Era: Post-The Original Series
Series: Seekers (#3)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Social SF
Publication Date: 2015
The USS Sagittarius stumbles across an odd energy reading, leading them to a planet on the brink of scientific revolution. But this new technology has side effects. Side effects that rewrite the laws of probability themselves . . .
This is an incredibly fun book. No question about it, Long Shot is my favourite book in either the Seekers or Vanguard series. It takes everything that makes Star Trek so great and distils it into a little over three hundred pages. A diverse crew, a scientific puzzle, a race against time, keen insights into humanity. This book really does have it all. And it manages to do all of this without the book ever feeling overstuffed or too crowded.
Almost all of my favourite Star Trek stories are about some unique scientific mystery, and Long Shot is no different. A pre-warp society is working on a new power source, but it ends up altering the rules of chance until the incredibly unlikely becomes an everyday occurrence, for better and for worse. I’m not going to pretend this is in any way plausible (and hey, maybe it is. I’m not a quantum physicist), but that doesn’t matter. Mack uses the original concept to weave a delightfully fun and interesting story.
My favourite aspect of Long Shot is the way we see the effects of altered probability on people from all walks of life. Yes, you’ve got the high stakes, life or death struggles of the Sagittarius crew, but in-between the main storyline we get interludes. Little snippets and slice-of-life chapters. Some of these are rooted in emotion (parents gambling on who gets custody of a child), while others are just plain hilarious (a chef trying to understand why no one wants to work in his kitchen). What all of them have in common is that they build a picture of a functional and lived-in society. This is, in all likelihood, a planet we’re never going to hear from again, but Mack dives deeply into the day-to-day life of its inhabitants. It’s proof that there is more at stake than just what the main characters see, and sets a nice, wide scope for the main story.
Having spent a two-parter introducing them, it’s here that the crew of the Sagittarius really come into their own. Even though we won’t get full seasons with any of them, they feel as well-developed as any TV crew. Taryl stands out as an example of why the Orions are winning me over as one of the most interesting Star Trek species, while Threx proves there’s more to Denobulans than just being benign doctors, all while building on the work laid down by Enterprise all those years ago. It’s just a shame that the one remaining Seekers novel focuses on the Endeavour, as I would happily read an entire series about the Sagittarius.
Long Shot slots right in with the classic Star Trek episodes of yesteryear, all while bringing slick modernity to the storytelling.