“Available Light” by Dayton Ward is the latest novel in the Star Trek: The Next Generation range. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise find a seemingly abandoned spacecraft that has also drawn the attention of marauders. In case the word “seemingly” wasn’t enough of a clue, it turns out this hulking vessel isn’t all that abandoned. Big surprise, isn’t it?
The more fascinating element in this novel is the fallout from the exposure of Section 31, the most covert and ruthless branch of the Federation. Captain Picard was part of a forced removal of a previous Federation president who ended up getting murdered. Section 31 is no longer a secret, and the revealing of its misdeeds has shocked and unsettled the denizens of the United Federation of Planets.
Ward is a competent writer, but unfortunately the main plot just didn’t intrigue me all that much. I think it felt too familiar although the Enterprise was apparently exploring new territory which has been dubbed the Odyssean Pass. The Enterprise has encountered countless seemingly derelict vessels and greedy space pirates. Picard as usual tries his best to have everyone get along and play nice. It just doesn’t offer all that much that felt new.
Anyway, it looks like Picard is going to deal with the consequences of his alliance with Section 31 in the next novel, so hopefully that offers a more engaging literary diversion.
Next up is a quick return to Boston, figuratively, to check up on venerable private eye, Spenser. Ace Atkins has continued the series started by the late, great Robert B. Parker as Spenser gets another chance of resolve an old art heist using some “Old Black Magic”. Spenser doesn’t become a wizard or anything, but the book is called “Old Black Magic”. Anyway, I will discover the reason for such an appellation and report back.