SPOILER ALERT!

Star Trek: S. C. E.: #2 Fatal Error by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Fatal Error - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fatal Error is the second book of the SCE-series and deals with the aftermath of its predecessor.

 

This time, the da Vinci is called in for help by a super computer itself which runs everything in a planetary system, starting with weather management, transportation, communication - you name it. The computer is malfunctioning, the planet the moon it's located on, is orbiting, in chaos, the clerics whose task it was to maintain the computer murdered... all but one. Just one ship on the planet works without the computer's influence, and the planetary leader and the one surviving priest try to get to the moon. Meanwhile, the da Vinci dispatched an away team on the moon, including the now solitary Bynar 110 who on the one hand doubts his utility without his parter, and on the other hand struggles with his species' customs to rebond as soon as possible. The away team makes contact with the damaged computer... and a dozen hostiles.

 

One point in favour of this novella is its author. I simply love DeCandido's tongue in cheek-humour. I was practically rolling on the floor laughing when I read of the hardships of the planet's leader who actually had to leave her house and walk for 10 minutes... something that she's not used to because the computer, Ganitriul makes such trivialities as leaving your home, unnecessary.

 

The other highlight is 110's evolution as a solitary being. We are introduced to a deeper insight into Bynar society - where I have to wonder how bondmates are chosen in the first place. 111, who tragically died in the first part of this series, was the love of 110's life. Rebonding, as is customary, goes against 110's grief - but to not rebond means to be an outcast. Interestingly, the decision isn't openly made yet, but 110 discovers that he can function alone, that he's still worth something. And I guess that makes it obvious what he will choose.

 

The plot itself with the damaged computer reminds me a bit too much of TOS episodes where a computer runs a whole society and somehow malfunctions. This time the splintergroup sabotages the computer to end its reign over the planet, but I guess, it's due to the shortness of the story that the background can't be explored any further.

 

In short, this part was quite a bit stronger than the first one, and I'll definitely pick up the next installation. But I have to admit that I still have to get used to the format of novella and its inherent constrictions in the story-telling. I just finished a novel that could have easily been told in less pages - this story could have just as easily been expanded on to a true novel.