The Bantam Novels
Table of Contents

Spock Must Die!

How long does it last?

The internal evidence is quite clear. The story takes something over six months. By my guess it’s 202 days from start to finish, although a lot of the middle bit is quite sketchy. Spock One is holed up in sickbay for over 160 days without anybody doing much about it.

When does it happen?

From the internal evidence, after TOS “Spectre of the Gun”, based on mentions of the Melkotians. It’s also supposed to be “nearly a year” since the last major incident with the Klingons. That’s not really much help, since it might not even be the Enterprise that’s involved. This novel is unique in that it was written almost immediately after “Star Trek” finished, and was published in 1970. My guess is that it’s almost a “sequel” to the show, and happens after it, in 2269 or 2270. Since it lasts so long, probably both. Problematically, Janice Rand is still aboard the ship, although she never actually appears.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 4011.9 (the first day) to 4205.5. This actually might sort of work if the units are single days, giving a total length of 195 days, very close to my guess. In terms of actual dates, the “official” stardate conversion would place the story between Saturday 5th January to very early on Sunday 17th March, 2267. That’s really too early on, and nowhere near long enough. My dates are no better, though. I get Saturday 30th November, 2267 to Wednesday 12th February, 2268, and exactly the same criticisms apply.

Does it fit?

This novel has to get special treatment. It was written by the man who spent the rest of his life turning “Star Trek” into collections of short stories (in amongst other things). To some extent, the book is a continuation of the stories he’d written, not the television series. Since James Blish lived in England, it’s quite likely that he never even saw an episode of the show until after this book was written. He himself admitted that he was wrong having everyone refer to Doctor McCoy as “Doc.” In many other cases, the problem is that later “Star Trek” contradicted what’s here. It’s only incorrect retrospectively. That said, there are plenty of things that don’t fit. At the start of the story, Enterprise is on the other side of the galaxy to Earth, which is a lot further than is compatible with, well, the whole of “Star Trek: Voyager”. Since there was a strong possibility that “Star Trek” was pretty much finished, there was no problem with having the Organians keep the Klingons out of space for 1,000 years, or having Captain Koloth from TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles” getting trapped in an endless moment of frozen time. It doesn’t really mesh with what came later, though.

What did I think?

I really enjoyed re-reading this book. It’s the kind of hairy-chested, two-fisted science fiction I grew up with, and it really is a good, well-written story told by a talented writer. Of course, not everything about the book has aged particularly well. Nit-picking my way through from my “enlightened” viewpoint sounds like a really bad idea. I will quote this one, magnificent, paragraph:

“What was the source of the oddly overt response that women of all ages and degrees of experience seemed to feel toward Spock? Kirk had no answer, but he had two theories, switching from one to the other according to his mood. One was that it was a simple challenge-and-response situation: he may be cold and unresponsive to other women, but if I had the chance, I could get through to him! The other, more complex theory seemed more plausible to Kirk only in his moments of depression: that most white crew-women, still the inheritors after two centuries of vestiges of the shameful racial prejudices of their largely Anglo-American forebears, saw in the Vulcan half-breed—who after all had not sprung from any Earthly colored stock—a “safe” way of breaking with those vestigial prejudices—and at the same time, perhaps, satisfying the sexual curiosity which had probably been at the bottom of them from the beginning.”

The final verdict:

This novel was enormously influential on what came later. The fact is, although we never see it, there are references that are very suggestive that there was a huge Klingon-Federation War sometime after the original series. I just don’t see that this particular story fits into the overall continuity, though. It’s a cop-out, but I think Spock Must Die! happens in some sort of alternate universe. Of course, the Organians can do practically anything, so maybe they fix things later so it sort of didn’t happen. Equally, maybe neutralising the Klingons didn’t fit in with the Wormhole Aliens’ plans for Bajor. If the reset button did get hit, we never saw it.

Spock: Messiah!

How long does it last?

Based on the internal evidence, the story lasts sixteen days, although the first seven days are only referred to, not shown. Added to that, there’s a visit to the Epsilon Ionis system the previous month, and a return to Kyros two weeks later to finish the survey.

When does it happen?

It’s after TOS “The Squire of Gothos”, and Doctor M’Benga’s on the ship. More specifically, it happens after Spock Must Die! That might just be product placement, but it’s still there, all the same.

What about the stardates?

Stardates are given for the 8th day, 6720.8, the deadline for the lethal radiation dose, 6728.5, Spock’s message, 6718.1, the 9th day, 6721.3, the 12th, 6724.2 and the 13th, 6725.1. That means that they’re intended to run for the last eleven days of the story. The “official” stardates run from Monday 20th to Thursday 23rd September, 2269, four days. I get Saturday 13th to Tuesday 23rd August, 2270, spot on.

Does it fit?

Since both sets of stardate interpretations put the story in 2269 or 2270, then it does plausibly fall in the last part of the five-year mission. Since there are more than six months between the last original series show dates in both cases, then Spock Must Die! could happen in the interim (if you ignore the stardates in that story), although not much else could. Following some interesting discussions about how people know what time it is on “Star Trek” on the TrekBBS, I could also point out that the special “translator implants” in this story do seem to match up with the enhanced ability to understand aliens seen in the shows set in the 24th century.

What did I think?

I first read this book at the age of fourteen. The mix of adventure, science and sex was just made to attract a teenager’s attention. I’ve read it many times since, and I still think it works as a bigger, more ambitious episode of the original series. As the first real “Star Trek” novel, I still think it stands up pretty well. My biggest criticism has to be that Spock really doesn’t appear very much.

