Star Trek Titan (Book One): Taking Wing
© 2005 Michael Martin & Andy Mangels
The last Next Generation movie, Nemesis, saw most of Picard’s senior staff move on to different assignments after the mass-assassination of the Romulan Senate by Shinzon, who was stopped only by the death of Commander Data among dozens of others. William Riker finally accepted a command of his own — the new USS Titan — and his newly-wed partner Deanna Troi joined him there as the ship’s chief counselor and diplomatic officer.
After a long ten years fighting the Borg and the Dominion, Riker is excited about the Titan’s place in history: the Luna-class ship is part of a class dedicated to scientific enterprise and exploration, and Riker and his crew will be setting forth on a long-term mission that will take them far beyond the Federation borders. Even before they are underway, however, the admiralty informs Riker that they need him to take a page from his mentor’s book and head for Romulus to meditate between various ambitious factions in the post-Shinzon Romulus who want a say in where the Empire goes next. The new leader Tal-Aura rules a divided camp and does not yet have the support of the Romulan fleet, while the long-oppressed Remans simmer on the edge of revolt.
Titan introduces a wealth of new characters into the new extended universe, and from a variety of species: Riker’s chief medical officer “superficially resembles” a dinosaur who specializes in obstetrics, and another officer hails from a race who live underwater. Since the Titan crew featured in Destiny, I already know some of them, but the variety is fascinating. While the political plot turned me off the first time I “tried” to read this in 2005 (I gave up after twenty pages, which baffles me now), it is not as bad as I remembered or feared, and another thread following a Starfleet operative disguised as a Romulan and attempting to make contact with the Romulan underground — who is caught, imprisoned, and forced to organize a little prison riot — allows a favorite character of mine to join the Titan crew. The Remans themselves are given some life by Martin and Mangels: in Nemesis they only existed as mooks and as an evil viceroy.
The Titan series has been popular with Trek literature readers, and though I’ve not experienced it in full, Taking Wing offers a taste of what’s to come. There’s no scientific exploration, but the characters have my attention. The plot kept me interested even though I thought I knew how it would end (I didn’t), and I’ll definitely be continuing in the series. I keep thinking I bought The Red King (#2) five years ago as well, but I didn’t see it in my box of Trek books from that period, and I’m not sure I bought it. My next Titan read will thus be Christopher L. Bennett’s Orion’s Hounds, and er..well, the reason I revisited the Titan series was so I could read more of him. I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward (next year) to continuing in the A Time to series which lead up to Nemesis, as judging from this book both the Federation and Picard were put through the wringer.