TNG: Greater Than the Sum
The starship Rhea has discovered a cluster of carbon planets that seems to be the source of the quantum energies rippling through a region of space. A landing party finds unusual life forms inhabiting one of the planets. Lieutenant T’Ryssa Chen, a half-Vulcan, makes a tenuous connection with them. But before any progress can be made, the Rhea comes under attack from the Einstein — a Starfleet vessel now controlled by the Borg. The landing party can only listen in horror as their comrades are assimilated. The Borg descend to the planet, and just as Chen accepts that she will be assimilated, the lieutenant is whisked two thousand light-years away.
A quantum slipstream — near-instantaneous transportation — is controlled by the beings in the cluster, and in its heart there is now a Borg ship. Cut off from the rest of the Borg collective, the Einstein cannot be allowed to rejoin it. For the sake of humanity, the Borg cannot gain access to quantum slipstream technology. Starfleet Command gives Captain Picard carte blanche: do whatever he must to help the beings in the cluster, and stop the Einstein no matter the cost.
- “Yes, it’s a Borg story, but it’s one that’s character-driven, one that brings back some surprising but welcome guest characters, and one that still manages to work in some of the good ol’ exploration and sense of wonder that Star Trek was originally supposed to be about. And there’s action, too.” — Steve Roby, Starfleet Library
- “[I]f you’re looking for a thoughtful set of character studies, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better book.” — Charles Packer, Sci-Fi Online
- “Bennett’s evident skill at characterization, and a flair for making you care about even the most incidental characters… proves in some ways more interesting than the ‘super Borg’ threat that menaces the U.S.S. Enterprise and an entity which might have more in common with the Collective than Picard and his crew.” — John Freeman, Star Trek Magazine #14
- “There’s a lot going on in Greater Than the Sum… [I]t’s bound to please.” — Michael M. Jones, SF Site
I have to admit, a Borg novel would not have been my first choice. War stories aren’t my cup of tea. But when editor Margaret Clark invited me to contribute to the post-Nemesis TNG novel series, I didn’t want to decline my first opportunity to work with her or my first shot at a “present-day” TNG novel. And fortunately Margaret was looking for a change of pace after the action-packed Borg battles of the preceding novels Resistance by J. M. Dillard and Before Dishonor by Peter David. Although I was tasked with wrapping up loose ends from PAD’s novel, particularly the assimilated Einstein, I was encouraged to develop a story about what the Enterprise crew experiences or discovers while searching for the Einstein, rather than a story whose central focus was fighting the Borg. After all, Margaret knew that hiring me meant getting a book about exploration of cosmos and characters rather than one about action and combat.
As a result, I ended up with a book that’s more like Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Q & A (the book between RES and BD) in tone, a book whose main focus is the crew of the Enterprise-E and their interactions. And there’s a lot going on with that crew in GTTS. I got to introduce new characters and take established characters in new directions. Although this is a lighter, change-of-pace book between the sturm und drang of Before Dishonor and the galaxy-shaking epic of David Mack’s Destiny trilogy (for which this book serves as a loose prologue), it’s a tale of major significance for the crew of the ship, and it was a privilege to get to tell it.
But that’s not to say the Borg don’t play a significant role in the story. Although the Borg have been featured in multiple novels of late, including Christie Golden’s Voyager duology Homecoming/The Farther Shore as well as RES and BD, there are a number of aspects and ideas about the Borg that have not been developed or followed up on. I tried to wrap up a lot of those loose ends and offer answers to some lingering questions.
Mainly, though, I tried to make this a grand sense-of-wonder adventure in the classic TNG vein. Big discoveries are made, and the Enterprise travels to one of the most distant places it’s ever reached by conventional means. But that’s nothing compared to the personal journeys some of the characters make.