I always view long flights as the perfect excuse to tune out the entirety of existence for a nice dive into a book or two…or more, depending on just how far I happen to be flying. Recently, I flew to Hawaii. Lots of time for lots of reading (and sleeping, but mostly reading).
I didn’t want to take a lot of thick, heavy books (I wanted to save ample space for important things like all the booze and coffee that I may or may not have bought while there), but I also wanted to take enough books to cover my bases and provide a nice variety of choices.
Thank goodness for Kindle! I loaded mine up with lots of selections, including several TNG books that I have had on my reading list for quite a while. Top choice was Dean Wesley Smith’s “Dixon Hill” novel A Hard Rain. I actually referenced this book in a Doctober post as one of the few TNG novels to actually feature Dr. Crusher on the cover. It was also the only book from this admittedly short list that I had not yet read.
I wish I had left it as unread.
I’ve never read anything else by Smith, but he wrote the novel adaptation of The Core. Do with that what you will (and I already suspect what many of my nerdier denizens will do with it). I got the impression from this story (and its blatantly open ending) that perhaps Pocket Books had planned on making Dixon Hill novels a spinoff to the mainstream TNG novels. I think A Hard Rain was the only one actually written, and I can understand why the idea was abandoned (if it ever existed).
With A Hard Rain, Smith has written a rather chaotic and muddled…tribute? parody?…to the detective novel, using the world of Dixon Hill as his foundation. Perhaps it’s a great novel to detective fans. It’s not a great TNG novel, I can attest to that.
Then again, it’s been years since I last read my TNG novels. Perhaps I have simply outgrown the storytelling parameters of Trek literature? I feel once again that I need to revisit these books, if only to finally put this question to rest. However, I fear that what I will find is that all the books I once loved will now just make me sad. And slightly appalled.
Anyway, I’m still not wild about detective novels, so that aspect didn’t really appeal to me. I’m also not a fan of Smith’s writing style for this particular book (again, I’m assuming that he doesn’t typically write like this and was probably striving to mimic popular detective novel styles). Additionally, I wasn’t all that crazy about the way the Dixon Hill story overlapped the TNG storyline in a rather non-linear and subsequently nonsensical way. Actually, the “real” storyline was more absurd than the Dixon Hill one…although the denouement was ridiculous for both stories. I didn’t like other things about this novel, but at this point I feel like I’m unnecessarily phasering a dead targh. I will say this, however: I never again want to read the phrase “Luscious Bev.”
Final Verdict: I have deleted A Hard Rain from my Kindle. I still have the master file saved elsewhere, but I doubt I will ever revisit it.