Star Trek TNG: Takedown
© 2015 John Jackson Miller
“Captain, permission to speak freely? You’re a good egg.”
“…I’m not sure how to respond to that.”
I spotted this title at a surplus-goods store a few years back, and couldn’t help be flabbergasted by the premise. Admiral Riker, leading a flotilla of ships against Federation outposts — against Captains Ezri Dax and Jean Luc Picard? Where on earth did that come from? What huge twists and turns in previous novels had I missed? ….turns out, Takedown is largely self-contained, almost an episodic throwback to the old numbered novels. It’s a definite page turner with an out of left field premise, one that starts when members of the Khitomer Accords (Feds, Cardies, Ferengi, Klingons) and the Typhon Pact (Romulans, Gorn, and a few other villains) receive invitations to a space station in the middle of nowhere. When the meeting is over, each of the delegates — including Admiral Riker — are acting….a little odd, and within a few hours they’re all zipping across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, destroying communications arrays — including those of their allies, and seemingly working in concert — while the six powers grope in darkness and wonder: what the hell?
That question was on my mind for most of the story, which I would have devoured in one sitting were it not for the fact that my body mutinied and insisted I go to sleep. The mystery of what happened to the diplomats, and why they’re suddenly obsessed with destroying arrays that have no conceivable military purpose (some of them are deep space telescopes, probing the cosmos beyond any known powers), drives the story, particularly abroad the Aventine. Captain Dax is a little confused when Admiral Riker transfers his flag to her ship, moreso when he isolates himself in the holodeck, and finally has to push back when Riker declares that the greatest threat to the Federation which now exists ….is a Ferengi relay station. Once Picard and the Enterprise enter the picture, we learn more — but ultimately, it proves to be one of those “Now that you’ve foiled me I’ll reveal my entire plan” resolutions, which I don’t particularly care for.
Takedown is a fun story, but not one to take seriously: there’s no character growth, and I’ve never seen the events here referenced in other novels. Its author, John Jackson Miller, is a new name for me in Treklit — and as bizarre as this story is, I enjoyed his use of humor. It helps, of course, that we get to visit both the Aventine and the Enterprise: I’m particularly fond of the Aventine crew, having grown fond of novels including them over the years. It was nice to see the real Picard in Treklit, not that tired imitation from Kurzman’s rubbish pile.
No spoilers, but if you’re a student of TNG episodes. this may ring a bell…