The Alien Critic Reviews...
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TAC Reviews...Star Trek The Next Generation Greater Than The Sum

The Star Trek: The Next Generation novels set after Nemesis limp on in this uninspired, dull, boring, tedious, and various other nasty words  in a thoroughly forgettable story namely Greater Than The Sum.

 

Greater than the Sum Cover

 

Okay, let me get this revelation off my chest, in case you haven't figured it out, I am a nerd, and as a nerd I am a HUGE Star Trek fan, with the exception of the Original Series which I could not get into, I loved The Next Generation, and whilst I did not carry the same love for Deep Space Nine and Voyager, I continue to enjoy the franchise. I literally could think about NOTHING else the first time I saw The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 and had to wait 24 agonising hours to see the continuation of the episode the following day, an episode which did not disappoint me. That is how much I enjoy Star Trek The Next Generation, so you can imagine how much it infuriates me when people take my beloved franchise and FUCK with it.

 

So even though it thoroughly PAINS me to draw attention to this heap of targ shit, I feel I must warn other fans of this franchise to steer clear of this book...and when I say steer clear, I mean steer light years clear...right let's have a look...

 

Allow me to bring you up to date in case you are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the story thus far. So following on from the previous novels, Resistance and Before Dishonour, in which both books followed a single cube which was trying to make another Queen after Voyager killed the previous one in Star Trek: Voyager’s finale Endgame. In Resistance, Picard (through his connection to the Borg) learns of the cube’s existence, defies Starfleet, takes the Enterprise and disables the cube. The cube reactivates in Before Dishonour having gained the ability to simply absorb objects and people, and attacks Earth. Picard and Seven of Nine are able to destroy it with the Planet Killer (last seen in The Original Series episode Doomsday Machine) leaving only an assimilated science ship, the Einstein, to fly off into space.

 

The void of space is where author Christopher L Bennett should have left the Einstein.

 

At the beginning of Greater Than The Sum, the Starship Rhea is investigating a carbon cluster when it comes under attack from the Einstein and whilst most of the crew are killed or assimilated, Lieutenant T'Ryssa Chen is the only one who is sent two thousand light years away to safety. It turns out that the cluster the Rhea was investigating is an entity that has slipstream technology (which enables ships to travel huge distances instantly) and the assimilated Einstein want the technology so they can re-establish communication with the Borg Collective in the Delta Quadrant. So the Enterprise being the only ship that can deal with the Borg is sent to destroy the Einstein whatever the cost.

 

Captain Picard, La Forge, Beverly Crusher (now Mrs Picard), and Worf are all still on the Enterprise but unfortunately they are joined by the thoroughly irritating and instantly dislikeable T’Ryssa Chen, but more on her later. The Borg also seem to have been largely forgotten as Bennett focuses mainly on the sex lives of the Enterprise crew but like T’Ryssa, I’ll get on that point later.

 

By bringing the assimilated ship back again, Bennett continues the trend of the Borg being the villains yet again. The Star Trek universe has so much diversity and so many alien species that Bennett could have taken this book in a new and original direction instead of just rehashing the Borg as the invulnerable villains. When the Borg are done right they are truly terrifying, The Best of Both Worlds (voted by fans as the best episode of Star Trek of all time) and Star Trek First Contact demonstrate how amazing the Borg are as an enemy. I read in the background information on the series and discovered that the reason the Borg appeared so infrequently in The Next Generation was because the writers couldn't think up ways for the obviously technologically inferior Federation to defeat them

 

Within moments of her introduction Bennett also makes the reader hate T’Ryssa Chen. For no reason at all, when her away team beam down she is thinking about the fact that she has slept with one of the other members of the team. She makes a joke and he doesn’t laugh at which point she decides that he is now never going to see her naked again. In this one statement I instantly wanted her to die...I mean what an arrogant bitch...So because he didn't get one of your jokes you are going to never let him have sex with you again, how do you know he even wants to have sex with you again?? Presumably a starship is like any other working environment and the "office bikes" get a reputation pretty quickly, there are plenty of women that my skin-sack has nailed after a night out, and whilst they are fun to spend the night with and hi-five your mates about in the morning, they aren't the type of woman you take home to meet your parents. If a starship is anything like real life every male crew member would quite happy nail this woman but have about as much respect for her as a wank trough so why does she seem to think she is God's gift to men of every species??

 

What really pisses me off about this book is that fact that sex in Star Trek is always implied, no one is naive enough to assume the crews don’t have sex lives, hell Riker and Troi must have banged enough aliens between them to populate a planet but sex is never so openly discussed and talked about. Chen seems to jump from bed to bed and is so instantly dislikeable that you will wish the Borg had killed her when they had the chance. Why does it add anything to the story to have her rolling off some bloke when the captain contacts her to let her know she can come on the away mission?? What’s the point of it? I’m not going to lie, I absolutely hated this character, her arrogance, her belief that everyone who meets her wants to have sex with her, and more to the point she has absolutely no business being on the Enterprise. The Flagship has the elite onboard, the finest crew assembled, the best that the fleet has, it is not the place for average level officers who are only interested in fucking their fellow crew members and seem to have only pregressed by banging their superior officers.

