Monday 3 November 2014

Star Trek: Web of the Romulans - M.S. Murdock

Title: Web of the Romulans
Author: M.S. Murdock
Published: 1983
Chronological Period: 2267

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Web of the Romulans” by M.S. Murdock is a Star Trek Original Series novel set early in the Enterprise’s 5 year mission and is the only Star Trek novel that Murdock wrote. The story is based around the Federation’s response to the peculiar actions of Romulan Empire which are leading some people within Starfleet command to believe that an invasion may be immanent. The Enterprise is dispatched to the Neutral Zone to monitor the situation and soon the crew find themselves face to face with a Romulan ship whose commander is willing to do anything he can to ensure the completion of his secret mission.

The main aspects of the story regarding Kirk’s face off against the Romulan commander were very reminiscent of the TV episode “Balance of Terror”. Whilst the end result of the face-off is rather different I still found that it made the book feel rather un-original due to this being the core action elements of the novel. This all exacerbated by some rather bad pacing. It takes quite a while before the book actually gets on to any of the action scenes and then when they do occur they are interrupted by the narrative jumping to some of the other slower paced sub-plots.

An additional thing that I noted is that the portrayal of women isn’t the best and I am sure some people could easily classify it as being slightly misogynist. For example, Uhura’s main role in the novel is to look “fragile” in her bathrobe and then there is the loyal centurion on the Romulan ship who it turns out may only be loyal because she actually loves her commander. Yes, I have seen much worse in other books but the portrayal of women here wasn’t the greatest and I haven’t even touched on the computer who was given a female persona and then fell in love with Kirk and started to act like a 12 year old girl.

There are of course some positives within the novel such as the very fact that it does take an interesting look at the Romulan Empirs. I found the moments spent on the intrigue within the Preator’s court or the way in which the Romulan Commander interacted with his crew to be rather enjoyable if a bit limited in scope. I do wish that Murdoch had maybe tried to spend more time exploring the political and cultural side of the Romulan Empire in more depth.

Overall, this wasn’t really the best of Star Trek. Whilst the close look at the Romulan Empire was interesting the bad pacing and rather un-original aspects of the plot let it down. If you are a fan of the Romulans then I would advise you to still give the book a read but if you are just interested in general Star Trek fare then there are much better novels out there.