Star Trek TNG: Collateral Damage
© 2019 David Mack
Years ago, the decisions of Federation leadership and Starfleet command placed Captain Picard and the Enterprise between a moral Scylla and Charybdis, and his dogged efforts to keep the peace were covered in the A Time To… series. Now, after a succession of crises — the Borg war, ongoing tensions with the Typhon Pact, and the revelation of Section 31 — the dust is settling and the past must be reckoned with. Captain Picard is summoned to Paris to attend a hearing which may result in his being court-martialed. Meanwhile, the Enterprise responds to a Nausican raid on a Federation outpost that proves to be far more dangerous than anyone reckoned with, after it’s revealed that the Nausicans also stole a superweapon from a Starfleet Intelligence operation. As Commander LaForge works to keep the outpost aftermath from growing worse, Commander Worf and the Enterprise tackle the Nausicans. The result is a superb mix of legal, military, and engineering drama, as the Enterprise crew and Titan scramble to head off disaster. I’d expect nothing less from David Mack.
I missed the prolonged ‘Tezwa Crisis’, in part because I was a penniless high school grad when it started, and by the time I had money there were a lot more interesting ST series out there to consider — chief among them, David Mack’s Destiny trilogy. In the near-twenty years since that series began, Picard and others have referenced the Crisis enough that I’ve grown some appreciation for how big a deal it was, despite not knowing its specific details beyond its resulting in the Federation president disappearing courtesy of Section 31. A prior read of that series isn’t necessary to enjoy Collateral Damge, as the details of the crisis come out during the trial. The trial is well done, though I find it difficult to believe anyone in the Federation could be as hostile to Picard as the opposing lawyer: however true her professed belief that everyone should be held to the same legal standard, even Heroes of the Federation, her antagonism appeared more personal than professional. Far more interesting were the conjoined B&C plots, Starfleet’s response to the Nausican raid and the resulting plot. The Nausican homeworld was destroyed by the Borg during the Destiny trilogy, and the Alpha Quadrant’s favorite chaotic bikers blame the Federation for the destruction of their world. Hunting them down and putting an end to their Marvin the Martin-esque plan isn’t straightforward, though, because Starfleet Intelligence has an outrageous agent working his own op, and SI’s interests aren’t aligned with Enterprise’s. The Big E is crippled twice in this book, and all while Picard is being grilled by a vicious lawyer. Worf’s resolution was a little unexpected, but absolutely in keeping with Star Trek idealism.
Collateral Damage is (yet another) great work in David Mack’s continuing contributions to Treklit.