BOOK REVIEW: Sight Unseen, by James Swallow

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Sight_Unseen.jpg

Era: Post-Nemesis

Series: Titan (#8)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 385

Publication Date: 2015

Verdict: 3/5

 

The newly promoted Admiral Riker has received his new orders. no more exploration of unknown space, but to oversee frontiers closer to home. With the Titan as his flagship, Riker sets out to investigate the disappearance of a Federation vessel . . .

Setting the crossovers aside for a moment, the Titan series returns under its own heading for the first time since Fallen Gods. Once again, we have James Swallow at the helm, and I so my hopes were immediately high for this one. Unfortunately, those expectations weren’t met. And it’s a weird one, because so much of this novel should work for me. But for whatever reason, it doesn’t.

With Riker now an admiral, the setup of the Titan changes, but not as much as you might think. Star Trek loves to keep a crew together regardless of promotions, and Titan is no different. With the Titan as his flagship, Riker remains on board at all times, making him a live-in guest. Taking the actual captain’s seat is former XO Christian Vale. On the face of it, this should lead to a lot of interesting conflict as both officers adjust. There’s definitely an element of this going on, but for me it fell flat. Perhaps it’s because it’s been a long while since these two characters had any close interaction, but I feel like this angle could have been amped up a bit.

There are new crew as well, and it’s here that Sight Unseen performs strongly. Look, I will take any Enterprise connections I can get, but I was not expecting to see a Skagaran turn up in the 24th century. ‘North Star’ is one of my favourite hidden gems of Star Trek, and this is a welcome callback. With his southern twang (and the fact that he brings his own saddle onto the ship) Ethan the Skagaran is my favourite new crewmember, but not the most significant. That falls to Sarai, the new XO. Sarai brings a harder edge to the book, with her frosty nature and mysterious motivation. Sarai also brings a fair bit of interpersonal conflict to the book, but that’s something that spreads to the other characters. Ra-Havreii and Pazlar’s relationship has been bubbling away for a while now, and here it finally explodes.

The story itself is, like a lot of Litverse books, ties in to an episode of the TV series. In this case its ‘schisms,’ and the nightmarish aliens from there are back in force. Personally, I don’t feel that the twisted nature of this species works as well in prose as it does on screen. The cosmic horror angle gives way to a more standard alien invasion story pretty quickly. That said, the aliens here are truly alien, and that is always nice to see. Free from budgetary restraints, Trek‘s literary aliens can finally spread their (literal as well as metaphorical) wings. Titan has been doing this from the very start, and Sight Unseen is one of the best books in the series in that regard.

 

Though it’s overall not as good as many of the other Titan novels, Sight Unseen brings a lot to the table. It may be rough around the edges, but there’s still a lot here to like.

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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