Star Trek
The Next Generation

Author: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.50
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 2741 1
ISBN-10: 1 4165 2741 9
Available 05 November 2007

It is only two days before the end of the universe and only Q knows it. Of course it wouldn't be a
Trek celebration without guests and a gaseous anomaly. When the anomaly appears, members of the major races encounter it, whilst around Gorsach IX Picard and his new crew encounter a perfect planet, perfect enough to be artificial. Here is a conundrum created by Them and if Picard cannot work his way through this particular Gordian knot, the price of failure is the end of everything...

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q&A is the new Trek book by Keith R. A. DeCandido. Now Keith is a well known writer in the Trek Universe, with many fine books under his belt, so I don't really understand what happened with this one.

There is little, by way of criticism that can be levelled at his writing style. It is very straight forward and unchallenging, which is not a problem as it's the sort of thing that you would generally look for in a genre book. Lets face it, it's horses for courses. I doubt James Joyce could have written this without going off on one, mind you it would be an interesting read.

The main problem with Q&A is that it is, for the most part boring. I grant you that it is a real page turner, but only in the sense that you could actually skip pages at a time without loosing much of the plot. Fans of Q will be disappointed by the first part of the book as he only appears in interludes which do little more than recount his previous encounters with the crew of the Enterprise, whilst at the same time trying to tie them all together to give the impression that they were all part of a greater plan.

There are also endless references to the last Borg incursion, with few real details, so I can only surmise that DeCandido wrote the last Borg story and was so pleased with the result that he felt the need to add in numerous references which amount to little more than an irritating advert. It wouldn't have been so bad if more background information had been included, which would have allowed the rest of us, who missed the book, to join in.

Q&A also suffers from small universe syndrome. So an anomaly pops up, as they do in the Trek universe, and is detected by the major races. What do you think is the chance that the main characters involved have never met each other, or interacted in endlessly referenced books and film? I'll save you the bother; the chances are next to zero.

So the end of the universe is possibly here, or realistically not, still how has the author cranked up the tension? Well, we get to enjoy a peek into Picard's and Dr Crusher's love life, Geordie spends time contemplating his navel and missing Data, and some woman, who I didn't really care about, bangs on and on about her kids, apart from that nothing really happens for the first two hundred pages.

All in all a disappointing book that just confirms that this is how the Universe ends - not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Charles Packer

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