- Prometheus (#2)
- Part of the post-Nemesis Litverse
- Originally published in German
- English edition published by Titan in 2018
- A Space Opera
- 320 pages
Deep in the Lembatta Cluster, the U.S.S. Prometheus and the I.K.S Bortas continue their counter-terrorism operation. But tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire remain high, and the merest spark could set the galaxy aflame . . .
Remember when I reviewed Fire With Fire, the first book in this series? I hope you do, because it was only a few days ago. If not, go back and read it. Then come see me. Anyway, one of the things I remarked on in said review was that this series made good use of legacy characters, giving them quick cameos but not drowning the narrative in them. Impressively for a novel of the Litverse, it actually trod new ground rather than bringing everything back to something seen in the TV shows.
I would like to take this opportunity to retract that statement.
It’s not that The Root of All Rage is a bad book, you must understand. As a continuation of the Prometheus trilogy, and as a piece of Star Trek literature in general, it’s a solid piece of work. It features aggressive Klingons butting heads with principled Starfleet officers, a problem that can’t necessarily be solved through direct or violent means. It has an uncharted region of space that is reluctant to give up its secrets. All the good stuff is there, and the authors make the most of the opportunities.
But when the book stumbles, it lands heavily in the problems of franchise fiction. Because, for some reason, everything needs to be tied back into the TV show. Yes, I get that one of the reasons tie-in fiction exists is to promote the primary body of work, but that doesn’t mean I can’t rail against the faults this approach brings. First of all, and I intend no slight towards the late Majel Barrett, but if there’s one character I didn’t need to see in the Litverse, it’s Lwaxana Troi. In fact, I’d rather not have the Earth-based sections of this series at all. Cutting the diplomacy back to brief communications with the Prometheus would have made the whole thing so much more tense.
Even more disappointing is the big reveal regarding the nature of the true threat. Despite the Lembatta Cluster being new and uncharted territory, the alien menace is one we’ve seen before, all the way back in the days of The Original Series. This here is the true problem I have with a lot of tie-in fiction. I fully believe that you should respect the original work, but there’s a frustrating tendency in expanded universes to treat the foundational text as some kind of holy object. Something that needs to be referred to in order to prove the validity of the new work. It’s the constant self-referencing that stops me taking these successors seriously. Rather than building on a work, and expanding it, they keep folding back to things we already know. Things we’ve already seen. It’s a form of nostalgia that is deeply perilous to storytelling, and it’s unfortunate to see Star Trek falling into the trap once again.
Leaving aside these deep-set issues, however, The Root of All Rage is a strong entry in the Trek canon, with just the right balance of adventure and moral quandaries.