Star Trek: Mindshadow (1986) – J.M. Dillard

The Human Adventure continues on the Book Shelf this week with some more non-canon Star Trek adventures. And for the first time in a long time, this was a Trek book I enjoyed. Dillard has a knack for the characters, and while some of the beats may not have been completely inline with Trek, I rather enjoyed this tale.

The Enterprise has been called to a remote planet, Aritani, that is suffering attacks by pirates. Kirk, Spock, and Scotty head a landing party to investigate, and things take a turn when Spock suffers a fall that not only endangers his life, but also could cause brain damage, memory loss and a violent shift in personality.

Set just after the original series, so one can assume it is still part of the original five year mission, the characters for the most part seem true to themselves, and more than once I was actually hearing the dialogue and not just reading it.

McCoy and even Dr. M’Benga seem unable to help Spock so Starfleet sends a specialist, Emma Staenz to help with the ill Vulcan.

Both McCoy and Kirk are taken with Emma, and that causes some problems for the two friends, even while they worry about Spock’s life.

As the Federation council debates on whether or not to continue helping Aritani after the inhabitants have asked them to leave, more things become revealed, like the possibility of a Romulan spy on board.

enterprise

For a short book, 252 pages, Dillard makes a lot happen, and she makes a concerted effort to tie the story into the existing Trek tapestry, not only referencing the Original Series, but the Animated Series as well.

This happens when Spock returns to Vulcan, and recalls some of his youth, while staying at his home with his father, Sarek, and mother, Amanda.

Once the revelations start happening, the climax races along at warp speed, and Kirk and Spock (surprise he ends up being ok by story’s end) get some action beats in a secret Romulan base, traitors are confronted, and hearts are broken.

The best thing about this book was not only hearing some of the dialogue in my head, but seeing the story unfold like an actual episode – not all the previous novels have been able to do that. In fact that talent has been few and far between, so I am delighted to know that there are more novels by Dillard to come.

This type of novel gives me hope that we are transitioning to the point when Paramount and series creator Gene Roddenberry took a firmer hand in the stories that could be told in the Trek universe.

And we continue to Boldly Go…

tosbridge

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