Monday, 22 September 2014

Book Review #109 - Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game by David Mack

Book 33 of 52
Page count - 336

This is the first book (of 8) in the second major mini-series in the Star Trek novels.

After the Destiny trilogy some of the less-than-friendly races, who fought against the Borg, have split away from the Federation to form their own coalition known as the Typhon Pact; much like the Cold War after World War 2.

The Breen and the Romulans work together, in a covert attack, to steal the Slipstream Warp technology from the Federation.  Section 31 recruits Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax to mount their own counter-op to recover the stolen data and to destroy the prototype ship the Breen are building.

I just love spy stories and this one was a boat-load of fun even though there were some moments where I thought some of the circumstances were a bit ridiculous.  Bashir and his estranged love Sarina Douglas are dropped into Breen society with the monumental task of having to infiltrate a top-secret shipyard.

The Breen are a super-secretive society where individual identity is kept hidden by the wearing of uniforms and helmets.  The underlying reasoning is quite interesting; without clues to race or gender Breen society can work on the notion of egalitarian decision making.  It also makes for a very secretive and rule-based culture.

The Breen
The Federation knows next to nothing about the Breen and it is left to Bashir and Douglas to figure out the language, social interactions and  geography in order to complete the mission.  I felt this was too much to expect the reader to believe; considering the Breen are super-secretive among themselves, imagine how monumental a task it is for aliens posing as natives to overcome being detected in the street never mind trying to infiltrate a military base.

Some of the action sequences fall into the James Bond level of silly, pulpy, over-the-top, death-defying improbability that I found myself laughing instead of holding my breath in excitement.  I also found it less than believable when the characters are instantly experts in alien languages, computer interfaces, piloting alien crafts and withstanding torture.  I mean really?  Where are their capes?

So, yes it was fun but one of the things I like about Star Trek is the believability of it all.  It's a fine line between the probable and just making shit up to make the story work.  It is also very difficult to continually up the stakes form one adventure to the next.  So I find myself forgiving David Mack for taking certain leaps and look on this story as a whole which was a fun popcorn movie of a book.  I especially liked the Breen society and I hope we get to see more of it in future books.

I've already started reading the next book in the series so don't let my Luke-warm review deter you from reading it.  If you approach it like a Bond movie you'll be in a good place to enjoy yourself.

David Mack
Here is a pretty cool promotion poster.

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