SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang

He was perhaps the ultimate human achievement: a sentient artificial life-form—self-aware, self-determining, possessing a mind and body far surpassing that of his makers, and imbued with the potential to evolve beyond the scope of his programming. And then Data was destroyed. Four years later, Data’s creator, Noonien Soong, sacrificed his life and resurrected his android son, who in turn revived the positronic brain of his own artificial daughter, Lal. Having resigned his commission, the former Starfleet officer now works to make his way on an alien world, while also coming to grips with the very human notion of wanting versus having a child. But complicating Data’s new life is an unexpected nemesis from years ago on the U.S.S. Enterprise—the holographic master criminal Professor James Moriarty. Long believed to be imprisoned in a memory solid, Moriarty has created a siphon into the “real” world as a being of light and thought. Moriarty wants the solid form that he was once told he could never have, and seeks to manipulate Data into finding another android body for him to permanently inhabit…even if it means evicting the current owner, and even if that is Data himself.

Following the events in Star Trek: TNG: Immortal Coil and the Cold Equations trilogy, Data died and has returned in the body his father had been inhabiting. As they say, no one dies forever in Star Trek. Lal has also been resurrected. And the two have been carving out a life for themselves on Orion. But Lal and her companion are kidnapped by Moriarty, who needs Data’s help in getting android bodies for him and his wife.

The Light Fantastic is a fantastic new installment in the Next Generation universe. Easily one of my favorite books this year, it’s full of mystery, intrigue, humor, and suspense. This was fun, exciting, fast-paced, and incorporates more than just characters from the Next Generation. While a lot has changed for several of my favorite characters, I really enjoy the direction that the writers have taken. And Lang skillfully brings these complex characters, especially that of Moriarty (as well as a couple other memorable characters) to the page. And this captivating story is one I won’t soon forget.

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