Friday, June 21, 2019

Articles of the Federation

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published May 2005
Read April 2nd 2019

Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Taking Wing
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: The Red King

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Spoilers ahead for Articles of the Federation

From the back cover:
Following the surprise resignation of Federation President Min Zife after the disastrous Tezwa affair, Nan Bacco of Cestus III has won a hotly contested election to become the new chief executive of over one hundred fifty planetary civilizations and their colonies. But no sooner does she take office than the Romulan Star Empire falls into chaos. With tensions already high, a Reman refugee ship is sighted approaching a Federation outpost, its intentions unknown. 
As the first year of the Bacco Administration unfolds, the Federation Council is slow to work with its new president, and not always supportive of her policies or her appointments to key council positions; a successful first contact suddenly becomes a diplomatic disaster; and the sins of President Zife prove difficult to lay to one celebrated Starfleet officer's career reaches a turning point.

My thoughts:

Outside of Star Trek, one of my favorite television shows of all time is The West Wing. I kind of categorize it with Star Trek: The Next Generation: both were shows about professionals working together to solve problems without rancor and animosity; seasoned, competent men and women led by a leader who wants only the best for the world, without personal greed or ambition getting in the way. Perhaps an outlandish fiction when it comes to politics, but certainly something I admired and wished the real world would aspire to.

Articles of the Federation is basically The West Wing in the 24th century, and I couldn't be happier!

Articles of the Federation combines two of my favorite things: it is basically The West Wing in the 24th century. In Star Trek, we usually follow the adventures of the officers of Starfleet as they explore space, defend the Federation, and engage in diplomacy. In this novel, however, we get a look at the Star Trek universe through a different lens: the civilian government of the United Federation of Planets, led by the newly-elected President Nanietta Bacco and her cabinet. The novel covers the first year of the Bacco administration, dealing with newly-admitted Federation members, crises involving the Federation's members and their neighbors, and fallout from the scandal that took down the previous administration of Min Zife.

While there are many familiar faces in Articles of the Federation, the novel features original characters not seen on television for the most part. Nan Bacco herself has long been one of my favorite litverse characters, and it was great to see so much focus on her here. Bacco's chief-of-staff, Esperanza Piñiero, is another character I appreciated. Following Bacco from her time as governor of Cestus III, Piñiero knows the president better than anyone else and is an invaluable member of her team. I also appreciated Jas Abrik, Bacco's security advisor, who joined the Bacco administration after serving as campaign manager for Bacco's main rival in the election, Arafel Pagro. His status as a sort of outsider leads to some interesting tensions in the novel. Finally, another of my favorite characters is Kant Jorel, the press liason for the Bacco administration. A Bajoran, Jorel's handling of the media was a highlight of the novel for me.

Articles of the Federation serves to move various plots in the post-Nemesis shared continuity forward, including the disarray in the Romulan Empire following the defeat of Shinzon in Star Trek Nemesis. A refugee crisis involving the Remans is one event that the new administration must navigate, as is the potential rocky relationship with the Klingon Empire following the actions of Min Zife, which are still being kept secret. This book also introduces a Trill reporter named Ozla Graniv who is hot on the trail of the Tezwa scandal, and the administration must find a way to keep the events a secret to protect the Federation's relationship with the Klingons.

It is truly a shame that we never got an Articles of the Federation 2, as I truly enjoyed this novel and hold it up as one of the greats of the entire Star Trek novel line. I am happy, however, that the characters we see in this novel will continue to make appearances in many more novels to follow. Articles of the Federation impacted the novels in a big way, and going forward, there would be a greater focus on the politics of the Federation. If nothing else, I appreciate that this story allowed the scope of future Star Trek stories to widen, so that we don't just see the impact of decisions on the crew of a ship or a station, but rather to the Federation as a whole and the government in particular. Star Trek features a vast universe in which many stories are possible, and politics and governance are some of my favorite arenas for compelling stories. Thank you, Mr. DeCandido, for putting the government of the Federation front and center and allowing us a peek into this fascinating corner of the Star Trek universe!

Final thoughts:

While this novel came out in 2005, for some reason I never got around to reading it until just this year, despite the fact that the subject matter is right up my alley. This has proven to be a glaring oversight, as Articles of the Federation has now firmly established itself as one of my all-time favorite Star Trek novels. Full of memorable characters and finally showing how the government of the Federation operates on a day-to-day basis, this novel was a heck of a lot of fun to read. I wish there was a lot more focus on the governance of the Federation in Star Trek, as it is fertile ground for new and different stories set in my favorite science fiction universe!

More about Articles of the Federation:

Also by Keith R.A. DeCandido:

My next read:

Next up is book four of the New Earth miniseries: The Flaming Arrow by Kathy & Jerry Oltion!