Star Trek: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage
by David Mack
“From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours comes an original, thrilling novel set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation!
“The past returns to haunt Captain Jean-Luc Picard—a crime he thought long buried has been exposed, and he must return to Earth to answer for his role in a conspiracy that some call treason. Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to apprehend pirates who have stolen vital technology from a fragile Federation colony. But acting captain Commander Worf discovers that the pirates’ motives are not what they seem, and that sometimes standing for justice means defying the law…”
- Historian’s Note
The Review: Non-Spoiler Version:
Collateral Damage is the story of what happens as the result of actions taken (or not taken) and how it affects others. In the case of the Nausicaans, non-action is what drove them to desperate measures. For Jean-Luc Picard though, it was action; namely his prior decision regarding President Zife that now influences him, his family, his friends and others in the Federation.
More collateral damage includes fallout from the death of the Husnock (Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Fallout). The race may have been wiped out but their technology remains, and that is a problem when a piece of it falls into the wrong hands.
Finally, an attack on Stonekettle Station is made worse by the fact that financial decisions (which played a large part in choosing a planet with such a harsh environment in the first place) mean that recovering from the attack would be problematic. The station has also become collateral damage from actions not taken.
The Review: Spoiler Version:
Where to start? Picard finally faces his Judgment Day and while he is concerned about the outcome, his inner turmoil is every bit as difficult as sitting in court facing an opposing lawyer who has lost faith in him. Both Picard and his own lawyer, Ezor, make mistakes but Picard is lucky indeed to have caring friends who go the extra mile to bring forward evidence to help him.
The Nausicaans meanwhile, have seen their homeworld destroyed. And not only did the Federation not assist them in defending their homeworld, but they never showed up afterwards to assist survivors. One of those survivors, Kinogar, gathers up a group of other survivors and heads out into space, to gather what he believes is needed to repair his broken world, and to exact vengeance upon those he deems responsible for this catastrophe, the Federation.
Mack uses an interesting literary device here, using both first person for Kinogar, as well as for Thadiun Okona (TNG: The Outrageous Okona), who is now working for Starfleet Intelligence. The Nausicaans have been more fleshed out than they ever have been, and one can feel the pain of losing – well – everything.
Okona is dispatched to recover a stolen Husnock weapon, and along the way, tries to charm every woman he meets into bed. He’s an interesting character – two parts intelligent and capable and one part a screw-up, but as a woman, his pursuit of Smrhova and her eventual submission just didn’t work for me. (Neither did La Forge’s two “open relationships.” I just shook my head and said, “nope!”)
I enjoyed the story, minus what was just said above. Even though one knew in the case of Picard that he wouldn’t be thrown in the Federation slammer, the trial was interesting enough to hold interest and the support of Akaar (always a favorite of mine), Riker and Picard’s family was heartwarming. Given Picard’s actions, the outcome was fair.
The Nausicaans were believable “villains” and their pain just leapt off the pages, but I’m not so sure that they would have given in as easily as they did at the end. It’s nice to see them finally get help although they had to go to extremes to get it. Mack stated in an interview with Star Trek.com that part of what influenced the story for him was the events around the category five hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico in 2017 and the slow response of the U.S. to the disaster. People left on their own can become desperate and the Borg and Nausicaa were good stand-ins for the hurricane and Puerto Rico.
Okona was just too precious and I spent most of the book wanting to slap him silly or eject him out an airlock.
Actions have consequences. Never is that more apparent in Collateral Damage. Colluding to remove an elected official, not helping a race in danger (caused by the actions of others), and cheaping out (no backup system, plus settling on a planet in a hostile environment) all have consequences.
These story threads are wrapped up neatly. Now Picard can begin to heal, the Nausicaans can rebuild, and a colony has learned that being penny-wise can be pound-foolish.”
There is action galore in this book and for those who enjoy character development, that’s there too. Readers will definitely want to read this book.
Final note: I loved the artwork on the cover, which was created by Alan Dingman.
Author: David Mack
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: Oct 8, 2019
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage is available as a trade paperback for $16.00 ($10.39 on Amazon) or as an eBook for $11.99. Collateral Damage is also available as an audiobook for $19.84. To order, head to the link located here.