Star Trek: TNG – Available Light. A book review

With all the Star Trek coming down the pipe at us it is reassuring to envelope oneself in the familiar beat of the Star Trek that I grew up with and got me interested in the franchise.

Since the end of the series there have been many books that have continued the journey of Picard and the crew. Now some 10 years on story wise much has changed, Riker is an Admiral and is with his wife Troi on the USS Titan and Worf has returned to be Picard’s first officer. Picard is married to Crusher and has a child and with Data absent Geordi is the only other original crewman still present.

The new crew, T’Ryssa, Smrhova, Dygan, Elfiki and Faur are somewhat lacking in depth and Taurik is given greater prominence. There is a much more lower decks feel to the latest adventures and the crew doesn’t have the same team dynamic as on the show.

The story is divided between the A-plot of their continuing exploration of the Odyessean Pass and the B-plot dealing with the galaxy wide plot across franchise that see lead Admirals like Ross, Neyachev and Picard become outed on their decisions in a previous series of books when they removed the president of the Federation.

Whilst Picard struggles with stopping salvagers from stripping a ship with an entire race stored in its memory banks he must also struggle with the crime he committed, all be it for good reasons, and decide how he should face the public.

The book is written by Dayton Ward. He is a capable pair of hands with which to carry on the story and has authored all of the recent Next Gen books. His writing style is easy and he knows his start trek. Whilst books are soft canon at best they do have to be cleared by CBS and so it is interesting reading these books in light of the upcoming Picard series. It is unclear whether any of the books will feature insight into the future series but certain facts do seem to be aligning.

The b-plot in many ways is the more interesting as the new President, Admiral Akaar and Attorney General Louvois navigate politics to balance justice and actions taken for the common good. In many ways it follows up many of the threads shown in DS9 during the Dominion War in which Starfleet Officers perhaps compromised the vaulted laws of the Federation to achieve something greater. This novel starts to explore how when this is all revealed how the Federation copes and this is more interesting than the problem of the week alien ship.

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