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BOOK
Star Trek: Titan
Taking Wing

Authors: Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $11.99
ISBN 0 7434 9627 2
Available 03 May 2005


The Romulan Star Empire is in disarray. Several factions have contacted the Federation Council, each laying claim to political power. Starfleet delays the
USS Titan's long-anticipated mission of exploration and orders Captain Riker to Romulus to set up power-sharing talks. But even as the factions take their first faltering steps towards building a new Romulus, civil war looms...

I have previously indicated how much I appreciate Christie Golden's Spirit Walk series of Voyager novels for moving the franchise forward, rather than being stuck in Star Trek's "past". However, even the Spirit Walk books take place before the movie Nemesis, whereas this new Titan series, which depicts Captain William T. Riker's new command, goes well and truly beyond the final film's frontier.

I suppose a "glass is half empty" view of this creative freedom would be that it indicates that Paramount has no intention of exploring the 24th century itself for the foreseeable future. In a way, the Trek novels have switched places with the Doctor Who books. Whereas for nearly 15 years the Who books presented regular new adventures for the current Doctor, now they must defer to the new television series. Conversely, with no new series or movies on the horizon, Trek novelists have finally been freed from Paramount's creative restrictions.

As with the recent Stargazer series and Ex Machina, Titan is populated by oodles of weird and wonderful alien crewmembers. In fact, the ship has what is described as being the most biologically varied crew in Starfleet history. It includes a Ferengi geologist, Dr Bralik; a Cardassian communications specialist, Zurin Dakal; and a dinosaur-like chief medical officer, Dr Shenti Yisec Eres Ree.

However, there are also plenty of familiar names. In addition to his wife and chief counselor Deanna Troi, Riker is accompanied by Christine Vale (who appeared in the A Time to... series) as his newly promoted first officer; Admiral Leonard James Akaar (who was born in the original series episode Friday's Child); Elaysian stellar cartographer Melora Pazlar (from the Deep Space Nine episode Melora); and nurse Alyssa Ogawa. We also encounter Tuvok, on an undercover mission; Ambassador Spock, still trying to unify the Romulans and the Vulcans; Picard's recurring Romulan enemy Tomalak, who has now ascended to the role of Proconsul; and - not surprisingly, since this book is a sequel to Star Trek: Nemesis - three Romulan characters from that movie, Tal'Aura, Donatra and Suran.

The narrative is rather slow going, being more concerned with character development than with plot. However, the events culminate in a gripping space battle and the book concludes with a cliffhanger that leaves the reader hungry for the next one in the series, The Red King.

It looks like Riker has an interesting voyage ahead of him. Paramount had better not go spoiling it by making a new series!

Richard McGinlay

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