Star Trek 1150: Oaths

1150. Oaths

PUBLICATION: Starfleet Corps of Engineers #16, Pocket eBooks, May 2002

CREATORS: Glen Hauman

STARDATE: 53661.9 (follows the last novel)

PLOT: Captain Gold starts counseling a disaffected and insubordinate Dr. Lense who appears to be suffering from burnout. Then a virulent plague breaks out on Sherman's Planet and in speaking to Fabian about computers, Lense figures out a way to use the transporter to upload a genetic patch to the population, giving them an extra chromosome that can destroy the virus. Unfortunately, that's an illegal act according to laws about genetic enhancements. Lense can't believe Gold would stop her so she threatens to relieve him of command and he finds a way to save both the planet and Lense by finding a loophole in the law. Starfleet isn't happy, but millions of lives saved counts for a lot, and Lense will reverse the genetic tampering once the virus is dead anyway.

CONTINUITY: Sherman's Planet was a matter of importance in The Trouble with Tribbles (how the planet got its name is mentioned and pays homage to David Gerrold's original reasons as per the book version of the episode). There is a reference to Memory Alpha, which was first mentioned in The Lights of Zetar, but could also be a sly nod to the wiki. Lense took a class taught by Beverly Crusher (TNG Season 2) and was investigated following the news Bashir was genetically enhanced (Doctor Bashir, I Presume) in case she was too.


REVIEW: It's the 16th SCE novel, and the first to feature Lense for any amount of time. Turns out it's one of the better installments in the series. Hauman writes Lense, Gold and Fabian with wry humor, adopting the style of a play for the long dialogues of the counseling sessions. Though the dilemma is medical in nature, he still integrates the engineering solutions that are the series' main focus, and he's done his research, both in terms of the science and its integration into Star Trek lore. There's an odd moment in the middle of the book which references 9/11, strangely touching despite coming out of nowhere (though it does inspire Lense - it's given a plot justification). In Voyages of the Imagination, Hauman says he started the book before 9/11 and finished it after, and was only a few blocks away. It's a very personal moment for him, and though brief, it's memorable for the reader too. As for Lense, her breakdown has been implied by the preceding novels, and Oaths almost meta-textually acknowledges that the character has nothing to do in an SCE series. You couldn't even imagine actress Bari Hochwald sitting on her hands for most of a season without going to a producer. But in a book series, it becomes an opportunity to damage a character and have that damage become the focus of a good story.



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