When we decided that May would be our month-long dedication to science fiction, I told the Beard that I would focus my posts for this month on doing Reading Sanctums that would quick-cut review some of the Star Trek novels. We sometimes get top-heavy on movies during our genre-specific, topic-oriented months, and since we love all forms of mediated content, I always try to keep The Mustache and the Beard a well-rounded geek site.
As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. Over the course of the last two years, I have read close to three dozen Star Trek novels and I expect that trend to continue. Consequently, here I offer a few that you should avoid like the plague and some you might like, kind of like a potpourri of book review content for the Star Trek fanatic.
I absolutely hated this book and that’s difficult to say because I LOVE almost ALL things Star Trek including Star Trek: Enterprise. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating. I don’t LOVE Enterprise. Almost no one loves Star Trek: Enterprise. . . Just kidding!) The Prometheus Design by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath is Book 5 of the Star Trek the Original Series novels. My problems begin with Marshak and Culbreath, the writers, who don’t appear to know the characters they’re writing about.
Kirk makes a flawed command decision, and because he appears to be incapacitated, Spock is convinced by a Vulcan Admiral that he should take control of the Enterprise. Kirk becomes bullheaded and prefers to risk the safety of his ship than to temporarily step down. Kirk is made to look like a whiny, blowhard, incapable of taking orders, and objectively recognizing the larger picture. Spock is made to appear volatile, power-hungry, and petty.
The story is riffing on the Prometheus myth. Prometheus stole fire from the gods, and gave it to human beings, he received eternal punishment for it. In the current story, life forms throughout the galaxy are disappeared only to be studied/tortured by godlike aliens, withholding “fire” to the lowly races. This novel should be disappeared. No one should read this.
In contrast to the previous book, Diane Duane is very familiar with the characters she writes because she has a number of novels (including numerous Star Trek novels) to her credit. My Enemy, My Ally is a Star Trek novel with characters from the Original Series and is numbered Book #18.
When a Romulan Commander discovers that leaders of the Romulan Empire have approved a plan to kidnap Vulcans and harness their mental abilities, she is horrified at her government and decides to perform an act of treason. When she contacts Captain Kirk, her old enemy, he is suspicious of her motivations, but recognizes the major threat that the plot implies.
As they work together, submerging years of bigotries and racism, the Neutral Zone becomes a more provocative and dangerous place, as schemes are hatched and counter-schemes exacerbate the threat. Diane Duane does an excellent job of making the Romulans not just more interesting, but more profound. The message here is not subtle, but she does not soapbox proselytize either. This is a really good Star Trek novel.
I have read Star Trek books for a very long time and I mostly enjoy them for the bit of fan-fiction they appear to be. I mean, come on, how cool is it to write about familiar characters and develop your own little pocket universe like Vonda McIntyre (God rest her soul) used to do. Here, in Corona, you have a star science fiction writer like Greg Bear trying his hand at writing Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy.
I can say without hyperbole that of the 10 or 12 Star Trek novels I’ve read this year, it’s the best. I probably will read a few more before the end of the year, so I don’t know if it will hold up, but four and a half stars is great for me.
Corona, in the context of this book, are sentient clusters of protostars that have possessed several Vulcan scientists to enlist their assistance in initiating another Big Bang Event to renew the universe as a response to Entropy. The crew of the Enterprise is sent along with monitors (a computer system that can second guess command decisions and countermand them) with a reporter to document a rescue of the scientists and halt the Corona’s plan.
The scope of the story is huge although it’s crammed into 192 pages. The characters are deftly employed in a plot that is rooted in real, plausible science. The technobabble is dead-on, bull’s eye accurate. My only minor gripe is that Captain Kirk accepts the monitors on his ship. The Kirk I know would have $#!t the bed (metaphorically speaking) about having some computer system hovering over his shoulder reviewing every single order. Not perfect, but I deduct only a half star because the story is so good.
Allright, you brilliant and beautiful Geeks out there. I have had some fun telling you about some Star Trek losers and winners out there. Admittedly, these are quick cuts, but I hope I have provided enough information for you to choose where you spend your money.
As always, we say thanks for reading the blog. See you later this week! Take it easy! Peace!