Era: Enterprise, Season 2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2003
Stranded and held prisoner in a universe that is slowly poisoning them, Archer and the Enterprise crew find themselves being used as pawns in an alien war. But the ultimate danger might not be so apparent, for the mistakes of the past are now haunting the present . . .
After a quick recap of the events of Daedalus, the concluding volume of this duology hits the ground running and doesn’t let up on the action until the very last page.The recap itself concerns the fate of the crew besides Hoshi and Trip, but rather than lengthy exposition covering their internment over the previous novel’s events, we join them on the eve of a prison break. Turns out they weren’t really doing all that much while Trip was gallivanting around a parallel universe. In this, it seems Stern has learned from his use of flashbacks in past books, covering the time jump in dialogue rather than in its own sections. I have to say, it works a lot better this way.
With Daedalus having done the heavy lifting last time around, this book is almost entirely action. This fits neatly with Enterprise‘s more action-oriented storytelling, but does make for a novel that is very fast-paced for what is (by Pocket Books standards) a fairly long book. Action that flows well onscreen doesn’t always translate well to prose, and though Stern’s writing is never stale, the constant fisticuffs and shootouts do grow a tad repetitive towards the end. That said, with the other Enterprise novels having been of a generally smaller, low-stakes variety, this two-parter does feel suitably epic in comparison, and a change of pace is welcome. infinite diversity in infinite combinations, and all that jazz.
Unlike part one, which was almost entirely Trip-centric, Daedalus’s Children balances viewpoints for more of the crew. Hoshi is still sidelined on account of universe-poisoning, but the rest are pretty well-served. Anyone who gives Travis Mayweather a key role is a good writer in my books. As you’d expect though, it’s the Captain who gets the real meat of the issue. From leading a prison escape to brokering peace between warring alien factions, Archer is on fine form here, even when matters grow more personal than you might expect of an alternate universe tale.
On that note, the nature of this universe is an interesting one. On the one hand, the literally poisonous radiation suffusing it reminds me a little of Georgiou’s struggles in the third season of Discovery. But in every other respect, Stern’s parallel world is a refreshing break from Star Trek‘s famous Mirror Universe. It’s a nice change to have our characters not run into alternate versions of themselves, evilly bearded or otherwise. I like the Mirror Universe as much as anybody, but having a wholly different universe appear here broadens Trek‘s horizons nicely.
Overall, the Daedalus two-parter is a fine piece of Star Trek literature. It’s not the best book out there, but it’s a little meatier than a lot of other offerings, and has wonderful moments for both plot and character.