A xenophobic, small planet reporter, Mason, is assigned a story aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, and finds herself caught up in an eye-opening adventure as I continue to Boldly Go with the non-canon Star Trek novels from Pocket Books that have been coming out since 1979!
Penned by Greg Bear the story takes place just after, or towards the tail-end of the original five year mission (don’t be fooled by the Motion Picture uniforms on the cover), and Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the stalwart crew of the Enterprise find themselves racing across the galaxy on a medical emergency. An emergency that their own ship may prevent them from resolving.
While Bear’s dialogue doesn’t ‘feel’ like Star Trek, and certainly doesn’t have the characters distinct sound, the story does feel like an actual Trek episode. The Enterprise has been outfitted with a prototype series of monitors in both command and medical, that can overrule and enact their own preprogrammed commands should the database find the behavior or orders of those making the decisions to be contrary to Federation law, or by their definitions wrong.
A lot is made out of this, but it only impacts the story occasionally.
As they race to a stellar nursery to investigate a Vulcan science team, they learn that a non-corporeal entity has taken over the Vulcans and are working on something that could see the complete destruction of the galaxy.
With Mason in tow, Kirk and the crew investigate, and try to find a way to convince the entity, taking the name Corona, not to wipe out the entire galaxy, but will they be able to do so before the monitors take control and fight for the Federation themselves.
They beginning of the novel I had some really high hopes for the tale, because there’s a bit of a feeling of Village of the Damned as the Vulcan children succumb to Corona’s control. It doesn’t play out the way I wanted it to, however, and of course, similar things have already occurred in The Original Series.
It ends up being a quick and easy read, but the characters never settle into their grooves to become recognizable as those we love. The trappings are all there for a classic Trek tale, and the way it plays out, feels like TOS, but without a strong showing for the characters. It’s as if Bear were trying to force the characters to say what he wants them to, much like Corona did with the Vulcans, as opposed to letting the characters behave as they want to.
It’s not a terrible effort, and was, in fact, just what I needed to start slipping back into a Trek state of mind, but it could have been more.
Still, the Human Adventure continues…