Genre Star Trek Publisher Pocket Year Published 2004 Review Posted on 1/21/2007 Reviewer Rating
Stargazer: Enigma, by Michael Jan Friedman
Reviewed by Jeff Edwards
If you've read this book, why not
A mysterious alien race is attacking Starfleet ships, and the Federation firepower proves
worthless: The intruders already know everything about Constellation-class tactical systems. As
Starfleet gathers its forces, Captain Picard worries that one of his own crew members may be to
blame for the aliens' unfair advantage. But there's more than just Picard's career at stake, and the
fate of the Federation soon rests in the hands of one of the young captain's greatest adversaries.
After stalling out in "Oblivion," Michael Jan Friedman kicks his Stargazer series into warp drive
with Enigma. In the previous book, Ulelo was secretly transmitting information to an
unknown party; here, the com officer is caught red-handed and thrown in the brig. And while
McAteer did nothing more than seethe with hatred for Picard in "Oblivion," the admiral schedules
a competency hearing for the young captain in Enigma, then takes part in a dangerous
mission to defuse the situation between Starfleet and the alien aggressors.
Friedman doesn't tie up all of the loose ends, though, leaving him with material for future novels:
Ensigns Paris and Jiterica continue their interspecies romance; Nikolas resigns from Starfleet and
starts a new job on the cargo hauler Iktoj'ni. Acknowledging the multiple storylines, Friedman
inserts helpful plot reminders for his readers throughout the book ("He sat up..., wondering what
had happened...Then it all came back to him").
In the novel, a character notes the "stolid, reassuring familiarity" of sickbay. This also serves as
an accurate description of Michael Jan Friedman's prose: It's workman-like but not fancy, moving
the story efficiently from point A to point B; Friedman's most creative writing is on display when
Ulelo struggles with his sanity, recalling striking images of alien landscapes that remain "just
beyond the pall of his conscious mind."
Science fiction connoisseurs probably won't be impressed with Enigma: part of an
ongoing space opera, the novel relies on implausible plot devices rather than scientific
extrapolations to keep the story moving. Even casual Star Trek fans may find this to be passable
entertainment at best. But Stargazer devotees - those who keep coming back for more of
Jean-Luc Picard's early adventures - will be rewarded by Enigma: It's among the best in the