**WARNING – Spoilers lay ahead for the latest novel/novella in the “Star Trek: Typhon Pact” series ‘The Struggle Within’. Read at your own risk!**
I just finished up the most recent entry in the Typhon Pact novel series “The Struggle Within” and I have to say…….I don’t like it. It’s not because of the length either. 106pgs is perfectly suitable for a novella, but the groups depicted and the manner in which they are depicted is slipshod and generally sloppy.
There are two major plotlines running here. One involves Picard and the Enterprise at Talar working out formalities for the Talarian Republic’s entrance into the ‘Khitomer Alliance’ (which, in my publications is referred to as the ‘Federation Alliance’). The second involves security officer Jasminder Choudhury and ‘contact specialist’ T’Ryssa Chen traveling to the Kinshaya planet of Janalwa to make contact with and provide assistance to a group of Kinshaya freedom fighters, who–with the assistance of a small band of ‘unificationists’ from Romulus–are hoping to overthrow the current Kinshaya government (or ‘regime’ as the author describes it…..).
First to the Talarians. A warrior-like race, similar to the Klingons in certain aspects, their culture and society is rigidly patriarchal–though not oppressive as one would think at first glance. Here, a small group of more vocal females–not afraid to resort to militant means–captures Dr. Crusher and ‘Jono’ (Jeremiah Rossa), son of Talarian Ambassador Endar. Though they only ask that they be allowed more freedom and flexibility in performing the tasks attributed to their place in society, their leader is actually being manipulated by the Tzenkethi. The Tzenkethi use these females as pawns, capturing Crusher and Jono deliberately in the hopes of prompting a predictably forceful response by Starfleet–who they then plan to portray as the pseudo-villains, assisting an oppressive regime to quash dissent. A conversation between Picard and Endar afterwards paints the larger Federation governmental body as one that cannot be trusted blindly. Endar goes on to mention that until Talar gets its affairs in order, it cannot trust the Federation and Starfleet and that he will recommend that Talar decline membership in the ‘Khitomer Alliance’ for the time being.
The planet Janalwa is in a similar state of chaos, being rocked by increasingly vocal and passionate demonstrations calling for the end of the current Kinshaya regime. Breen shock troops surpress one such demonstration with lethal force which at first seems to annoy the Kinshaya leaders, but quickly horrifies them when it becomes known that footage of the protest/massacre was recorded and broadcast across the Holy Order. The last few pages allude to the government’s toppling and a transition to a more open, democratic model.
Both these plotlines……do they remind you of anything in particular?? Well if you’re like me and the ‘Arab Spring’ popped to mind, you’d be right on–as the author mentions the Egypt’s resistance movement in the acknowledgements. Now I have no problem whatsoever with such events being used as a backdrop or as inspiration, I just don’t think the novella format is particularly appropriate. Something this important and this timely deserves the treatment of a full-length novel if it is to be used in this context.
Another problem I have with this novella is this disservice it did to the Tzenkethi. As in a previous novel–“Rough Beasts of Empire”–they are shown as generic manipulators existing only in the shadows. The same could also be said of the Tholians and you’d be partially right. The Tzenkethi on the other hand haven’t been afforded the kind of exposure in the ‘TrekLit’ universe though. Readers of this novel series have been afforded rather detailed looks inside the inner workings of both Breen and Gorn society, but the Tzenkethi are still shrouded in mystery.
While the possibility exists that the timeline these novels exist in could continue forward into some sort of ‘pseudo cold-war’ between the Federation Alliance and the Typhon Pact, the toppling of dictators and oppressive regimes (ala the Arab Spring) removes a key source of conflict which would eventually render the Typhon Pact itself, impotent and ineffective as a plot device.
As far as my own personal work goes, I’ve begun updating my timeline. The events depicted in this novel series take place following the Hobus supernova (and the events of the newest Star Trek film), beginning in approximately 2390. I disregard “Rough Beasts of Empire” in its entirety–due to the fact, *that* novel primarily deals with the Romulans and a whole other path of events different from what I have already laid out. It also goes without saying I’m going to completely ignore the depiction of the Talarians and their relations vis-a-vis the Federation Alliance. I’m not quite sure how far I can stretch the remaining source material, but with the fact I have a few other things already laid out (in the timeline already as well as in other publications), all it will take is some serious brainstorming before things will fall into place.
I also have more traditional ship-based updates in the works, with four bodies of work I’m focusing on.
1) Ships of the Cardassian Guard
A concise overview of the Guard (post Dominion War) as well as major ship classes covered separately such as Galor, Keldon and Hideki. In addition, five new classes–Hutet, Bakrus, Veracidor, Damar and Lakaria *(tentative) will be included as part of this.
2) Starfleet Transport Command
Something I started a long time ago, but left unfinished. The overview of this particular command–Starfleet’s logistical linchpin–is slightly more extensive. The difficulty I’m currently having here is bringing Transport Command into the present day (2414). I have a number of classes in mind to serve both the transport (personnel) and freighter/cargo-ship roles–hitting the Lost Era as well as the TNG/DS9/VOY periods–but am running up against a brick wall in my depiction/history of events leading up to the present day.
A prelimary idea I have is to include a profile (side) view of each class mentioned along with the usual specs, rather than individual, but more detailed, publications for each class.
3) “Heavy Hitters”
At first, I intended this to be a Starfleet-centric update, but expanded it to include the Klingons as well. My intentions with this one are to include publications on more combat-oriented designs such as Akira and Defiant as well as one or two of my own creation. For the Klingons, I’m hoping to include Vor’Cha and Negh’Var as well as one or two of my own creation again.
4) Starfleet Small Craft
One I actually haven’t worked on recently, this would touch on the small craft (shuttles & runabouts) of Starfleet. One of my first works after getting acquainted with Microsoft Publisher 2003, was an all in one guide that included entries on various shuttle types. This was styled in the form of a typical fandom reference manual–with a cover page, table of contents etc. I’ll have to go back and check, but I think all thats left is to add two entries on the Danube and Pulsar runabout classes (Pulsar being one of my ideas) as well as clean up some formatting.
Something important to note is that the shuttles from TOS and TMP as well as the Defiant class shuttlepod and the shuttle/scout craft seen in Insurrection will not be included. They never did receive very extensive screen time in their respective series/movies and with that being said, I’m not going to waste time trying to dream up anything.
All in all, I have alot to keep me busy–well into the new year if I don’t pick up the pace.
Until next time.