DeWeese’s sequel to his earlier Trek novel, Chain of Attack, is my next adventure with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Much like his previous story, this tale takes place during the original five year mission, and expands nicely on the events that took place in Chain of Attack.
I have only one real issue with this book, and it’s a small one, so lets get it out of the way. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are joined on their mission by a First Officer from another ship, Commander Ansfield. And it seems that like the iconic trio, Ansfield falls into a friendly patter with Kirk. Fine. But she almost never addresses him by rank, especially on the bridge, there’s no recognition of his authority, she simply calls him Kirk all the time.
That’s the only thing that didn’t wash with me. Even McCoy knows that on the bridge Starfleet rules and regs need to be followed to maintain the chain of command.
There, now that that is out of the way.
The mission gets underway when it seems the gates that the Enterprise discovered in the previous novel, holes in space that whip you to other locations across the galaxy in a blink of an eye, are spreading, leaking, and possibly breaking down.
Coupled with that, there seems to be a presence, or entity near the gate that infects all who come near it with an overpowering fear that can induce madness, murder and suicide.
As the Enterprise investigates the gates, exploring them, studying them, there is a sense of exploration, discovery and the fear (caused by misunderstanding) of the unknown which were hallmarks of The Original Series and they translate nicely to this story.
In fact I would argue this novel is superior to its predecessor, though it laid the groundwork for this one nicely. The characters are recognizably themselves, the writing in the entire series of novels has vastly improved since its beginning (though The Entropy Effect remains a stellar tale).
All of the regulars get moments, as the wonder and exploration of the unknown lays before them, even as the gates threaten to leave them marooned far from home (even farther than the Voyager went (or will be – future history is hard) in the Delta Quadrant).
I also like that Ansfield, who is obviously created for the story, and has a pretty interesting personal history isn’t a Mary Sue. Sue she falls in nicely with the trio, but she’s not running around with incredible talents that just happen to be able to save the day and the heroes. Yes, her contributions help to figure out what is going on, but no more than any well trained Starfleet officer.
The only thing (aside from Ansfield’s lack of addressing the captain by his rank) is the cover. It’s a poor design, and I never read it in the 80s because I was like, who the hell is that with Spock on the cover? I didn’t want to read about other characters I didn’t know, I wanted to read about Kirk, Spock and McCoy (though having said that, Dreadnought and Battle Stations are both very good tales of how Trek stories set during The Original Series can work with the regulars as supporting characters).
I truly am loving exploring these novels, and there are so many more to go, because the Human Adventure is just beginning…