Star Trek: Review: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation 2: Tower of Babel

towerofbabelBy Christopher L. Bennett

Pocket, out now

The many races in the Rigel system all have very different ideas about what membership of the Federation will mean…

There’s a line towards the end of Christopher Bennett’s second Enterprise novel that seems to sum up his approach to this series – one that I think will keep these continuation novels alive for a long time to come. Jonathan Archer is reunited with his old crew, and recognises that they and their new shipmates are an “extended Enterprise family – the people who kept that spirit of the ship alive even though its body was now in a museum display”. The analogy doesn’t need to be forced: the spirit of the Enterprise TV show (at its best) was setting things up for the series that we’d previously seen, explaining anomalies, showing how what was regarded as hard and fast was anything but to begin with, and that’s what Bennett does here.

As with its predecessor, Bennett draws inspiration from all eras of Star Trek, including the original novels, which is handy when he’s working out the inhabitants of all the different Rigellian worlds. He’s had to perform a bit of sleight of hand to make it all fit together, but it does very well, and he uses this as a backdrop for various political machinations as well as powerplays by assorted unpleasant types. And he seems to be slightly repurposing Trip Tucker’s mission…

Bennett has become more adept at feeding his love of hard science into an action packed tale, and combined with some sharp characterisation (particularly, in this book, of Jonathan Archer) it makes for an enjoyable return to the 22nd century.

Verdict: A fascinating tale of the post-Romulan War era. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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