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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Indistinguishable from Magic Mass Market Paperback – March 29, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Star Trek
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145160615X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451606157
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Captain’s log, Stardate 60074.2. The Enterprise is conducting a survey of the Agni Cluster, a group of G-class stars in Federation space near Ferengi territory. The presence of a group of main sequence yellow stars suggests that there will also be Class-M planets, which may be suitable to create new colonies for some of the populations still affected by the Borg invasion of almost two years ago.

The duty is not likely to prove, shall we say, exciting, but it is a very important one nevertheless. Aside from the numbers of refugees still seeking new homes, it is important that the Federation continues to explore and expand.

Golden light from the nearest star, a hundred and twenty million kilometers to port, gave the Sovereign-class Enterprise’s sleek surface the healthy glow of an athletic creature. Even coasting through a solar system, the ship was poised, proud, with the attitude of a racing thoroughbred.

Like all such thoroughbreds, the Enterprise was driven by a large and powerful heart. The warp core pulsed at the center of her three-story main engineering chamber with a reassuring throb as it held in the energies of matter/antimatter annihilation, and only released them under tight control. The sound always brought a smile to Commander Geordi La Forge’s face when he walked in.

“You appear singularly pleased, Commander,” Lieutenant Taurik observed, as Geordi stepped beside him to cast a glance over the dilithium matrix monitor. “Has the tuning of the dilithium matrix been completed to you satisfaction?”

“The dilithium matrix is fine, Taurik,” Geordi replied. Truth to tell, he had been getting a little frustrated trying to think of the right things to say in a message he wanted to send to the U.S.S. Lexington. He had only just got used to Tamala Harstad being around when she had been transferred there, and he had spent his off-duty hours of the last couple of days trying to think of just the right way to tell her that she was out of sight but definitely not out of mind. He hoped she’d stay that way, and wouldn’t slip further away. He needed a break from thinking about the message, and, as always, being in the vicinity of the warp core put his mind at ease. “Just listen to her.”

“Her?” The Vulcan’s features assumed a slightly quizzical expression, and then cleared. “Ah, you’re referring to the Enterprise herself.”

“I guess so, though really I mean the warp core specifically. Can’t you hear that purr she makes?”

“I hear the sound, but I would not have interpreted it as a purr.”

Geordi chuckled.

“I’ve noticed that most humanoid species feel a sense of pleasure from being exposed to rhythmic sounds of a certain depth and low frequency.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that too. Counselor Troi used to say it’s something about being back in the safety of the womb.”

“Logical. Fortunately I am not affected.”

Geordi had been around Vulcans long enough to know better, but settled for saying, “I guess that’s your loss, Taurik. There’s a reason they call it pleasure.”

“Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Jean-Luc Picard gave the order by habit, and then took the cup when it materialized in the replicator’s slot on his ready room wall. He sat with it behind his desk, and returned to the reports that he was triaging. Only some of the planetary surveys would be forwarded on to Starfleet Command. Choosing which were to go and which weren’t was an important duty, but a far from interesting one.

He sipped his tea and turned his attention to the report on Indra IV, a gas giant in the region, which the Enterprise’s probes were surveying remotely. A jovian planet would never be one upon which to place a large civilian population, but there were two Mars-sized moons that looked suitable for terraforming.

Picard had just decided to attach the report on Indra IV to the possibles list that he would send on to Starfleet Command, when there was a chime over the communications system. “Captain Picard to the bridge.” Worf’s voice filled the ready room.

“On my way,” Picard responded, saving the file, and draining his tea. He stepped through and walked onto the bridge of the Enterprise. If the engineering decks and staff were the heart of the thoroughbred, then its brain was the bridge, on the top level of the saucer section. Here the decisions were made, based on the sensory input it had received.

The burly Klingon in the center seat vacated it as Picard approached, and the captain noted that the main screen displayed a normal starfield. Whatever had attracted his first officer’s attention either wasn’t visible or wasn’t in range yet. “What is it, Mister Worf?”

“Lieutenant Choudhury has detected an object in our path.” He indicated the Indian woman at the tactical console.

“An object?” Ordinarily, Picard might have been irritated at being called to the bridge for such a vague reason, but not when it meant a respite from the survey reports. From the carefully bland expression on Worf’s face, he could tell that the Klingon officer knew that very well. “All right, what kind of object?”

