The Original Series

THE ORIGINAL SERIES



  • 75. First Frontier - Novel
  • 79. First Strike - Series Period Novel in the Invasion story
  • 81. Mudd in your Eye - Novel
  • 84. Assignment: Eternity Novel
  • Star Trek IV - Movie Novelisation
  • Probe - Movies Period Novel
  • Star Trek VI - Movie Novelisation
  • Sarek - Movies Period Novel
  • Wagon Train to the Stars - Book in the New Earth Series




    STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME [VONDA N MCINTYRE]

    [Review by Toby Davis]

    After stealing, then blowing up, the starship Enterprise on an illegal mission to bring Spock back from the dead, you'd think there wouldn't be much new that Kirk and his ageing friends could all do with their time. But an alien probe which nullifies all power sources in its vicinity has decided to call in on Earth, and is busy cleansing it of all life when Kirk heads back to stand trial. Ever the innovator, he takes his crew back in time to 1986 San Franciso, to find some humpback whales to ask the probe very nicely to stop, please.

    We've all seen the film. Paramount increased the audience with this one, pulling in people other than just the die-hard Trekkers. It's a much lighter vein than the preceding films, with an obvious element of humour and fun. You lose some of the effect in the conversion to a novel, especially the jaunty music, but you're not going to get that in any novel. McIntyre has written other novelisations, including Star Trek III, and so she knows well enough how to go about it. As with Star Trek III, there are parts that weren't in the film. Whether, as with Generations, these were in the original script but cut out later, or whether she's made them up herself, I don't know, but I'm not sure they add anything to the credibility of the story.

    The characters are probably familiar to you by now; even if you don't watch the Original Series repeats, you'll have seen at least this film. McIntyre does perfectly well with them, capturing the feel of them as well as she does the feel of the film. The sequel, Probe, by Margaret Wander Bonanno, picks up where McIntyre leaves off, following the way the probe thinks and acts here. They go nicely together, as you'd hope; but while that book is uncharted territory, this one is in the familiar range of book-of-the-film. If you like them, you'll find this is a good example of the genre. If you simply liked the film, this will open up different aspects of it, which you should enjoy too. Get it while it's hot...

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    PROBE [MARGARET WANDER BONANNO]

    [Review by Toby Davis]

    The alien probe of Star Trek IV which almost destroyed Earth is still around, moving along its way in its own good time. A problem is that it's heading for Romulan space - and they're not likely to believe it's not a Federation weapon. At the same time, the Romulan Star Empire is undergoing upheaval following the death of the Praetor, so when the new provisional government offers a joint archaeological dig with the Federation as a gesture of peace, Starfleet leaps at the chance to send a starship along to ferry the Feds. Lucky Jim gets the job... With evil Romulan factions intent on sabotaging the joint venture, and the probe heading along to cause the same sort of havoc in Romulan space as it did in the film, it could be a stressful time for our lads...

    The novel follows on neatly from the novelisation of Star Trek IV, and also manages to subtly lay foundations for Star Trek VI. It also ties up various loose ends from the first time we encountered the probe, without being an "oh look the probe's back again" plot. I was quite impressed really. We don't usually see much about the Romulans in TOS books, although we'll see them again in Sarek, so it's nice to get about a bit, and see someone other than the Klingons. We see Romulan life, and a restlessness on Romulus which is still there in Unification. As far as the main plot of the book goes, it could be more involving, but it serves perfectly well.

    While much of the climax can be worked out easily from fairly early on, it's the getting there that's the gripping bit, as well as not being as predictable as you fear. It definitely is a sequel to the film, rather than simply banking on the name to draw in readers. It meshes in well with the films (it seems to be set fairly soon after Star Trek V), and the characters are fine. Basically, then, there are no worries. It's a satisfying read, linking well with many people's favourite film.

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    STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY [J M DILLARD]

    [Review by Toby Davis]

    The Klingons are dying. After the Klingon moon Praxis, their key energy-production facility, explodes, the Empire is facing an environmental disaster which they are not equipped to cope with. It means they must abandon fifty years of hostility with the Federation - and try for a peace rather than a war they can no longer afford. Kirk is assigned to escort the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth - but the Enterprise attacks the Klingon flagship, and assassins kill Gorkon. While Kirk and McCoy stand trial for Gorkon's murder, Spock must figure out what happened - before his friends die.

    Good film. It's one of the best, with a really nice bridge, too. That's one of the things which doesn't come across so well in a novel. Some of the other things are more serious. The atmosphere of the final showdown simply can't be put into words, which is not the fault of Dillard. That said, a novelisation needn't simply be an exact description of what takes place onscreen. There's a lot of scope for concentrating more on character motivation than can be expressed on film, and Dillard could have done worse. What I do object to is the way she seeks to divert suspicion from a bad guy, by having his thoughts show him to be angry at Kirk for something the bad guy really did, not Kirk. That's just sloppy, showing she just hasn't paid enough attention to the film.

