Star Trek
Articles of the Federation

Author: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Pocket Books
RRP: Ģ6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $11.99
ISBN 0 7165 0015 4
Available 04 July 2005

As the first year of Nan Bacco's Administration unfolds, the Federation Council is not always supportive of its new president; the Romulan Empire falls into chaos; a Reman vessel approaches Federation space, its intentions unknown; a successful first contact becomes a diplomatic disaster; and the sins of former president Zife prove hard to lay to rest...

Confession time: I wasn't really interested in reading a Star Trek version of The West Wing, which is what this book amounts to. Though a big fan of Trek, I have (shock, horror) never seen an episode of that other acclaimed series.

No, I wanted to read this book because it promised to pick up on events in the first Star Trek: Titan novel, Taking Wing. I wanted to discover what happened next regarding the troubled Romulan Star Empire.

But first I had to get to know President Nanietta Bacco (who was introduced in the same author's A Time for War, A Time for Peace) and her staff. I did have trouble at first telling some of the many characters apart. However, I soon grew to love the sardonic banter between Bacco and her chief of staff, Esperanza Piņiero; the dry comments of Sivak, the Vulcan secretary; the sarcasm of the unshakable press liaison Kant Jorel; and the rest. In fact, there seems to be a lot of sarcasm in Articles of the Federation, a type of dialogue that DeCandido does well.

More familiar characters from the many screen incarnations of Trek also put in appearances of varying duration along the way. One of the more major ones is Ambassador Spock, fresh from his role in Taking Wing, but others include Admiral William Ross (from Deep Space Nine), Admiral Leonard James Akaar (the original series episode Friday's Child), Ambassador Alexander Rozhenko (The Next Generation and DS9), Admiral Kathryn Janeway, Joseph Sisko (DS9), Captain Rixx (the TNG episode Conspiracy), Captain Bruce Maddox (the TNG episode Measure of a Man), the Doctor, and Chancellor Martok (DS9).

The plot structure is episodic in nature, as different political and personal upheavals come and go during the course of the year 2380. My favourite segments are those concerning the Remans, Spock and Akaar - because it follows on from events in Taking Wing - and the diplomatic turmoil that follows Starfleet's first contact with a race called the Trinni/ek - because this species' perplexing behaviour poses a genuine mystery. Love this race's name by the way: Trinni/ek sounds like an expletive you might expect to hear on What Not to Wear!

I must say I find it gratifying that Star Trek's licensed fiction seems to be aiming towards a coherent whole at the moment. There was a time when authors were not allowed to refer to each other's work, only to Paramount's official screen output. In addition to referencing events in the A Time to... and Titan book series, DeCandido also ties in events in the graphic novel The Gorn Crisis.

Some real-life issues are touched upon as well. At one point several members of the Federation Council consider withdrawing aid to the devastated Cardassia, because of problems that need addressing at home, because the planet seems to be a lost cause, and because some feel that the allegedly corrupt regime cannot be trusted. Such arguments can be heard today with regard to humanitarian crises in Africa.

The story could have ended with greater impact. The repercussions of Min Zife's Administration might have been a better crisis to leave until last. Instead the plot seems to fizzle away rather than go out with a bang.

Nevertheless this highly original book is, as Ambassador Spock would say, "Fascinating."

Richard McGinlay

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