The Double Helix series is the newest group of novels in The Next Generation series and deals with an alien conspiracy to spread a dreaded new plague through the Alpha quadrant. This concept alone is enough to make the novels worth reading but there is yet another great reason. The Double Helix books are not your typical Next Generation novels, included in the storylines are characters and locations usually associated with other Star Trek series, including Deep Space 9 and Voyager. This melding of different Star Trek series makes for a very interesting read.
Infection is the first novel in the Double Helix series and is set in the first season of The Next Generation. The basic plot involves the sudden appearance of a deadly and swift virus on Arachnia III, a federation planet with a toubled racial history. Picard and the Enterprise are sent to the planet for several reasons including maintaining a full quarantine and assisting in the search for a cure. However, the main reason for the presence of the Enterprise is that the Federation suspects that this virus, killing thousands on Arachnia III, is in fact man-made and was released into the atmosphere intentionally. Who is behind such a plot and their reasons for doing so are what the crew aims to find out. The plot focuses mainly on two aspects; one being Dr.Crushers search for a cure and the other being Riker, Data, and Tasha Yar's search for the cause and creator of the virus.
Aside from entertainment, another purpose this novel serves is introducing the reader to this new storyline of an alien plot to kill the inhabitants of the alpha quadrant. The reader is given few details but what is provided is intriguing....a "little taste" of what is to come. A brief mention of a character known simply as "The General", who is the perpetrator of the plague, and intimations at his future plans leave the reader aching for the next book!
As should be quite obvious by this point, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot was riveting, the characters extremely well written (and kept to the personalities we've grown accustomed to from TNG series and movies), and most importantly, Infection carried a true Roddenberry-type message. True, the issue of racial discord was not the main theme of the novel but was definitely a big part of the storyline. This message dealt with the absudity of prejudice and discrimination, as witnessed on Arachnia III. And this idea of using Star Trek to reflect and comment on present day human society is the very essence of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek.
Author: John Gregory Betancourt
Review by: CL4 Liz