Since it the fifth book in the Titan series, which is about William Riker’s captaincy of the Titan. As I haven’t reviewed the other books yet, I’ll give a little bit of background. The Titan is a Luna class vessel. It’s primary purpose is as a long term exploration vessel. The Titan is different from most Starfleet vessels because it has a much larger mix of non-humans aboard. In fact, the ship had to be modified to accommodate an aquatic member as well as a member that grew up in almost 0 gravity. Then there are eating habits; for instance there are certain species above the ship that are extraordinarily carnivorous and eat there meat raw. They have different meal times than the omnivores. It has been a challenge for the crew to integrate so much diversity.
In chronology, this book takes place after Star Trek A Singular Destiny. Riker and his crew are given new orders to continue their deep-space assignment. Riker is concerned that in the Borg invasion aftermath, the Titan should stay in the Alpha quadrant and be part of the relief effect. But the brass insists on sending the Titan for two reasons. First, the Titan was responsible for saving the Federation. Second, the beleguerd people of the Federation need to have something inspiring. And to remind them that exploration is what Starfleet is all about.
So the crew sets off into the Canis Major region. Based upon what I remember from astronomy, I’m going to hazard a guess and say that this region in space would be the area around the constellation containing the star Sirius. Don’t quote me on that though.
Anyway, the crew decides to visit a world that they have called Droplet. It is an ocean planet, class O, subclass L1- a Leger-type class O. This means that the planet has no land and little minerals on the surface. Just in case you were wondering, Earth is considered class M in this universe. Anyway, there is life on this planet which is unusual because most planets need some heavy metals like iron in order to sustain life.
The mission to explore this world is headed up by the aquatic Ensign Lavena. At first everyone is enjoying themselves. The life forms that they have observes seem like basic chordates, who seem quite afraid of the crew’s equipment. Lavena begins to suspect that the creatures may be somewhat intelligent when they rescue her and Melora from a sea creature bent on eating them.
Lavena ends up establishing a tenuous connection (overseen by Riker who has joined the away team on the surface) with the creatures and discovers that one of the species is in sentient- Squales. The only problem is that their language is so complex that the universal translators cannot decode it. The creatures are more adept at learning Selkie (Lavena’s language), so this is how they communicate. The species is completely animate. This is due to the fact that there is little to no metal content on Droplet. All their “technology” are life forms that they have groomed for mechanical purposes through selective breeding. The Squales are terrified of Titan’s tricorders and shuttles.
But then another problem arises, there is an asteroid headed for the planet. The impact will cause significant loss of life. Riker and Lavena try to convince the Squale to leave the asteroids projected impact point, but to no avail. So the Titan tries to destroy the asteroid. Unfortunately, the asteroid consists of some really funky metal. Instead of the phasers and torpedoes vaporized the asteroid, the metal absorbs the energy then explodes with more force than was originally in the weapon.
Despite the crew’s best effort, enough of the asteroid crashes to the surface. The damage is done. Fortunately on an ocean world, there is no tsunami. But the exotic energy of the photon torpedoes and the phasers is more than, Droplet can naturally handle. This energy changes the magnetic field of Droplet and inadvertently kills off a second ecosystem that lived closer to Droplet’s core. Basically it’s like killing off the lower part of the food chain. The crew realizes that had they done nothing to avert the disaster the Squale would have recovered in time rather than risk certain extinction.
The the crew works hard to rectify their mistake. Anyway, during the impact both Riker and Lavena are injured. Although Squale medicine is surprisingly advanced, both slowly begin to deteriorate because they lack mineral content in their food. Meanwhile, the trauma of the impact has caused Troi to project her emotions on Dr. Ree, a Pahkwa-thanh male. (Think giant talking civilized lizard). This projection causes Dr. Ree to go into the protector mode of the males of his species. Basically he will protect Troi’s infant at all cost. He kidnaps her from the ship so she won’t be in danger. Some of you will remember that Betazoids can project strong emotional responses on other like Lwaxana Troi did in that one Deep Space Nine episode. But the crew pull off and technological miracle. Deanna has her baby girl, whom they name Natasha Miana Riker-Troi.
At the end of the day, Riker has to consider the Prime Directive. It seems that there is probably no harm no foul in this case. Apparently the Squale once had a space program, but they disbanded it. They didn’t realize that being out of their planet’s magnetic field would disrupt their neurological system. Thanks to Titan’s discovery of this little fact, they have come up with a way to compensate. It is assumed that the Squale will solve faster than light travel relatively soon.
This book deals with character development of Riker, Troi, Ensign Alli Lavena (from an amphibious species called Selkie), and to a lesser extent- Tuvok. Though Vulcan, Tuvok has been having increasing difficulty controlling his emotions due to the various trauma he has experienced over the years as a Starfleet officer. One of his children died when the Borg destroyed the world Deneva; Tuvok is unable to grieve his son’s death. Interestingly enough, it is dealing with Dr. Ree’s kidnap of Deanna that helps him begin the healing process.
Troi, of course, has to deal with becoming a mother. As she had been having trouble with all of her pregnancies, she is understandably worried about her current pregnancy.
Then we have Riker and Lavena. It was revealed in one of the earlier books that Riker and Lavena had a fling years ago, when Riker visited Lavena’s homeworld. Both of them have moved passed that. Riker more so than Lavena. Apparently there are some interesting social moré. The Selkie spend the first part of their life as land dwellers. They don’t become fully aquatic until they are adults. While they are land dwellers, they are expected to have children- and as many of them as possible because ocean planets are more dangerous than the typical terrestrial planet. The expectation is that Selkie during this period will be very responsible parents. Oh and Selkie don’t marry; they flit around. Lavena was not a responsible parent. She often left her children to pursue dalliances. As it turns out Lavena blamed her mother for the death of her sister Miana. She saw her mother as a failure for preventing her sister from being killed. This led to Lavena resenting the restrictions placed on her. So she ran away from her planet once her eight children were self-sufficient. Essentially, she has spent her Starfleet career running from responsibility. But this situation makes her face it for the first time. Being stuck on the surface with Riker makes her deal with her past. It was interesting to see more alien psychology. Most the of the time, you deal with humanoid species who have more human type of social issues. But this was different.
That was a really long review. Anyway, I think the next book will be a Voyager book.