This week I decided to review Star Trek: Titan: Sight Unseen by James Swallow.
The story begins on a starship belonging to the Dinac, an early warp civilization that the Federation is attempting to ally with. The USS Whitetree is assisting a Dinac vessel, whose drive has failed, when a subspace rift opens and swallows the Whitetree. An aftershock from the rift knocks Ythiss, a Starfleet engineer aboard the Dinac vessel, unconscious and when he awakens he soon realizes that the Dinac pinnace has been boarded by unknown assailants.
The story then shifts to Earth where Admiral William Riker is impatiently awaiting new orders. He is assigned as the sector commander of the Alpha Quadrant Frontier Zone, which includes the Dinac homeworld. He chooses the USS Titan, his former command, as his flagship with Captain Vale, his former first officer, as captain (and a commander widely distrusted by many in Starfleet due to her actions during the recent Anjar presidency as first officer).
The Titan sets out to investigate what has happened to the Whitetree and the Dinac vessel they were aiding. The Dinac vessel is found empty, but a log left by Ythiss, who had formerly served on the Titan, mentions the crew being stalked by someone. Eventually, the Titan discovers that the Solanae, a race from another dimension which once kidnapped and performed experiments on a number of Starfleet personnel (including the then-Commander Riker) are behind the disappearances. After repelling an invasion of Solanae drones, a follow-up attack captures a number of Titan crewmembers including Riker’s wife and daughter.
Eventually the Titan discovers the Ciari, a group of rebel Solanae opposed to their government’s plans to invade normal space and enslave or exterminate the races native to it. Despite a very rocky start, the Titan must find a way to convince the Ciari to provide the data needed to enter the Solanae dimension, rescue any prisoners the Solanae have, and prevent a full scale invasion armed with biogenic weapons.
I give this book 8.5 out of 10. I almost always like it when the Star Trek novels revisit plotlines from a TV series and provide answers to long unanswered questions. The author also does a good job establishing the goals and mindset of the Solanae and what conditions led to that mindset. even if the mindset itself is a little too simple for my tastes. Also, the tensions between Riker and Vale as the former starts trying to step back into the captain’s role are well-written, especially as Riker grows more desperate, and the story does a good job of showing why allowing a new admiral to select their former command as their flagship isn’t always a good idea.