The cast and crew seem like familiar echoes of Star Trek archetypes, only more dysfunctional and a bit more broken. We join the story shortly after the death of Nigel Holmes. By creating a cast of characters dealing with their own individual issues, Bick gets to extrapolate that it is not conducive to good working environment.
Most of the ensemble are very deeply damaged and broken, and the first third of the novel makes for quite a depressing read as we meet a bunch of unlucky and ill-fated characters who we know are not going to have a happy ending.
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It occasionally gets a bit oppressive, a little grim, a tad overwhelming, but Bick does an excellent job cultivating a cast of mostly new characters. Indeed, probably the biggest problem with the pacing of the book is the fact that Bick has to essentially introduce a whole collection of characters in increments.
We are introduced to a core cluster of cast members, and then she progressively widens the circle. George had a similar problem in Serpents Among the Ruins , but mitigated it by keeping his focuse tight on his lead. In order for the story to come together as well as it does, she has to start by introducing us to various characters and then developing the rest of the cast around those, spiralling outwards until the circles connect. Garrett is the character we know best, but the story branches out to her new executive officer, and to her ex-husband and son, both initially on different tangents.
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Interestingly, Bick refuses to clearly articulate everything about her characters. While we get details of key events from the past of Halak or Bat-Levi, there are constant hints dropped at a more fleshed-out back story for Garrett. There are occasional references to a tragedy featuring her younger sister, never completely developed.
That said, the set-up can be quite distracting in the early part of the book, and it takes Bick a little while to find her rhythm. Well of Souls feels like a substantial story, and it develops its cast remarkably well. There is a very clear sense that this is still a Star Trek story, but it is its own Star Trek story, not beholden to a massive shared universe or too much continuity.
That said, Bick very clearly knows her stuff, and there are a lot of elements here that demonstrate how familiar Bick is with the Star Trek mythos.
Well of Souls (Star Trek : The Lost Era, book 4) by Ilsa J Bick
The Next Generation was a product of the late eighties, the end of the Cold War and an era of peace and prosperity for the United States. The show was a product of that. Well of Souls features evil spirits haunting an old religious site and artefact — in this case a mask — and it seems like Bick is channelling that mid-eighties pop culture fascination with archaeology into her book. After all, these books are an archaeological expedition into a mysterious era in a fictional television show, a form of excavation themselves.
Bick cleverly turns that into a theme of the book, and Well of Souls is the stronger for it.
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And Bick also plays into the social issues of the time. If The Next Generation often served as a vehicle to explore the problems of the nineties, Bick seems to suggest that a story about an earlier Enterprise should perhaps reflect earlier social problems.
To be fair, The Next Generation engaged with the drug problem quite a bit in its first year. Tasha Yar originated from a failed colony with rampant drug abuse. Symbiosis featured a planet of drug dealers preying on a planet of drug addicts.
Well of Souls
Her original stories have been featured in anthologies, magazines, and online venues. She lives in Wisconsin with her family.
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Visit her website at IlsaJBick. Well of Souls : Lost Era But while her exploits as commander of the U. Within the shadowy rooms of the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Klingon Imperial Intelligence, and even the Romulan Tal Shiar, secret scales are being balanced -- and for every gain made for the sake of peace, there will come a loss. More Books by Keith R.
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