Written By: Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg
Read by Alec Newman
Released by Big Finish July 2018
Continuity is a tricky mistress. On the one hand, I am a fan of sprawling continuities with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and it is fun when those dots connect in fun and creative ways. My fandom of both Doctor Who and Star Trek of evidence of this. On the other hand, when writers get bogged down in the continuity of a franchise, it can become tedious really quick. And there lies the major flaw of Star Trek Prometheus.
The first half of this book is nothing but nods to continuity, what little plot there is in the first half is essentially the same bits of information being repeated over and over. There was an attack, members of one race seem to be taking credit for the act, but they don't have the tech to pull it off. It could be some other group but there is no evidence to suggest that so far. I think that cycle of information repeated itself for about 4 chapters. Just the same info being regurgitated to a different character.
But in those early chapters that isn't what is important. What is important is references! We get a ton in the first half, and it becomes tiresome pretty quick. The novel isn't particularly interested in introducing us to the cast of characters on the Prometheus, and even when they do we have a Chief Engineer named Kirk. And she is Captain Kirk's Grand Niece. Give me a break. But don't worry, he comes Alexander Rhozhenko! Miles O’Brien and Nog! And Spock for no real reason! And Ezri Dax is a Captain. Why does Trek's spinoff material require that all main cast members eventually be promoted to Captain or Admiral or beyond? Ezri Dax was a Counselor with no real ambition for command. And since they make mention that the fleet is depleted because of multiple recent wars and conflicts...why would all these characters end up being Captains? There can't be enough ships!
While Deep Space 9 is quite probably my favorite Trek series, I do wish that Trek didn't keep resorting to War arcs in all of it's media. Exploring a longterm arc about War is what set DS9 apart. But now it just seems like all anyone is interested in doing with Trek. It seems that the books have been doing that for some time, and even the latest Trek TV series, Discovery, took a crack at it. I miss sci-fi concepts and exploration in Trek!
At any rate, there is actually an interesting story hidden underneath all the continuity porn. There was a terrorist attack, and the book works a bit like a mystery about unravelling who was behind it all. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t actually solve it. The novel itself ends abruptly, then leads into an epilogue which only serves as set up for the second book. It is wholly unsatisfying, and it left me rather annoyed, especially as the book had turned a corner for me and stopped being so full of itself about celebrating the minutiae of the continuity, but actually about something deeper. And then the book just ends with "buy another one to find out how this ends!"
I do wonder what the endgame is for Big Finish. Do they plan to continue making more Trek stuff? Is this a dry run to prove they can successfully handle the franchise? As the Prometheus books were originally published in Germany, and were original to a specific company...did they only get the rights to do these three novels and that is it? As it is this isn't a particularly launching point for them. It has little crossover appeal, and only really can satisfy mega-Trekkies who love continuity and references. And not just a ton of references to the old shows and movies, but this requires a ton of homework of the novel universe as well. It is not an easy jump on point for newcomers, and if Big Finish has any plans to continue with Trek, using this to show they can sell the property has a major roadblock. And while their Doctor Who knowledge is top notch...as a fan there were nerdy nit-picky things that were mispronounced here and there, and it took down there Trek-cred, making one wonder if they should really take on this property. I think they really could do some cool stuff, but nothing on par with Doctor Who. They just couldn't wrangle the casts in the same way.
This is a hard one to recommend. Once it gets past the references to all sorts of Trek lore, it has the makings of a decent mystery story that is contemporary and intriguing...but it doesn't have an ending, and it doesn't stand on it's own in any way. It requires tons of homework just to fully grasp what has been going in the Federation since Deep Space 9 and Voyager went off the air...and you clearly need the follow-up books to even get the full picture of what the Prometheus is about.