Star Trek #1614: The Red King

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Titan #2, Pocket Books, October 2005

CREATORS: Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels

STARDATE: 57024.0 (following directly from previous novel)

PLOT: The Titan, the Romulan fleet and a Klingon ship have been sucked into a spatial anomaly and into the Small Magellanic Cloud where centuries before, the Vanguard starbase had wound up and spawned a race of genetically-engineered humans called the Neyel. The anomaly also spews out of a sentient proto-universe from subspace, which starts to destroy this galaxy so it can supplant it. Riker convinces the Romulans to help him evacuate as many of the Neyel and the races they once subjugated as their homeworld starts to crumble, placing millions aboard the old Vanguard before towing it back to the anomaly. Exploding a number of Romulan warp cores in the "Great Bloom" closes it, hopefully sending the proto-universe back where it came from. Tuvok remains aboard, Admiral Akaar leaves, as do some of the non-Federation guests that seemed primed to stick around. The crew finally inaugurates the ship with its dedication plaque.

CONTINUITY: Donatra (Nemesis) is still in the cast. The crew deals with a proto-universe like the one in DS9's "Playing God". This is a sequel to the Lost Era novel The Sundered, which itself proposes a sequel to the Vanguard series. Tuvok's wife T'Pel (first seen in "Persistence of Vision" agrees to join the crew.

With Titan popping up in Picard this season, divergences are bound to start cropping up. We can perhaps hide behind the fact that the Titan-A has a different dedication plaque, for example (because it does).

SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK - The Sleeper awakens!
REVIEW: Once we get to dealing with the proto-universe, the desperate evacuation of a planet before space collapses, and final betrayals, it's all very exciting, but... BEFORE that happens, we are definitely stuck in a recap loop. This is a big problem with the Pocket Books of this era, especially for the casual reader who isn't reading EVERYTHING as it comes out. Not only does The Red King pick up where Taking Wing left off - with the Romulan and Klingon cast from that book to cater to even as we're still learning who is in the Titan cast itself - but this is a sequel to the same authors' The Sundered, which introduced another complicated multi-species culture (and resolving a conflict between Akaar and Tuvok from those events), itself a "Whatever Happened to" story tying into the Vanguard series of books. If you haven't read any of that, they explain it all, and that takes a while. And if you were planing to one day read them, it's all kind of spoiled. Throw in a lot of repeated information, which isn't rare for this kind of book, and it's surprising there's so much incident in the story proper. The writers sequeling their own stories is fair play, but I do question the wisdom of hobbling the Titan series launch with such a sequel-heavy two-parter (Nemesis, then The Sundered) to the point where some characters (like Akaar) are only used to tie up loose ends. I'm also surprised that some of the guest characters don't stick around given how much effort is expended on them. But nice epilogue! The dedication plaque ceremony actually made me misty-eyed, and the other endings and beginnings were intriguing enough to send us - FINALLY! - away to the unexplored Gum Nebula.