Star Trek: Black Fire (1983) – Sonni Cooper


It’s time for more non-canon journeys with the stalwart crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise this week as I dove into the next Star Trek novel in the Pocket Books collection. Set after, or towards the end of, the original five year mission, but before the events of the first film, this one literally starts with a bang!

An explosion rips through the bridge of the Enterprise, killing cadets, and seriously wounding both Kirk and Spock. Despite the threat of paralysis caused by a shard of metal in his spine, Spock decides to investigate the explosion, and finds that it was a bombing. This piques my interest. I thought maybe we’d get a vast conspiracy or some evil behind-the-scenes machinations, you see, I don’t really read the blurb, it’s just the next book on the list, so dig in.

Unfortunately, it was not a conspiracy thriller set within the Federation, it was a long convoluted tale, that lacks character development, and strings one improbable, nearly coincidental plot development after another, as Cooper tells a tale in this form… this happened, and then this, and then this.

While it’s fun when she makes callbacks to classic episodes, and we see the transition to the new uniforms halfway through the book, as well as a bridge replacement that starts to reflect the design and coloring of the films, there was nothing to get caught up in.


It seemed every woman Spock met fell in love with him as he goes from standing trial for treason, to escaping a Starfleet prison to becoming the romanticised image of a space-faring pirate (hence the name Black Fire) to serving aboard a Romulan vessel.

There is way too much going on, and instead of feeling epic, it feels contrived. There are a number of things here that would have made great stories to be more deeply explored than suffering the lip service they are paid here, but instead it’s all thrown together into a rambling tale with no emotional investment in story or character.

The book series, so far, and excluding the two movie adaptations, may have glimpses of greatness and may be filled with the characters we love, but none of them, yet, really feel, like Star Trek.

I love how Cooper wanted to tie in the transition from television to film, I love that she tried to be faithful to the characters she was bringing to life, but it rambles, and consequently, fumbles.

The villains are easily countered, and their motivations seem suspect. They seem surprised by the use of transporters despite the fact that they infiltrated three groups, the Federation, and the Klingon and Romulan Empires, all of whom make use of transporter technology.

The Human Adventure is just beginning… and there are bound to be a few (more) stumbles along the way…



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