Saturday, 30 November 2013

Star Trek 8 - James Blish

Title: Star Trek 8
Author: James Blish
Published: 1972
Chronological Period: 2265 - 2268

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Star Trek 8” by James Blish was the eighth collection of Original Series Star Trek series scripts adapted into short story form. One thing to note is that neither the various collections nor the stories contained are in any sort of chronological order so it has been an interesting experience for me in trying to decide what order I should read them as part of my chronological reading challenge.

This collection includes adaptations of the following episodes:

  • Spock's Brain (3rd Season)
  • The Enemy Within (1st Season)
  • Catspaw (2nd Season)
  • Where No Man Has Gone Before (1st Season)
  • Wolf in the Fold (2nd Season)
  • For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (3rd Season)

  • As you can see this collection contains 2 stories from each of the 3 original series seasons but I have ended up reading this collection as part of the 2265 period due to the inclusion of the pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” which is referenced in several other books from this period.

    In all honesty the stories themselves are probably only as good or as bad as they were when shown on the TV screen. There are some really enjoyable stories in this collection such as “Where No Man Has Gone Before” or “Wolf in the Fold” but there are also some real stinkers such as “Spock’s Brain” and “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”.

    One thing I noted is that the novelizations are very straight forward and workmanlike with hardly any added material. In addition Blish has been quite extreme in the way he has rigidly stuck to the scripts which results in very little insight into the characters beyond what is shown in the action and dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, the stories do capture what happened on the screen very well but dedicated fans of the show are unlikely to find anything in the stories to be engaging or suspenseful as there is quite simply nothing new. However, if you are someone who came to love Star Trek via the more modern series and have never really watched the Original Series this this collection does offer an enjoyable diversion and a nice way to quickly experience these classic stories.

    Overall, these are very competent adaptions of some Original Series episodes although they are lacking anything new or insightful. I can imagine these were superb back in the days before DVD’s enabling people to watch episodes as many times as they wished but these days I don’t think they mean as much beyond offering a quick way for someone to explore the original episodes without sitting down and watching them.

    Sunday, 24 November 2013

    Star Trek: Things Fall Apart (Mere Anarchy Book 1) - Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

    Title: Things Fall Apart (Mere Anarchy Book 1)
    Author: Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
    Published: 2006
    Chronological Period: 2265

    Available at:
    Amazon UK

    “Things Fall Apart” by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore is the first book in a six part Star Trek mini series entitled “Mere Anarchy”. The interesting thing about this series is that the stories were originally released only in ebook format only which seems to have resulted in a shorter length in comparison to other Trek novels.

    In this story the readers are introduced to the inhabitants of the planet Mestiko who have been under observation by a small team of Starfleet cultural specialists. However, the future is not looking good for the planet as a rogue pulsar has been detected approaching their star system. The lethal radiation given off by the pulsar is expected to destroy all life on Mestiko. The Federation must therefore decide if it is willing to step in and try to assist when it is limited by the strict definitions of the Prime Directive.

    I actually found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the series as it expertly sets the stage for future instalments. I liked how the authors have split the narrative between Mestiko’s inhabitants and the crew of the Enterprise. This ensures that as well as getting to see the familiar crew, the readers are able to identify and understand the people on the planet who I suspect we will see more of in the future stories.

    One thing I really noticed about this story is that it really did seem to capture the feel of the original series era. I could easily envision this as the same crew witnessed in the episode of “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. I don’t think it offered any new insights into the crew but with the short length of this story I don’t think there was much opportunity and I was more than happy just to witness the crew acting in the manner I expected.

    Overall this was a very engaging and enjoyable introduction to the “Mere Anarchy” series that sets the scene admirably and leaves the reader looking forward to the next instalment.

    Note: Whilst this story was originally released in ebook format only, a collection of all the Mere Anarchy stories is available in a paperback edition.

    Sunday, 17 November 2013

    Star Trek: Enterprise (My Brother's Keeper Book 3) - Michael Jan Friedman

    Title: Enterprise (My Brother's Keeper Book 3)
    Author: Michael Jan Friedman
    Published: 1999
    Chronological Period 2265

    Available at:
    Amazon UK

    “Enterprise” is the final book in the “My Brother’s Keeper” trilogy by by Michael Jan Friedman which explores the friendship between James T. Kirk and Gary Mitchell. As with the previous two novels in the series, it utilises a framing story set after the events of the TV episode entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before" in which Gary Mitchell dies.

    The framing story is based around following Kirk’s journey back to Earth where he meets Gary’s parents and decides to tell them the truth about what happened to their son. However, whilst there he ends up thinking over one of his first adventures as captain of the Enterprise in which Gary continues to help shape his career. This flashback follows Kirk and his crew as they finally unravel a mystery that had been building through both the previous novels. What they find is a secret that both the Klingon’s and Federation have kept hidden and will result in Kirk having to work with a Klingon commander named Kang if he is to save the Enterprise.

    I initially struggled to get into this book as once again Friedman decided to use a portion of the novel to describe Mitchell’s death. I can’t imagine anyone reading without having picked up the previous novels in the series so don’t understand why he felt the need to subject me to another re-telling of the same story. It doesn’t help that the best telling of Mitchell’s death was in the first novel anyway.

    However, once we get past this the novel is actually quite an enjoyable read and I was happy to finally see the conclusion to the mystery that had been progressing in the other novels. There is plenty of action and fun throughout, but in addition there is some character development in regards to Kirk as he tries to learn about accepting everyone’s opinion, not just people he may have known closely in the past so that he can be a great captain.

