The entire Federation is under attack — from their own weapon that has gone horribly astray and is now sweeping across the Alpha Quadrant, out of control. This is the premise of The Genesis Wave by John Vornholt. Following the classic Star Trek tradition, it promises battles, action, mystery, relationships and danger. But does it deliver?
The Next Generation is my favorite of the Star Trek TV shows because of its emphasis on morality and philosophical issues. Though it doesn’t always give the correct answers, it brings the questions up, and that alone distinguishes it from many shows. The Genesis Wave follows this tradition well. Picard and the crew of Enterprise are faced with the dilemma of rescuing millions of people and dozens of planets from a sweeping wave that they cannot stop. Millions of people are at stake. If not rescued, they will be turned to organic matter in a massive terraforming experiment: the Genesis project.
Thought to be a legend, Genesis was classified 90 years ago, but has escaped from Federation hands and is being wielded by someone — or something. In the process, much of the Federation, and the Romulan and Klingon empires, are in danger of being terraformed and destroyed.
This is the setup, and it’s intriguing, true to Star Trek, but the novel largely fails to deliver. It drags in places, even though we’re talking a sweeping wave of doom that destroys entire planets. There’s extensive development of personal issues with Geordi la Forge, but his character is mostly static, and doesn’t change throughout the novel. But the promise of resolution to this huge problem, that threatens even Earth, keeps you turning the pages.
Which is the biggest problem: the story doesn’t resolve. Not only do we fail to learn the fate of Earth and the rest of the Federation, but we also don’t even know if the short-term problem — the salvation of planet Myrmidon — was ultimately resolved. Everything’s left hanging — which might be okay in a quick TV show, but definitely not in a novel. Sure, it makes me want to read the next book, but it also leaves me dissatisfied. It’s a technique that ultimately backfires in the author’s face: lowering my opinion of the novel instead of increasing my suspense.
The writing, at least, is fairly okay. Thoughts sound contrived at many times, especially in scenes with Geordi la Forge (who the author did not do justice to), and as I mentioned, the writing contributes to the drag of the novel. But it’s overall solid writing, and suspenseful in some places, at least. Being the first Star Trek novel I’ve read, I don’t know if it’s the norm or an exception, but I certainly expected more given the excellent stories of the Next Generation TV show.
Overall, this book was good. If you’re a fan of The Next Generation, I’d recommend it; though the cliffhanger at the end will annoy you as it did me. If you’re a newbie to the world of Trek, I highly, highly recommend starting with the TV show. That’s where it all began, and it’s far more satisfying than the novel. In addition, the novel requires previous knowledge of the Trek universe, which you’ll find from the TV show. Go watch all of the Next Generation, and report back here to read the book once you’ve done so.
Published on 25 May, 2013. Last updated on