After a few delays (and some, ahem…encouragement, from Michael Clark), I was able to finish Christopher L. Bennett’s Star Trek: The Collectors, the latest eBook, and – the next instalment of the Department of Temporal Investigations series. I don’t usually write negative material for VT, but I’m gonna have to break that rule here. I’m disappointed because I’ve enjoyed Christopher’s previous adventures starring DTI Agents Lucsly and Dulmar; the first was Watching the Clock and it was a terrific series debut. The second, Forgotten History was superb, bringing in that infamous, repeat-offending, time-travelling thorn in DTI’s side, James T. Kirk. It was a brilliant story and kept me engaged throughout.
The Collectors deals with an obelisk of mysterious origins, (found by the U.S.S Rhea), that is taken back to the ‘Vault,’ where it will be examined, catalogued and, eventually stored and locked away, lest it be used for nefarious purposes. Enter FTA (Federation Temporal Agency) Agent Jena Noi; she hails from the 31st century, and she’s no stranger to our stone-faced, stalwart time protectors. She arrives to take possession of the obelisk, claiming the artefact will be better protected in her time-period. After accidentally triggering the obelisk, Agents Lucsly, Dulmar and Noi begin a time-hopping journey, that will end-up taking them 27 million years uptime, where everything in the past is at stake, and they find something that could wipe out the future.
The Collectors was all over the map! Even for Star Trek, this adventure seemed far-fetched. Our agents are placed in situations that are completely out of their element, (and, out of character, to me), while Jena Noi has to battle multiple versions of herself. I was left shaking my head, trying to wrap my brain around what I’d just read. Also, I thought Lucsly and Dulmar were upstaged by Noi, relagated to second-string in this story. Granted, the timeline has been altered because of the obelisk, and our interference, but damn, this was a wild ride from hell. Then, after another shift uptime (to the obelisk’s point of origin), Lucsly and Dulmar are pitted against something completely ludicrous. I’m still going: WTF! Are you kidding?! The reasons given for the obelisk’s purpose, by the future aliens they encounter, seem laughable. I was left with the impression that I’d been to some bizarre version of Jurassic Park. And, I’m still not sure which Agent Noi we are left with, or – exactly what happened to the three agents in the final pages. Also, I wasn’t impressed with the DTI agents (Teresa Garcia and Meyo Ranjea), back in the 24th century, who are trying to bring Lucsly and Dulmar home. It’s their story that made me lose interest, to begin with. I just didn’t agree with any of it, or with the reasoning behind tying their hands by the DTI director. That said, this short book brings into question the ethics of saving species who are destined to die off, or – evolve; and – is it worth the risks? The ‘collectors’ may have thought they were doing the universe a favour, but it’s clear they didn’t think of all of the ramifications of their endeavours.
If it weren’t for Michael Clark, I probably wouldn’t have finished this book; he was curious to hear my reaction, and I didn’t disappoint him. Maybe, it was because this was an eBook and the story couldn’t be expanded to make it seem more plausible… I don’t know that a full-length novel would’ve made any difference, though. Now, just because I didn’t like it, some of you may find it an entertaining and fun read, (I’d be curious to hear your opinions; but – I agree with Michael: there’s one line where this book just ‘jumps the shark.’ [It] completely lost all credibility, for both of us. In my opinion, The Collectors is good for only one thing, collecting virtual dust on my app’s virtual bookshelf. However, I look forward to what Christopher L. Bennett brings us next.
Before I go, I’d like to invite you to listen to Michael and Roz on The Captains’ Table, where they welcome back special guest Margaret Clark; editor of the Pocket Books Star Trek novels.
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone