BOOK REVIEW: Patterns of Interference, by Christopher L. Bennett

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This review contains spoilers. Proceed with caution

Patterns_of_Interference_cover.jpg

Era: Enterprise

Series: Rise of the Federation (#5)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 351

Publication Date: 2017

Verdict: 5/5

As the young Federation grapples with the fallout of the Ware crisis, Jonathan Archer considers sweeping policy changes. Yet in the shadows, enemies are amassing. Alien dictators, enemy spies, and those who would see the Federation turned to their own sinister purposes . . .

All good things must come to an end, and Patterns of Interference serves as a finale to the saga of Star Trek: Enterprise. Though there are times when you’d barely recognise this epic novel series as the same beast that appeared on screens, this is a fitting end to the story, and a far better one than we got on television.

The Prime Directive is one of the defining features of Star Trek. A recognition that technological superiority is no excuse for interfering in the development of other cultures. Enterprise took place prior to the introduction of Starfleet’s highest law, but here we see the foundations of what will become policy by the time of Picard, Sisko and Janeway. (Kirk had General Order One, yes, but he also had all the subtle research techniques of a smash-and-grab robber.) Seeing Archer, the pioneering explorer, be the one to realise the necessity of such a rule is a fitting road for the character to take in the wake of the Federation essentially destroying another interstellar nation by removing the Ware. Having the Prime Directive emerge from such a calamity makes perfect sense, and embodies perfectly the identity struggles of the early Federation. Having some final scenes between Archer and Shran as opposing parties on the matter is just the icing on the cake.

On the other side of the coin we have the Section 31 material. I like the concept of Section 31, and DS9’s Bashir/Sloane episodes were always strong. That being said, I do feel they’ve become overused, both in this series and in Discovery. Seeing the darker side of the Federation is exciting and interesting, but works best in small doses. What works about the Section here is that they are not shown as the all-powerful shadow organisation they later become. Although we know they survive in some form, here they are essentially one man’s conspiracy, and seeing them facing exposure is gratifying, especially when considering the ideals of the Federation.

A few other storylines are wrapped up along the way. Maltuvis and the Saurian crisis come to a head, and ties into the ongoing story incredibly. So too the Orion Syndicate’s efforts to undermine the Federation. Less well integrated is Hoshi’s exploration of an alien world, which does very much feel like a B-plot put in to resolve her doubts about marriage. That being said, these sections are possibly the most Star Trek parts of all, and remind us of Starfleet’s purpose – To seek out new life and new civilisations.

At the end of the day, Patterns of Interference is a worthy end to an unfairly maligned period of Star Trek‘s history. Bennett, Mangels and Martin all deserve credit for providing a the literary conclusion that Enterprise deserved.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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