Monday, November 29, 2010

Peter David's Sinking Into Darkness: I, Q By Peter David And John De Lancie Tanks!

The Good: Occasionally amusing, Moments of character
The Bad: Narrative perspective, Length, Predictable plot
The Basics: Filled with inside-jokes only geeks could appreciate, I, Q is a study of poor writing, utter lack of character development and absent of insight.

I, Q stands as a perfect example - in a long list of similar works - of exactly why actors are actors, novelists are novelists and asking an actor to write a book is like asking a novelist to, say, do your taxes. My point in this is that novel writing is a skill like accounting, car washing, structural engineering, what have you, yet there's an arrogant assumption in U.S. society that ANYONE can sit down and write a book.

Those people are wrong.

I, Q is the Star Trek the Next Generation novel written by John de Lancie and Peter David. Peter David has an established record of writing well (see my review of Imzadi by clicking here!). While he's gotten progressively less inspired in recent years, I, Q may be, in part, blamed on its co-author. John de Lancie is a wonderful actor. He played Q on Star Trek The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He does an amazing job of acting on stage, he's a nice guy and he's usually friendly to the fans of the shows he's been on.

John de Lancie is not an author. Noticeably lacking from I, Q is Peter David's sense of irony, his wit and any deep insight into humanity, the Star Trek universe, and/or circumstances bizarre and their effects on known characters. Mr. de Lancie is a vibrant man; I've seen him on stage, he's interesting and insightful. None of that transferred over into this novel.

Told largely in the first person, I, Q follows the philosophy "There's always someone bigger and badder" and applies it to the Q. The Q? The Q Continuum is a race of omnipotent beings introduced in the very first episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. Q is a trickster god-type. He's mischievous and dangerous, but as the years of Star Trek The Next Generation passed, he became less menacing and more comical. If you like Q on Star Trek The Next Generation, don't bother watching his three appearances on Star Trek Voyager; they completely ruin his character and lessen the impact of his power. Similarly, I, Q does.

While, I suppose, it's a necessary evil of the work having a human write from an omnipotent perspective, but it's far far far too anthropomorphized and Americanized in this story.

I, Q traces Q's search for his son and the mother of his son when they are lost in a Maelstrom (big whirlpool in space) that is destroying the galaxy. To that end, Q enlists the aid of the only two people he's able to save before his powers are dampened: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Data. Together, they go on a quest and, surprise, find themselves opposed by the Bigger Fish (metaphorically).

Plot-wise, we know how the novel ends from page one: Obviously, they are unable to destroy the Star Trek universe in the novels. Even in that context, this novel is horribly predictable. There are no real surprises in I, Q.

I was somewhat distressed, as well, by the perspective. It's written largely in the first person and it doesn't seem genuine most of the time. While arguably, de Lancie - having played the character for well over a decade - is the closest to Q there is, something is lost in the translation from screen to paper. It's sad. I put length down as a con; while there's not much to like in this novel, it's also dreadfully short, especially for a novel that appeared first in hardcover. I suppose, it ought to be a pro; they didn't stretch out the verbal mash.

Outside an inside-joke filled meeting between our merry band and the Grand Nagus, there wasn't much amusing in the book. It was a waste largely of my time; you can escape the same mistake. The magic is gone.

For other works of Star Trek in print, please check out my reviews of:
Star Trek: Nero
Star Trek Omnibus 1
Assignment: Earth


For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my index page for a current listing of all I have reviewed! That is available by clicking here!

© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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