Articles of the FederationBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at June 13, 2005 - 9:28 PM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Articles of the Federation
Author: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Release Date: June 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The title of Keith R.A. DeCandido's latest contribution to the Star Trek universe is enough to tell you that Articles of the Federation is not your average Star Trek novel.
Instead of a story that focuses on any particular starship or crew Articles of the Federation examines an overlooked element of the United Federation of Planets, the politics. More specifically Articles of the Federation looks at a year in the life of the President of the United Federation of Planets, the newly elected former governor of Cestus III, Nanietta 'Nan' Bacco. To say it's an eventful year would be a bit of an understatement.
Picking up where the events of the A Time to... novels, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Titan: Taking Wing leave off, the Bacco Administration has inherited a whole host of problems, the ramifications of the now fractured Romulan Star Empire being just the most obvious. As the year unfolds the reader is taken inside the day to day workings of the administration staff where we get to experience their struggles with the Federation Council, their mistakes, and their successes. Who knew that politics could be so spellbinding?
In actuality Articles of the Federation is more than a novel about the politics of the Federation. Rather it is a recounting of a series of crises and potential crises as viewed from the perspective of Federation politicians, bureaucrats and at times average citizens. Articles of the Federation tells the story of how this particular administration chooses to deal with the various calamities they face.
Nan Bacco and her staff spring from DeCandido's extremely fertile mind and were first introduced in his novel A Time for War, a Time for Peace which was published last October. They are a very appealing group of characters who you very quickly feel sympathy for and want to see succeed and they elucidate the notion that a leader is only as good as those they choose to surround themselves with. Bacco herself is the most noteworthy; witty, intelligent and at the beginning of her term a bit naive. When it comes to interstellar politics however she proves to be a quick study and more than up to the task.
The way DeCandido has chosen to structure the plot of Articles of the Federation is one of the reasons the novel works so well. It would be very easy to become overwhelmed by the numerous plot threads and large cast of characters but by breaking the overall story down into six distinct parts the reader is never inundated with too much at once. The action and events flow along quickly but the narrative is never rushed and the transitions are seamless.
I could go on at length about the numerous reasons that Articles of the Federation is an outstanding novel, the many ways it is both original and exceedingly entertaining. Based on the author's previous writings, by the time I had finished reading Articles of the Federation, I became firmly convinced that DeCandido is incapable of writing an atypical Star Trek novel. He has demonstrated time and again that he has too much talent and imagination to be predictable. With Articles of the Federation he has cemented that reputation.
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.