Star Trek: Dwellers in the Crucible (1985) – Margaret Wander Bonanno

Before Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came along four years later with the concept of the Planet of Galactic Peace, Margaret Wander Bonanno presented a similar idea in her non-canon Star Trek novel, Dwellers in the Crucible, which finds its way onto the Book Shelf this week.

Set before the events of Star Trek II, the novel is a bit of an oddity and is more of an intellectual novel than some of the previous titles that came before it. It’s also of note that the Star Trek characters that we know and love, and were probably the reason we picked the book up in the first place are decidedly lacking from the text of the novel, as they are used only incidentally.

Instead the novel focuses on the Warrantors of Peace. In effect hostages these Warrantors are held on Vulcan, and are relatives of high ranking members of their home world’s government. Should their world attack any other member of the Federation, the Warrantor will the executed.

The story focuses on Cleante and T’Shael, the human and vulcan representatives respectively. When they and other Warrantors are seized by the Romulan Empire, some of them tortured to death by Klingons working with the Romulans, Cleante and T’Shael are forced to do what they can to survive.

A friendship develops that parallels that of Kirk and Spock, and themes of friendship, peace, cultural differences and survival are explored.

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It’s a good story, but I remember when I first read it in my teen years that I was disappointed that Kirk, Spock and the rest weren’t in it. Or at least enough for my liking.

Revisiting it now I enjoyed it so much more this time around, it still lacks the character moments I would come to expect from a Star Trek novel, but it tells a solid story.

Soon, Paramount would step in and lay out some stronger guidelines for Star Trek novels, and they would eliminate author-created main characters, or at least pushing them back to supporting roles.

For all that I quite liked this one, as it did explore themes and ideas that are relevant to Trek, and it does fit nicely in the Trek world.

Stories like this could fit nicely into story arcs for a Trek series, but you have to wonder if the United Federation of Planets would actually have something like Warrantors of Peace. I think the Federation and Starfleet would have other ideas about maintaining the peace, though maybe not, considering that they did try to do something similar on Nimbus III.

Still, the Human Adventure continues, and each non-canon journey has been interesting in their own way so far, and I will continue to boldly go.

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