- Prometheus (#3)
- Part of the post-Nemesis Litverse
- Originally published in German
- English edition published by Titan in 2018
- A Space Opera
- 355 pages
With the origins of the Purifying Flame revealed, Captain Adams and his crew face an impossible mission: To defeat an evil god. Yet even if they can find a solution, can they achieve the impossible before all-out war destroys the quadrant . . ?
I’d like to begin with a lesson for any bloggers out there, so they might avoid the same pit I fell into. If you’re reviewing a book you know to be a translation, but can’t find the translator listed in the acknowledgements or credited as an author, just look in the front of the book. Because that’s where, after three books, I found out whose words I was reading. Neither Berndt Perplies nor Christian Humberg are the translator of this series, though you wouldn’t guess it from the cover. The translator is in fact Helga Parmiter, as credited on the title page. As always with translated novels, it’s hard to comment on the actual writing without mentioning that there are multiple writers involved. If I want to compliment a piece of dialogue, do I credit Humberg, Perplies, or Parmiter for that? Truly, the best praise I can give the prose of this book is that it does not feel any different to a novel originally written in English. If I didn’t go in knowing it was a translation, I never would have guessed.
I’m going to get the negatives out of the way first. In my review of the second book, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the way in which the main threat is linked to a minor event from The Original Series, and how flooding a book with cameos was ultimately a disservice to the story being told here. That remains true, but the link to the days of Kirk is irritating in another way too. You see, Star Trek has a long history of running into omnipotent god-like beings. Q is probably the most famous of these, but let’s not forget the Traveller, the Prophets, the Pah Wraiths, and that time Kirk met everyone from the Greek god Apollo to literal Satan. When Trek grapples with the reality of these cosmic super beings interacting with humans, we get some of the best episodes of Deep Space Nine. But all too often there’s no solution to the problem of a god, than to call on the aid of another god. And that’s what we stumble into with In the Heart of Chaos. The Prometheus can’t find a solution to the problem at hand, so they essentially palm it off on some incredibly powerful beings from another dimension. It makes sense in context, but I personally don’t find any of that resolution to be satisfying.
Yet while the human side of things is a bit of a dud, the aliens make up for it. The scattered Renao chapters really build up an image of an interesting society, and one I’d like to have seen explored in more depth. More impressively still is the Klingon narrative. Captain Kromm gains a lot more characterisation when he’s not simply an obstacle to Adams, and the whole Klingon crew gets fleshed out rather well indeed. You can tell that the Klingons run a very different ship to the Federation, and so a lot of the familiar crew dynamics play out in unexpected ways. In fact, the whole series has been strong with character dynamics, helped in no small part by not being bogged down by a TV legacy or a larger series to work around. The main characters of these novels achieve their full arcs in this trilogy alone, which is a rare thing in a universe as sprawling as the Star Trek Litverse.
Overall, the Prometheus trilogy has been a fun diversion between longer-running Litverse arcs, and though it shares many of the same flaws as the rest of the universe, it hits a lot of the same highs as well.