Star Trek: The Better Man (1995) – Howard Weinstein

Space, the final frontier…

Don’t be fooled by the cover art, this story takes place a couple of years after the events of The Motion Picture, and apparently the burgundy uniform jackets are in place. The story itself, however, if entertaining, well-crafted, and very much a true Trek tale, and it puts Dr. McCoy front and centre.

When an old friend comes aboard, whom he had a falling out with some years back, McCoy is less than thrilled. When the Enterprise is assigned to transport this diplomat to a planet that is on the verge of dissolving their connection with the United Federation of Planets he’s met by an old flame, and a stunning revelation…

He may be a father (again).

While politics drive the diplomatic side of things, they are a ‘perfected’, genetically enhanced group of humans from Earth who want nothing to do with the rest of the universe, McCoy learns and shares what happened all those years ago with Kirk.

On the planet below, there are people who want the Federation gone, and those who want something more than their ‘perfect’ level of existence.

While McCoy relives his past, and the good and the bad that comes with it, there are other things at work that will push relations with the planet and its inhabitants to the tipping point, and the crew of the Enterprise may be all that stand in the way.

I quite like this story, and I always enjoy when McCoy gets to have a bit of the spotlight. There’s humour in the tale, and the relationships as portrayed in the book feel right on pace for where it feels they should be after the encounter with V’Ger, but before Kirk gives up the Enterprise again to return to Starfleet Command.

Most of the supporting characters get a moment or two in the sun, and it’s nice to see that even though Kirk is in the story, he’s not the main part of it. Instead, as far as the Enterprise crew goes, McCoy, Spock and Scotty have the starring roles this time out.

This may in fact be a new favourite of mine, at least until I come across the next one that I really love. I just loved how McCoy was written, and how it rings true to the character we’ve seen, grown and travelled with over the years.

The Human Adventure continues, however, and there will be more stories yet to come with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and I will continue to boldly go with them, to discover all those strange new worlds, and civilisations…

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