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Star Trek: Enterprise: The Good That Men Do: The retcon that read like a novel

Despite the ever-growing list of books and comics I want to read, I keep adding new ones to the list, as they enter my radar.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking into Star Trek novels, and especially the novel continuations of TV series after their series finales.  I remember enjoying the continuing stories of Deep Space Nine, as well as the books leading up to the final TNG movie.  I recently began re-watching Enterprise on Netflix and thought about trying the post-finale novels for that series.

The first novel was called "The Good That Men Do", by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.  This novel had a good story, but the idea behind it was beyond weird.

Cover of the novel in question.  Image from Memory Beta.


It is almost universally acknowledged that the series finale of Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages", was bad.  Not even really an episode of Enterprise, it was Commander Riker and Counselor Troi in the middle of an episode of The Next Generation, experiencing a holodeck simulation of the final mission of Captain Archer's Starship Enterprise.  During this mission, chief engineer Tucker disobeys orders to save Captain Archer's life on the eve of the foundation of the Federation.

This novel suggests that a cover-up has happened to change historical records.  Tucker didn't die in 2161 before the foundation of the Federation.  He faked his death in 2155 before the foundation of the Federation's predecessor, the Coalition, so he could go be a spy against the Romulans.  The novel also retconned other plotlines from the finale; recurring character Shran was still a main character, but rather than rescuing his daughter from pirates, the Enterprise helps him rescue telepathic members of his species from the Romulans.


Generally, I enjoyed the story.  There was a lot of action, and the characters were spot on.  What I did not like was the degree of retroactive continuity being forced into the story, ostensibly to allow the authors to tell the stories they wanted to tell.

I didn't care much for the Enterprise finale, but I didn't think it was necessary to say it was a work of fiction which people were made to believe was true.  I have trouble believing that a cover-up that extensive is possible anyway, in a world where recordkeeping must be advanced.  Did the people in charge of the cover-up invent six years worth of missions that Tucker was allegedly part of?

I also do not like how the writers forced novel-based canon onto the TV material.  Let's take the Andorians, Shran's race, as a prime example.  A throwaway line in one TV series referred to Andorian marriages as involving four people.  This led the authors of post-finale Deep Space Nine novels to expand upon Andorian culture, giving them four sexes as well.  We had not seen an Andorian since the original Star Trek series, so introducing that element didn't cause any problems.  These DS9 novels also gave Andorians long, complicated names, which included a gender-specific prefix before their family name.  When the first Andorians appeared in Enterprise, the ideas of four sexes or long names were not used.  Andorians had names like Shran, Talas, or Jhamel, not Thirishar ch'Thane.  Shran was a man, and there appeared to be only two sexes.  It annoyed me to see the authors force the novel depictions of Andorians onto the TV series, out of a sense of continuity with earlier novels, assigning Shran one of the male-appearing sexes and giving him a much longer name, which is shortened to Shran.  In Star Trek, the TV shows and movies are canon, and the novels must be built around it, not vice-versa.

These changes often took me out of the story.  Given the ongoing role of Andorians and Romulans (whose names and language also came more from novel canon than TV canon), and the possible role of the pretending-to-be-deceased Commander Tucker, I do not believe I will read any more of these post-finale novels.


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