Friday 20 November 2015

Star Trek: The Galactic Whirlpool - David Gerald

Title: The Galactic Whirlpool
Author: David Gerald
Published: 1980
Chronological Period: 2267

Available at:
Amazon UK

“The Galactic Whirlpool” was the final Star Trek novel released by Bantam books before the licence was handed over to Pocket Books. What intrigued me the most about this novel was that it was written by David Gerrold, a writer who was involved quite deeply with Star Trek and who wrote the much loved Season 2 episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles”.

The story is based around a pre-FTL vessel known as the Wanderer which is found by the Enterprise to be heading towards the galactic whirlpool, two singularities spinning about each other that are traveling through the galaxy. The crew investigate the ship and find that the crew have lost much of their technology and have reverted to a rather primitive existence. It soon becomes obvious that the in inhabitants are now divided into two warring factions who are almost fanatical in their hatred of each other. Kirk and his crew must therefore work to end the civil war and restart the engines of the Wanderer before it is to late.

The story itself isn’t that remarkable and I have probably read this type of plot many times before. However, Gerrold still managed to keep me interested by providing lots of interesting details about both Federation protocol and characters history. He really uses this novel as a chance to explain and expand the Star Trek Universe that he obviously enjoys writing about. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Gerrold’s imagined pre-warp history of Earth differs from what is now accepted as canon. This difference is understandable as the novel was written back in 1980 before the real growth in developing Star Trek’s back story but if you are a stickler for the current continuity it may irritate you.

However, at times this attention to technical detail could actually bog the story down. At multiple times in the novel when there was an important plot point developing, he feels the need to slow it down with another information dump. Considering, the plot line isn’t the most original this could at times be a bit of a hindrance to really getting emerged in the story.

His love for the characters really shines through in this novel and I think he tries to give them a sense of realism. Yes, there may be slight variations from what we would have seen on the TV series itself but I actually found that this was an improvement. What really did impress me however was that as I read the book I could hear Shatner or Nimoy speaking, Gerrold has managed to catch the mannerism of the cast in his writing and I enjoyed seeing that.

Overall, this was an interesting enough novel although at times it felt more like a fictional description of the Trek Universe rather than an exciting and engaging story.

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