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Metamorphosis by Jean Lorrah
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609124,940 (3.54)22
Unexplained gravitational disturbances summon Captain Picard and the "Starship EnterpriseTM to the planet Elysia, and the android Lieutenant Commander Data to a date with destiny. For on this alien world, he is drawn into an impossible quest, leading him to consequences both heartwarming and disastrous, as he finally dares to pursue his fondest desire: to become human.… (more)
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You might argue that this book is pointless: its central premise is that Data becomes a human being for real, which of course he never did on the show, nor even alluded to, so the whole thing has to be wiped from both history and memory. But Jean Lorrah is such a good author as to overcome this. I said in my review of Survivors that she excelled at capturing Data and Yar; extend that here to the whole Enterprise-D crew. Picard's speeches sound like ones Patrick Stewart would give on the show, Riker doesn't do much but Lorrah captures his openness to all experiences, and even Wesley comes across as smart, naïve, and eager in a way that's not annoying.

It's not just dialogue, either; when Data is transformed into a human, the two people who recognize him without any prodding are Doctor Pulaski and Geordi La Forge, which feels exactly right to me. Best of all is how she captures ways of thinking. When we're inside Data's head as an android, it rings true as the interiority of the character we see the exteriority of on screen. Even better is what she pulls off in the second half of the book: if Data was a human being, this is how he would think, trying to be an android but with only human mental capacities. I'd have loved to have seen Brent Spiner do any of this on screen, but the book gets by just fine without it because it gives us Data's actual thoughts in a way the television never could. The whole book might not have "happened," but if it Data were to become human, this is how it would be.

The only thing not to like is the kind of cursory way it wraps up: Data's motivations for undoing his humanity come out of nowhere, and after the middle of the book drives home that Data has value as a person, not just from his android powers, it's a little disappointing that the end kind of revolves around his android powers saving the day. Though I guess Lorrah undercuts that with the cute last line (which fortuitously foreshadows Data getting Spot in "Data's Day" on screen).

Anyway, this is an enjoyable book, one of the best Next Generation novels. Rereading Lorrah's two Next Generation novels has made me regret that she never contributed to Star Trek again after this.
  Stevil2001 | Jan 26, 2018 |
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The U.S.S. Enterprise swung in orbit about Starbase 173, with only a skeleton crew on duty.
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Stardate 92528.6

Data was too stunned to get a word out before two guards appeared, phasers trained on him. With the guards, flanking him, O'Brien stalked forward. "Who are you?" he demanded. "What have you done with Commander Data?"

"I am Commander Data." Data said evenly.

"Captain Picard stared, then flared, "Where is Data?"

"Captain, I am Data," he tried again. "I can explain, It was the Elysians. They put me through their tests, and because I aided one of their people, they granted me my fondest wish - they have made me human."

"Good God!" whispered Riker. "Is it true?"
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