Star Trek: The Return (1996) – William Shatner with Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Judith Reeves-Stevens

William Shatner with the Reeves-Stevens at his side, pens the second volume of his Shatner-verse Star Trek novels, and while a little too self-indulgent in some aspects, it’s not a terrible tale, and hints at some cool Borg ideas that don’t wholly conflict with what was later established by Star Trek: First Contact, and events in Star Trek: Voyager.

Set after the events of Generations, Captain Kirk is dead. Spock has been extracted from Romulus to see the truth of the situation before returning to his ambassadorial mission, as well as some additional investigations when it seems someone has stolen the body.

And through some strange equipment, an alliance between the Borg-Romulan restores Kirk to life. He’s conditioned to follow one mission, kill Jean-Luc Picard, and he’s been enhanced by some Borg nanites to do it.

It seems the Borg fears that Picard’s earlier connection to the Collective may reveal secrets that the Federation may use to fight them when the Borg begins their inevitable attack. The Borg are working (temporarily) with the Romulans, an idea that they may have drawn from Picard’s mind, and are preparing for the assimilation of the entire quadrant.

All Kirk has to do is kill Picard. There’s a Romulan woman who seduces (of course) and programs Kirk, and off the captain goes. And here’s where it seems to get a little indulgent because apparently despite his age and thanks to the nanite enhancements, Kirk encounters almost every member of Picard’s bridge crew and soundly beats them, including a Klingon named Worf in his physical prime.

I mean come on.

It’s like Shatner was intent on proving that no matter what the era, TOS is still the best. And no matter how the story plays out, and no matter what the characters do, and the references made (and there are some good ones) this book is always about making Kirk the hero, and showing that he’s the best there is.

And even as this story ends, it sets up the possibility for more Kirk adventures in the 24th century, so he’ll continue to boldly go…

This one isn’t exactly my favourite of the Trek novels I’ve read recently. It’s interesting to see the kind of stories that Shatner wants to tell in the Star Trek universe, but he also seems intent on having Kirk always be the smartest, strongest, best person in any room he goes into. He doesn’t feel like the flawed character we’ve gotten to know over the years, he’s almost like the Trek version of Springsteen’s Glory Days.

Part of the most appealing things about the continuity established in the Trek universe is the idea of aging and coming to grips with that. Because the human adventure continues (and so do Star Trek novels) check them out from Simon & Schuster.


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