Book Review: ‘Zero Sum Game’ by David Mack

August 16, 2022 at 6:17 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: Zero Sum Game is the first novel in the Typhon Pact line of novels. It was written by David Mack and was released in November of 2010.  

David Mack has turned in several amazing books. His Destiny Trilogy is truly legendary for the scope and sheer audacity. His The Fall novel Ceremony of Losses was one of the best thematic books in Star Trek. His A Time to books and his Legacies book were both really stellar! Unfortunately, this book does not live up to the others.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a perfectly fine book. David Mack used this book to set up not only the Typhon Pact storyline, but also the ongoing stories of Julian Bashir and Sarina Douglas. The action in this book is very good, and it reads like an excellent espionage thriller set in Star Trek. The problem is that it really lacks the deeper themes necessary to bring it up to the best of the best. 

I love the character of Julian Bashir. He is my favorite Star Trek post-Nemesis character, and this book sets up his eventual journey into the future with The Fall series and Section 31. Unfortunately, the deeper themes about the killing he has to commit in this book are not properly explored, but rather are hinted on.  Instead, Mack doesn’t really explore these themes properly until the other books. As a result, this book just feels mediocre, like any Trek author might have written it, not the great David Mack. 

Ezri Dax was entertaining in this novel, but most of her entertainment came from her interactions with Sam Bowers. They have a good captain/first officer dynamic, and I laughed out loud at a few of their interactions. I just wish there was more meat to the Aventine‘s story here.

The story itself felt a little rushed. The book is only 330 pages. It could have added about 100 more pages, adding a little to each storyline making it feel more complete and more thematic. Instead, it just feels like a “run-of-the-mill” action book. 

The best part of the book for me is the politica/military back and forth between the Typhon Pact and the Khitomer Accords Signatories. This whole story feels very much like a reference to the Cold War, and I like how we are seeing Cold War scenarios take place in Star Trek. I still think it’s handled better in Takedown and The Fall, but it’s interesting here. There is still lots of opportunity within this series to reach that greatness. 

David Mack has always had a sexual element to his books that I have never appreciated. He just doesn’t have the writing chops to get romances right, compared with say Kiersten Beyer. 

Overall, I thought this was a fine book. It was not great, but it was not bad. It sets up an interesting storyline in the Typhon Pact series, but hasn’t properly gripped me. Zero Sum Game gets a three out of five.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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