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February 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda – Destruction of Illusions By Keith R. A. DeCandido
TOR Hardcover: ISBN 076530483X PubDate Jan 03
Review by Don Smith
320
pages List price $24.95  
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No doubt Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda is consistently compared to other Gene Roddenberry creations: the dry Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Star Trek (pick a series).  However, whereas Roddenberry and Rick Berman (whoever else is in charge of Star Trek) have spent the last thirty to forty years adding back story to the Federation and the "Enterprise" (pick one), Andromeda has spent three years dealing with thousands of years of back story.  Yet, its overall goal asks, “Should the Federation have been destroyed, could someone who remembers the Federation’s ‘glory days’ come forward in time and re-establish it?”

Not like the Empire versus the Rebellion, but more like the Wagon Train days of a sheriff trying to bring law and order to the Old West (only in space).

Longtime master of the genre books (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek novels) Keith DeCandido has been commissioned to do the first Andromeda book called Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda – Destruction of Illusions. The latter half of the title is taken from the Frederich Nietzsche quote: “Illusions are certainly expensive amusements, but the destruction of illusions is even more expensive.”

DeCandido has a quick paced style that cuts right to the story. His narrative is a breeze as well as entertaining, much like Peter David’s. He does not take up the pages with long expositions, which tends to weigh down other genre writers. Upon first glance, Dylan Hunt (the focal point of the series) is only in the prologue and the epilogue. According to the Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda website (http://www.andromedatv.com), “Andromeda has been…action oriented…with the character of Dylan at the center, supported by a fantastic ensemble cast that has evolved around him.” In this book, DeCandido introduces us to that “fantastic ensemble.”  

What makes this work, is you get to see inside the heads of the crew of the "Eureka Maru" and caring about them. When first meeting Captain Beka Valentine (captain of the "Eureka Maru"), we discover how she has inherited the ship from her dead father, who has left behind many debts. She is forced in an Han Solo-esque (before Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope) life that easily bleeds (literally) over into the illegal. And for anyone that pays bills, DeCandido makes her easy to identify with.

We then meet the others - Harper, Rev Bem, Tyr, and Trance (the purple girl) and see how they started out together in a mission that would ultimately bring back Dylan Hunt and the starship "Andromeda Ascendant." However, DeCandido’s one drawback is the lack of description. For some writers this can be a good for thing, but more description of characters, locations and vehicles would have been welcomed.  For instance, what does a Banshee (apparently a police-like, starfighter) look like? What sets an Umbrite apart from the other species of aliens? While those familiar with the show may know, others will be left to their own devices.

According to DeCandido’s website (http://www.sff.net/people/krad/index.htp), his own book is just around the corner, Dragon Precinct (from Pocket Books) on sale in 2004. "This is my first original novel, and it is basically Law & Order meets Lord of the Rings: a police procedural set in a standard elves/dwarves/magic fantasy setting,” says DeCandido.

Yet at the same time, exposure from these projects will benefit the author. Name recognition seems to be the name of the game (i.e.. Gene Roddenberry). Hopefully one day, we will review the first book adaptation of a DeCandido show. If Keith is lucky, he'll get someone as capable as the author of Destruction of Illusions.

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