Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2008
Jean-Luc Picard is trying to start a new life with his wife Beverly, but the past will not let go so easily. The crew of the Enterprise may change, but a familiar threat is about to return. It seems the Borg are not yet done with Picard, or with the Federation . . .
Greater Than The Sum builds heavily on the events of Before Dishonor, which is one of the most frustrating absences on my bookshelf. Bennett sums up for those who were not there neatly, but the more post-Nemesis books I read, the more convinced I become that Before Dishonor is a major turning point in the canon. The death of a beloved character and a Borg assault on Earth are not events to be skipped over lightly. Nevertheless, Greater Than The Sum is an enjoyable book in its own right, and in many ways is a last grand adventure before the Litverse takes a darker turn in the books ahead.
The plot is a fairly simple one, with a Borg vessel on the cusp of assimilating a dangerous new technology, and Picard and the Enterprise being sent to stop them, whatever the cost. As I’ve come to expect from Bennett, this book pulls together dozens of Borg-centric episodes and stories to create a cohesive whole. One of the important bits in this regard is explaining the difference between The Next Generation‘s Borg (who were cybernetic from birth and had no individuality) and the Borg of Voyager (who were assimilated in adulthood, and often possessed more individualistic traits). To this end, we get an explanation of how the Borg originally functioned, and how they were forced to adapt to a lack of born-Borg by assimilating biology as well as technology. This is the stuff that Bennett excels at, and since I have always been a fan of the Borg as a concept, this alone makes the book a big winner for me, even if we do take an odd dip into Borg sexuality.
Something that becomes immediately apparent is that this Enterprise does not have the familiar crew we followed for seven years and four films. Data is dead, Riker and Troi are serving on Titan. Geordi is still around, and Picard and Crusher are now married. Then there is Worf, who has returned from the ambassadorial role Deep Space Nine left him with, and now serves as Picard’s Number One. Other than these four, the crew are unfamilair faces, the most prominent of which is half-Vulcan T’ryssa Chen, who feels like a character from 21st Century Trek dropped into the more traditional era. Off the bat, Chen is a love-or-hate character, and I’m a fan. It’s enough to shake things up, while keeping The Next Generation true to its name. Of course, many of these new names are established in previous books that i have not yet read, but Bennett does a good job of (re)introducing them.
With a healthy mix of science and action, Greater Than The Sum is a book that eases you into the larger literary canon. Because while it is a solid standalone tale, Greater Than The Sum also serves as a sort of prequel to David Mack’s Destiny trilogy, which is the next part of my Trek readthrough. Taken in that context, the Litverse truly is greater than the sum of its parts.