Continuing with my detour into the Star Trek universe, I picked up another book at that same sci-fi con. This one set in the Titan series. Captain William T. Riker and his wife Deanna Troi lead the crew of the Titan in a long term mission of exploration in this spin-off novel series from the acclaimed Star Trek: the Next Generation. Like New Frontier, this series is best read in order, but I found myself skipping a book or two when I started reading this novel. Taking place shortly after the last great conflict with the Borg, Synthesis poses many deep emotional questions for the crew under Riker’s command – and for Riker himself.
The crew of the Titan continues to explore the out reaches of known space on their continuing missions to seek out new life, new civilizations, to go boldly where no one has gone before. And that is just what they are going to do in this action packed story of facing the fears of the known and the unknown.
While examining long range sensor readings, Mellora discovers a strange subspace disruption in an uncharted sector of space. Riker and his command crew choose to investigate when they come across the tattered remains of an unknown race’s vessel. Sending an away team to board the remains of the vessel, Riker takes the risk that every captain must – the team may not come back. The away team, led by Bajoran security officer Ranul Keru, soon finds themselves trapped as the ship begins to react to their presence like an organic’s immune system. Separated, the team finds the computer core and realizes that the ship is run by an artificial intelligence. They take that core with them as the escape the ship and find themselves and the Titan under attack by another strange vessel.
The rescued computer core is able to establish contact with the Titan’s crew, calling itself SecondGen White-Blue, and is able to persuade the attacking vessel to cease fire. In the process White-Blue uses the Titan’s own computer to learn about the organics aboard and starts a cascade effect that awakens the computer to its own sentient potential. Cyan-Gray, the second of the Sentry vessels, insists that the Sentries, for that is what they are called, assist in the repairs they caused to the Titan. This introduces the crew to the politics and the struggles of the Sentries, a race of AI’s that has been in a millennia-long battle with The Null, a mindless creature that lives in a plane of subspace that their faster-than-light travel technology has unleashed upon the galaxy.
Meanwhile, Riker and his crew face their own inner demons as they try to understand the Titan’s new-found sentience, appearing to the crew in the form of a long forgotten hologram called Minuet. Having escaped the final with the Borg, the crew only have their own survivors guilt to guide them as they come to terms with the end of that war and part of that guilt is the innate fear of most any non-organic sentient beings. The Sentries are just such a race and the trust is slow to build between the organics and the AIs, even slower at times when it comes to accepting the Titan’s new personality. As the battle with The Null is realized to threaten not just the Sentries but all of time and space, the crew must face the ultimate sacrifice …
Read the book yourself and find out how a myriad group of organic life forms can ally themselves with a race of artificial beings to over come a creature that is without mind, without morals, and without any want other than to consume whatever it can to survive in a strange new galaxy.