842. Fatal Error
PUBLICATION: Starfleet Corps of Engineers #2, Pocket eBooks, September 2000 (collected into print with first 4 S.C.E. ebooks as Have Tech, Will Travel in January 2002)
CREATORS: Keith R.A. DeCandido
STARDATE: Unknown (follows last book in the series)
PLOT: Ganitriul is a massive sentient computer overseeing Eerlikka society. When it malfunctions, it sends a distress call to Starfleet and the da Vinci races to help. There, while the Bynar 110 must deal with the loss of his bondmate, the crew beams to the computer housed on Eerlik's moon, even as a dissident faction bears down on it. Their goal: To return their people to a more natural way of life by any means necessary. Both the away team and the ship get into fire fights, but manage to use computer expertise to win the day. With the help of Ganitriul itself, the S.C.E. (110 in particular) fix the malfunctions caused by a virus, and get the good will of the Eerlikka. But will 110 now refuse to return to Bynaus for a new bonding?
CONTINUITY: Gomez still gets teased about the hot chocolate spilled on Picard incident. Geordi LaForge is still aboard.
CASTING PHOTOS OF THE WEEK - Charlie Lang as Kieran Duffy, Bari Hochwald as Elizabeth Lense, and Jay Baker as Fabian Stevens
REVIEW: Though the basic plot has a lot in common with S.C.E. #1 (running around a dangerous facility, getting access to its interior and being chased by aliens), it's a much more pleasant affair. DeCandido manages to draw a clear picture of Eerlik society and creates a rare "good guy" sentient computer. He keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace by cutting from one character to another and not showing us every single scene, allowing for surprises. Geordi doesn't take over the book this time, which also helps. Mostly, I think the success of Fatal Error is 110 the Bynar who is obviously being groomed to play the Spock/Data/Odo/EMH/Seven/Worf role, i.e. a combination of the outsider exiled from his own home and the observer of humanity. Like Ganitriul, he's experiencing a "fatal error" with the loss of his mate, and quite endearingly, doesn't want to dishonor her by bonding again, even if that is what's expected of him. This romantic streak in a highly computerized species is interesting, and I can't wait to see how his development towards individuality contrasts with Seven of Nine's. Not high literature, but a quick, fun romp.