Star Trek: Shadows on the Sun (1993) – Michael Jan Friedman

Set shortly after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Shadows on the Sun explores some of the backstory of Dr. Leonard H. McCoy, a character that has become one of my favourites over the years.

It’s interesting, as a child, and teen, Kirk was always the character for me. But as I grew older, while still loving Kirk, McCoy began to resonate more with me. Consequently, I was quite happy to dig into this story that promised to explore his history while giving us another adventure with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, that enduring trio that has been so central to my life.

On their way to be decommissioned, and face their imminent retirement, the crew of the Enterprise are handed a diplomatic assignment, because one of its crew members has knowledge of the planet they are headed to, and the culture that dominates it. The planet, Ssan, where a war of assassins is taking place, the crew member, the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise, McCoy.

But a diplomatic team is assigned to the mission as well, and when they come aboard the Enterprise, trouble follows, because its McCoy’s ex-wife, Jocelyn, and her husband, Clay.

We know whatever happened between the two (which plays out in the book) drove McCoy out into space in service of Starfleet, we’e known for some time that he has a daughter, Joanna, but we’ve never heard about the marriage, and the events that led to their separation.

Now that story plays out in the pages of this book, while the crew find themselves trapped in a conflict that may tear the planet apart if Kirk and company can’t find a way to a peaceful resolution.

McCoy really gets to shine in this tale, and Friedman has a strong understanding of his character, the dialogue feels authentic, and the story is very human, and very Star Trek. It may not be my favourite of the Trek novels I’ve read, but it is definitely in the top ten to be sure.

This one is true Trek, ties in nicely with the character’s and the show’s history and whether its defined as canon or not, it really illuminates McCoy’s history. And that is long overdue.

I love how the story is set, post Undiscovered, and then a flashback to one of McCoy’s first assignments that helped define who he is, and not once does it feel like Friedman fumbles (though I believe Uhura holds the rank of Commander by this point, but is referred to as a lieutenant).

The Human Adventure continues, and more journeys with the crew of the Enterprise awaits.

Boldly go…


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