    You'd be better off seeing the film first, as it's a lot better done there. Having said that, I'm loath to give this too low a mark, because the film was really good, and a lot of it comes across here as well. Dillard did a lot better in the novelisation of the DS9 pilot, Emissary, but this is still a worthwhile read.

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    SAREK [A C CRISPIN]

    [Review by Toby Davis]

    In the aftermath of ST:VI, the Keep Earth Human League is gaining momentum. Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, Spock's father, is suspicious, especially when he discovers alien telepathic involvement in stirring up trouble. It leads him on a dangerous journey to try to expose a danger which has been secretly building up over the last fifty years - at a time when Amanda, Spock's mother, is dying. With Kirk's nephew kidnapped in a trap to kill the Captain to settle a personal score, it's not a happy day for our lads...

    The book fills in a lot of detail about Spock's family. We find out how Sarek and Amanda met and fell in love, we get all the tension and conflict of when Spock decided to join Starfleet - resulting in seventeen years of hostility betwwen him and his father which wasn't resolved until "Journey to Babel" in the series. This does for Spock and Sarek what The Devil's Heart does for the history of the entire Alpha Quadrant. It's interesting on that score alone, even without the plot laid over the top of it all.

    That plot is good enough; I have some doubts about the credibility of the ending, and some of the stuff on Qu'onos, but all told it goes well with the flashback history. It fills in a lot of blanks which we've always been left with, just as Imzadi does. My, there are a lot of books which do this, aren't there? Still, this is a good one, and a lot better than most other TOS books I've read. I guess we're just lucky not to have any of the bad ones in the library...

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    FIRST FRONTIER [DIANE CAREY AND JAMES I KIRKLAND]

    [Review by Nic Mayer]

    While testing their new shields, the Enterprise collides with a cosmic string and finds that suddenly humans no longer exist. The Romulans and Klingons are at war with each other, and both of them have threatened the Vulcans, and wiped out just about every other race in the galaxy. So, Kirk and co set out to find out what has happened, and in the process discover the need to use the Guardian of Forever to stop the reclusive Clan'Ru from making a terrible mistake.

    The book starts off very slowly, with a few chapters concentrated on a group of what seem like intelligent dinosaurs. However, later, as the story gets going, these turn out to be more important. It all gets much more interesting, when, about half way through they actually realise what has been going on, and then spend their time trying to sort it.



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    MUDD IN YOUR EYE [JERRY OLTION]

    [Review by Nic Mayer]

    When the Enterprise is sent to a pair of planets, who, after thousands of years of war, have finally declared peace, Kirk finds that his old friend Harry Mudd is involved. Mudd, of course, has an ulterior motive, but once most of the main cast have been killed off, it suddenly seems less important.

    It's obvious from the beginning that no-one is really dead (pity, really), but the reasons why are the most interesting parts of the book. Harry Mudd is a good idea of a character to bring back, but although he's initially important, he's not really needed later, and so becomes no more than a plot point. It's quite a good story though, if a little strange in places.



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    ASSIGNMENT:ETERNITY [GREG COX]

    [Review by Nic Mayer]

    Gary Seven, from the episode Assignment:Earth is back. He has discovered that a Romulan has captured another agent, and his technology and is planning to use it to assassinate Spock at Khitomer, therefore preventing any chance of re-unification between the Vulcans and Romulans. To achieve his aim he needs the crew of the Enterprise twenty years before the event is going to happen. However, he also needs them in Romulan space, which Kirk is not happy about.

    The story starts off slowly, but once the Enterprise is in Romulan space, things go much faster. Gary Seven doesn't tell anyone what his mission is at first, and so neither is much revealed to the reader, so we are almost as much in the dark as Kirk is.

    In the end, the book is a typical Star Trek adventure. Kirk sets off save the universe (even if he doesn't realise it this time), is quite happy to die in the process if necessary (as long as his crew survive), but saves the world in the end. A good point is Spock agonising whether to leave Kirk behind on a Romulan planet, as per his orders, or whether he should stay to help his friend.




    WAGON TRAIN TO THE STARS [DIANE CAREY]

    [Review by Nic Mayer]

    In the first book of the New Earth series, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise are assigned to escort a group of people planning to colonise a new world. However, other races in the area have their own ideas, as does Harry Mudd.

    There is so much going on in this book that its difficult to know exactly whats going on, or who's who. The other problem is that I really don't care about these people. There was more time spent fleshing out the aliens than the humans and their reasons for moving, and so in the end I was more caught up in what they were doing, and what their interest in the planet was.

    In other words, its crap. I really can't see any point in reading any of the other books in the series either (which is just as well, given that we don't have them).



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