Friday, 6 September 2013

Star Trek: Enterprise: Surak's Soul - J.M. Dillard



Title: Surak's Soul
Author: J.M. Dillard
Published: 2003
Chronological Period: 2152

Available at:
Amazon
Amazon UK

Review:
"Surak's Soul" by J.M. Dillard is the latest book in my ongoing saga to read every Star Trek book in chronological order as per my Star Trek Reading Challenge. Whilst it is a reasonably well written original Star Trek story, the overall plot isn't that complex, deep or really anything we haven't seen before. It actually reminded me of the type of plot we would have seen on the original series. In fact, I could easily visualise the talking alien energy life form, present within the story, in Technicolor glory like we would have seen on the TV show! It also wasn't helped by the fact that, as with the previous Star Trek books I have read during this challenge, I was able to figure out what had happened very quickly thereby destroying any suspense that may have been built up.

Anyway, in regards to the story, it follows the Enterprise responding to a distress signal that leads them to a civilization on the brink of extinction due to a mysterious illness. As the crew explores the planet, T'Pol is forced to kill the last remaining survivor to ensure the survival of Hoshi. This leads to a type of identity crisis for T'Pol as she begins to suspect that spending her time with humans was leading her to go against the teachings of Surak regarding non-violence.

As T'Pol tries to get to grips with her thoughts and choices, the Enterprise remains to investigate what happened to the planet's inhabitants. As the investigation progresses, a mysterious energy based life form known as the Wanderer turns up and offers to assist, which is greatly appreciated by the crew. Especially when they also begin to fall foul of the same illness that claimed the inhabitants on the planet below.

My biggest disappointment with the story though was actually the very little attention actually given to T'Pol and her inner struggle to come to terms with what she did and if is really against Surak's teachings. She just seems to meditate once and then decide that she is going to give up all violence, even if it would save a member of the crew. It was a big let down as the book synopsis had left me thinking it would be a good character driven story exploring T'Pol's character and the guilt she was suffering which it really wasn't.

The little bit that did focus on T'Pol's thoughts was something that I did actually enjoy and it was quite nice to see her comparisons between Surak & Gandhi. However, besides this comparison there is nothing really in this book about Surak at all. It really appears to me that, with this and what I highlighted in the last paragraph, this book should be 'done' for false advertising! Or maybe it was my own fault for reading too much into the title and synopsis.

Now that I have got my disappointments out of the way I will talk about some of the merits. The story does move at a good pace and whilst the story isn't anything special it is entertaining enough. I also think that the author's characterizations were probably the best I have seen so far in an Enterprise novel although I would expect this to be the case as it is currently the latest one that I have read.

Overall "Surak's Soul" was another reasonable Star Trek Enterprise novel that won't win any awards but kept me entertained enough. It was especially nice to see an author really capture the characters form the show well. It is a shame that the book didn't really live up to what I was expecting in regards to really going into T'Pol's soul searching or give us some more information on Surak as I think that I would have really loved the book had this been the case.