Series: Rise of the Federation (#3)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2015
As the Federation grapples with a growing crisis on Vulcan, Captain Malcolm Reed of the Pioneer is called to invetigate a mysterious new threat on the Federation’s borders, an automated enemy known as the Ware, whom Reed has encountered before . . .
By this point in the Rise of the Federation series, readers will know what they are in for. Bennett delivers his usual heady mix of political wrangling and space operatic adventure, weaving together threads old and new, faces familiar and unfamiliar. The characters are written so well it is easy to imagine Dominic Keating or Scott Bakula delivering them in person, and more than ever before this really feels like a Star trek story.
The Archer section of the book builds on years of what has gone before, both narratively and on a meta level. Vulcan’s role in human development drove much of the conflict in Enterprise, and once again rears its head here. At the same time, Bennett pulls on decades of established lore about Vulcan culture and society to show how the more aggresive Vulcans of Enterprise became the people they are in later series. Reading these sections was particularly interesting given recent developments on Star Trek: Discovery, and again I must say that these two polar ends of the franchise complement each other extremely well.
Good as the Vulcan material is, the real meat of this book is the Ware. Taking the one-off horror-themed ‘Dead Stop’ as his starting point, Bennett creates a threat to the Federation that is as chilling as it is innovative. I love non-humanesque Artificial intelligence storylines, and this is a brilliant one. On the face of it, the Ware have certain similarities with the Borg – a networked mehcanical entity that relies on organic components to endure. However, the way in which they operate could not be further from Borg methods. The Ware are insidious, presenting themselves as humble automated repair and trade stations. They are also widespread, and it’s wonderful to see how various civilisations (at varying stages of technological development) have adjuested to life with the Ware. The lengthy sections spent on an almost Earth-like world could easily be a Hollywood tech-thriller, but never lose the core of what Star trek is about.
Alternating these sections allows Bennett to cut out on some of the weaker material of the earlier books in the series. Here, even the minimal Section 31 presence is subservient to the ongoing story, rather than seeming like a diversion. There are a few, almost off-hand, chapters following the ongoing Orion story arc, but this is a book you could easily read outside of the main series and still understand. As a middle book, there isn’t a whole lot of resolution herein, but with the threat of the Ware, this series has really found its footing.
Uncertain Logic is the strongest Enterprise novel yet, and hopefully heralds great things yet to come. Absolutely worth the read.