This is my review of "Over a Torrent Sea". It contains spoilers.
I think “Over a Torrent Sea” and Christopher L. Bennett`s first Titan book “Orion`s Hounds” have a lot in common. I was impressed how he introduced us readers to a very diverse and fascinating world of space born beings in his first Titan book. In “Over a Torrent Sea” he is exploring a water world and also this time I felt like an explorer discovering an alien world with a lot of diversity and beauty. Especially now after the Borg invasion there are some people in the fandom who want a stronger emphasis on the theme of discovering new worlds and civilizations. I think these fans should try the Titan series and especially both books of this series written by Mr Bennett.
On the other hand both books have the problem that the science presented by the author can be overwhelming. Especially towards the last third of the book there are paragraphs I couldn`t process properly. I am not a scientist and there were times when I felt overwhelmed. I neither had the knowledge nor the patience to spend much time with these details and just skimmed over them.
As much as I appreciate the impressive world building of this story, to me it is indeed first of all a background. What mainly counts are the characters and also from that perspective, this book has a lot to offer.
Exploring a water world provided the ideal opportunity to explore Lavena more, a Starfleet officer who comes from an underwater civilization and who needs a special suit allowing her to breathe when she leaves her quarters. I must admit, before I read this book Lavena was one of the Titan characters I was least interested in. In this book we learn a lot about her, about her culture, her family, her strengths but also her weaknesses. Lavena became a much more three dimensional character. There is a lot I learned that makes her likeable but also a lot I have problems with on a personal level. I understand why Lavena was an irresponsible mother and although I have some sympathy for her and her problems I am not willing to excuse bad choices in life with bad experiences when the person was young. Being a mother myself I find it difficult to forgive her past attitude and have even more problems with it that she nearly left Riker to die on that floating island. It seems Lavena finally decided to learn from her mistakes and is determined to do better in future. Good, better late than never. We will see how Lavena will be developed in future. On the other hand, who says that all officers on Titan have to be likeable?
The confrontation between Lavena and Riker was very interesting and gave good insights into both characters. It seems even in the present-day Star Trek universe there are human families that are more prudish than others. Being a German living in England I can see that there are some general differences in attitude and maybe it is realistic that such differences in human society didn`t disappear. Therefore I shared Riker`s criticism of Lavena`s irresponsible neglect of her children but not his view about her sexuality. She is an alien after all and that she likes having sexual experiences with several partners is perfectly fine in my book if nobody is harmed by it.
Compared to Lavena Riker was the extreme at the other end. I don`t share a lot of his attitude but I can respect and understand it. I am not a man but I think I can understand that it was more difficult for him than it would have been for a naked female captain stuck together with an officer who was for a short time a lover. It starts with it that it is a fact that men react stronger to looks than women do. The vast majority of porn is aimed at men and not at women. Also a naked man can`t hide being sexually attracted. In spite I rolled my eyes a bit at Riker`s prudish attitude I couldn`t help feeling very sorry for him. His frustration and embarrassment was very understandable. That Riker was not very well, that his wife could give birth at any moment and that Lavena didn`t help at all to defuse the difficult situation only made matters worse.
I didn`t expect a quiet, trouble free birth of Deanna`s and Riker`s daughter. Such events are always a good opportunity for drama and the author made good use of it. After what happened between Deanna and Dr. Ree it was necessary to bring the tensions between them to some form of conclusion. I agree that Dr. Ree was not responsible for his actions and that it is very unlikely that he will enter this extreme “guardian mode” again. What he did was frightening but on some other level also very touching. I also understand now that Dr. Ree must love children very much. My guess is that being rejected by the females of his own kind he decided to be a doctor so that he can help children and their families. I can also understand better now that what happened between Deanna and him was not only traumatic for her but also much more difficult for him than I realized. In spite of what happened I can see that Dr. Ree is a good person and he would be a good father if he ever gets that chance. I think both sides have learned important lessons and I would like it very much if Dr. Ree will continue to play a part in the upbringing of the little girl in future books.
What I also liked very much is the part Tuvok had in this book. Again, I am so glad that he is part of the Titan series and I definitely don`t want this to change! I was impressed by his strength of character, how he as a Vulcan showed a lot of courage exploring and understanding emotions including his own. As it is obvious with Riker and Deanna, also in this case it was shown very well that having a wife, a husband, a partner with you on board is not only a potential for problems but can also be an asset, a source of strength. T`Pel is a remarkable woman. Her ability to work with children is impressive and I liked her exchange with Noah very much. I think being with a husband who is much more emotional than the average Vulcan also helps her to understand emotions better. I think she is still thinking that Tuvok`s change is more of a disability than the beginning of something positive but it seems there is at least a growing understanding. I am curious how this will be developed in future, too.
I am very much looking forward to the next Titan book!