Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Force and Motion

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang
Release date: May 31st 2016
Read June 10th 2016

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Ascendance

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Rules of Accusation

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

Spoilers ahead for Force and Motion!

Publisher's description:
A thrilling original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation / Deep Space Nine!

In 2367, Captain Benjamin Maxwell of the starship Phoenix ordered the destruction of a Cardassian warship and a supply vessel, killing more than six hundred crew members. Maxwell believed that the Cardassians were arming for a new attack on the Federation, and though history eventually proved he was probably correct, the Federation had no choice but to court martial and incarcerate him.

Almost twenty years have passed, and now Maxwell is a free man, working as a maintenance engineer on the private science station Robert Hooke, home to crackpots, fringe researchers, and, possibly, something much darker and deadlier. Maxwell’s former crewmate, Chief Miles O'Brien, and O'Brien’s colleague, Lieutenant Commander Nog, have come for a visit. Unfortunately, history has proven that whenever O’Brien and Nog leave Deep Space 9 together, unpredictable forces are set into motion…

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I love Star Trek novels. I wouldn't spend so much time reading them, reviewing them, or talking about them if I didn't! However, the typical Star Trek novel format can get a little tired at times. So when a novel comes along that breaks those shackles and does something a little different, rest assured I will be all over it!

Such is the case with Force and Motion. Focusing on a secondary character we've only seen once, this novel brings back former Captain Benjamin Maxwell of the USS Phoenix from TNG's "The Wounded." Having spent a number of years in rehabilitation at the New Zealand penal colony, Maxwell has now been released and is working as a janitor on the research station Robert Hooke. It is there that he, O'Brien, and Nog get tangled in a rapidly-unfolding emergency situation.

Force and Motion features the return of disgraced Captain Benjamin Maxwell, played by the great Bob Gunton in TNG's "The Wounded."

Force and Motion uses that crisis as a backdrop for a much deeper character study. I for one love well-developed characters, and Jeffrey Lang uses this book as an opportunity to dig deep into Maxwell's character. Ever since watching "The Wounded" years ago, I've had a fascination with Benjamin Maxwell and what would make a decorated Starfleet officer "go rogue" like he did. It was the kind of story that presaged the introduction of The Maquis in Deep Space Nine. A number of Starfleet officers, such as Chakotay and Cal Hudson, would turn their backs on their Starfleet duties to fight the Cardassians, but none with quite the flourish that Maxwell did, with the firepower of a Nebula class starship at his disposal.

I loved the scenes depicting his rehabilitation, with the author delving into Maxwell's past to show how he has gotten to where he is now. With the help of a Dr. Gunther (whose name I love for very selfish reasons), Maxwell comes to terms with his actions and eventually is able to recover. Dealing with trauma and PTSD is something that is sorely lacking in Star Trek, and I appreciated this deeper look into the mental health of 24th century humans.

Nog gets some great character moments as well, especially in a flashback that shows his initial inspiration for joining Starfleet.

I also really appreciated the flashbacks to the past of both Nog and Chief O'Brien. Nog especially had some great moments, and I couldn't help but get a little emotional at the flashback to the early days of Deep Space Nine, when Nog first sees Commander Sisko in his Starfleet uniform and is in awe. Nog's personal journey throughout the DS9 series is a favorite story of mine, and to see that terrific arc acknowledged here made me smile.

Final thoughts:

Not everyone is going to love this story. It is far outside the norm for a Star Trek novel, but to me, it was perfect. I love character studies, and Benjamin Maxwell is one of the most fascinating secondary characters on Trek. The exploration of his past, and the past of the other characters in this novel, make Force and Motion a five-star book for me.

More about Force and Motion:

Also by Jeffrey Lang:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is my review of the first book of the year's epic new Star Trek trilogy: Legacies, Book One: Captain to Captain.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this one too. Unfortunately, I read it around the time I jumped back into Trek books so I got spoiled on a couple of major plotlines.

    The Wounded is a great TNG episode, and I'm glad we got a follow-up to it. I hope we see Maxwell again some day.

    One criticism: there was maybe a little too much of Lang's quirky sense of humor.

    One last thought: As much as I love Nog, I wish this had been an O'Brien & Bashir adventure. That duo was one of the highlights of the show for me and the authors haven't done anything with them in years.