BOOK REVIEW: Taking Wing, by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels

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taking wing.jpg

Era: Post-Nemesis

Series: Titan (#1)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 359

Publication Date: 2005

Verdict: 5/5

 

William Riker is captain of the USS Titan, the first in a new class of exploration vessels. But Titan’s maiden voyage is not one of discovery, but of mercy. The Romulan Star Empire, reeling from the assassination of its senate, is in disarray, and only Riker and his untested crew are equipped to stop the crisis spiralling into full-blown war . . .

If any novel series is representative of Star Trek‘s shift from television to literature, it’s the voyages of Titan. With nine main novels, and many others that cross into series such as Typhon Pact and The FallTitan‘s journey mirrors the development of Pocket Books’ post-Nemesis timeline. Great standalone adventures, darker instalments, and crossovers with every crew imaginable. And it all starts with Taking Wing.

Titan takes full advantage of it’s literary nature right from the get go. Star Trek‘s history with aliens tends to go one of two ways. Rubber foreheads or energy spheres. these limitations are of course budget related, and while some species like the Cardassians still look good today, others don’t hold up. But with a book, the only limit is imagination, and we get a truly diverse crew for the new ship. Titan‘s doctor, for example, is a dinosaur in all but name. There’s an alien you never would have had in the 90s, but in Taking Wing, he’s not even the weirdest member of the crew. Titan‘s crew is in-universe acknowledged as the most diverse crew Starfleet has put together, and that diversity alone makes this a great piece of Star Trek.

But not all of the crew are new faces. Obviously you have Riker in the captain’s chair, and Deanna Troi gets far more to do in this single book alone than she did for much of her tenure on the Enterprise. First Officer Christina Vale is a name from the Enterprise relaunch novels, although I only know her from James Swallow’s Picard novel The Dark Veil, which shows a different canon for the Titan‘s voyages. Voyager‘s resident Vulcan Tuvok crosses over from Janeway’s command to Riker’s in a prime example of how the Litverse shuffled up crews to great effect. Deep Space Nine guest star Melora Pazlar also arrives in a fully-fledged role. The mix of new and familiar faces settles you in while still pushing new frontiers.

More returning faces come in the form of the Romulans. Some names are taken straight from Nemesis, while others such as Tomalak go further into Star Trek‘s depths. Taking Wing picks up directly after Nemesis, and concerns itself with the political fallout of Shinzon’s brief reign of terror. It’s particularly interesting to see Starfleet and the Federation sending an aid mission to Romulus now that the Picard timeline has played with similar ideas. Here it ends a little more happily, with the political manoeuvring taking a back seat to crew interactions for much of the book. With so many characters to (re)introduce, this is perfectly natural, but when the politics take precedence, there’s still a chance for all of the crew to show their colours. There isn’t a full resolution at the end of Taking Wing, because it’s a messy, complicated issue, and the climax sets up the next book with a not-quite-cliffhanger. In that, Titan begins with the time-honoured Star Trek tradition of the two-part season opener.

Star Trek  could not have had a better start to the post-Nemesis timeline than Taking Wing, and if the series continues at this rate, Titan will be name to sit alongside any Enterprise.

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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