Hugo Reading Progress

2024 Hugo Awards Progress
57 / 57 items read/watched (100.00%)
7433 / 7433 pages read (100.00%)
1435 / 1435 minutes watched (100.00%)

13 September 2023

Star Trek: The Destiny Era: Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos

Star Trek: Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos
by Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg
translated by Helga Parmiter

25 November–5 December 2385
Translation published: 2018
Originally published: 2016
Acquired: February 2021
Read: June 2023

In my review of the audiobook, I praised this installment. Well, I said it was the best one, which isn't the same thing. Indeed, it starts a bit excitingly for once, with some desperate actions by the crews of the Prometheus and Bortas to escape the chaos zone they entered into at the end of the previous book.

Unfortunately, the book is still fully capable of frittering away its narrative energy because then we're back into, buckle up, a meeting scene! A whole chapter is devoted to a meeting where the main takeaway is that Spock thinks they should look something up in Memory Alpha. This should have been two lines of dialogue, tops! No one wants to read a debate about whether or not someone should send an e-mail!

So then we pop over to Memory Alpha of course, and here's your final big cameo for Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary... freaking Kosinski from "Where No One Has Gone Before." Wow, how did they get him back? No, the question is why? Why in the middle of this novel do we have to squander a chapter on this guy updating us on his life story, watching the news, and looking at maps in a library!? (Okay, he's not really the last big cameo, that's Wesley Crusher... a moment that is totally gratuitous... but hey so is everything else in this book.)

The problem is (and here I disagree with my 2019 self when he reviewed the audiobook) that then the Prometheus and Bortas split up, and now all the Prometheus is doing is flying to the origin of the Ancient Reds, picking up one of them, and flying back to Lembatta. You might think, That's not enough content to fill up a 350-page novel, and well, you'd be right. It feels like the Prometheus crew is barely in this one... but maybe that's a blessing in disguise. It certainly feels like they barely do anything in it, basically just being a ferry service. At a time when things should be escalating, there's actually less going on.

So how can they fill up the book's pages? By suddenly giving us the adventures of a new set of boring characters, some Rigellian chelon admiral and the ship he's on. One whole chapter is about trying to figure out a guy's password. None of it is ever really relevant to anything.

Overall, this book reads like someone took all the least interesting aspects of Destiny-era fiction—mediocre original characters, tedious political plots, gratuitous continuity references—and amped them up as far as they would go. So I guess it fits in with its era... mission accomplished? But there's a base level of enjoyment in even this era's worst book that I just could not find in the Prometheus trilogy, with its stilted dialogue and tedious prose.

Continuity Notes:
  • This book is clearly dated to overlapping with Takedown by a reference to the opening of the Far Embassy. Only here it's called the "Embassy of Distance"—I guess neither translator nor editor picked up on it being a reference, so the term got translated back into English out of German.
  • So in my "continuity notes" on all these November 2385–set novels (of which there are a lot), I've been making snarky comments about their lack of mention of the Lembatta crisis. I hope it's clear that this isn't really a rag on those books, as the Prometheus trilogy was written much later. Rather, it's a rag on this trilogy for its totally nonsensical chronological placement. Overlapping with Takedown seals the deal: at no point in the middle of this trilogy do communications go out across the galaxy; when Takedown opens, clearly nothing like a galactic terrorism crisis is underway. Why did the writers pick such a packed month... a month where the events of this trilogy clearly cannot happen? It's an unforced error. Even if it was set one month later in December, that would be fine; the trilogy would only overlap with a couple Deep Space Nine stories that give no sense of the greater galactic situation. Or, though this would require more changes, what if the whole thing took place in the run-up to The Fall, thus neatly explaining why Ishan's more militaristic message might be appealing to the Federation? But placing it here makes no sense.
I read Destiny-era Star Trek books in batches of five every few months. Next up in sequence: Deep Space Nine: Rules of Accusation by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann

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