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Literature / Star Trek: Cold Equations

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A trilogy of books in the Star Trek Novel 'Verse, written by David Mack and released in October-December 2012.

The three books are The Persistence of Memory, Silent Weapons and The Body Electric. They deal with the resurrection of the android Data, and his desire in turn to resurrect his daughter, as artificial intelligence causes multiple unrelated problems for the Federation.

The story of Data 2.0 continues in Star Trek The Light Fantastic.

Not to be mistaken for Salvador Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory".

These books contain examples of:

  • Always Someone Better: Noonien Soong becomes increasingly furious at Emil Vaslovik, who turns out to have pioneered most of the technologies, techniques and long-term survival strategies that Soong thought were so novel, and a century before him at that. As the final frustration, Vaslovik ends up building a future with Soong's beloved former wife.
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • As You Know: At one point the crew are discussing the long-term implications of the Machine's plan and have to explain it in full for the benefit of the only one of the senior staff who got a C-minus in astrophysics at Starfleet Academy.
  • Batman Gambit: The Breen activate android infiltrators throughout Federation space, knowing that Starfleet's response would be to immediately redeploy to deal with them. This opens a narrow corridor between the Federation and Typhon Pact space, which the Breen were going to use to smuggle out a crashed starship from the Mirror Universe that had a wormhole propulsion system. Too bad the Enterprise crew figured out their plan.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Lieutenant Chen is left in command of the Enterprise while the rest of the senior staff are on Orion, and ends up in a standoff with a Gorn ship and another Sovereign-class starship about to fire on each other. She notes internally that she does not have superior rank (the other Federation ship has a Lieutenant Commander in charge), a superior ship, or better knowledge of the tactical situation. Externally, she hides her rank insignia and bellows at the other Starfleet officer to back off (even snapping "That's an Order!" despite the fact she doesn't outrank him). It works.
  • Betrayal Insurance: The Breen leadership tries to pull this on the Gorn, telling them that the Gorn Hegemony is the weak link in the Typhon Pact because of their previously almost-friendly relationship with the Federation (the Breen, along with the Tholians and Tzenkethi, view the Pact in part as a means of triumphing over the Federation). In Silent Weapons, the Gorn agree to serve as a distraction as part of a Breen plot, by seeking a private summit with the Federation President at which they drag out proceedings pointlessly, but they have misgivings when it becomes clear the Breen see them as expendable. When confronted about it, the Breen tell the Gorn Imperator that they suspected his people would eventually seek to form a relationship with the Federation anyway, but if he ever tries to get close to the Federation again, they'll remember the fiasco that took place this time and reject them. The Breen call it "a preemptive investment in your loyalty". This backfires when the Gorn privately vow to repay the Breen for their treachery and start channelling intelligence on Breen politics to the Federation, while seeking to strengthen their ties with a fellow moderate Pact member, the Romulans.
  • Blofeld Ploy: The Breen want LaForge and Noonien Soong to finish getting their androids on-line, and threaten to shoot one of the other members of the insertion team if they don't. Worf, being the ranking officer, orders LaForge not to cooperate. The Breen in charge points his disruptor at Worf and says he's made the decision of who dies first. He then turns and vaporizes Jasminder Choudhury. This is deliberate, in that the Breen specifically notes that Klingons are cavalier with their own lives; the Blofeld Ploy is an attempt to keep Worf cooperative by making it clear that he is not forfeiting his life alone.
  • Brain Uploading: Happens quite a bit. Noonien Soong perfected the technology, and most of the story in the first book is about his efforts to revive Data before his advanced nature crashes B-4's simple positronic brain.
  • Broken Pedestal: When an assassin disguised as the President's Chief of Staff takes aim at the Federation President, Picard grabs Dr. Crusher and shields her rather than protecting the President. Though the assassination is still thwarted, Beverly's estimation of Picard drops from "Starfleet hero" to merely "husband and father".
  • Clone Angst: After Data is "resurrected", he questions whether he can truly be considered the same as the 'original' Data, as he lacks the last day or so of Data's memories (everything between downloading his memories into B-4 and his death) and various other changes due to his access to Soong's memories, but LaForge observes that 'quirks' such as his continued preference not to use contractions prove he's still Data.
  • Continuity Nod: Many to the novel ''Immortal Coil'', to which the trilogy, or at least the first and third novels, is a direct sequel.
    • Silent Weapons, meanwhile, continues the arcs from Star Trek: Typhon Pact, making mention of the rise of Praetor Kamemor and the loss of Deep Space Nine, among other notable events. The book also features an interesting continuity nod to Rise Like Lions, the final novel of the Star Trek: Mirror Universe series.
