And we boldy, well, sadly in this case, blandly go, with the next story in the Star Trek non-canon Pocket Book universe. And also, don’t let the cover fool you, this one takes place before The Motion Picture, somewhere during the original five year mission.
Now, to be clear, this one could have been one of the great ones, there’s a wonderful idea, but despite my best efforts, I couldn’t hear the characters in the way Correy wrote his dialogue. Nothing sounded like the characters we know.
The crux of the plot sees the Enterprise, after having encountered a spatial rift, gets thrown across the quadrant. With the complete loss of warp power, and no way to effect repairs, they limp their way to a small isolated planet and star.
The planet is Mercan, the Abode of Life. The people there, because there are no stars visible to them at night, believe that they are alone in the universe, that their sole planet is the only point of existence in all of reality. They have had no reason to develop interstellar travel, because they don’t realize there is life beyond the planet. They are, however, technologically advanced, and the entire planet hums with constant transporter beams.
Kirk and company realize they need to effect repairs on the Enterprise, Mercan is the closest planet, and may be able to afford them some help. But if they make first contact with a people who have no concept of life beyond their planet, how much of the Prime Directive (the general rule of non-interference) is violated by simply showing up on the planet?
Captain James T. Kirk, with Spock, McCoy, Rand, and Scotty at his side must wrestle with the dilemma of repairing the ship by asking the Mercans for help, or respect their beliefs, and hide the fact that life exists off the planet.
There is also the menace of the Mercan star which flares up on occasion and emits deadly rays, and causes the planet’s inhabitants to hide under the surface, but may in fact destroy the Enterprise (though why wouldn’t they just orbit the planet, keeping Mercan between them and the sun?).
This is a great idea for a story, but the characterizations of our heroes just didn’t ring true, and consequently it was tough to get into the book. They didn’t sound like anyone I remotely recognized.
Like I said, I love the idea for the story, and the idea should totally be revisited, but with perhaps, not necessarily a stronger writer, but one who can properly channel the voices of the characters.
Maybe the next one will sound a little better in my head…
Still, they are fun to read, and of course, you know me, I always need to have a book in my hand…