Star Trek: The Starship Trap (1993) – Mel Gilden

Set during the original five year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Mel Gilden’s Trek novel is one I really enjoyed. He totally has the characters down, and not only could I hear the characters in my head, I could see everything in my mind’s eye playing out like an episode.

Captain Kirk is less than thrilled when the Enterprise is assigned to ferry a politician who has it in for Starfleet, and his aide, Hazel Payton, who has an unusual sensor attachment to record everything she needs in pristine and deep detail, to Starbase 12. There Payton remains on board to gather material for the politician’s political campaign while the Enterprise is assigned to search for and stop an unknown weapon that is causing Federation, Klingon and Romulan ships to disappear.

What they don’t expect to find is one of the brightest minds of the Federation behind the weapon, intent on using it (un-ironically) to stop war, by sending the offending ships to other universes, lost forever.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are more than up to the task of taking the scientist on, but it puts the ship at dangerous risk, all under Payton’s recording eyes. But what she sees may change her own opinions of Starfleet as well as those of her boss.

The story rips along at warp speed, and there are moments, movements, and glowing pieces of dialogue that just resonate with Trekness. I loved reading this one, because it felt like an actual episode. Payton is interesting guest star, and is not some super character that will change everything on board, she’s a new window to see what we already know about Starfleet in general and the Enterprise specifically.

Not that she doesn’t play her part in helping to save the day when the Enterprise comes up against the strange weapon, but she’s part of the team, not the whole show herself, and that’s a huge message that is also part of Trek, working together for our survival and our betterment.

I think the only downside to this novel is that Sulu, Chekov and Uhura aren’t featured enough, Scotty fares a little better. They are on most of of the bridge scenes, but like a lot of the classic episodes, are simply relegated to the aye sirs, and hailing frequencies open.

I realise I was just raving about seeing this one in my mind’s eye and how it played out like an actual episode, and then complaining about the fact that the rest of the bridge crew are underused (just like in the series) but that’s just the way I feel.

Which isn’t to say this one isn’t a fine example of Trek storytelling featuring our iconic trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy I was just hoping the rest of the bridge may have had something to contribute to the story.

This was a great one, and the Human Adventure is just beginning as there are more Trek stories to come as I boldly go…

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