Star Trek
The Nanotech War

Author: Steven Piziks
Pocket Books
RRP 5.99

ISBN 0 7434 3646 6
Available now

The crew of Voyager encounter an advanced and scientific race who have made great strides in the realm of nanotechnology. Known as the Chiar, these people have expanded internally rather than externally. Every inch of their planet is crawling with the tiniest bits and pieces of artificial intelligence imaginable, working in concert as the lifeblood of this mechanical world. The people themselves are inseparable from their nanites, which layer their skin and provide extra limbs or senses as required. They seem like a friendly race, so why is it that Janeway can't help but think there is something the Chiar are hiding?...

The Nanotech War is a rather slow novel and takes some time to get going. However, that is not to say that this is not an enjoyable story. The slow build is necessary in order to set the events that unfold in motion. While at its centre this book is not original that does not detract from the fact that this is a well written spin on a well worn format.

The story revolves around Seven of Nine and Tom Paris as they are stranded(?) on the Chiar homeworld with no obvious means of communicating with Voyager. Separated, both must try to find ways to communicate with their ship before they are given up as lost.

It also brings up some interesting points about the Prime Directive (which Janeway seemed to conveniently forget about from time to time in the TV series). Here Janeway must decide how to act towards an alien race that has only just managed to gain warp capability - even though it was for a split second. Also, should she really meddle with the planet's internal affairs? Even when, compared to Starfleet's guidelines, they seem to be badly managing their race's structure. A lot of comparisons can be, and subtly are, between the Chiar and 20th Century humans - both wishing to travel to other planets as they have already destroyed their own ecology.

The holodeck scenes see Seven changing into a small child in order to interact with other children in a playground environment. A little predictably the lessons she learns here (including how to deal with the playground bully) are woven into the real life events that Seven encounters on the Chiar homeworld.

An above average novel for a show that was very hit and miss. This story was more enjoyable, and believable, than many of the TV series episodes.

Nick Smithson

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