Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Time Lock

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations
Time Lock by Christopher L. Bennett
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: September 5th 2016
Read September 26th 2016

Previous book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations): The Collectors

Next book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations): Shield of the Gods

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

Spoilers ahead for Time Lock!

Publisher's description:
An all new Star Trek e-novella from the world of Deep Space Nine, featuring the fan-favorite Federation bureau the Department of Temporal Investigations!

The dedicated agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations have their work cut out for them protecting the course of history from the dangers of time travel. But the galaxy is littered with artifacts that, in the wrong hands, could threaten reality. One of the DTI's most crucial jobs is to track down these objects and lock them safely away in the Federation’s most secret and secure facility. As it happens, Agent Gariff Lucsly and his supervisor, DTI director Laarin Andos, are charged with handling a mysterious space-time portal device discovered by Starfleet. But this device turns out to be a Trojan horse, linking to a pocket dimension and a dangerous group of raiders determined to steal some of the most powerful temporal artifacts ever known...

My thoughts:

Star Trek stories can be many things. They run the gamut from dark and intensely personal to fun and whimsical. The novels and novellas in the Department of Temporal Investigations series definitely fall into the latter category. Above all else, these stories are fun, and Time Lock continues the tradition of clever and playful storytelling that has been a hallmark of this highly entertaining series.

The Eridian Vault, the department's repository of dangerous time-related artifacts, comes under siege by a paramilitary group intent on stealing an item from the vault. The vault goes into a special lockdown called a "time lock," during which time on the inside of the vault slows down incrementally as compared to the space-time continuum outside the vault. Trapped inside with the attackers are Agent Lucsly along with a number of other DTI agents as well as the director, Laarin Andos. As time continues to slow, it's up to them and the rest of the DTI, working outside the vault where time continues forward normally, to stop the militants led by a mysterious woman named Daiyar.

Despite the fact that Time Lock separates them both by light years and the actual flow of time, the close relationship between Dulmur and Lucsly plays a big role in how this story unfolds.

Meanwhile, stationed on Denobula, Lucsly's former partner Dulmur must marshal his resources to aid his friend in this unstable predicament. An interesting aspect of the story is the forward progression of events in his life while only a few minutes pass in the Eridian Vault. Dulmur's experiences of falling in love and moving on in his life provide an excellent illustration of the extreme time difference between the two halves of this story.

The main thrust of the story is a pursuit through the vault, in which the antagonists use some of the various temporal artifacts against our heroes. The result is a jumbled mess of time-related shenanigans, some of which are quite confusing. I'm reminded of a frustrated O'Brien alongside a temporal copy of himself bemoaning, "I hate temporal mechanics." However, Bennett utilizes his usual skill in navigating these complexities with the same level of competence in temporal matters as the protagonists he writes about. My favorite illustration of this mastery of time comes when Lucsly communicates with Dulmur from within the temporally-slowed vault. After imparting the information critical to the plot, he pauses briefly, and ends the message with "Happy Birthday." In order for Dulmur to have gotten the message on the correct day, Lucsly would had to have timed the message perfectly within a fifteen second window. This is an example of the fun stuff that Bennett does with time in this story!

The end of the story reveals that not all is as it seems (and really, when is it ever?). There is a very clear set up here for a sequel, and indeed word has come down that a third Department of Temporal Investigations e-book is in the works: Christopher Bennett is currently working on Shield of the Gods, the next entry in the DTI series! I'm really looking forward to seeing this story continue.

Final thoughts:

Department of Temporal Investigations has become one of my favorite series within the world of Trek lit. I'm always excited to see it pop up on the schedule, and Time Lock once again delivers a fun and entertaining story. It never ceases to amaze me that Christopher Bennett is able to craft such fascinating stories and development for characters who got only about three minutes of screen time in a Deep Space Nine episode. I hope for many more DTI stories to come, and I am beyond thrilled to see another story is coming for these officious, time-babbly bureaucrats. 5/5!

More about Time Lock:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The first book of an all-new Star Trek: The Next Generation trilogy: Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller.

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