I think that Spider Robinson describes "reviewers" as those who give gut feelings about books and "critics" as those who can point to some standards when they make judgments. I voted for "above average" because I turned pages quite quickly after starting the book. It did seem to be harder science fiction than usual ST and reminded me a bit of ANALOG. I am halfway through "Watching the Clock" by Christopher L. Bennett which is affecting my memory of the previous book.
"Indistinguishable from Magic" was a book that I bought at the bookstore especially because of the title. I am a reader of both SF and Fantasy. Recognized the reference to A. C. Clarke.
Are ST books getting longer? I am enjoying the longer books. TOS books were originally quite short, TNG books were a bit longer, and, now, books can be well over 400 pages. IMHO this is a good trend.
It would be interesting to see how DAM works with developing new complete characters for the trekverse. Old characters (which are usually fixed) and temporary characters (which cannot easily be developed) are not the same as more focus on character development (perhaps at the expense of some of the hard sciences).
The references to the criminal subcultures was interesting. Also, do ST characters ever die of 'old age' (of course, there must be a cause) -- but it might be interesting to see one of the characters live a nice retirement and die of old age anyway.
The newer books do seem to address questions that arose from reading the earlier books. It still seems to be a multiverse where astronauts and the military rule with some elitist ideas.
I liked reference to Jean Roddenberry in the discussion. I guess he was quite the humanist and not such a militarist (quasi-military?). I shall have to read his authorized biography sometime soon.
IFM was a very good read. It is often our minds that cannot comprehend the advanced reality and not our machines. Is there a limit to how much a young person can learn and what he may achieve in the ST universe? Do people in the ST universe have eight stages of life as in Erik Erikson's stages?
Anyway, thanks very much for a good read.