TNG: Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Oct 28, 2012.


Rate Immortal Coil.

  1. Outstanding

    30 vote(s)
  2. Above Average

    32 vote(s)
  3. Average

    2 vote(s)
  4. Below Average

    1 vote(s)
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
  1. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 8, 2006
    Berlin, Germany

    Immortal Coil
    by Jeffrey Lang: The first book mentioned when the question of a good Data novel comes up. Chock full of continuity references not just to TNG but also to TOS, however, drawing a line from Roger Korby to Noonian Soong and establishing a vast Star Trek android saga. A saga that David Mack appears to have penned the next chapter in, recently informing us that his Cold Equations trilogy commemorating TNG's 25th anniversary ties back to Lang's work in a major way. All this combines to making Immortal Coil a key entry in the TrekLit canon, and one that many of us are revisiting right now - with The Persistence of Memory en route - or will be revisiting in the future.

    The official blurb:

    And the excerpt: Chapter 8.
  2. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

    Feb 4, 2009
    BC, Canada
    LOVED it. :D I should dig this out and re-read it too.

    There's even a cute anime reference....
  3. BillJ

    BillJ The King of Kings Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001

    I haven't said that about a Trek book since the Destiny trilogy.
  4. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Admiral Moderator

    Jun 2, 2012
    Derbyshire, UK
    Thanks for opening the thread, Sho!

    I've read Immortal Coil years earlier in German. Because I'm currently in Ireland I just downloaded the English original as E-book and started [re-]reading.

    I remember the overall plot but not the details so it's almost as good as new. This time, I picture actress Chyler Leigh (Dr. Lexie Grey from Grey's Anatomy) as Lieutenant Rhea Adams. Both are petite and have dark hair.

    For the Wikians among the readers, this is a good opportunity to expand articles around this 'old' book (I still went to school when it came out :cool:).
  5. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

    Jan 4, 2011
    What would be your summary of the plot of the book? and also any analysis (since Memory Beta often lacks that)?
  6. Newspaper Taxi

    Newspaper Taxi Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 8, 2004
    Newspaper Taxi
    I'm usully the opposite of critical, but I remember being disappointed with it back when I read it. I remember feeling that the plot felt like it was a long series of random dramatic revelations that didn't really lead anywhere. It was a long time ago, though, so take my words with a grain of salt.
  7. rahullak

    rahullak Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 4, 2009
    Thanks, Sho! I was thinking about opening a Review Thread myself.

    About half-way through it now. So far it's been excellent.
  8. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Admiral Admiral

    Aug 23, 2003
    Tacoma, Washington
    I really enjoyed it. I may have to dig it out and re-read.
  9. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jul 22, 2004
    Arizona, USA
    I read this back in August of 2010 (thank you Shelfari) and I gave it a perfect 5/5 stars. It is a truly amazing book. One of the best Data/AI stories period.
  10. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Moderator

    Jun 30, 2004
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    I absolutely loved "Immortal Coil" and, after "Nemesis" introduced the B-4, I even wrote to Jeffrey Lang and asked if he was considering a sequel to include him. By then, Marco had left Pocket and Jeffrey said that Marco had been his only point of contact with the publisher.

    "Immortal Coil" did attract a lot of negativity from TNG-only fans when they realized that many characters referred to were from episodes of TOS (and even a namedrop from "The Questor Tapes") and were demanding that the book required extensive footnotes or a dramatis personae, but I really felt - and still feel - that such information is not a requirement for enjoyment of the story, and would perhaps scare off readers from sampling it. The call-backs to TOS - cameo mentions of every android and AI featured in the series - are a delight to those in the know, but not crucial to this excellent whodunnit.

    Dr Juliana Tainer and the three unnamed Data/Lore prototypes she mentioned in "Inheritance" are also featured.

    I love a whodunnit where I don't guess whodunnit until the author decides to reveal all. For Data fans, this book is a wonderful celebration of the character!

  11. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

    Jul 20, 2000
    Lost in a temporal and spatial anomaly
    I loved, loved, LOVED Immortal Coil and thought it was an amazing character study of Data and androids in general. I must admit that when Data died in Nemesis I immediately lamented that Data would never join the underground group of androids that Data encountered in this story.

    However, that being said, I'm thrilled to read that the Cold Equations will pick up some of the pieces left behind by Immortal Coil.
  12. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 17, 2007
    I'm seriously doubting wether or not I should pick this up. I can only find severly overpriced paperbacks for sale here in the Netherlands, and the decently priced ones in the US and UK all have high shippingcosts. I find 11 euros for a secondhand paperback a bit to much.
  13. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2003
  14. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 8, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    I'm sort of struggling with my take on this one. During an earlier attempt I ended up enumerating the aspects I didn't like, and I still can't really find a way around that, even though overall I quite enjoyed the novel and ended up voting Above Average.

