Deny Thy FatherBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at December 4, 2003 - 12:40 AM GMT
Title: Star Trek: The Lost Era: Deny Thy Father
Author: Jeff Mariotte
Release Date: December 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Two men, a father and his son, alike in many ways; both driven to succeed, both putting their careers before all other considerations. “We aren’t so different, Will and I”, Kyle Riker declared in the TNG episode “The Icarus Factor”. The latest Lost Era novel Deny Thy Father by Jeff Mariotte follows up on that idea and explores the back-story of William Riker and his relationship with his father. Deny Thy Father has its moments, and it succeeds in adequately filling in more of Will’s background, but overall the story is pretty middling.
Covering a two-year time span, 2355 to 2357, and told in three parts, alternating between what’s happening to Kyle with what’s happening with William, the two storylines run concurrently. The story opens two years after the Tholian attack on Starbase 311, a bloodbath that only Kyle survived, and now someone is trying to destroy Kyle Riker. Kyle soon begins to suspect that there might be a conspiracy within Starfleet so he takes off to hide, hitching a ride on a civilian freighter. He is a man on the run, but not sure whom he’s running from or where he will go.
Meanwhile back on Earth the story tracks William Riker beginning in his second year at the Academy, a young man just starting out on a career that means everything in the world to him. We get to see some of Will’s struggles and triumphs during those formative years, and his first experience with issues of the heart. Ultimately of course, he graduates and takes his first posting on board the U.S.S. Pegasus
As I read Deny Thy Father I couldn’t help but feel that I was reading a lot of different parts of different stories and that the parts didn’t really fit together very well at times. The plot read more like two different stories made to fit together than one cohesive story. What was happening in Kyle Riker’s life really had nothing whatsoever to do with what was happening with William Riker and vice-versa despite the implication at times that they two are integral. Given their long estrangement there should be no reason that they should have anything to do with one another and in the end they don’t despite the authors last minute attempt to make the two stories come together.
There are insinuations that if the mysterious ‘they’ can’t get Kyle they’ll settle for William but given the relationship between the father and the son that doesn’t really work as the author intends. I also got the distinct impression that we were somehow supposed to feel a bit sorry for Kyle Riker but he never develops into either a likable or sympathetic character.
On the other hand the William Riker plotline has a lot of very enjoyable moments. One highlight is his Academy squad’s urban survival training experience, how that finishes up is guaranteed to generate a chuckle or two. Despite the sometimes-choppy feel and the attempt to shoehorn in elements that don’t quite work, the scenes of Academy life work well enough in most respects and make Deny Thy Father worth reading. They amply make clear that despite what Kyle may think, although they share some traits, William Riker is a very different kind of man than his father is.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.