TTN: Orion’s Hounds

Titan: Orion's HoundsStar Trek: Titan: Orion’s Hounds

As the U.S.S. Titan ventures beyond the outermost reaches of known space, the telepaths in her crew — including Diplomatic Officer Deanna Troi — are overwhelmed by an alien cry of distress, leading the ship to the scene of a shocking act of carnage: a civilization of interstellar “whalers” preying upon and exploiting a familiar species of sentient spaceborne giants.

Appalled but reluctant to rush to judgment, Captain William Riker and his crew investigate, discovering a cosmic spawning ground in a region of active star formation — the ecosystem for a bewildering array of diverse but similarly vast life-forms.  While attempting to negotiate an end to the victimization of these creatures, Riker’s crew inadvertently grants them the means to defeat their hunters’ purpose . . . only to learn that things are not exactly as they seem.

  • “Great science fiction opens your mind to new possibilities, ideas and concepts…. Orion’s Hounds by Christopher L. Bennett is outstanding science fiction. Ingenious and enthralling, Orion’s Hounds balances scientific theory with character driven adventure in a vibrant story that challenges the Star Trek mythos.” — Jackie Bundy, Trek Nation
  • “…brings Trek fiction up to par with all but the hardest subgenres of hard science fiction… true intellectual excitement surges alongside the high-stakes dramatic developments of the novel’s plot.  Bennett staked out a claim to superb writing with Ex Machina, and Orion’s Hounds only confirms his dazzling ability to combine the fanciful space opera that is Star Trek’s core with scientifically literate speculation and superior characterization….” — Killian Melloy, Wigglefish
  • “Christopher Bennett’s sophomore novel is another home-run winner, and any combination of strong plotting, careful scientific discovery, interesting characters, and unlimited potential always makes for an excellent tale, STAR TREK or otherwise.” — Bill Williams, TrekWeb
  • “There’s sense of wonder galore here…. Orion’s Hounds boldly takes Titan into exciting new territory, and confirms that Christopher Bennett is another in the succession of top-notch Trek novelists that Pocket has discovered in recent years.” — Steve Roby,  Starfleet Library
  • “The amount of detail that went into this is astonishing. One could sense a real passion for the science behind the storytelling, and Bennett makes the small section of the galaxy portrayed in Orion’s Hounds truly come alive…. Christopher L. Bennett’s latest novel does the Titan series justice, serving up a novel that deserves more recognition than being a “media tie-in” novel.” — Julio Angel Ortiz, The Next Chamber

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Editor Marco Palmieri’s goal for the Titan series was to tell SF-adventure stories revolving around exploration and the sense of wonder, featuring the most diverse multispecies starship crew in Starfleet history.  My work with the diverse crew in Ex Machina convinced him that we thought along much the same lines, so he invited me to write the third Titan novel.  I decided I needed to find a story that was really about exploration.  A lot of Trek these days has gotten away from that, and I fear there’s a perception that pure exploration doesn’t work to drive a story anymore (at least, some people have blamed the poor reception of Enterprise‘s first two seasons on its pure-exploration focus).  So I needed to tell a story of exploration that went way beyond the formulaic “starship visits alien planet and gets embroiled in local politics” kind of tale.  I needed something epic and striking.

Also, I wanted to do a couple of things here that I wasn’t able to do in ExM.  In that novel, I tried to capture the spirit of ST:TMP as much as possible, but the one thing I failed to capture was its sense of wonder, its grand, epic vistas of the cosmos.  So I wanted to make up for that and go really cosmic here.  The other shortfall of ExM was that it was a very derivative story, a sequel highly dependent on what had come before.  I wanted to tell a more original, self-contained story here.

To be sure, as the cover reveals, the novel features the return of the space-jellyfish organisms from “Encounter at Farpoint.”  But we learned very little about them in that episode, so I was still able to tell an almost wholly original story.  Well, more or less; I did rip it off from myself.  The plot to OH was based on “Spirit of the Hunt,” a failed VGR story written for the Strange New Worlds anthology contest.  The story didn’t work because it was too big for the short format; it was only half a story.  To make it work as OH, I had to go much farther beyond that point, as well as going into much more depth on what came before.

So I decided to open it up well beyond a single spacegoing species, and explore the whole ecosystem to which they must belong.  Basically I’ve tried to define the broader framework which most or all of Trek’s spacegoing critters occupy.  That gave me the epic scope I wanted, and let me work in a number of thoughts about spacegoing life that I’ve developed for my original SF over the years.  I’d like to think this same basic story could stand as an effective work of original science fiction even if it existed entirely independently of Star Trek.

Spoiler discussion and notes

 

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