“A metallic mass,” Jasminder Choudhury announced from her tactical station, “almost directly ahead. It’s approximately two hundred meters long, and masses eighty thousand tons.”

“An asteroid?”

“Possibly, but . . .” She looked over the sensor readings that scrolled across her display. “The object appears to be composed of a mixture of nickel, titanium, a limited amount of duritanium . . . If it’s an asteroid it must be hollow.”

“Hollow?” Picard looked over her shoulder. “A two-hundred meter geode . . .” He smiled faintly. “That would be quite a rarity as paperweights go, wouldn’t you say, Lieutenant?”

“Definitely. An asteroid of that composition, over two hundred meters long, should have a much higher mass than eighty thousand tons.” Choudhury frowned at something in the readouts, and shook her head. “But, frankly, sir, I doubt an asteroid with that composition could even exist naturally. The alloys are artificial.”

“A vessel, then?” The smile stayed on Picard’s features, but his tone became much crisper and more alert.

“Almost certainly.”

“That is why I called you to the bridge, Captain,” Worf explained.

Picard thought for a moment, looking at a display of the Enterprise’s current position and heading. “You said it was ‘almost’ directly ahead . . . How almost is almost?”

Worf brought up a navigational display. “If we were to intercept, we’d have to adjust our heading to three-five-two mark four. It would take us approximately an hour out of our way.”

“Well, we’re in no particular hurry . . .” Picard turned to the helm, where a Bolian was at the controls. “Ensign Trell, adjust your heading to three-five-two mark four, and increase speed to warp factor four.” Picard sat, Worf taking his place in the seat on the captain’s right.

“I trust the reports are going well, sir,” Worf rumbled after a moment.

“No rest for the wicked.”

A few moments passed, and then Choudhury spoke up again. “I’m getting clearer sensor returns from the object, sir. Definitely a vessel, and, going by the strength of the return for duritanium, almost certainly of Federation origin.”

That surprised Picard. “Federation? Are you certain of that, Lieutenant?”

“The numbers don’t lie, sir.”

“Maintain present course and speed. I’d best finish with the survey reports before we reach your mystery object, Mister Worf.” With that, he rose and returned to his ready room.

It took Picard around half an hour to skim through the remaining survey reports, forward his recommendations to Starfleet, and return to the bridge. He noted that Worf had moved to one of the science stations against the wall of the bridge. Rather than take the center seat, Picard walked to the science station. “Something about our mystery asteroid?”

Worf nodded. “Since the idea of it being a Federation vessel has already been broached, I asked the computer to match the object’s composition with any known starship designs.”

“And found a match,” Picard surmised.

Worf grunted an affirmative. “Several Federation starship classes were constructed of those materials in the twenty-second and twenty-third centuries. The NX-class, Daedalus-class, and so on. Some Andorian ship classes also match.”

Picard nodded. “And which do we think this object is?”

“From the dimensions of the object, the most likely match is the twenty-second century Starfleet NX-class. That would have the correct composition, the same mass, and a length of two hundred twenty meters.”

“Close enough to the approximate length of the object.”

“Aye, sir.”

“NX-class?” Picard gazed at the main viewer, as if he could somehow focus on the ship ahead, even though it was yet to come into visual range. “With the recovery of Columbia, I thought they were all accounted for.” He paused for a moment. “There were, what? Fifteen or sixteen ships in the class, in the end?” He paused. “Computer, do any NX-class vessels remain li...

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Customer Reviews

I kept plowing through it but in the end was totally disappointed.
Rudolph S. Powell
Other fan-favorite characters also show up, like Nog of Deep Space 9 and both Reginald Barclay and Leah Brams of TNG.
The Old Scribe
I made the mistake of getting this book without reading a little of it first.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A P on May 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are editing mistakes and typos everywhere. The characters are very poorly written. Most of the characters act and speak in ways that seem beyond how that character would actually act and speak. One Klingon, for instance, even says, "This is going to be bumpier than my forehead!" Not believable. Even Scotty's mannerisms go far beyond how he ever acted on the TV show.

The author also seems desperate to try to have continuity with the various TV series, by bringing in a bunch of peripheral characters from some of the TV series and going out of his way to point out they're there, and excessively referencing old TV episodes. This only serves to interrupt the continuity of the story, not help it along.

