A Call to Darkness
Captain Picard and a landing party beam down to a strange planet hidden behind a mysterious energy field - and vanish.
Reviewed on 10th May 2020
A Call To Darkness, set in the second season of The Next Generation, sees the crew of the Enterprise seeking a missing Starfleet vessel - and following its trail to a world which read as if I was meant to know more about its history that I do. Four of the senior officers beam down - and immediately are cut off from the ship.
For this era of novels, Michael Jan Friedman has done a remarkable job of getting the characters pretty much spot on - Data perhaps being the only one who felt off, but possibly he does better match the Data of the early seasons than the later ones I am more familiar with. The author's world-building also feels strong, with very few elements that feel out of place in Star Trek.
The secondary plot deals with a new deadly contagion spreading through the crew, which was coincidentally timely as I read the novel while the world was in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. The primary plot meanwhile felt incredibly reminiscent of the Hunger Games (written some eighteen years later) which amused me.
I wouldn't go so far as to call this a great novel - the narrative feels dated now and of its era, possibly just in the choice of phrasing - but compared to other Star Trek novels from the late eighties that I've recently read it's at the top of its class.