You know something?
I have pretty high standards. I haven't liked much this year. Zero Sum Game was a huge disappointment. And I even made a whole separate thread complaining about Riker in this book, just based on being irritated with the first 2/3 of it.
But now that I've actually finished this book, I'm going to say something that I don't think anyone else in here has actually said. I...actually...mostly liked it.
Don't get me wrong - this book exemplified a number of long-running problems with Titan, Trek, and Treklit in spades. To wit:
1) Prime Directive nonsense - totally absurd. "We have to stand by and watch a society disappear because we can't interfere with them" obviously defeats the purpose of the law in the first place. This is stupid.
2) Riker being mopey. Made a whole thread about it. Irritating as hell.
3) Martin's tendency to rely overmuch on his own backstories and previous books. Red King wasn't anything about Titan at all, but rather a bunch of leftover stories from his work on Excelsior, and Tuvok's whole thing in this novel read as more of the same. Didn't have anything to do with anything else in the whole novel.
4) Every damn Titan book is about some planet or other about to be wiped from existence. There's plenty of interesting shit in the universe that isn't mega-deadly.
5) It did the same thing Zero Sum Game did, where there was actually only one interesting development, and it was dropped as a cliffhanger, otherwise changing nothing and doing nothing to advance any ongoing plotlines or character arcs.
6) And most importantly: can we finally get off the "we're all prejudiced / diversity is good" high horse with this series? Good freaking lord. Martin has just about as shallow an understanding of multicultural diversity as can possibly be expressed in a long-running series about a ship full of ACTUAL ALIENS. "Ohh, my main characters are reptiles, eh? Well let's have them be terrified of mammals! Won't that be some interesting role reversal! I can mine that for at least 7 internal Rikermonologues about prejudice! HAHA!" Shut up.
.......BUT. After all that. Yes: I actually liked it. Why?
Well, for everyone who's been clamoring lately for more books like the numbered novels, I think you've gotten your wish. This to me, by about the halfway point, had become a pretty charming nostalgia trip back to the days of numbered TNG novels, when every planet had to be saved, every story was a Prime Directive problem, there could be actual EVIL RADIATION-SCARRED LIZARD MONSTERS as enemies without a sense of irony, and the reset button had to be pressed at the end. I'm not so sure if I was laughing with or laughing at the story, but by the end, I was definitely laughing.
It felt like what Treklit used to be like when I was a kid, before Marco took it and turned it into an Actual Goddamn Story Worth Telling. And, obviously, I much prefer the Actual Goddamn Story Worth Telling. For sure. But so many of the books this year have just been kind of pathetic in general, that having this sort of sprawling, action-filled novel that kept piling on the conflicts, every single conflict being ripped straight out of the Numbered Novel Cliche Generator...felt kind of fun.
Being honest, the TOS novels early in the year looked like they were trying to be numbered novels but really weren't. Inception and Unspoken Truth filled in gaps, and Children Of Kings was this weird sort of alternate universe thing. This one is the first novel we've gotten since...honestly, maybe since the A Time To... novels that really felt like an old-school Giant TNG Novel. And even the A Time To... novels weren't great.
So, you know, all in all, it's maybe a 7/10 at best, but I think I enjoyed it way more than everyone else I've seen in here.
I'm still hoping for something actually genuinely kickass from DRG3 next week, though. We'll see...