BOOK REVIEW: Force and Motion, by Jeffrey Lang

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  • A standalone novel
  • Part of the Litverse Deep Space Nine Relaunch
  • Published by Pocket Books in 2016
  • Space Opera with a dash of Horror
  • 337 pages
  • ⭐⭐

Responding to a call from an old friend, Miles O’Brien visits Robert Hooke station, where science and danger go hand in hand. But what exactly is The Mother? And can the promises of Robert Hooke outweigh the dangers she poses . . .

Post-Typhon Pact, the Deep Space Nine relaunch was dominated by two authors. Una McCormack, whose writing I adore, and David R, George III, on whom I am significantly cooler. But late into the series sneaks another author. Trek veteran Jeffrey Lang, who here offers us a novel that stands largely independent of the larger series. It’s fitting that DS9 would have a serialised approach to novels, but even Sisko took time out to play baseball. Force and Motion is a return to that episodic storytelling, throwing its characters into the middle of a crisis and resolving it neatly by the end of the book. Even if I had nothing else to say about the book, it deserves credit for that.

In a lot of ways, Force and Motion feels less like a Deep Space Nine novel, and more like a Next Generation one. In fact, were it not for Nog’s presence, this could easily have been relabelled as part of the latter series without causing any confusion. Yes, O’Brien is a stalwart of DS9, but he originated in TNG. As it happens, the Cardassians – those famous DS9 villains – had their first appearance on the Enterprise-D. In that same episode, we met O’Brien’s previous captain: Benjamin Maxwell. Maxwell had attacked a seemingly peaceful Cardassian vessel, you see, and at the end of the episode he was sent to be court martialled. This is the thread that Force and Motion picks up on, with Maxwell now living a new life, and O’Brien coming to visit.

Naturally, there’s more going on than just a reunion of old friends. The station Robert Hooke is home to a varied bunch of scientists, all of whom fit quite comfortably into the ‘mad’ category. From the moment you see a mysterious genetic experiment in a box, you know it’s going to cause havoc. Sure enough, lives are soon threatened, a conspiracy unravelled, and unlikely partnerships are forged to see victory achieved. This isn’t the deepest or most intellectually challenging part of Star Trek. Not by a long shot. But it’s a fun little side adventure that is much needed in a Litverse that becomes increasingly interwoven as the books go on.

There is one aspect that totally lost me, however, and that is the flashbacks. These seem to be a feature of the DS9 Relaunch, and I’m yet to find any that I’m a fan of. It makes sense to have them here, as they show the journey of Maxwell from disgraced captain to space station janitor. They’re even helpfully labelled. But there are just so many of them. Nog and O’Brien have their own flashbacks too. I dare say more of this book happens in flashbacks than it does in the present. I will forever be a champion of linear narratives, and Force and Motion is a a prime exhibit of how flashbacks that are interesting in their own right can pull the reader right out of the main narrative. It’s incredibly frustrating, and without them, the book would have been so much more exciting.

Did you enjoy this book? If so, you may also like:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
Revelation and Dust, by David R. George III
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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