Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: The Struggle Within

So back in October the latest book in the Typhon Pact series came out, The Struggle Within, a TNG story, by perhaps my favourite Trek author no less, Christopher L. Bennett. Yet it wasn't until today that I finally got around to reading it. I don't have an e-reader or tablet of any variety, and the one and only other time I tried an ebook, I found the program I used on my laptop a complete pain. Thankfully (once I finally gave in to temptation) my chosen program this time around, the desktop version of Amazon's kindle, was much friendlier. Not quite as easy as holding a book, but nice and easy to read off my laptop screen in comfort. So ebook issues aside, how was the book:

This novella has two stories, which provide a pleasing symmetry as we see complementary tales from the Khitomer and Typhon sides of the political divide. One deals primarily with Picard, Crusher, and Worf, as the Enterprise is sent to visit the Talarians. The other features the newer TNG relaunch characters Jasminder Choudhury and T'Ryssa Chen, on a secret mission to deal with the Kinshaya. Also in the mix are Romulans, Breen, and Tzenkethi, leaving just the Gorn that don't make an appearance from the Typhon Pact species.

At novella length Bennett has tried to squeeze a lot of story in here, and so it sometimes feels a little fast - I imagine given the opportunity, this could have been expanded into a full novel. I am glad it wasn't though, as I really enjoyed the television episode pacing and structure; if TNG was suddenly renewed for TV, with the new novel characters added in, I could easily imagine this as an episode, working in the finest Star Trek tradition to explore very contemporary issues (the "Arab Spring", which both influenced, and is referenced to in this story) and the strength of the ideology of our Federation heroes, and the hope they give to those they touch.

I've been developing a new love for TNG since the recent post-Nemesis series really got going (Q and A onwards, I'm happy to forget Death in Winter and Resistance), and that continues here, with my two favourite new crew members, Choudhury and T'Ryssa, getting half the story to themselves. I particularly enjoy T'Ryssa's relationship with Picard, and was in stitches towards the end of story when the two share a scene. I found the humour that T'Ryssa in-particular brings to the new TNG crew especially valuable here, as a balance to the quite dark political struggles seen in this story.

I feel Bennett might be best known for his hard science take on Trek; there wasn't really a place for that in this story, but his usual humour, and skills in world building and character development shine as ever. I'm sure the science quota will more than be made up for with Forgotten History later this year.

So would I endure another ebook after that? Absolutely! I really enjoyed the snappy pace of this story, and would be very happy to see Simon and Schuster bring out more Trek e-novellas on a regular basis. I might even be tempted to invest in a kindle or some such thing if they did (and then I'd have something to read the now ebook-only (ish) Stargate novel series). Which begs the question, nearly half a year later, where is the next Trek ebook?





2 comments:

Korrd said...

I bought it on my iPhone and read it all in the same day. Loved it.

8of5 said...

Same but on a laptop. I liked being able to read a whole story in that bite-sized chunk.