I debated for a while before posting this review because it’s not a “recent” novel by any definition of the word, and because it’s genre specific. Still, it’s really good, so I have to share it.
There are two reasons that I really like Star Trek novelizations. First, because they don’t need to be mindful of special effects budgets, Star Trek writers have free reign to go “all out” and do things that are visually either impossible, or at least cost prohibited. Second, since they don’t have a time limit, there’s a lot more leeway for humor and other such “unnecessary” scenes. Q-in-Law takes advantage of the freedoms of the printed word in a great way – it brings Lwaxana Troi and Q to the same place at the same time. And the end result is awesome.
Lemme preface this review with one tangent – if you do not like humor, if you are the sort of Star Trek fan who prefers all serious, all the time – you will hate this book. That’s not to say that it’s completely silly, as it’s not. But there is a good deal of hum or involved in the story, and it’s very well done.
In my opinion, no one writes Q better than Peter David. Keith R.A. DeCandido tries, but falls short. Given time he could probably write Q as well as David. I wasn’t a fan of Greg Cox’s books. Perhaps it’s just because Peter David is so prolific, and so good at writing complex storylines. Perhaps it’s because he’s done several projects with John de Lancie. Whatever it is, Peter David + Q = (Almost) Guaranteed Success. I think the key is that he knows that he can’t be too heavy-handed with Q. Some other authors seem to feel that they need to do all sorts of crazy things with him, where David understands the importance of subtlety.
Q-in-Law starts out innocently enough. The Enterprise is chosen to host the Wedding of two members of opposing Tizarin factions. This union is important both for the Tizarin people, and for the Federation’s relationship with the Tizarin, who are a powerful trade partner. Of course, because this union is so important, it is only natural that a certain Ambassador from Betazed be invited. Mrs. Troi’s crush on Picard is still quite alive, at least, until Q arrives. He does so – ostensibly enough – to try and learn more about the mortal concept of love. Suffice it to say, Lwaxana’s attentions quickly change to the man that she perceives as most powerful aboard the Enterprise.
This book is one of my favorites, not only because David writes Lwaxana and Q (and even Wesley!) very well, but because of the humor inherent too. It’s also fascinating to see Picard telling Lwaxana about his past encounters with Q, because she justifies all of Q’s actions as being ultimately good. What follows is a hilarious battle of both wits and hearts, that at times goes a bit too far, but that’s really the only weakness present in this story. If you can overlook that, you’ll find that it’s quite a worthwhile read, and one that will leave you wanting to read more of David’s work.
Long story short, if you like Trek, you like humor, and you aren’t one of those heathens who hates Lwaxana/Q, you will love this book.