 

There is a definite trend that moves shows towards sex, and honestly I hate it. Don’t get me wrong I’m as big a fan of sex as the next guy, but it has no place in some of my favourite shows. Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Star Wars, and so on, none of these shows needed to tempt audiences with sex to draw them in. The stories, the characters, the universe they were set in, all of these were more than enough to bring audiences in. Then Stargate Universe had the crew of an Ancient ship fucking one another every week and I swiftly turned it off in favour of watching reruns of Atlantis or SG-1. Books like Greater Than The Sum come along and wave sex in front of the audience like an adult jangling their keys in front of a bored toddler.

 

It is lazy, and it is pointless.

 

A sex scene that has relevance is fine, hell there is one in Nemesis and it fits in with the story so I'm okay with it, but putting them in for the sake of it, is unnecessary and only serves to demonstrate that the author believes the audience is so limited in their attention span that if you don’t throw in sex frequently then they will be uninterested in continuing the story.

 

On that point, let me get back to the weak-ass story.

 

Following on from the end of Voyager the Enterprise is equipped with transphasic torpedoes (weapons powerful enough to destroy a cube with one shot) but is forbidden by Starfleet to use them, because sooner or later the Borg will adapt. Of course Starfleet doesn't seem to be aware that the Einstein has been seperated from the rest of the Collective so blowing them up will be no problem, or maybe Starfleet in this book are as retarded as everyone else. So, the crew fight to destroy the Einstein during which time the audience will be shouting at Picard to just fire the torpedoes already. This book could have been about two pages long, the Einstein attacks the Rhea, the Enterprise arrives, fires a single shot, blows up the Einstein and flies home again. Simple and to the point, it ends the “cliff-hanger” left at the end of Before Dishonour in which the Einstein flees and would have allowed a new story to begin…but no we got this pile of crap instead.

 

Bennett seems to have missed the point of what Star Trek is supposed to be about, it is about exploration and charting the new frontier, not the crew screwing one another. The Borg need to be left alone for a while because as I said above when done well they are unimaginably frightening (think First Contact) but when done badly they are robbed of everything that made them so unbelievably terrifying.

 

The Borg appeared in-frequently in The Next Generation because they were so dangerous and the Federation struggled to fend them off, Voyager pushed their luck by including the Borg every time they couldn’t think of an episode that week but they still had some of the terrifying and forbidding atmosphere that oozed so effortlessly from them in episodes like Q Who? and of course The Best of Both Worlds.

 

When done right the Borg are incredible villains that can work in books as well as on screen, read The Return, or Vendetta or watch Best of Both Worlds or First Contact and you will instantly understand what I am talking about. Here the Borg are just a background element so that the author can focus on the sex lives of the crew and even the Borg themselves. Yeah the Borg want to get some action, remember Hugh from I, Borg? He pops up here as a free drone or something but it turns out the Borg don’t have sexual organs so he and his love interest can’t have sex, and yet Seven of Nine still had her massive boobs and a nice tight pussy between her legs because if she didn’t then offering to have sex with Harry Kim was just cruel. Why don’t the Borg in this book have sexual organs when they are assimilated species?? Yes, there was an episode of The Next Generation in which a race that had no gender were introduced and Riker still managed to seduce one of them, so if one of that race had been assimilated then it makes sense for them to have no sexual organs. But why do males and females of assimilated races have no genitalia?? I know that I may be getting bogged down by this point but it just doesn’t seem to make any sense and pulls the focus of the novel back to sex which is not the reason I pick up a Star Trek novel.  

 

There is literally a galaxy of possibilities for a Star Trek novel. But all too often authors seem to just stay in their comfort zone and assume that a book with the Borg in it will instantly be as good as First Contact. But even the bad books I have read, ones that don’t really go anywhere, or focus on something trivial are at least trying, but Greater Than The Sum makes zero effort and thinking back on it…lead to a good five year gap between me reading it and picking up another Star Trek book which is saying a lot because I used to be a great fan of Star Trek novels.

 

Ultimately I don't care about books like Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey they are pieces of shit that will not survive the test of time and will be forgotten as quickly as they became popular, but the Star Trek franchise has been going for decades and is something that I has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years, so I hate it when authors take something I really enjoy and miss the point this much.

 

I am only going to say this once...authors STOP FUCKING with Star Trek, if you can't write a decent story then DON'T write a story at all...and if you continue to write peices of shit like this then I am going to personally fly my ship to your house and vapourize you where you stand, clear??

 

I gave Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey solid Thumbs Down ratings, but I am going to give Greater Than The Sum a very definative 2 Thumbs Down, it is only a shame I can't put my middle finger Up.

 

I hated this book THAT much

 

 

1/10 -  A very poor effort that is just terrible so trust me leave Greater than the Sum on the shelf and read something else just as long as it isn't Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey

 

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© Chris Sharman