The pacing is also completely off. The way the story flows, it feels like it should be over long before it is. This either should have been a shorter novel, or the story needed to be reworked to get the pacing right.

But again, the absolute worst part of the book is the horribly written, unbelievable characters.

In the hey-day of Star Trek novels, all the novels were pretty equal regardless of who wrote them. They all seemed to meet a similar standard. These days some of the novels are great, some not so much, depending on the author. Perhaps Paramount isn't being as careful with them as they once were.

If you're a Star Trek completist and absolutely must read this book, buy it used and save yourself some money. Otherwise, there are so many other books out there that are such better reads, I would avoid this one.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By adair6 on April 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel was absolutely incredible. I was mostly bored by the Typhon Pact series, especially after how good the Destiny trilogy was, and this was exactly what I needed to get the juices flowing again. The characters really come to life, and it was great to see some long lost characters (Barclay, Sela, Leah Brahms, Guinan, Nog, etc..) back in action. It is also one of the best standalone TNG novels in a long time, though it fits perfectly within the continuity. David Mcintee does an absolutely masterful job of painting a picture in the minds eye of whats going on, and the complexity of the engineering marvels that Geordi and Scotty pull off are really a testament to the authors' ability. Also, the ending was absolutely everything I could have hoped for and more, which is very very rare. You will not be disappointed
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Star Trek the Next Generation: Indistinguishable from Magic: Written by David A. McIntee

For all of you Star Trek fans that love a character driving novel with action-adventure and a few twists and turns in the plot, you're going to love this book. The primary characters are Scotty, La Forge, Leah Brahms, Reg Barclay and Nog, so we are heavy on the engineering side, including an octopod named Vol. This is a good sign because we are about to solve some mysteries along the way. U.S.S. Challenger, Captained by Montgomery Scott, is an engineering ship sent to unravel a mystery of the lost Intrepid 250 years ago. Intrepid is an NX class ship that was found by Picard and his U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-E. The mystery is why this ship was found where it was, so far away from it's original position, and the DNA in the ship has experienced further aging to 2500 years old. Nurse Ogawa is now CMO Doctor Ogawa and she has the job of collection of all of the DNA on the NX-07 Intrepid and separating for repatriation.

Jean-Luc Picard plays a cameo in this novel, but there are a lot of characters introduced into this story, Rasmussen, Bok, and the Shadow Treasury. The Romulan Tal Shiar's Chairman Sela plays a counter balancing role and the ethereal Guinan guides Geordi from her flashes of insight from the Nexus and her 500 years of listening.

The crew that Scotty assembles is Geordi La Forge, Doctor Leah Brahms, Reg Barclay, Rasmussen and Guinan before they can get under way to investigate from Star Base 410. Rasmussen is the character that you'll remember from the TV series, who said he was a person from the future, but really was from the past and "collected" anything he could make a buck on when he got back to his original timeline.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Relayer on June 17, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was quite promising - I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is set in the current Typhon Pact era rather than just being a meaningless stand alone set in the era of the TV show. And the author is British as well - maybe we would get some British characters who are not the appalling stereotypes often written by American authors.

Unfortunately the book is a real disappointment - the characters (and not just the British ones) are badly written, the dialogue is poor and parts of what passes for a plot are laughable. The first part is nonsensical (Bok and Rasmusson planned this, hired 3 ships and got into position in a few days how ?) and has a bizarre and deeply unsatisfying conclusion. Th second part suffers from many of the same faults plus a few new ones.

Even small things are ridiculous - Doctors and Nurses have the same training and can switch careers at will ? Characters are shoehorned in for little or no reason : Dr Ogawa, Reg transports back from assignment in the Delta Quadrant (?) to appear here for no good reason, Leah Brahms is there and Geordies girlfriend is casually discarded. And it goes on...

The main problem is that there seems to be a real editing failure here - a good editor would have pulled the plot together and ironed out a lot of the weaknesses. Copy and proof reading would also have helped somewhat.

This is a book best avoided. There's a germ of a decent novel here, but it is so badly obscured by rubbish that it may as well not be !

EDIT - I feel a reappraisal is required having found out that this was planned as two novels that the editors compacted down into one, the fanboyish inclusion of so many 'guest stars, and numerous other issues were AT THE INSISTANCE OF THE EDITOR !

Given that, I'd place the blame firmly there and would have liked the opportunity to read the two novels originally planned...
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