Thursday, December 6, 2007


I’ve really enjoyed reading Geoffrey Thorne's Sword of Damocles, the fourth book in the Titan series that I picked up at Barnes and Noble last Sunday afternoon and read whenever I could find a few minutes in between work and meetings. While I’ve lost most of my fascination with STOS and STNG because of all the combat storylines, Titan captures the parts of those series that drew me to them—the going out to explore strange new worlds and meeting people from new civilizations.

All the details of the series emphasize that. For example, the USS Titan is not a Constitution-class starship, but a Luna- class, meaning it’s a long range explorer designed not for combat for a long-term multi-purposed mission into unknown space. And the crew is by far the most biologically diverse and culturally varied Starfleet crew I’ve run across. To begin with, of the 350 folks aboard the ship, less than 15% are humans. True, many of the other 85% are humanoids of one kind or another—Bajoran, Cardassian, Efrosian, Vulcan—but not all are. The Chief Medical Officer is a Pahkwa-thanh (a more than 7 foot tall reptilian species), there are Caitians (golden-eyed, orange maned, bipeds) in security, Engineering has a Horta (a silicon based lifeform that, when it appeared for the first time on STOS looked like a cross between a pizza and a shag rug), and a Pak’shree (a large arthropodal being) serves in Operations. And if the crew is wondrously diverse, the array of beings encountered on the various expeditions that Titan goes on in the four books are stunningly more so!

The downside of the book is that Titan is under the command of Will Riker, who I’ve always found obnoxious, and so there are lots of scenes between him and Deanna Troi. But other familiar characters that I like more—Tuvok from Voyager for example—are also part of the crew. And the fact that the storylines have all been built around diplomacy and the expansion of knowledge rather than combat make it more than worthwhile to put up with a little bit of Riker to enjoy the peaceful but exciting explorations being described in the novels.

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