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Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 27 December 2010

‘Seize the Fire’, written by Michael A. Martin, is the second book in the ‘Star Trek: Typhon Pact’ 4-book series of thematically linked standalone novels highlighting various member races of the Federation’s new eponymous rival.

‘Seize the Fire’ features the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, commanded by Captain Riker, whose mission of deep space exploration leads them to a conflict over an ancient terraforming technology with one of the Pact’s founding members, the Gorn.

The Gorn wish to use the technology to create a new hatchery world for their Warrior caste after the old one suffers an ecological disaster. The crew of Titan wish to use the technology to restore damaged worlds in the aftermath of the Borg invasion, as detailed in the ‘Star Trek: Destiny’ trilogy. Naturally, both crews wind up not playing nice with each other.

The novel does a decent job of exploring the caste structure of the Gorn, in particular the Warrior caste, whose dire needs form the thrust of events. Also explored to a lesser degree are the Technological caste, and while others are mentioned, these two receive the most attention in ‘Seize the Fire’.

There’s also the planet Hranrar and its native population, which the Gorn desire to test the terraforming artifact on, and which leads to some Prime Directive wrangling.

Disappointingly, the Hranrarii don’t get a lot of time in this novel, which is odd since considering the ‘Star Trek: Titan’ series of books have always been about outward exploration and new cultures. Granted, being part of the ‘Typhon Pact’ series, the Gorn receive a large share of the spotlight, and that’s were part of the problem is.

The Gorn, to be put bluntly, are not that interesting a species. Whereas the first book of the series, ‘Zero Sum Game’ focused on the Breen and gave a fairly substantial view at their unique culture, the Gorn are viewed through the lens of the Warrior caste, who are fairly dull. They are like Klingons without the sense of honor or drinking.

There’s a plot thread about a renegade and mad Gorn trying to find a new hatchery world in his own way, and it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It comes across as tepid at best, and the entire plot could have been written out. The Hranrarii are given little time to develop, and aside from being pacifists with a vaguely religious bent, we learn little about them. The terraforming artifact carries a bit of a surprise, but any exploration in that department is threadbare, and basically serves as a deux ex machina to our heroes in a few tough spots.

In fact, that is the major problem with ‘Seize the Fire’. It clocks in at around 500 pages, and yet there are areas of the plot that are missing. A mission to communicate with the intelligence on the terraforming artifact is glossed over. Captain Riker heads over to the Gorn ship alone for tense negotiations. We never see what happens on the Gorn ship; we get scenes with the XO Vale fretting and Troi relating what she can sense.

Then there are the other areas where the novel is lacking. The Hranrarii are criminally underdeveloped. The characters are fairly flat throughout. The novel takes its sweet time going anywhere; this was easily the hardest ‘Titan’ novel to get into, and I am a huge fan of the series.

It is tough to recommend ‘Seize the Fire’. It is not a bad novel, but never quite pulls everything together. Had it been given another 50 to 100 pages, perhaps the plot would have felt more complete, but even then, there’s a sense that something went off the rails.

It’s flat and uninspired, never rising above mediocre when it could have been a very, very good read. One can’t help but feel that all of the editorial upheaval at Pocket Books did not do this novel any favors. This novel needed a strong editorial hand to guide it along, and clearly that was lacking. I hope that this is not a sign of things to come from future ‘Star Trek’ novels.

Buy ‘Seize the Fire’ at 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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