Book Review: ‘Immortal Coil’ by Jeffrey Lang

January 18, 2022 at 6:47 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: Immortal Coil is a Next Generation novel heavily centered around Data, A.I., and lots of Star Trek history. It was written by Jeffrey Lang and was published by Pocket Books in February 2002. 

If you love Data, then this is the book for you. Data takes the lead in this novel as the Enterprise crew must solve a mystery involving Bruce Maddox and an accident that occurs at his laboratory. 

I went into this book expecting a more ethereal, philosophical look into androids and into Data’s history. That seemed to be the pitch of the book from the blurb and also what word of mouth on the book was. Instead, this book is actually a fun episode-sized adventure with an android mystery to it. I wasn’t disappointed in the book, as I find those novels much more enjoyable than the scientific exploration ones, but I did feel that the book had false marketing.

This book draws heavily from the A.I. related episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and The Next Generation, and I was unfamiliar with all of those episodes. That wasn’t a bad thing, as Lang does a pretty good job (as all tie-in writers should) of filling in all the gaps in the reader’s knowledge. You do not have to be well versed in Star Trek to enjoy this book, but if you are well versed, this book is very rewarding. 

My lack-of-knowledge was a detriment, however, as I had to look up a character in Memory Beta to see if I had read about them before, and right in the beginning of their bio was a spoiler for this book. This should serve as a warning to avoid Memory Beta if at all possible because spoilers abound.

This book does suffer from several weak elements. The weakest element of the book is the villains in the third act. While they are technically set up in the second act, I didn’t feel enough of a connection to them and thus wasn’t invested in the action. It felt like Lang and the editors came to the conclusion that they needed a big bad for the third act, and thus switched the villain from the character who was set up as the villain and just threw “Generic Bad Guys” in. 

Another place this book suffers is the pacing. This book feels like an episode of the t.v. series, which is usually a good thing. Unfortunately, this book feels too long for one episode and too short to be a double feature. As a result, I felt ready to be done with the book around page 200, despite not reaching the third act yet.

Going back to the positives, I thought that Jeffrey Lang did an excellent job with Data. He added more development to Data than any of the authors that I’ve read yet (although I will admit my sample size is still small), and I want to read more Lang books regarding Data. His characterization, particularly with his love interest Rhea Mcadams was excellently done. 

I also thought that Jeffrey Lang did a good job of making use of characters in a new way. Deanna Troi gets to lead the Enterprise during a battle sequence that really surprised me, and made me want to see more of her leadership. Lang also wrote Doctor Crusher in a planet’s infirmary rather than onboard the Enterprise-E, which also resulted in a fresh change of pace. Doing unique things with these characters can be difficult considering the wide array of Star Trek stories, so the fact that two characters stood out like this is no small feat. 

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the novel, but there were entire sections of it that didn’t hold my attention. That is sad, considering that this is such a well lauded novel in the Star Trek universe. I still want to read more Jeffrey Lang books in the future, but this one just wasn’t terribly strong. I give this book a 3 out of 5.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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