The time has come to act.
Following the destructive consequences of the Ware crisis, Admiral Jonathan Archer and Section 31 agent Trip Tucker both attempt to change their institutions to prevent further such tragedies.
Archer pushes for a Starfleet directive of non-interference, but he faces opposition from allies within the fleet and unwelcome support from adversaries who wish to drive the Federation into complete isolationism.
Meanwhile, Tucker plays a dangerous game against the corrupt leaders of Section 31, hoping to bring down their conspiracy once and for all.
But is he willing to jeopardize Archer’s efforts—and perhaps the fate of an entire world—in order to win?
Christopher L. Bennett continues to tell the story of the early days of the United Federation of Planets following the events depicted in the final scenes of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “These Are the Voyages….”
Patterns of Interference, and the four previous novels in the Rise of the Federation series, feature an ensemble of characters from Star Trek: Enterprise and a number of new additions – some of whom have connections to important characters from later series – who have grown significantly into their own starring roles in the narrative.
Like previous books in the series, Patterns of Interference resolves certain plot lines from previous stories, while continuing others and developing new ones. These include fallout from the previous book in the series that leads to a debate about whether to create the Prime Directive, the ongoing story of the conquest of Sauria by the Basileus Maltuvis, and Charles “Trip” Tucker III’s involvement with Section 31.
While Bennett provides recaps of events from previous novels to help new readers, Patterns of Interference is resolutely the fifth novel in the series not yet finished. If you’re interested in this novel, I would highly recommend cycling back to A Choice of Futures, the first novel in the Rise of the Federation series.
Of the Enterprise ensemble, Trip Tucker has the biggest role as he attempts to take down Section 31 from the inside, with the help of the Orion slave girl Devna. Through the course of the book, Trip is forced to face how his association with Section 31 has changed him from the man he was, the Trip we knew on Enterprise, and how that has impacted his long-distance relationship with T’Pol.
By the end of the novel, Trip clearly has a journey ahead of him to find how he fits into a future in which the Federation strives for the high ideals that Star Trek aspires to.
Patterns of Interference is the second novel this year examining the destruction of Section 31, following on from David Mack’s Section 31: Control in April. The two novels were developed independently, but the authors collaborated to ensure that the two stories would fit together.
It is unfortunate that two novels explore the same themes so close together, centering on main characters from Star Trek who have been significantly changed by their interaction with the shadowy Federation cabal, but Bennett provides an Enterprise flavor to the Section 31 takedown plot and ultimately presents a more optimistic take than Mack’s heavier execution.
The Section 31 story intertwines with the Sauria and Orion plot lines from previous installments, both of which are building to a larger resolution in a future novel. The Orion sisters featured in the Season 4 episode “Bound,” D’Nesh, Maras, and Navaar, continue to plot and scheme against the Federation as it expands into territory and threatens the Orion Syndicate’s operations.
Bennett has given the characters welcome depth, diving more deeply into the Orion culture and their secretive matriarchy. The villainous sisters are complimented by the return of the aforementioned Devna, an Orion slave girl who Trip encountered in a previous novel and convinced to help him on his mission. In the course of this novel she struggles with Trip’s offer of freedom, echoing the larger galaxy’s tentative embrace of the new Federation.
Given that Bennett is working with a period in Federation history about which little is known, there are restrictions about the extent to which major Star Trek races can serve as primary agitators. As a result, it falls to characters like the Orion sisters or Basileus Maltuvis of Sauria to provide the primary foil for Admiral Archer and the Federation.
This provides a unique opportunity to expand upon some lesser known or examined races, but at times it can make the universe feel smaller or force Bennett to work harder to up the stakes of the story.
The most delightful subplot of the novel deals with the USS Endeavor under command of Captain T’Pol, and heavily features Hoshi Sato. The Endeavor is called in to consult with an Earth Cargo Service vessel that has discovered a planet populated by advanced tree-like lifeforms.
The cargo vessel wants to harvest the trees for chemicals they contain that might have medicinal properties for the Federation, but Hoshi has been asked to help determine whether the trees might display signs of intelligence. The plot is well crafted, light, and amusing, mixing opportunities for character development for Sato with a fun, and very Star Trek, story.
With so many other stories at play the novel spends little time with Admiral Archer and his efforts to get the Federation Council to agree to create the Prime Directive, but the other plot lines all contribute to the exploration of the necessity of a Prime Directive. What constitutes the “right” interference in another world or culture?
It’s a question that characters in each of the story’s main plot lines grapple with, whether it’s Trip’s story on Sauria trying to discredit Maltuvis and bring down Section 31 or Hoshi and T’Pol working to determine whether a plant species is sentient. In addition to several scenes about the proposed non-interference directive, Archer’s story also involves saying farewell to an old friend.
I must say, the last page left me rather misty-eyed, and I think many can relate to the emotional journey that he goes on through the course of the book.
Ultimately, if you enjoyed the previous installments in the Rise of the Federation series, and Bennett’s style of leveraging pieces of existing canon for new adventures, you will enjoy the continuation of the broader narrative at play.
Patterns of Interference mixes its pay-offs with other areas where it further develops stories yet to be resolved, and I look forward to seeing what Bennett has in store for the characters from Enterprise. Hopefully, a new Rise of the Federation novel will be announced soon.
If you liked Patterns of Interference, you should check out:
- A Choice of Futures by Christopher L. Bennett – The first novel in the Rise of the Federation series, A Choice of Futures establishes the state of play that subsequent installment have built upon as we follow the Enterprise characters in the early days of the Federation following the Romulan War.
- Star Trek Titan: Orion’s Hounds by Chritopher L. Bennett – My personal favorite of Bennett’s novels following Captain Riker and the USS Titan, with a great tie-in to the TNG premiere Encounter at Farpoint.
- Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations – Watching the Clock by Christopher L. Bennett – My second favorite of Bennett’s novels, follow Dulmer and Lucsly from the DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations as they become involved in the Temporal Cold War. Learn the identity of Future Guy!
- Section 31: Control by David Mack – The riveting and challenging conclusion to David Mack’s Section 31 and Julian Bashir arc; see how Section 31 is finally brought down in the 24th century.