I haven't posted too much in this forum recently but having finished this epic trilogy a few days ago (which I flew through in comparisson to other books I've recently read), I had to leave some comments.
First of all, David, I love how you always include some of the musical inspirations at the end of your novels... many times they've been soundtracks I've already been a fan of, but Destiny was the first time that I actually went to the effort of getting the music tracks I didn't have and listening to them all while reading. It REALLY increased the epicness factor bigtime!
It was known from our initial introduction to "Destiny" that it was going to be on a scale of its own. While we did get to see some interesting developments such as the origins and new evolution of the Borg, I am left a little bit disappointed though that the biggest claim Destiny has to being "game-changing" as far as the Star Trek universe is concerned was in simply massacreing a bunch of worlds and starships. While we've never seen anything on this scale before, blowing up ships and scorching planets isn't anything we haven't seen before in numerous Star Trek series. Perhaps the hype just had my sights set a little too high, but I felt almost as if the "scale of epicness" of this novel was attempting to be made by the number of deaths they packed in. Sure, there will be consequences, but really, the Federation isn't left that different from what it was before (minus a few relatively minor worlds). But this just seems like the next standard step in a progression of destruction... in TNG when the Borg destroyed 39 ships, we were told that was big. Then in DS9 we had the Dominion War which destroyed more, but other than being told the Federation was "weakened", business proceeded as usual. Now, this is the next step up from there... In my mind, "game-changing" would have been doing something like removing the ability for warp drive, or causing all Vulcans to go insane after poisoning their ability to mindmeld, or forcing a complete reorganization of characters and defining new crew purposes resulting in totally reshaped novel series. Plain old death and destruction though... been there, done that. Although we do have a brand new race to deal with now, I don't get the impression that they are going to be much of an ongoing continued presence. I hope that we are really able to get a sense of how much things really have changed in the upcoming follow-up novels.
I think my favourite parts of the novels were those featuring Bacco and her administration. I've always been a fan of political drama (real and imagined) and Articles of the Federation was my first novel re-introducing me to Trek literature. I remember one of my few complaints then being that the characters the expected decorum of heads of state, but having since watched (and loved) The West Wing series, I can now understand what some of that was based on. Anyways, I love the Bacco sequences' ability to focus in on "the big picture" and how it manages to encompass all aspects of the Star Trek universe and its various series. KRAD, I know you based Bacco off your grandmother so it would be inappropriate for me to ask about a picture to have a face in mind when reading her story sequences, but I still am having a great deal of trouble NOT picturing the old-Janeway of "Endgame" who seemed to share Bacco's cynical sense of humour.
Other strengths of the novels were their ability to focus on MANY characters and still feel like there was character development happening in the meantime. I only wish that Voyager could have played a bigger role in the stories as I still consider the Borg to have been a slightly greater nemesis for that series than they were for TNG (just as I feel Romulans were more the baddies of TNG even though they were introduced in TOS). At least 7 of 9 played a role, but as in recent novels, she's proven to be more of a pig-headed pessimistic annoyance than the multi-faceted character I recall from the series and maybe the early VOY-R books I've read.
I think the most unfortunate disappointment in terms of characterization though was how bloody annoying Picard was most of the time. Yeah, I get that he has a special insight into the Borg's power, but the constant doom-and-gloom attitude he was portraying was becoming quite overbearing. Also, what's with all of Picard's French-cursing in the novels (not just Destiny)? I don't recall EVER seeing Picard speak French in the series so it always strikes me as a little odd when I've seen it in the novels... "merde!" I did, however, love Picard's extreme discomfort with the idea of his office and its contents being burned as it seemed to harken back to his brother and nephew's death in a fire. This actually makes me realize that the action sequence with Hirogen may actually be the most memorable one involving our heroes since most of the time with the Borg was spent attacking planets and killing nameless or more minor characters.
I decided to read these novels even though I'm 3 books behind on the Titan series. Probably the most unfortunate spoiler this resulted in was Deanna's current and past pregnancy. I think that this was an excellent storypoint through Destiny though and when she ended up down with the Caeliar, I became almost certain that they would heal her baby. Now, with Riker having a daughter and Picard having a son, I can't imagine that the creative team behind the novels hasn't toyed with the idea of these children being a future couple in the making. I for one think it's a really cool idea to literally be starting to see the shaping of 'the next generation'. I think that now that I have read Destiny, I'm going to try and keep up with the upcoming Titan novels while at the same time catching up on the 3 I'm behind on.
I found the inclusion of the real-science relativistic time travel to be intriguing as it's something that the series and movies have never really dealt with. I am, however, curious as to the reasons why the creatrors chose to go by this road... The Columbia had already been flung far off into a distant part of space with disabled warp engines. Was there any specific reasons why Hernandez couldn't have simply encountered the Caeliar in their "present" time around 2155? Why did they have to be displaced more than a decade into the future first? It obviously did enhance their sense of isolation but was this the only reason?
While the novel really was quite epic every step of the way, I did find many of the Caeliar/Columbia sequences very tedious to get through sometimes. While I understand the reason for its inclusion, watching the 4 female Columbia officers age and then later watching Hernandez and Inyx's complicated relationship seemed to really kill the buildup in pace at times... Seeing the differences in how the 4 women attempted to cope with their isolation was something that proved interesting to see, however (even though the end result seemed spelled out fairly early on).
I smiled at the inclusion of "Therin Park" on Andor which I can only assume was a nod to one of our fellow TrekBBS members. If any author ever wishes to feature a "Captain Elemental" in their story, rest assured you have my full permission!
I think Destiny's greatest strength was in its all-encompassing cross-over nature that really let us see elements of Star Trek tied together that we haven't seen before. In many ways, it really did feel like a culmunation of everything that had come before, and now we get to see how the series branch off again in their separate ways. Of the upcoming follow-up novels, I'm most curious about "A Singular Destiny". I read the blurb on the SimonSays website but am still uncertain as to the major focuses of this novel. Have there been any further details given about what the content of this novel will be or what crew/group it will be spending the most time focusing on?
Anyway, despite listing some minor criticisms above, Destiny definitely was an exhilarating read unlike anything that has come before. It definitely leaves me with a renewed interest to continue following what awaits the Star Trek universe from here.