Star Trek: How Much For Just the Planet? (1987) – John M. Ford

Set phasers to absurd!

I dug into the next Trek Pocket Book in the series before I dive into the next Dark Tower instalment, and this one left me a little dubious. The book is basically a musical comedy, and it doesn’t always work, but it is steeped in nods to other Trek writers, classic movies, and the slapstick stylings of yesteryear.

Set during the Five Year Mission of The Original Series, the Enterprise and a Klingon cruiser, the Fire Blossom, have both detected a rather large dilithium signature in a region of space designated within the treaty zone created by the Organians (something that doesn’t come up anymore, and definitely didn’t come up during the film series of the Original Crew where the Klingons played the villains a few times).

Both ships arrive and are invited to the surface, where the locals have a plan… specifically Plan C. And that entails lots of songs, slapstick, and goofiness with characters we know and love that walks to the very edge of believability for their characters.


It doesn’t always work, and the situations strain credulity, but that is partially the point, there are all manner of madcap things going on, including misunderstandings, and mistaken identity, and it just runs with it right to the very end of the book, when the reveal is made.

Honestly, for me, this one wasn’t the most entertaining Trek book, and it seemed more like a loosely connected series of recognisable vignettes from the era of Golden Hollywood. A number of our favourite characters seem interchangeable, and Spock is absent from almost the entire book, as his character simply wouldn’t work in the situation that author Ford threw at the characters.

In terms of continuity he ties in his version of the Klingons as shown in The Final Reflection to the Klingons in this story, while also tying everything into episodes.

Every slapstick trope in the book, is in the book, and while it’s cool to see how many nods there are to classic films as well as other Trek authors, this exercise, in the end, seems just a little to silly to be really enjoyed.

But as we have learned along the way, not all of these books are going to be winners. They’ve been getting stronger to be sure, but there’s still going to be the occasional slip or two. And of course, doing a musical comedy in text form isn’t going to appeal to every one… but…

The Human Adventure continues….


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