I can’t say I’m aware of how exactly the collective Star Trek fan community has received the growing expanded universe of novels. I’m sure everyone whose ventured into this corner of Star Trek‘s expansive media empire has their favorites while staying away from others. I personally have yet to dive too deeply into Trek literature, save for a TOS movie-era adventure of Captain Sulu and the U.S.S. Excelsior, and the fairly well received Destiny trilogy based after Star Trek: Nemesis.
From what I’ve read, the Destiny novels are considered by most to be Trek lit at its best, so with that in mind, I believe I may have spoiled myself for some of the deeper cuts and lesser known novels. However, I still came into the first book of the Star Trek: Titan series, Taking Wing, with an open mind.
I’ve always had in itch to find out what happens to some of our favorite characters after their final on-screen outings. The aforementioned Destiny books briefly scratched that itch for me years ago, however I still wanted to go deeper. The Titan novels pick up around a similar era and follow Captain William T. Riker as he embarks on adventures leading the crew of the U.S.S. Titan – the first of the newly designed Luna-class line of starships created for deep space exploration.
The Titan’s first outing in Taking Wing, from authors Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels, serves as much more of a direct follow-up to the events of Star Trek: Nemesis than I’d anticipated. Not only does it logically address and expand on some of the political and personal issues raised in the film, I felt that it’s reflection on the events actually made me feel a little bit better about the [disappointing] final outing for TNG crew.
A lot of the concepts introduced and explored within Taking Wing I absolutely loved. I really enjoyed Riker’s efforts to assemble the most diverse crew in Starfleet, and I liked how that diversity was presented in unique ways – through biology, sex, gender, etc. (including the return of the character of Melora Pazlar from DS9, the addition of aquatic navigator, Aili Lavena, as well as reptilian doctor, Shenti Yisec Eres Ree).
The overall plot, I feel, effectively and logically explored the fallout from Nemesis. The book’s main plot showcased starfleet’s interest in helping broker in new Romulan leadership coalition, and also took the time to build on Riker’s relationship with Romulan commander, Donatra, address Deanna Troi’s emotional trauma from Shinzon’s telepathic violation of her, detail Reman efforts of independence from the Romulans, and incorporate development of Ambassador Spock’s unification efforts as an underground activist on Romulus. All of these pieces to the book worked really well, yet I was sometimes taken aback and disappointed by the author’s characterizations and choice of dialogue.
While concepts and themes were done well, dialogue often felt forced and only a very few of the characters really saw any development – and these characters felt somewhat one-dimensional throughout the story as well. While I liked a lot of the ideas, it could be argued that they came at the expense of us really getting to know the characters – new and old alike.
Flaws and all, I did still enjoy reading Taking Wing. With the understanding that it’s the jumpstart to an ongoing series of adventures, I’m willing to forgive some of the character issues in hopes that they’ll be addressed in some of the forthcoming novels. I’d recommend this first adventure in the Star Trek: Titan series to those Trek fans like myself: those who are craving more. While it may not be profound in any way, it certainly has the potential to scratch that itch – that desire to know what happens next.