BOOK REVIEW: Oblivion’s Gate, by David Mack

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Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Book Three of the Coda trilogy
  • Part of the Litverse
  • Published by Gallery Press in 2021
  • An apocalyptic Space Opera
  • 422 pages

It’s the end of everything. As the Devidians devour all of creation, the survivors of Starfleet prepare for one last stand. But when even victory means the end of their universe, will this final battle have any victor . . ?

And so it has come to this. The end of the Litverse. The grand climax of twenty-odd years of storytelling. So many books, authors, editors, and more have contributed to this sprawling shared narrative. There was no way it was ever going to wrap up to everybody’s satisfaction. Especially when the finale is as bloody as this one, it was always going to divide fans. For all that there are the contingent of fans who hate any new Star Trek (a tradition as old as the show itself), a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) has gone into the Litverse. People are invested. The end of that investment had better pay off. And for me, it doesn’t.

When you want to do a Star Trek crossover, David Mack is your go-to author. He brought the Borg threat to an end with Destiny trilogy, kicked off the Typhon Pact arc with Zero Sum Game, and wrote the best volume of The Fall with A Ceremony of Losses. Along the way he’s wrapped up the relaunch of The Next Generation, put an end to Section 31, and brought a close to the solo outings of the USS Titan. The man has a reputation for bringing things together in a way that just clicks. And having been involved in Coda from its conception, surely he is best suited for the task of bringing it to a close. Unfortunately, I think the job might have been impossible from the outset.

Don’t get me wrong. Mack is one of the best writers Trek has going, and his prose and grasp of characters is on fine form here. There’s just too much going on. Even though previous books have killed off most of the Deep Space Nine crew, there are still so many characters involved. No Voyager representation this time around, but Titan and The Next Generation have plenty to go around. And then Mack does something that essentially doubles the size of the cast. He takes us back to the Mirror Universe. If any decision scuppers this book’s chances, it’s spreading the story across two universes. The problem is twofold. Not only are there more characters to remember (and kill off), but they’re all alternate versions of ones who are already in the book, or familiar faces from the past. Oblivion’s Gate is fairly chunky for a Star Trek book, but four-hundred pages just isn’t enough to give all these characters something to do. It’s no wonder they’re written out at such a prodigious rate. And if two universes aren’t enough for you, there’s also a trip to a third, Borg-overrun timeline. It’s just too much by far.

Now, you may have noticed me mentioning characters being killed off, and that’s because it’s the theme of the book. The Ashes of Tomorrow turned a final stand into a bloodbath, and Oblivion’s Gate wallows in suffering. It’s actively depressing to read at times, as one beloved character after another is swiftly dispatched. This all feeds into the climax of the book. Star Trek is famously a rather optimistic franchise, so it’s exceedingly odd to have the final story of these characters be a mission to end their own existence. Never before have I read a book where mass suicide was the salvation of reality.

When all is said and done, I’m left with a question. What was it all for? Obviously, the Litverse had to come to an end to pave the way for the new wave of shows. And I’m appreciative of the fact they decided to wrap up the storylines rather than just drop the idea altogether. But with each series having come to an independent end (To Lose the Earth is a good example of this), I don’t think there was any need to bring in such an apocalyptic event. By all means, conclude all the arcs and journeys. But to wipe out everything feels a stretch too far. Star Trek is all about infinite combinations. Could the Litverse not have been laid to rest in a less destructive manner? Maybe not. But I’m glad that I still have more Star Trek to read. Because while this is the conclusion of the Litverse, I wouldn’t want it to be my last encounter.

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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