The Genesis Wave Book One
By Amy Hightower
Posted at November 12, 2000 - 2:07 PM GMT
The Genesis Wave Book One
By John Vornholt
There is little in literature that annoys me more than a bad ending. Bad endings can take many forms depending on the novel, from the death of the best character to ‘they all lived happily ever after’ to a one-chapter conclusion. But what ever form it takes, you invariably end up feeling cheated, robbed of a fitting conclusion to what, in often cases, is a wonderful story. Unfortunately, this book is a prime example of the throwaway ending. But more on that later.
I started reading this novel with little idea of what to expect. Being a late-comer to the weird and wonderful world of Star Trek, I have, up to this date, seen relatively few episodes of TNG, virtually no TOS and only a handful of the non-90’s movies, most of which were seen when I was much younger and hence I have no recollection of them. Having said that, I’m not in a great position to analyze characterization here, so I won’t. Nor do I know many of the details of the Genesis Project, though I did borrow ‘The Wrath of Kahn’ after my first read-through so I could have some idea about its history. At any rate, here we go.
The action starts off at a cracking pace, first with the kidnapping of the now rather elderly Dr. Carol Marcus (one of the original driving forces behind Project Genesis) in rather bizarre circumstances –that is, the seeming re-appearance of both her long-dead son and his father, James Kirk. From there we jump several months into the future (as indicated by a single, throw-away line that I almost missed) to Seran, current location of one Leah Brahms and hubby Mikel Gordonez who are testing an all new wonder-suit, complete with Romulan phase-shifting technology and guaranteed to protect the hapless user from radiation, warp core breaches and Genesis waves while doubling as an all-in-one kitchen/pharmacy. (Leah Brahms, for those of whose knowledge of TNG is as sketchy as mine, was the woman Geordie LaForge became obsessed with (and created a hologram of) in the episode 'Galaxy`s Child'). Unbeknownst to the not-so dynamic duo (they’re having relationship problems), is that they and everyone else on the planet is going to die. Horribly. Except for Leah, who, by dint of a local ordinance, ends up as the only person inside one of the wonder suits, with the phase shifting switched on, when what we later find out is a mutation of the Genesis Device passes over the planet. After everyone else dies their horrible death, Leah wastes little time in getting the hell out (can’t say I blame her) and then heads off to warn the next planet in the wave’s path. Who refuse to listen. To cut a long story short (and stop spoiling the plot for you), Leah happens to pick the only planet in the galaxy which is home to one of the people who witnessed the explosion of the original Genesis Planet, a Klingon by name of Maltz. The rest of the story consists primarily of their attempts to a) escape and b) warn people while the Enterprise attempts to work out what’s going on, Starfleet’s later bungled evacuation efforts and their final stand on Myrmidon, the Bolian’s prime religious shrine.
Which brings me back to the story’s ending. I realize that this book is the first in a series, and that it needs to be open-ended in order to continue the plot for the next book, but that doesn’t excuse the complete and utter lack of closure within the book itself. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Voyager’s infamous reset button – though even there we get a sense of closure. ‘The Genesis Wave Book One’, a book some 308 pages long, supposedly resolves itself in a mere four – or even, really, a single paragraph that basically says ‘they made their stand on such-and-such and this happened, but they still don’t have the foggiest what going on, but you an bet your bottom dollar they’ll try to find out. In the next book’. A blatant and somewhat insulting hook. Within the book as a single unit, there is no real aftermath, no real idea of what’s going on - sure, we have Leah and Maltz flying off into the sunset to fulfill the blood oath they swore but we have no clue as to how well the good citizens of Myrmidon fared, what happened to the task force, what the *hell* happened to Beverly Crusher and crew aboard the Neptune or really, what the hell happened anywhere. I was not a happy camper, considering I’d enjoyed the book right up until that point.
Enough on the negative, I suppose – I could gripe a bit about a few tech bits, some silly things people did or didn’t do, the fact that I don’t believe a Klingon ship would just be handed over to a human like it was, but I didn’t think the book was that bad – on the contrary – as I said before, I enjoyed it right up to the end. On the plus side, I enjoyed the characters – Maltz especially, though I wanted to see Paldor, Leah’s assistant, thrown out of the nearest airlock… as the dear Klingon consul threatened to do. I do so love Klingons. I thought Geordie seemed a little more bumbling than usual, but enjoyed his interactions with Data – that is, Data attempting to set him up with a visiting geologist. The plot and premise are both, for the most part, good – the Genesis Device is a frightening weapon of destruction, though it was not meant to be one, and to see it modified into a wave sweeping the quadrant is truly horrific - the early descriptions of just what it does to matter lend the story a sense of urgency that is pretty well maintained throughout. Also good was the idea of the phase-shifting wonder-suit – it’s about time Starfleet came up with a way to protect people in extremely hazardous environs such as on a ship with an impending warp-core breach – though it did make me wonder just exactly what kind of restrictions there are on pharmaceuticals in the 24th century after it offers to give Leah a muscle relaxant. Another thing I enjoyed were the one or two pokes at Trekdom thrown in, for example, on Chief Halstert, chief flight control officer of the Enterprise: "He practically lived in the [shuttlebay]. But since he had been on duty for four years, no-one had stolen a shuttle craft – a new record". It’s a pity they don’t have him on Voyager – they could close down the shuttle production line.
So, to those of you thinking of buying 'The Genesis Wave Book One', I have this to offer: wait for the sequel. While it is a good read for the most part, there's no closure to it and it’s likely leave you feeling cheated at the lack of an ending, and the ending's what you leave the book with most.
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