Star Trek
The Good That Men Do

Authors: Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 7434 4001 1
ISBN-10: 0 7434 4001 3
Available 02 April 2007

They say that history is written by the victor; the truth is that history is written by those who have the power to do so. What you think you know is taken on faith, so what happens when you discover that what you thought you knew, was a lie? On the eve of the formation of the Federation it is necessary for a man to die in order to save the future. This man is Trip and his death will secure the future of the millions that are to come...

The Good That Men Do is a new novel by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, which exposes a lie at the heart of the Federation. It's not much of a spoiler to say that the writers have rewritten Trek canon - as it's plastered all over the back cover - question is was it worth it?

Quite unfairly I'm going to put the boot in first before telling you what is good about this book. Maybe I read too many of these for reviews, as structurally they are all starting to read as the same book. Maybe there is a requirement from the publisher that all the books should have uniformity akin to a McDonald's burger. Who knows? Who Cares?

So we have the inevitable unnecessary introduction of characters from a slightly more successful series to bolster the book. In the case of this story we have Jake and Nog watching the ongoing story aghast that someone may have lied about the past. The word here is "filler". They add nothing to the already ponderous plot except to act as the everymen appalled that someone may have lied, obviously they have never watched House, otherwise they would realise that everyone lies.

So, we have filler characters, well that's not so bad, but then we have to wait for one hundred and fifty pages before the book actually gets going and that is less forgiving. It seems odd to accuse a book of being verbose, as words are the stock in trade for novels, but this one just goes on and on. In truth, there was enough of an idea here for a novella, but forced into a four hundred and forty six page novel, there is too much padding to make the book a compulsive read.

The book repeats many of the problems with Enterprise, little in the way of character development, unnecessarily repetitive speech patterns - which almost make a parody of the original portrayals - by the main protagonists, and a plot that just isn't big enough to fill a novel.

So, what's good about the book? Both authors have an easy writing style which won't jolt you out of your train journey. This may be some slim praise, but for a genre novel - let face it we're not talking about Solaris here - this is their reason for being. So, to have fulfilled these criteria is a biggy.

In the end the novel is a take it or leave it proposition, however, it contains the gem of a much more interesting novel as The Bureau at this time is much more altruistic in its outlook on the universe. Now, their transition from this point of view to the Fascist organisation that they became would have made a better novel.

Charles Packer

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