Era: Post-The Original Series
Series: Seekers (#2)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Social SF
Publication Date: 2014
The crews of the Sagittarius and the Endeavour face an escalating and deadly crisis as the Tomol people give in to the dreaded Change. But will the notorious Klingon Kang prove to be a complication, or an unlikely ally . . ?
Point of Divergence picks up exactly where Second Nature left off, and wraps up the story of the Tomol people rather neatly. So I stand by my assertion that the Seekers series is more episodic than Vanguard. It just so happens that it kicks off with a two-parter. This is a bold choice, but it’s also one that makes perfect sense. In terms of story, there isn’t really enough to justify a whole series, but Ward & Dilmore (and David Mack) have a lot of characters to introduce, so having a double-header to start the series is a good way to do that.
Whereas Second Nature was largely about the crew of the Sagittarius, this time around it’s the Endeavour crew who take centre stage. Again, the cast is a mix of original creations and faces first seen in the Vanguard series, and again, the number of PoV characters is well-balanced. Kang provides a bridge between the two novels, and largely plays a supporting role in events. Throwing Klingons into the mix doesn’t add all that much to the story, but it helps place Seekers in the larger Star Trek universe. References to the Shedai also serve to put this book into the context of the Litverse.
It is of course the Tomol who are the focus here. Just as Star Trek has its guest-star/monster/planet/problem of the week format, some of the best Trek novels focus on a single issue. Point of Divergence has broader stroked than that, but it boils down to a singular issue: What do you do with a species genetically destined to become monsters?
Star Trek has a long history with genetic engineering, starting with the classic ‘Space Seed’ and the villainous Khan. The Federation’s absolute prohibition against genetic engineering has been a feature of many episodes, not least in Deep Space Nine, where Bashir uncovers his own edited heritage. I’ve always thought the total ban to be a tad excessive. Yes, it comes from good intentions (stopping eugenics destroying the world) but preventing the Federation from helping victims of genetic predilections? Surely that’s a grey area. In Point of Divergence things are further complicated by the early revelation that the Shedai were involved in the chromosomal tampering of the Tomol, and this conflict provides a great moral quandary that sits at the heart of the book.
Point of Divergence shares many of its predecessor’s problems. There’s not quite enough material to fill every page, and attempts to add complications often lead to over-cluttered thematic arcs. It has that classic Star Trek feel, but it doesn’t push the envelope very far. As a love letter to the period, it’s great. As an individual read, it’s somewhat lacking.
Despite these reservations, I look forward to seeing what the second half of the Seekers series has to offer. Now that the major players have been introduced, I’m hoping for some more intriguing science fiction mysteries.