinn!

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