Series: Destiny (#3)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2008
The Federation’s darkest hour is at hand. Thousnads of Borg cubes rampage through the Alpha Quadrant, obliterating all in their path. Only a valiant few stand in their way, and the key to the future may lie in the depths of the past . . .
Let’s talk about the Borg. Of all the villains introduced during The Next Generation, they have left the biggest impression on the franchise. The Klingons and Romulans from The Original Series will always be favourites of both fans and writers, and both TNG and Deep Space Nine did great work with the Cardassians (and of course we cannot forget the latter’s Dominion when it comes to great threats to the Federation) but the Borg are a threat like no other. From their introduction in ‘Q Who?’ to Picard’s final on-screen battle in First Contact, their legacy looms large. When Voyager needed a serious threat, where else would they turn but to the Borg? TNG guest character Hugh was a logical choice to bring back for Picard, and even Enterprise got in on the action. But as large as the Borg’s legacy may be in our universe, in the Trek canon their shadow looms like no other. With Lost Souls, Davd Mack pulls of the impossible, and gives the Borg both a satisfying ending, and an unforgettable origin story.
In this book we see a group of Columbia‘s MACOs flung six thousand years into the past. Trapped with a Caeliar group equally determined to survive at any cost, they become the Borg. Sometimes, tying everything back to the human race is a fault of science fiction, but in this dark and twisted story, it works. It really, really works. Human stubbornness couples with the raw hunger of the Caleiar gives birth to a monster that will haunt the Galaxy for over six thousand years. With their insistence on assimilating all else, the Borg form a dark mirror to the welcoming Federation. I sometimes forget that it is because of Q that Picard first meets the Borg, but looking back now it makes perfect sense. Q’s role in TNG is to put humanity on trial, arguing that our worst instincts will overwhelm us. And if you are looking for those instincts, we need only point to the Borg and say: ‘There it sits.’
And as for that ending to the Borg? Well, the Caeliar are involved there too, because what is fiction without a full circle. The Caeliar have been presented as a near-omnipotent species, isolationist and untrusting, often downright selfish. But the Borg are ultimately not defeated by weapons, or by brute force, but by an act of empathy on an unimaginable scale. If love overcoming hate isn’t one of the core themes of Star Trek, I don’t know what is.
Along the way, we see humanity at its worst (Picard ordering the use of a genocide weapon against the Borg) and at its best (Geordi steadfastly refusing to follow said orders). For all the space battles and the death toll in the billions, this is a book about empathy. About overcoming the darkness of the past to forge a better path ahead. There are a lot of character arcs to balance, and even at the end there are plenty of threads dangling, not least the power vacuum left in the wake of the devastation, but there will be time for that another day. For now, we can relax and breath easily. For the Federation, victory has been costly, but for us readers, the Destiny trilogy is an absolute triumph.