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Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 24 December 2010

‘Typhon Pact’ is a 4-book ‘Star Trek’ series revolving around the eponymous government, a nascent rival superpower to the Federation comprised of several of their foes, including the Romulan Star Empire, Gorn, Tholians, Breen, and others.

The Pact’s rise to power in the aftermath of the ‘Star Trek: Destiny’ trilogy gives the ‘Trek’ books a new dynamic to work with, a Cold War scenario reminiscent of the United States and Soviet Union post-World War II.

The series is also meant to expand upon several races we have seen in the realm of ‘Trek’ but know little of. The first novel, ‘Zero Sum Game’, focuses on the Breen.

Also featured in this novel (which inherently falls under the ‘Deep Space Nine’ banner) is Captain Ezri Dax, commander of the Aventine, one of the Federation’s newest starships with a quantum slipstream drive, allowing them to explore further reaches of the galaxy in lesser time.

Also onboard for the ride is DS9’s chief medical officer, Julian Bashir, as he is once again unwittingly recruited for an intelligence mission behind enemy lines. A Typhon Pact agent has stolen the plans for the slipstream drive, and it is up to Bashir and an old flame to go undercover and attempt to destroy any of the data on the drive the Breen may have, as well as sabotage their efforts to replicate it.

‘Zero Sum Game’ is from fan favorite author David Mack, who has written a number of ‘Star Trek’ novels (including the aforementioned ‘Destiny’ trilogy) amongst other original and tie-in fiction. ‘Zero Sum Game’ plays as an action-packed spy thriller, and Mack does a good job at maintaining a fast pace to the novel.

These characters are old hat to an author with his experience, and come off as authentic, if not as what you may remember from watching the television series (now having had 9 years worth of novels and character development to draw from). Mack has an enjoyable, page-turning writing style that particularly fits the mood in this novel. I wish Dax and Bashir had more time together and for some closure (as opposed to yet another argument that appeared too quickly), but that is a minor nitpick.

The Breen here are a mixed bag. Without wanting to spoil anything, we are given insight into their culture that has never been presented before at this depth. Mack’s view of a repressed society, in full ‘1984’ mode, is creepily reflective of what our society could become left unchecked. The paranoid interrogation officer, the torture and repression of those considered different by society, is well presented.

The biggest issue is with the make-up of Breen society. The revelation of what makes up the Breen is an interesting – if bit far-fetched – concept, and would have worked better had the origin of this set-up been delved into. To take it at face value – and not explore just what went into several races joining together in this manner and giving up individual rights – is a hole in the narrative that begs for further development.

There are also some moral issues that are brought up near the end of the novel. Is it out of character for Bashir to kill engineers during the course of the mission to sabotage the Breen prototype? Or the climactic manner the Aventine deals with said prototype? There are some gray areas the novel enters but never fully explores the ramifications, leaving the reader to accept events and perhaps be left with a bad taste in their mouth. As always, your mileage may vary.

In the end, ‘Zero Sum Game’ is a fast-paced adventure novel that satisfies. It’s not perfect, and a few spots will test your suspension of disbelief (Bashir’s old flame versus the Breen fighters, for example), but overall it is an enjoyable read. Not Mack’s best work, but a fine way to kick off the ‘Typhon Pact’ series.

Buy ‘Zero Sum Game’ from Amazon.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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