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Stargazer: Oblivion

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at September 7, 2003 - 10:57 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Stargazer: Oblivion
Author: Michael Jan Friedman
Release Date: September, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-4854-5

Michael Jan Friedman has often demonstrated that he excels at creating the history of Star Trek characters. Through numerous novels, such as Shadows on the Sun, Saratoga and the My Brother's Keeper trilogy, he has sketched the past of some of Star Trek's most beloved characters. The Stargazer series, building on the best-selling novels Reunion and The Valiant is meant to do the same for Jean-Luc Picard. In Oblivion, Friedman not only presents an entertaining adventure for the reader but he also manages to satisfy the curiosity that has built through the years about the past relationship between Picard and the Enterprise-D's mysterious bartender, Guinan. Many hints have been dropped in various episodes about that relationship and its significance in the lives of these two complex characters. But no one has ever told the tale of the how, when and where — until now.

The Ubarrak and the Cardassians both covet new territory in the same area of space but have been held in check by the presence of the Federation. In order to attempt to maintain the balance of power and forestall a potential power grab on the part of the Ubarrak, Starfleet sends the Stargazer's captain, a young Jean-Luc Picard, on an undercover mission to the orbital city Oblivion in an attempt to obtain information which could potentially give the Federation a strategic advantage over the Ubarrak. Unbeknownst to Starfleet or Picard the Cardassians are after the same information.

In Oblivion Michael Jan Friedman succeeds in telling a story that is very enjoyable indeed. Within that novel he unravels the past in a manner that sets the stage for the future relationship between Guinan and Picard. After reading Oblivion you will be able to appreciate their relationship in a whole new way. But what really struck me about this book is that the story is interesting enough to stand on its own. Adding Guinan into the mix is just a bonus.

The Guinan we meet in Oblivion is a very different person from the one we know fom Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is a desolate soul who lost all she held dear to the Borg, only to have it all ripped from her again through her experience in the Nexus. Miserable and alone, she is unable to care about much of anything until a chance meeting with someone from her past and the adventure they share together restores her hope for the future.

While the Guinan/Picard plotline is the main focus of the book, Friedman doesn't neglect to also move some of Stargazer's other regular characters a few steps forward in their development as well. Both the scenes set on Oblivion and on board the Stargazer are tight and well-paced as the author moves the reader easily from one setting to the other. The decision to utilise one particular Cardassian character (sorry, I don't want to spoil the surprise) as his much younger self, just adds another interesting element to this charming narrative.

Oblivion is sure to please those who read it for many reasons. But the most fulfilling reason of all to read this book is the opportunity it offers to at last begin to understand what binds a starship captain named Jean-Luc Picard and an El-Aurian refugee known only as Guinan in a friendship that spans the ages.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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