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Creating a series is certainly a double edged sword. If you can get people hooked then you will probably have them for a long time as they keep coming back to discover what happens next to their favourite characters. However, if someone misses a couple of episodes they may be out of touch e.g. lost about Lost. Therefore, a solution would be to create a series that is made up of individual stories that do not impact on one another. TV loves this as it allows them to show the series in any order and at any time. CSI and Star Trek have been two shows that have ran for over 7 years and have had so little development that you could watch episode 10 followed by 100 and still know whats going on. Therefore, when creating a series that is actually several separate episodes you may as well advertise it as such. Not Star Trek novels! Book 6 of the Double Helix series concludes the storyline, but really is just another stand alone title.
Fans of the Double Helix series will finally get to The First Virtue and it acts as a prequel explaining why the bad guy did what they did. A Solar System is on the brink of an internal war that Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Stargazer have been sent out to prevent. Recent escalations in terrorist attacks on both sides of the conflict have led to an increase in the tension. Can Picard use his negotiation skills to quell the hot heads? Meanwhile, Lieutenant Crusher (Beverly Crushers husband before he died) and Ensign Tuvok have been sent out on a secret mission to uncover whether the rumours that a third party is to blame for all attacks are true or not .
First Virtue is certainly fan fiction. Not only is it the 6th part of a series, it is also not set in any Star Trek setting that the majority of light fans would recognise. Stargazer is before Next Generation and is about a more youthful Picard. It is also unlikely that most people will know about Crusher, who to most people is merely a reference in storylines for the Next Generations Doctor Crusher. What this means is that this book will be almost unapproachable for most people. However, if you are a fan of the show and have read some of the other books the chances are that you will know enough about the Star Trek Universe to easily hold your own, and if you do, you are in for a reasonable adventure.
Before going into more detail about the story I must reiterate the point I made in the introduction. This is book 6 in the Double Helix novels, but reads like a standalone title. However, being a separate novel will not help it as there is no way that a person would pick it up without thinking that they have to read books 1 through 5 first. The entire series felt like six loosely linked novels and could be read in any order as they all hold up on their own merits. With this in mind I was not too disappointed when this turned out to be a prequel rather than a true continuation. However, having read the other books in the series over the past few years, I had forgotten what was going on so had no emotional ties to the enemies reducing the impact the novel had.
Taking the book as just another Star Trek novel is defiantly the best way to read The First Virtue. The entire story is really well contained and there is a satisfying ending. The sections that dealt with Picard where slightly boring and where reminiscent of the politics sections in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Where the book really shined was the boys own style adventure of Crusher and Tuvok. Without any special effects to cause costs, authors in the field of science fiction can go wild and I felt that Friedman and Golden were very adept at creating an alien atmosphere. Crushers story is also a bit darker than you expect from the TV show and it was enjoyable to read about the seedy underbelly of the Star Trek Universe.
The relationship between Tuvok and his commanding officer Crusher is as cheesy and ham fisted as it comes. Every cliché that has ever been written about the impulsive human psychology battling with the ultra logical Vulcan mindset is explored here. However, as many fans of Star Trek know, the battle between Kirk and Spock are highlights and seeing a similar relationship reproduced is no bad thing. However, like this relationship, nothing in the book adds anything to the series. Its truly a book that was written to have no impact what so ever. Throughout, you can feel the authors treading softly and it blunts the impact.
Overall, the title to Star Trek: The Next Generation Double Helix Book 6: The First Virtue explains whether you should read this book. There are so many barriers to entry that only fans of the show and novels need bother. But then again, if you are reading a Star Trek book in the first place this should be a given! The story was an interesting and self contained adventure that went from exciting to boring and back again. Personally I enjoyed both the ideas in the book and the characters. I would recommend the whole Double Helix series of books to fans of the show.
Author: Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden
Price: amazon uk only available on market place for 1p!