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on August 28, 2001
The title "Doors into Chaos" is extremely appropriate for this novel, the third in the Gateways saga. The story is in the beginning quite chaotic, jumping from scene to scene to set things up, but it soon settles into an elaborate and engrossing plot that continues to build as the pages turn. "Doors into Chaos" is the TNG installment in this series. As the story opens several things are all happening simultaneously. Gateways across the galaxy are turned on and various races, both familiar and unknown, begin to take advantage of the ability for instant transportation that they provide. Until they were activated the existence of these Gateways was unknown. It soon becomes apparent that stepping through the Gateways either intentionally or accidentally can lead to ramifications that no one could possibly foresee or guard against. Consequently Captain Picard and Counselor Troi have been summoned posthaste to Earth to attend an emergency conference. The ancient Iconians have returned. Or have they? Each of the major powers in the Alpha Quadrant has been approached by representatives of a race claiming to be the descendants of the legendary Iconians. They are the ones who have reactivated the Gateways and are offering the secret to controlling the technology to the highest bidder. War weary and still recovering from the Dominion war, Starfleet is suspicious of the mysterious aliens but at the same time must prevent the technology from falling into the hands of any potential aggressors. Admiral Ross calls upon Picard to head up a seemingly impossible mission. The first objective is for himself, Picard and Troi, to approach key Alpha Quadrant races and enlist their support in forming a task force of representative races to approach the Iconians as a united group. Some races decline to join with the Federation in this endeavor, being either unwilling or unable to cooperate. But others decide to join in, if for no other reason than to make sure that whatever is learned of the technology is shared. The second objective is for this convoy of ships to approach the Iconians and try to determine if they can either prove or reasonably be supposed to be who they claim to be. Harder still will be trying to persuade them to deactivate the Gateways while discussions about the technology are taking place. Comprised of Romulans, Klingons, Deltans, Ferengi, Gorn, and others, the Enterprise and this unlikely fleet prepares to confront the Iconians and attempt to learn just who and what is behind the riddle of the Gateways. Picard struggles to control his allies and their sometimes conflicting interests as elsewhere chaos is reigning across the quadrant and beyond. It does not take long for things to get out of hand and a fierce and deadly battle ensues. A battle that seems to provoke yet more questions, but whose outcome forces the Iconians to talk and to finally supply some answers to at least a portion of the riddle. In the end some of pieces of the puzzle are in place, but important ones are still missing as conditions across the galaxy are becoming more and more desperate. Just like the other commanders before him, Picard is forced to step through the Gateway in hopes that the answers they need can be found in what lays beyond. "Doors into Chaos" finally sees this series coming into focus. And certainly with this novel the series shifts into high gear. This fast paced story is a bit hard to follow at first. There are so many characters to be established and scenes unfolding as the author jumps from situation to situation setting up the plot that I found myself getting a bit frustrated at times trying to keep it all straight. Additionally I usually I enjoy a novel with lots of various Trek references to episodes and previous novels, and "Doors into Chaos" certainly has those in abundance, as well numerous cameos of characters from other series. But it's a bit forced at times, and sometimes more of a detriment to the flow of the story than an enhancement to the plot. Despite it's flaws "Doors into Chaos" was the best in the series so far. An enjoyable and interesting story that certainly holds your interest. The plotting and events moves quickly and if you enjoy long descriptive battle sequences you are in plenty of action. Overall I would call "Doors into Chaos" a good read. Not great but certainly worth the time, especially if you plan on reading the remaining Gateways novels.
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on September 10, 2001
"Doors into chaos" is right, but I don't think I'm thinking what they were thinking.
It gets three stars for being an OK story, but the grammar was so messy, so often, that I kept getting lost. I know about myself that I am a little picky about this sort of thing, so I try to forgive the first few typos and other similar errors I see in any given book, but this was a mess. There were run-on sentences I wouldn't have gotten away with in the sixth grade, sentence fragments that didn't even make sense, and commas run amok. Yow. It was so irritating I even stopped reading the story in the middle to email the publisher to complain, and it's not all that often I willingly put down a book midway. So. If you are willing to tolerate these errors (or wait til they get around to fixing them in another printing, perhaps?), it's a decent story, and it does start to make sense of the set of books, between which I had previously not seen the relationship, and it does have the advantage of being a Star Trek book. Your call.
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on September 3, 2001
If you narrow it down to just the two mass market paperbacks each month in the Trek series, what percentage of them are one book/ one story? Not many, I'm afraid--this seven-book cycle will turn out to be more than 1/4 of the annual GSTP (Gross Star Trek Product), and that's not counting other multi-book series within the Trek universe this year. It's a tendency towards grandiosity that's a step away from the old fashioned "space opera" format that made Trek the 35-year phenomenon which transcended the vast wasteland of TV where it has its roots--where boredom operates at tachyon speed. Okay, this book has a lot of the aspects that made TNG a success. Like Picard doing his usual thing of gaining the respect of cultures who think the Ferderation is otherwise populated by wusses. This trait in Picard makes him (don't you dare call me disloyal to Kirk!) the best skipper any Enterprise has ever had. We get to see Troi successfully command a ship in battle--being that I'm an admirer of hers, I like to see this strong but delightfully feminine woman get to prove she's more than just a shrink. And I get a kick out of watching her daddy's girl/ doting papa relationship with Picard. Worf shines here as a Federation statesman worthy of a Kissinger or Lodge--I like seeing him as more than just a skillful pair of hands with the bat'leth. But this whole idea of (blaring trumpet fanfare) "major sagas" is not what Star Trek is all about--why not leave that to descendants of Frank Herbert? Followers of Herbert and other "highbrow" SF have always sneered at Trek as being lightweight. Fine--I think of them as elitists and pseudo-intellectuals, got that? I've been a member of the Trek fanbase for all 35 years it's been around--why don't the people back in the real-life Trek Aitch-Cue listen to us like they used to. No more huge sagas! No more huge sagas! No more huge sagas! Or at least fewer of them, okay?
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