Star Trek

Author: Michael Jan Friedman
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99, US $6.99, Cdn $10.50
ISBN 0 7434 4858 8
Available 04 October 2004

The Iktoj'ni, the freighter on which former Stargazer ensign Andreas Nikolas is currently serving, has been taken over by a monstrous alien with unbelievable powers. Picard's only hope of stopping the alien menace is Serenity Santana, a woman who once abused his trust...

The sixth novel in Michael Jan Friedman's Stargazer series gets off to a better start than his previous one, Enigma, did. Picking up where its predecessor's cliffhanger ending left off, Maker kicks off with Andreas Nikolas discovering that all his Iktoj'ni crewmates have been killed and that a powerful alien of the Nuyyad race has taken over the ship.

As before, there are copious references back to previous stories. Aside from the direct continuation of Nikolas's arc, this is also a sequel to The Valiant, a book that was pretty much the pilot of the Stargazer series, which was itself a sequel to the Original Series episode Where No Man Has Gone Before. As with The Valiant, the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy comes into play, having transformed a Nuyyad into a god-like entity. Picard also rekindles his uneasy romance with the beautiful but untrustworthy Serenity Santana. Meanwhile, Nikolas is still struggling to get over the loss of his Mirror Universe lover, Gerda Idun, from the novel Three. All this continuity may seem off-putting, but Friedman explains everything clearly for any newcomers - and any sequel to the classic Where No Man automatically carries great appeal.

The primary plot is rather slender, largely consisting of the transformed Nuyyad, Brakmaktin, using his newfound mental powers to commit one atrocity after another, including mass murder and, in one extremely gruesome scene, stripping the flesh from a helpless man's bones.

However, the story is liberally peppered with sub-plots, including Picard's concern that he will soon be stripped of his command. We as readers know that this will not happen, because the television episode The Battle tells us that he commanded the vessel until shortly before the start of The Next Generation, but the threat of it pushes the character forward. Rather than make him timid, the captain's belief that his days are numbered only makes his command decisions bolder.

The author constantly reminds us that this is a much younger Picard than the one in TNG. This process includes several unsubtle references to the fact that the captain has a full head of hair!

The plot pretty much grinds to a halt about 40 pages from the end, as Picard finally faces the enquiry that he is convinced will cost him his command. Though we know this won't happen, there is some intrigue as to how the captain can possibly escape this fate.

While it can hardly be said to boldly go where no book has gone before, Maker makes for an entertaining way to while away a few hours.

Richard McGinlay

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