Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light
by Dayton Ward
“In the thrilling Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Available Light, the past comes back to haunt Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
“Section 31, the covert operation which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to lights. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal – including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president.
“Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spend generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of their people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way…”
This book had very different stories within it; a political one dealing with the aftermath of the exposure of Section 31, and a classic Trek story of exploration. After finding a supposedly derelict ship, the ship, the Osijemal, is found to have living beings aboard, and needs the Enterprise‘s help to survive. Helping this new civilization meant taking risks, and the ever-present possibility of failure. Plus – to add even more urgency, ships belonging to the Jirol Salvage Guild arrive at the site, and some of those ships wanted to “help” – that is to help themselves to both the Osijemal and the Enterprise.
And what links these two stories together? Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Captain Picard has to deal with the aftermath of his previous actions which, even though not known to him at the time, led to unfortunate results. He has to deal with the knowledge that his crew knows what happened, and he has to live with guilt, as an honorable man would do.
Available Light sucks the reader right into the story with the first two chapters. The story builds upon previous events, and while having the knowledge from previous Trek books makes for a richer experience reading this novel when it comes to the Section 31 exposure and consequences part of the story, it’s not necessary. The exploration story on the other hand needs no previous story knowledge and will be of interest to anyone who likes either TOS or TNG‘s explorations of new places and races.
The Section 31 exposure aftermath will obviously continue in future books and it will be very interesting to see where the investigations lead, including the fate of Captain Picard.
This was a really good book and it hooked me straightaway in spite of the fact that I groaned when I first saw it was a TNG story. And normally I’m not into political stuff, not even Star Trek politics, but the aftermath of the exposure of Section 31’s actions is just riveting. I actually preferred it to the exploration story which is atypical for me. Although one thing kept occurring to me; why wasn’t that “nosy reporter” taken out by Section 31? Surely Uraei (the AI) was aware of what had happened.
The new discovery in the Odyssean Pass had a bit of a twist when it came to its crew, which was new and refreshing. It’s always interesting to learn of a new culture, especially when it’s not hostile! And the Nejamri, that new culture, had a lesson to share: don’t pollute your planet to the point where you have to evacuate it and look for a new home.
I had to smile at the revelation of “fake news” regarding the exposure of Section 31 by those who had no connection and in cases made up information. That is something that readers today can identify with all too well.
Picard’s ultimate decision was the right one for him. I look forward to following his future.
One last thing, if you are not a fan of the small print of regular-sized paperbacks, this one is a trade paperback, and it was much easier on the eyes when it came to reading.
Author: Dayton Ward
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light is available as a mass market paperback for $16.00 ($11.00 at Amazon) or as a Kindle book for $11.99. To order, head to the link located here.