Don’t be fooled by the depiction of the Enterprise on the cover, this story is set just after the Original Series, so very definitely still within the setting of the Five Year Mission.
It also does something that would later be revisited as a television series, as a Federation starship (in this case the U.S.S. Enterprise) is transported over five thousand parsecs away to the far end of a distant galaxy with no apparent way home.
Upon arriving, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest discover they are in a star cluster, but almost all the inhabited planets were wiped out millennia ago by weapons of mass destruction.
Unable to find a way home, they investigate the quadrant and soon are attacked by two races of aliens, each believing the other is responsible for the destroyed planets.
Kirk tries to find a way for the two species to find peace, and they do, coming together to fight the Starfleet vessel, whom they now believe is the real destroyer.
Our heroes struggle to bring peace to the area, while trying to find a way home, but will peace be possible for the warring factions? And will they prove to be a threat to the Enterprise and the Federation?
This is a fairly fun story, I do like that it’s basically Voyager before Voyager came along, the only downside is that the ending of the book came up way too quick. There was something else that bothered me as well, they discover a planet with some strange life forms, but they are countless miles below the surface. An argument is made that the risk of beaming through all that solid rock to investigate the readings is not worth pursuing at this time.
That just strikes me as odd. I think our stalwart crew would have investigated it right off, but if they had, the adventure would have been a lot shorter. It was obvious from a storytelling point of view that this would be an important plot point, in fact it’s hard to miss, and consequently it stuck in my craw for the rest of the book.
Sure, there is some exploration done, but if they had but investigated the planet right at the beginning, they could have resolved a lot more issues, and returned home even quicker.
Still, for the most part, these books are getting stronger and stronger in the way they tell their stories, and their handling of the characters, tying them in a little more strongly with what has happened in the series, and what we know will happen in the films to come.
The Human Adventure continues…