Star Trek: Enterprise

Author: Dave Stern
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $10.99
ISBN 1 4165 0956 9
Available 06 March 2006

With his crew still traumatised by their run in with the Xindi, Captain Jonathan Archers encounter with an Antianna vessel leads his crew into the heart of the Thelasian Trading Confederacy. The unprovoked attacks on the Confederacy's shipping are leading the quadrant into a war. With everything hanging on Hoshi's ability to decrypt the Antianna language time is running out...

Rosetta is the new Star Trek: Enterprise novel by Dave Stern. For anyone looking for another heroic Archer story this book may not be for you. As the cover proclaims this is predominantly a Hoshi story. Now, this shouldn't put you off picking this book up, if you love good story telling, in fact it's a nice breath of fresh air to read a novel which deals with some of the more minor characters.

The story takes place soon after Hoshi has been captured by the Xindi and has had her brain messed with. The book usefully informs us that the action takes place between December 27, 2254 and January 19, 2255, but not on which day of the week, and they call that continuity! Joking aside, when the story opens Hoshi is at a personal and professional crossroads. The intuition which she, so far, has relied on in translating alien languages seems to have deserted her and she is seriously considering that she may not be able to function as the ships communicator.

Of course, this is a Trek book, so there has to be a mystery at its heart for our gallant crew to solve. Archer's initial run in with the Antianna is inconclusive, even the fact that they appear to be attacking the Confederacy for no known reason shines no light on their motivation. Well, only an idiot wouldn't realise that Hoshi will play a pivotal role in solving the puzzle; she's on the cover for goodness sake. It's difficult to discuss the Antianna without giving away the novels ending and central secret, suffice it to say that Stern keeps you guessing right up to the end, and the final reveal opens up another interesting species whose exploration would make for a fascinating follow-up novel.

Every good story needs a villain and what a villain Stern has given us in Maxim Sen the corrupt robber baron who holds the reigns of power in the Confederacy - his avarice know no bounds. If the character has a flaw it's that Stern can't quite decide if Sen is truly evil. Although he skirts the edge of caricature, Stern pulls him back from the precipice to keep him a well rounded character and a believable scoundrel.

One of the things I really liked about the novel, apart from the personal stories, was the descriptions of the Trading Confederacy. Too many times, in the show when new races were encountered their level of technology and society was way too similar to earth. Where are all the old galactic empires, with their gleaming planet wide cities? Well, they are nestled in the dying glory of the Confederacy. Brilliant, at last, a description of a society with impossibly tall beautiful buildings, silver ships and a taste of the visual splendour so reminiscent of Asimov's Foundation, shame there wasn't more of it.

If you've read and enjoyed Stern's previous forays into the Enterprise universe you're not going to be disappointed with his new book. However, if you've never had the pleasure of this gentleman's prose, then you do a lot worse than taking this as a pleasant introduction.

Charles Packer

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