    Here's what I didn't like:

    • Connecting Soong to Exo III sort of cheapens Soong's achievement in my book. Now, I realize this is sort of silly, because of course it makes sense that Soong's genius would not have developed in a vacuum. However it hit a sore point with me at the time because I felt like I could see a pattern of the franchise undermining its own legends by over-explaining them through continuity acrobatics. The major, most grating example of this for me is the Temporal Cold War on Enterprise during which Archer gets tipped off to the later creation of the Federation, thus emotionally cheapening the entire premise of the franchise of humanity managing to better itself under its own power. It's also just a big small universe syndrome thing ...
    • I have a thing for good locked room mysteries and Coil kind of tickles that in the beginning, but then unceremoniously sweeps it under the rug ...
    • Parts of it just felt a bit shaky and not very fleshed out, in particular some of the actiony bits were quite rough (e.g. that hand-to-hand combat scene with Riker) and the hideout towards the end.
    Here's what I did like, though:

    • Well, I like Data :). In particular, I like speculating about how Data functions and thinks, and while Coil doesn't go overly into detail on that either, it did generally feel more convincing than most other novel's treatment of his android-ness. The way Data manages his background processes, for example, felt well-done.
    • One of those actiony parts was magnificent, though: The space battle featuring Data's and Rhea's EVA is one for the ages.
    • I overall liked the prose. Lots of good scene-setting and atmosphere, especially on Galor IV and Exo III.
    Overall, it's not a perfect book, but it mostly lives up to its newfound status in the ongoing narrative.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  15. BillJ

    BillJ The King of Kings Admiral

    Jan 30, 2001
    Maybe I misread the book, but to me it seemed like Soong came away with little in the way of usable information from Exo III. Vaslovik disappeared with the materials they got from there before anyone had a chance to study them in-depth.
  16. trash80

    trash80 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 8, 2006
    Yes i'm currently reading the book and i think the most he got from Exo III would have been inspiration
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    And I've always thought it made perfect sense that Soong would've had Flint as a mentor. Rayna and Lal both died from essentially the exact same thing -- mental collapse upon emotional awakening/crisis -- so it seemed logical that Rayna was a positronic android, and that Soong's work expanded on Flint's. So I was pleased when IC came to the same conclusion.
  18. matthunter

    matthunter Admiral Admiral

    Feb 17, 2004
    Great Britain
    The Enterprise-E is summoned to the Daystrom Institute to investigate an "accident" that put Bruce Maddox in a coma and destroyed a new "holotronic" android that he and a man named Emil Vaslovik were working on. The destroyed android turns out to be a fake and Vaslovik's death in the accident a ruse... Vaslovik is actually Flint (the immortal human from the TOS episode) and he worked with Soong and Ira Graves on android technology.

    The lab was attacked by androids from Exo III, the planet were Kirk encountered them in What are little girls made of?. Flint, Soong and Graves had visited this world and inadvertently reactivated the androids, only narrowly escaping their wrath. These androids are imperfect - they lack creativity - and see the holotronic android as a template to upgrade themselves.

    The holotronic android was actually activated successfully on the night of the attack, and Flint realized he needed to hide it. He thus planted a fake copy in the lab to be "destroyed", then gave the real android a human form and hacked Starfleet's files to have the android assigned as the Enterprise's new security chief "Rhea McAdams". She's there to observe Data, as the best instructor in life as an artificial being, but covertly... the crew think she's human and Data (who has his emotion chip) actually begins to fall for her.

    The truth is revealed to Data when the Away Team is attacked by the Exo III androids - Data tries to hold them off and gets trashed - to the point of near-shutdown. McAdams gets him out of there in an escape pod and has to link to his systems to stabilise him until she can take him to Flint, who completes the repairs. The Enterprise is delayed by having to fight the androids' ship and rescue Riker and Barclay who were separated from Data and McAdams in the attack.

    The Enterprise hooks back up with the shanghaied members during a firefight between Flint's asteroid base and the Exo III android ship. Via various convolutions, the day is saved and Rhea survives, but chooses to leave to pursue another group of androids - we meet one member of this group in the story, but he's linked to the Exo III lot... however he reveals that there is a society of androids who were all created by different races and outlasted them, who stay in touch as a sort of social club.

    There's a lot more to it - Data is suffering from emotional overload from the chip due to the "death" of Juliana Tainer, his "mother" - so is questioning how his own ageless nature will affect him as his friends gradually die off. Flint has a collection of other androids and artificial intelligences from past Trek episodes - exocomps, nanites, the Mudd Planet androids... even a certain computer that was supposed to put Kirk out of a job...
  19. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    ^ Good summary, Matthunter. :)
  20. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 17, 2007
    Meh, bit the bullet and ordered the 11 euro copy of Immortal Coil. I really, really want to read it before PoM, so hopefully IC arrives before PoM.