    Another nice little element to story is Friedman’s attempt at trying to explain the physical differences between Klingons in the Original Series and in the Next Generation. This book of course was written prior to the “Enterprise” TV series which gives a different reasoning, but I think that I actually prefer this version.

    Overall, this was an enjoyable and entertaining conclusion to the trilogy and I probably found the core story to be the best out of all three novels. There is plenty of action, adventure and excitement packed into this novel in addition to its attempt at exploring Kirk’s growth into a good captain.

    Sunday, 10 November 2013

    Star Trek: Enterprise The First Adventure - Vonda N. McIntyre

    Title: Enterprise The First Adventure
    Author: Vonda N. McIntyre
    Published: 1986
    Chronological Period: 2264

    Available at:
    Amazon UK

    “Enterprise: The First Adventure” by Vonda N. McIntyre is a Star Trek novel that charts the first voyage of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk. The interesting aspect of this novel to me was that it was written in 1986 and appears to have been one of the first official attempts at trying to capture an event in the Star Trek Universe that was outside the period of the series or movies that had been released up to that point. Considering the wealth of novels we now have that add and refine the Trek Universe I was looking forward to seeing one of the initial attempts at providing additional detail to both the universe and the characters via a novel.

    The story itself follows Kirk as he begins to form relationships with the various crew members such as Scotty, Spock and Sulu. When Kirk finds out that his first mission as Captain of the Enterprise is to transport a group of travelling entertainers to various starbases he isn’t best pleased as he had been hoping for a chance to go and explore. Of course, this seemingly easy mission doesn’t go as planned and before long Kirk is faced with a first contact situation on the edge of Klingon territory all the while trying to keep the travelling entertainers and their flying horse under control.

    Yes, I did mention a flying horse above and it is as ridiculous as it sounds. The entire travelling circus element was just not very interesting and I soon got bored reading about different ways in which Kirk and the crew did things to help out the horse. Considering at least half the novel was based around this it really did spoil my overall enjoyment of the novel. It did get better towards the final part of the novel when the first contact situation occurred and there was some action and an interesting encounter with the Klingons but to be honest the continued involvement of the flying horse was a constant irritant for me.

    What McIntyre does do well though in my opinion is try and delve into the relationships between the various crew members. I particularly enjoyed seeing the way in which Spock and Kirk interacted with each other. There is a real feeling of testing the waters between the two of them that I could easily visualise as developing into the friendship I know will occur. It was also good to see that the other crew member didn’t instantly fall in love with Kirk and vice-versa. Every character had their own hang-up or issue and McIntyre tried to ensure that these were dealt with in a manner which could explain the way in which the various relationships mature in the future.

    Overall, the plot itself was probably rather weak and I still can’t imagine what possessed McIntyre to include a flying horse in it. However, it is an interesting attempt at trying to capture Kirk’s initial time aboard the Enterprise and his interactions between the crew. It was also interesting to review the first real attempt at some meaningful expansion of the Trek Universe via novels. Basically, if you aren’t interested in the historical significance of the novel or its attempt at exploring an earlier period of Trek lore than I probably wouldn’t bother picking it up as the story itself isn’t really worth it.

    Friday, 1 November 2013

    Star Trek: Inception - S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison

    Title: Inception
    Author: S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
    Published: 2010
    Chronological Period: 2261

    Available at:
    The Book Depository
    Amazon UK

    “Inception” by S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison is a Star Trek novel that I wasn’t sure about due to the focus seemingly being on the previous romantic liaisons of both Kirk and Spock. I suppose, I am just not the biggest fan of romance novels, especially when the outcome of the relationships are known anyway due to what we have seen on TV & film.

    Anyway, the plot itself is set in a time when Kirk is courting Carol Marcus and Spock has just met a young woman named Leila Kalomi. Both of these women are working on a scientific project on Mars which appears to be an early stage of the Genesis project. However, things get out of hand when some environmental groups decide they don’t appreciate the scientific work being conducted on Mars. Carol and Lelia soon require the assistance of the men they have fallen in love with to help them avert a potential disaster.

    The first observation I had with the novel was that writing is very competent and well-structured which ensured I found the book very easy to read and finish. In addition, I felt that the authors had captured the voices of Kirk and Spock to the point that I could easily imagine the delivery of various lines being made by the actors who portrayed them. It was also quite interesting to witness some sort of attempt at exploring the relationship between Kirk and Marcus.

    However, there are quite a few niggles I had with the book, the main one being that it wasn’t that exciting. The environmental plot just didn’t really keep me excited or interested as it seemed to be secondary to the overall romantic elements of the plot. This wouldn’t have been an issue if the romantic elements of the story had been deep, complex and really explored how the characters felt about each other.

    Unfortunately the relationships between the four main characters felt like something I would see in a school playground. The readers gets subjected to various levels of angst as Carol worries about how to tell Kirk her big news while Leila pines for Spock Leila in particular was a rather irritating character due to her childish reactions and the level of desperation that results. In simple terms, the romantic elements of the story are something I could easily expect to see in a book set in a High School and aimed at 14 years olds.

    Of course, the final issue with this book is that the reader already knows where these relationships are going. This results in a severe lack of suspense as you progress through the novel. Whilst this knowledge of what is going to occur in the future isn’t something new for Star Trek novels, I think "Inception" is affected more by the fact that such a large percentage of the book is dedicated to the characters' relationships.

    Overall, this book will never go down as a favourite of mine but at the same time I don’t understand some of the scathing comments I have seen around the internet. Yes it isn’t the most exciting story and the romantic elements are rather juvenile but it was still interesting to see someone try and tackle this period and it was a very easy book to read due to the author’s competent writing skills. To be honest, if there are any Star Trek fans out there who also like Young Adult styled High School romance then they will probably love this book.