Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

STO: The Needs of the Many Reviewed

So I have finally finished The Needs of the Many by Michael A. Martin (and Jake Sisko), the first "novel" set in the Star Trek Online era of the Star Trek Universe. I put "novel" in quotes because the book does not follow the typical story/plot format of most novels. It is a series of "interviews" with various prominent and obscure characters from the three TNG era television series and novels, interspersed with documents and publications from the same fictional era. As such, it is more like an analysis of events than a retelling of them, like reading a book about the causes and effects of World War II, rather than a narrative about what happened during the War. Also, like many science fiction works including TOS and all the series, the author took the opportunity to comment on current (early 21st century) political and social issues. I found the book enjoyable and it answered questions about the STO era I didn't know I had. Mr. Martin did bring out the personalities of the different characters Jake interviewed. I especially liked the Quark and Garak interviews. Of course, the enigmatic tailor was always my favorite character on Deep Space Nine.
I think my favorite part was the interview with the Temporal Investigators Lucsly and Dulmer, first introduced in the DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations." Dulmer's references to events from Star Trek (2009) and various novels as alternate timelines was priceless, a reminder to the purity nerds that stories can be enjoyable and not destroy their precious sense of the Way Things Should Be.

One issue I had problems with throughout the book was when exactly Jake was supposedly conducting each interview. My assumption before reading was that the interviews would be about the era of STO, called The Long War. (A bit of wishful thinking on the part of Cryptic, as I have said before.) But then, as I started reading, it seemed he was interviewing people right before 2409 (when STO takes place) about events that occurred between the time of ST: Nemesis and STO itself. Then toward the end, I decided again that my initial assumption is probably right, and the Long War is meant to refer to 2409 (STO) and beyond. Unfortunately, I can't be sure either way, as there is no reference to Jake in the timeline given at the end of the book, nor in the online version, which is more detailed. I like when Star Trek novels pin themselves to a certain spot on the time line, like Final Frontier by Diane Carey, which places at least the framing story directly after the events of "The City on the Edge of Forever."

The book did give me insight into the game, which I think is its main purpose. I often read similar analytical non-fiction, like Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse both by Jared Diamond, so the format was no trouble. Is this a must read for Star Trek fans? No. Is it even a must read for STO players? Probably not. Was it enjoyable? Thoroughly. Especially in the small chunks I was reading on this trip. If I had read it straight through, it might have a little harder to swallow. Having not experienced all the content of STO, it will interesting for me to see how in-game missions relate to events described in the book.

1 comment:

  1. Yay, Guns, Germs and Steel was like required reading for every Anthro major, which I was.

    And, interesting...both you and AyAitch had issues with the timeframe. Personally I just went with it because I was so clueless about the Star Trek timeline anyway, so ignorance was bliss :P

    Ah, so Lucsly and Dulmer were those two guys in that Trials and Tribble-ations episode! I only caught a bit of that episode on TV once, I didn't catch their names.