Book Review: ‘Greater Than the Sum’ by Christopher L. Bennett

July 11, 2022 at 6:01 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than the Sum is a standalone novel written by Christopher L. Bennett and was released in August of 2008. 

What makes this book so interesting is the frame of reference that it has. This book came out after a string of Borg related standalones like Resistance, Death in Winter, Homecoming/Farther Shore, and the ever climactic Before Dishonor. However, it is the prelude to the Destiny Trilogy, the trilogy billed as “The Beginning and the End of the Borg.” This would create a dilemma for Bennett, as his story would need to be really good to stand out in a crowded field. Thankfully, Bennett was up to the task, for this is an excellent book. 

This isn’t a particularly big book in scope. The Borg threat here is relatively small and is cut off from the collective. However, the stakes are still high, as our crew wrestles with many deep questions regarding morality, procreation, marriage, and violence. If you are interested in the Destiny Trilogy, this book excellently distills all the themes and ideas from that trilogy into one book, providing some interesting foreshadowing that makes me want to go back and reread the Destiny Trilogy again.  

Where this book is at its best is its character moments. Jean Luc Picard is wonderfully portrayed as the newlywed husband who is now worried about the future. Picard lets his worry about the Borg seep into his worry about potentially becoming a father. Everyone else seems to understand it better than Picard, yet the audience can empathize with him. 

The whole Picard storyline is meshed with the whole subplot about procreation. The Star Trek shows are not always known as a family show, as very rarely do Trek characters get married and have children (Kieko/O’Brian and B’Ellana/Tom being obvious exceptions). Yet here, Bennett provides really fascinating discussions about the importance of carrying on a family line, of the purpose behind life and why it is so intricately linked to procreation, and why families are so important to an individual’s life purpose. This topic threads through the story in unique and interesting ways that I really enjoyed! It is so refreshing to read about these themes when so much of science fiction is about the futility of the future. 

This book introduces the character of T’Ryssa Chen. If you’ve read any post-Nemesis books after this, you’ll be familiar with the character. Here, she is introduced as a character meant to be brash, arrogant, a nonconformist, and an annoying brat, and boy does she come across as all of those things. I found myself really frustrated with her throughout the book. However, I also found myself laughing at a lot of her lines and became interested in her story. Other than Jean Luc, she became the character I was most interested in the story, and she’s not even a character from the shows.

This book also balances action with Star Trek elements of discovery. Star Trek cannot simply become an action series, nor can it only be about discovering new life forms, but it needs a balance of the two. Here, Bennett creates a story that starts in the first chapter and never lets up until the end. 

If you like other characters from The Next Generation, you won’t be disappointed. Beverly Crusher, Worf, and Geordi La Forge all get some page time here. Crusher’s story is almost entirely related to Picards, but La Forge had several moments that made me really feel for his character. 

I was not a huge fan of Bennetts The Captain’s Oath, which I thought was not at all a fun read and felt like a chore at times. I still think the story was good, but perhaps the way it was told was too convoluted. However, I think Bennett turned in a much better book here, demonstrating that he can be an excellent writer. I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5! For a standalone book, this is most excellent indeed.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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