It’s time to dive into more non-canon Star Trek, as this week the crew of the starship Enterprise find themselves in the Trek version of a horror film.
Now, don’t let the cover art fool you, this adventure doesn’t take place around the Star Trek II & II timeline. The book was released in 1986, but months before Star Trek IV would grace theatres.
Set after the Original Series, with a few tie-ins with the Animated Series, it’s apparently set during the original five year mission.
Members of a Vulcan scientific mission are dead, and those that have survived are not themselves. They are hosts to sadistic, powerful, and evil energy beings, comparable to horror films’ incarnation of demons and suggestive of possession.
As this infection spreads to both the Enterprise and Vulcan, our heroes, Captain Kirk, Spock, and Doctor McCoy joined by the rest of the stalwart crew of the Enterprise, and a character verging on Mary Sue-dom, Antira Lanter, an ensign with a strong gift, who captures the heart of McCoy.
Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, are infected, and for the first time in a thousand years (at least according to this non-canon tale) Vulcans are killing one another, as they fall prey to the infection.
As the story plays out, Kirk gets left on the disabled Enterprise, trying to find a way to stop the madness and violence that have seized his crew, while Spock, Antira and McCoy find themselves on Vulcan, trying to save the day.
It’s a fast read, Dillard has a very good handle on the characters, but the addition of Lanter disrupts the harmony of our trio which is so essential to Classic Trek. She’s not a bad character but she seems to be able to do a lot of things, and more importantly gets away with a lot that would have gotten others court-martialed.
The book plays with horror tropes, to varying degrees of success, and plants the seed for a sequel (which happens in a Next Generation book called Possession).
Overall, the book is fairly enjoyable, neither the best nor the worst of the series so far, but I give it full credit for trying to do something different with our characters, and grounding things like possession and ‘demons’ a little more into reality, well Trek reality anyway.
The end of the book comes racing along. Once the big beats are out of the way, it gallops along with the resolution and conclusion, wanting to wrap everything up, planting seeds, and moving our characters along to their next adventure.
An interesting read, and one that, once again, gets my imagination fired up to write my own Trek novel.
The Human Adventure continues…