Star Trek: The Rings of Tautee (1996) – Dean Wesley Smith, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Rings of Tautee is a fast-paced Star Trek adventure that is set during the original five year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk.

Responding to a subspace disruption, the Enterprise arrives in the Tautee system, followed quickly by the Farragut and four Klingon cruisers, to discover that the entire system has been practically destroyed by some unknown force. The Klingons suspect the Federation has a new secret weapon, Starfleet believes the reverse, and neither side looks to trust the other.

There are clusters of survivors on shards of planets and moons, but as they were a pre-warp civilization Starfleet is prevented from helping because of the Prime Directive. But one of the surviving scientists broadcasts a call for help, and soon Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew are looking for a little bit of wriggle room to rescue as many survivors as they can, even as subspace disruption waves threaten to tear the rest of the system, their ships, and possibly the rest of the quadrant to shreds if they can’t find a way to stop it.

In true Classic Trek fashion, Starfleet and the Klingons find a way to work together, even as the by-the-book captain of the Farragut has some issues with the rule-bending and actions Kirk is taking.

Smith and Rusch tell a fairly straightforward space adventure interspersed with moments of faux high tension because you know no matter what the stakes, the crew of the Enterprise, and the ship herself are going to be okay.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun, quick read. It plays out very fast and feels like a classic TOS episode. It makes references to other events, Kirk spends a number of moments dwelling on the loss of Edith Keeler, and comparing that loss to what may be before him here, in the form of choices at least.

I like that the story shows the Klingons working with Starfleet for a common purpose, even if it is only because of the demands of honour, and while the characters didn’t always feel exactly true to themselves it was definitely a fun little escapade.

And, this one felt like a bit of a palette cleanser following Shatner’s indulgent The Return, this felt like Trek to me, and that’s why the Simon & Schuster Star Trek books keep beaming me aboard, because the Human Adventure is just beginning, and they allow me to boldly go…


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