Monday, August 5, 2019

A Hard Rain

A Hard Rain (2002) by Dean Wesley Smith is a Star Trek novel focused almost entirely on Captain Jean-Luc Picard as 1940's private eye Dixon Hill. The real world Enterprise is danger--all ship's systems are offline because of the the ship's proximity to the "Blackness." The engines are working and the ship is drifting towards certain destruction. Commander Data and Geordie LaForge have been working like fiends to develop a device that will counteract the effects of the "Blackness" and go to the holodeck to do test runs of the device. 

But...the effects of the "Blackness" is such that their test program is taken over by the last holodeck program run. Which just happens to be the captain's Dixon Hill program. The device's main component (known hereafter as the Heart of the Adjuster) goes missing and it's up to Dixon Hill (the Captain), Data, and Beverly Crusher to take on the gangsters of the 1940s and find out who stole the Heart before the Enterprise is destroyed.

Occasionally, the writing flows smoothly--but mostly the story is wooden as is the dialogue and the book as a whole is pretty much a mess. The best part of the whole novel is Data quoting from all sorts of detective/crime novels from the Mack Bolan Executioner series to Inspector French to various fictional detectives created expressly to mention in the Dixon Hill story. It also appears to be a recycle of the STNG episode "The Big Goodbye"--even down to one of the team getting shot and the holodeck safety measures being off-line so the man's life really is in danger. In "The Big Goodbye" Dixon Hill was apparently hired to find a mysterious object. In this story Captain Picard as Dixon Hill is hunting for the "Heart of the Adjuster*"--which his crew in the real world actually needs. There's also a "Whelan" character who seems to be an echo of the Dr. Whalen who joined Picard, Beverly, and Data on the holodeck in the television episode. If it's meant to be an homage to that episode, it lacks the crisp dialogue and the freshness of the script. Not to mention that the solution of the mystery is downright silly.

*And...speaking of the Adjuster, Captain Picard and company seem to have lost a fair amount of their scientific smarts. This "gizmo" (Picard's word, not mine) that is some sort of important object that Data and Geordie need to fix what's wrong with the Enterprise is officially called an "Adjuster." That's some fancy, high-tech lingo right there. Doesn't even sound like Star Trek technobabble. And why do they need an Adjuster to fix what's wrong? Why because the "Blackness" (yes, friends, another high-tech word for the unknown astronomical field they encounter) is causing the ship's systems to go haywire. [I can be just as technical as the next guy, let me tell you.]

Another little pet many times are we going to call Dr. Beverly Crusher the "Luscious Bev"??? I mean, seriously. It doesn't even sound natural for Picard's hardboiled Dixon Hill character.

Not recommended at all--either as a Star Trek novel or as a mystery.

Calendar of Crime: November--author's birth month

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