  • Fantastic Rank System: A Gorn ship is commanded by a Gith.
    • The head of the Breen government is known as a Domo.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Soong reflects that this is what happened to the android Julianna; he made her to imitate a human form so exactly that she died due to a bad reaction to medications she was taking for hypertension mixing with a bad reaction to certain compounds on the planet she was living on.
  • If I Do Not Return: The Enterprise receives a pre-recorded message from Worf, saying that if they are receiving this then he missed his check-in and that they are to annihilate the planet that his team is presently on to prevent the Breen from taking away all of the androids present.
  • It Only Works Once: Soong muses at one point that he could only create the emotion chip once because he had to use some of his own brain engrams to encode the chip he gave Data, and he can't extract any more from his brain without causing himself mental damage.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Gorn, though it's not to paint them as repulsive, more as intimidating and alien.
  • Kill and Replace: The androids with the forms of Siro Kinshal and Esperanza Piñiero.
  • Killed Off for Real: Jasminder Choudhury, Noonien Soong, Esperanza Piñiero, Rhea McAdams.
  • Living Ship: Altanexa.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Breen are going to regret the way they treated the Gorn in Silent Weapons.
  • Oh, Crap!: Soong's reaction when the ship entering the star system in which his latest lab is located turns out to be a Borg Cube.
  • One-Steve Limit: Aversion. Lieutenant Commander Teg, a Tellarite security officer, is the second Tellarite with that name to appear in a David Mack novel, the first being a criminal in A Time to Heal.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: The energy readings from the Machine at the center of the galaxy, in The Body Electric.
  • Remote Body: In Silent Weapons, the Breen are using their stolen Soong-type androids in this manner, having modified them to be controlled remotely by chosen operators as they lacked the programming expertise to turn the bodies on that way.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: As the crew of Enterprise know from experience (namely, their encounters with Juliana Tainer and Rhea McAdams), Soong-type androids can quite easily be made this, and pass for humans without effort, even fooling most sensor scans. The latest example is Noonien Soong’s own android form.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Tyros objects to the way Gatt treats Data, being insistent on the point that Data is aboard Altanexa as their guest.
  • Sadistic Choice: The point of the title. In all three books, characters face this, the most extreme example being Data's choice in book three: save his lover or save the man who can save his daughter (to make things worse, the man in question is the 'father' of the lover).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Travelers' reaction when Wesley reveals the Machine's presence in the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Sequel Hook: The crashed mirror universe starship on Tirana III. Its backstory is later revealed in Star Trek: Section 31 - Disavowed.
  • Social Darwinist: Gatt, after exposure to the Machine at the galactic core. He dismisses the potential loss of those AIs dependent on subspace computing as "the culling of the weak".
  • Spotting the Thread: When studying the Soong-type androids acquired by the Breen, Worf and La Forge determine that these bodies were created by the Borg working with Lore as all analysed bodies use a Type-L phase discriminating amplifier, and also have a minor implant in their heads that La Forge guesses represents the emotion chip in its original state.
  • Spy Speak: Thot Raas of the Breen has this to say in a transmission to his superior: ‘At sunset, the weevil digs in the grain. Raptors circle the hollow. The steed stands in the forest. The farmer must ring the bell before dark.’
  • Stealth in Space: Several different means of achieving this come into play in book one, including a Breen ship hiding under a cloaking device, ships masking their profiles by using mineral deposits in asteroids or planetary magnetic fields, and ships running at low power to reduce their sensor profiles.
  • True Companions: Despite occasional doubts about Data's nature- is he still Data or just a copy?- the Enterprise senior staff all make it clear that they consider Data to still be their old friend; at one point Worf has to restrain the urge to gut a Bolian lieutenant who just suggested that they might want help if Data broke his restraints.
  • Wild Hair: Wesley's time as a Traveler doesn't do much for his personal grooming. When he shows up on the Enterprise, much is made of his wild, unkempt hair and long, scraggly beard.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Worf. He finally has put all the demons regarding his decision to save Jadzia at the potential cost of career advancement to rest. Then the Breen go and kill Jasminder Choudhury on a mission he was in command of, throwing him back into not being sure if he's worthy of being a starship Captain.
  • Zerg Rush: Take a few hundred thousand Soong-type androids, program them to fly into a Berserker Rage at the sight of a Breen, and turn them loose.