Star Trek
The Next Generation
Before Dishonor

Author: Peter David
Pocket Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.50
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 2742 8
ISBN-10: 1 4165 2742 7
Available 03 December 2007

Much to the amazement of Starfleet Command, and especially Admiral Kathryn Janeway, the Borg were not destroyed when the
USS Voyager demolished their transwarp conduits. Now, what is left of the Borg reveal a power that no one suspected. The dark places that even the drones never realised existed are turned outward against the enemy they have never been able to defeat - yet. Seven of Nine knows that she doesn’t have much time to stop this new threat, and she’s going to need some help. Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise, who barely managed to thwart the Borg during their last altercation, turn to Ambassador Spock for assistance...

When I review works of fiction, I usually try and stick close to the blurb as it appears on the back of the book or disc in question, rather than follow the press release or the blurb on online stores, which aren’t always accurate. On this occasion, however, I have made an exception, having cobbled together the above synopsis from the press release, Amazon.co.uk and just a dash of the back-cover blurb. This is because the text on the back of the book doesn’t sell the story all that well.

The first three-and-a-bit paragraphs merely waffle on about the Borg’s past history in Star Trek:

An enemy so intractable that it cannot be reasoned with. The entire race thinks with one mind and strives toward one purpose: to add our biological distinctiveness to their own and wipe out individuality, to make every living thing Borg.

In over two centuries, the Federation has never encountered a greater threat. Twice Starfleet assembled and threw countless starships to stand against them. The Borg were stopped, the price paid in blood. Humanity breathed a sigh of relief, assuming it was safe. And with the destruction of the transwarp conduits, the Federation believed that the killing blow had finally been struck against the Borg.

Driven to the point of extinction, the Borg continue to fight for their very existence, for their culture. They will not be denied. They must not be stopped. The old rules and assumptions regarding how the Collective should act have been dismissed. Now the Borg kill first, assimilate later.

When the Enterprise manages to thwart them once again, the Borg turn inward.

The closing sentence is neither particularly exciting nor grammatically pleasing: What is revealed is the thing that no one believed the Borg could do. Yuk!

All this tells us is that the Borg will appear (which admittedly is exciting enough for me). The Enterprise is mentioned, so one can assume that Picard and company will also be in the book (after all, it is being sold under the Next Generation banner - more on that subject in a moment). The front cover illustration leads one to conclude that Seven of Nine will also play a major part. But why doesn’t the blurb advertise other guest characters, such as Ambassador Spock, Admiral Janeway (who undergoes a very surprising development, which may upset some fans), the female Q, Sarek’s widow Perrin, and a character or two from author Peter David’s New Frontier series?

In fact, such is the crossover appeal of this book that I wonder why it has been pigeonholed into the Next Gen series title. With the heavy involvement of Seven, Janeway and the so-called Lady Q, this is as much a Voyager novel as it is a Next Gen one.

The author also refers back to his previous TNG Borg novel Vendetta, which also included a planet killer from the Original Series episode The Doomsday Machine. In addition, he follows up on events in the Next Gen episode I, Borg (which Vendetta actually managed to pre-empt with its own disconnected Borg drone character, Reannon), explaining why the Endgame computer virus developed in that episode has never been unleashed. He also suggests why only Picard, not Seven, sensed the Borg in J. M. Dillard’s novel Resistance, to which this book is the follow-up. Here it is Seven alone who detects the Borg threat. Along the way, David also pooh-poohs Dillard’s notion that all drones are androgynous.

It’s refreshing to see some newer members of the Enterprise crew standing up to Picard’s continual defiance of Starfleet orders. However, I was a little disappointed that there is no development of the potential T’Lana/Worf relationship hinted at in Resistance.

The book’s 400 pages contain some padding, but on the whole this is a very exciting read - far more exciting than the back-cover blurb would have us believe.

Richard McGinlay

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