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TNG: Q & A, by Keith R.A. DeCandido Book Review | SFReader.com
TNG: Q & A, by Keith R.A. DeCandido Genre: Star Trek Publisher: Pocket Books Published: 2007 Review Posted: 12/6/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
TNG: Q & A, by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Book Review by David Roy
Have you read this book?
So far, the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" post-Nemesis re-launch has been pretty lackluster. The previous novels weren't necessarily bad, just incredibly mediocre. So who do you call to add some life to the line? Why, Keith R.A. DeCandido of course! Q&A is a welcome breath of fresh air in the line, adding dazzling writing, humor, and the enigmatic Q to the mix. DeCandido has written a vastly entertaining "Star Trek" novel that will wipe away all the bad taste of the previous two books.
Fresh off the confrontation with the Borg in Resistance, the Enterprise is on an exploratory mission to Gorsach IX. But something is in the air, not feeling right. And when Q, the mischievous omniscient being who's been bedeviling Picard for 15 years now, pops up, Picard knows there's more to this mission than meets the eye. What's Q's purpose this time, and why does he seem so intent that they not beam down to Gorsach IX? Picard must find out, but in doing so may cause the death of the universe. All in a day's work for Q, of course.
Q&A is a fascinating novel for a number of reasons, one of which is that DeCandido manages to work in a reference to every single Q episode and book (bar one or two oversights) that are in existence. What's even more amazing is that most of these references don't even feel forced, though the final one smacks of "I couldn't come up with anything for this episode and I have to work it in somehow." Thankfully, it results in a wonderful punch line to end the book, so I'm not that upset. In the process of doing all this, DeCandido shows us that Q's had a plan all along, that his annoying visits have actually had a cosmic point. While I'm sure the producers of the television series meant no such thing, it's still interesting that DeCandido could do this.
DeCandido, as usual, has the regular characters down pat, and it's always a joy to revisit them when he's writing them. He writes with a wonderful, warm humor that still has an inherent seriousness when things get critical, and I love his prose. He captures Q perfectly, and I can almost hear John DeLancie speaking the dialogue that DeCandido gives him. And surprisingly enough, considering each various Q character ever featured in an episode shows up at least once, the reader can tell them apart even though DeCandido just calls them all "Q." Usually, there's some distinction that he makes which enables the reader to do this.
As for the new "re-launch" characters, the only one that has been brought forward from previous books is the Vulcan counselor, T'Lana. Since she's not at odds with Picard in this book, DeCandido is actually able to portray her in a favorable manner, and she comes across a lot better than she did in Resistance. I'm still not seeing the reason for her being here, however, as the excuse given for a Vulcan to be a good counselor still doesn't seem to apply here. She's not a bad character, and at least DeCandido makes her interesting, but she doesn't quite do it for me.
Decandido also introduces us to two new cast members: Second officer Miranda Kadohata and Security Chief Zelik Leybenzon. He manages to make them three-dimensional, especially Leybenzon, who was a non-commissioned officer during the Dominion War and who is still having trouble dealing with the fact that he's authority now. He's brash, strict, but he's also intelligent. Kadohata has been with the Enterprise since the first episode, but has been away recently, so she's familiar with everything and she fits like an old glove. In DeCandido's hands, these characters feel like regulars already.
So DeCandido is good with his characters, but what about the plot of Q&A? It actually manages to be cosmic but in a way that's relatable to the average reader. The results of what Picard unleashes are seen throughout the galaxy, so we get cameos from every other TrekLit series, which again doesn't feel forced. To somebody like me, who hates unnecessary continuity references, it's very surprising that I didn't have any trouble with the ones here. He's created an interesting race that rivals the Q, and actually exceeds them, but thankfully doesn't show us enough of them that they lose their superior feeling. We see just enough touches to understand what is happening, but not enough for them to become boring.
Filled with humor (how can something with Q not be?) but yet also serious in its own way, Q&A is a wonderful breath of fresh air. Any minor deficiencies aren't really noticeable when put up against the rest of the book. DeCandido says it best with the first line of the novel: "They held off on letting this universe die in the hopes that it would provide something interesting." Given the last couple of novels in the line, that could very well be the reader's feeling on beginning this book as well.
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