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  • Author: Keith R A DeCandido
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Price: $6.99
  • Pages: 266


Keith R A DeCandido offers the best TREK novel in recent memory

By Chris Wyatt     December 13, 2002

Remember those first few seasons of STAR TREK: VOYAGER when the ship was constantly running into deep space anomalies? It got so bad that this reviewer had trouble telling whether certain episodes were reruns, or the plot was just really stale. Nowadays it sometimes seems that the TREK novels have a similar over-reliance on a singular plot device, namely "ancient alien artifacts".

I mean, by the fifth or sixth book of GATEWAYS I never wanted to hear about another damn alien artifact ever again. With all those ancient aliens running around with all those unbelievably powerful cosmic doomsday weapons, it's a wonder our quadrant ever survived!

Well, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, BOOK ONE once again trots out the threat of near-omnipotent artifacts that are far too destructive for anyone, even the Federation, to be allowed to wield. But don't despair, author Keith R A DeCandido, as Will Smith would say, "makes this look good".

As in GATEWAYS, DeCandido uses the alien artifact storyline as a bridge to unite different generations of TREK characters. The book opens on Captain Archer's Enterprise as the crew spends some time doing what they never seem to be able to do on the show, explore new worlds.

On a habitable planet in an unknown system, T'Pol identifies what she believes to be remnants of the "Zalcat Union", a stellar empire dating back ninety thousand years. Vulcan archeologists only know of the Zalcat race from various planetary ruins, but the homeworld has never, until now, been discovered.

A sealed box that the away team brings back to the ship includes a document that warns of four devices of great power, one that contained a killer virus, one that controlled weather systems, one that shot energy, and one that used telekinetics. These devices are now scattered to the four solar winds. Needless to say, Archer recommends that Starfleet issue a general order to confiscate these artifacts if their energy signals ever show up.

Fast-forward a century or so. On Captain Kirk's Enterprise the crew encounters the colony of "Alpha Proxima II", which is plagued by an inexplicable disease. When a Zalcat artifact is suspected as the culprit, Kirk teams up with Commodore Matt Decker of starship Constellation to track the location of the device.

Fast-forward another century of so. On Deep Space Nine Commander Sisko is preparing to board the starship Odyssey. The ship is being employed to help establish a farm colony on the second moon of Bajor to compensate for a large chunk of viable land that was destroyed during the Cardassian occupation of the Bojoran homeworld. Unfortunately, on the so-called New Bajor, the second Zalcat artifact is uncovered, and falls into the hands of an anti-Cardassian terrorist who could destroy the balance of peace. The book ends on a cliff-hanger and promises to be continued in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, BOOK TWO, which will incorporate characters from VOYAGER and NEXT GENERATION.

There are a hell of a lot of coincidences needed to make THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD work. We have to believe that, of all the planets Archer could have explored, he explored the homeworld of the Zalcat. And that, of all the places that T'Pol could have explored on the whole planet, she happened across the Zalcat ruins. And that, during her very cursory examination of the Zalcat ruins, she happens across is the indestructible lock-box. And that the box happens to contain the account of the artifacts. And that, by coincidence, it's the captains of each of the four televised series that happen to be nearby when each artifact is found...etc...etc...

But none of that really matters, because the story (or stories, given that each vignette is really pretty separate the others) is good. It's so fun, and so dramatic, that the book seems to turn the pages all by itself.

But, beyond even that, DeCandido writes these characters exactly as they appear on the screen. DeCandido's Archer IS Scott Bakula's Archer. DeCandido's Spock IS Leonard Nemoy's Spock, etc...

If the second book in this two book series holds up to the first, we may have one of the best executed TREK novel storylines of all time on our hands.

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