The final verdict:

Strictly speaking, this story is the obvious follow-on in the Spock Must Die! continuity. I’d really like it to be in the main run of events, so perhaps it’s after the (hypothetical) reset button has been set on Spock Must Die!, and happens in July, August and September 2270. That is only a problem if I insist on including the cartoons: TOS “The Counter-Clock Incident” would have to follow on quite remarkably closely, and happen before the “follow-up” visit to Kyros to finish things off.

The Price of the Phoenix

How long does it last?

One day. The book’s quite clear on that. It’s a single day.

When does it happen?

It’s an unspecified time “years” after TOS “The Tholian Web”. I have that on Wednesday 3rd August, 2269, and the “official” stardate would be Thursday 10th September, 2268. Based on that, I think the “official” timeline just about allows something in 2270 to be “years” later. My version of the timeline is in trouble.

What about the stardates?

There aren’t any in the book, but the sequel The Fate of the Phoenix carries straight on, and the stardates there suggest that this book happens on about Saturday 7th September, 2272: S.D. 9684 by my “official” system; or Sunday 27th July, 2273: S.D. 9667 by my conversion.

Does it fit?

There are a lot of continuity references, but no indication that it follows either of the first two Bantam novels. The Klingons don’t appear, but they are mentioned, so I can’t say for certain that Spock Must Die! has been contradicted; but I think it doesn’t really fit with the earlier novel.

What did I think?

It’s an odd book. Expanding on that comment has taken quite a bit of thought. I found it really hard to identify with the characters. Male friendship and male competition are turned into some sort of fetish that I found it really difficult to relate to. It’s not a book I’ve gone back to since first reading it, and I can’t say that re-reading it now has improved it for me.

The final verdict:

It all seems to be some heightened fever dream about male love, male hate and male bonding. It appears to happen quite apart from any of the other stories, for all the continuity references. The Prometheus Design will later establish that this story and its sequel happen before “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. At a pinch, it’s very close to the end of the five-year mission, in late 2270. I think the reference to it being “years” since TOS “The Tholian Web” is pushing it, in both versions of the stardated chronology, though. It might be possible to assume that it happens as late as 2273, by my placement of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, but that’ll just be storing up problems for later, as I’ll point out in my notes on The Prometheus Design.

Planet of Judgement

How long does it last?

Overall, about eleven days, based on the stardates, but we only get the first seven days in detail.

When does it happen?

Again, it’s after the original series, and there are continuity references to TOS “Amok Time” and TOS “Errand of Mercy”. There’s also a footnote referring the reader interested in the Organians to Spock Must Die! but there is no indication that this story has to happen in the same continuity.

What about the stardates?

The story has quite a few, and runs from 6132.8 to 6142.4. The “official” dates are therefore Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd February 2269, five days. My system gives Sunday 9th to Wednesday 19th January, 2270, the suggested eleven days. The decimal “hours” don’t match up that well to the stated time of day in the novel, even if you are assuming a 24-hour stardate unit.

Does it fit?

The stardates don’t leave enough time for Spock Must Die! to fit in, by either date conversion method. It does fall conveniently in the bit of the five-year mission we don’t see though. The huge Irapina battle fleet ploughing inexorably through the galaxy is strangely reminiscent of the Borg, to my mind. They’re not due to attack the Federation for 1,000 years, but we never hear anything about them again, except for a passing mention in The Trellisane Confrontation. Spock relives part of TOS “Amok Time”, and the account is, as the footnote says, based more on James Blish’s version than the aired story. There are some interesting speculations about Vulcans, which go beyond anything in either the television or short story versions. Interestingly, the references to “Academy” seem to be suggesting that Starfleet Academy is a whole planet, although that’s never spelled out in so many words. The crew have some very practical survival gear, but we never hear of it anywhere but here.

What did I think?

This was another book that mightily impressed teenage me. It’s a fast-moving adventure tale by someone who doesn’t back away from big ideas, and I enjoyed reading it again. I do find myself wondering just how many super-powerful races there can be out there. This story came ahead of all the later developments, though.

The final verdict:

This story would fit into the later bit of the five-year mission. It’s before Spock: Messiah! but would mean that Spock Must Die! takes up more time than there is available. I’d put it in the “prime” timeline, because my opinion is that if there’s no room for Joe Haldeman, “Star Trek” is in trouble. Once again, it assumes that I’m not including the cartoons, or I’ve radically changed my suggested dates for them.

Vulcan!

Now long does it last?

My guess is thirteen days from start to finish.

When does it happen?

As is becoming usual for these Bantam novels, sometime at the end of the five-year mission. Commodore Stone and Starbase 11 from TOS “Court Martial” make a return appearance, but it doesn’t seem to be set at that time. What became of Commodore Mendez (seemingly commanding Starbase 11 in TOS “The Menagerie”) isn’t mentioned.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 6451.3 to 6459.7, and the time references in the story as well as the dates themselves indicate that they cover nine days. The “official” conversion gives Monday 14th to Thursday 17th June, 2269. My conversion puts it between My conversion puts it between Sunday 8th and Monday 16th May, 2270, nine days.

Does it fit?

Once again, there’s not room for Spock Must Die! by either of the stardating systems, so it is unlikely to be in that continuity. Otherwise, it does fit into the last part of the five-year mission. The idea that the Romulan Neutral Zone might change shape is intriguing, because it evidently does in the “prime” continuity, although that seems to be by negotiation, rather than random fluctuations in the Galaxy’s magnetic field. There are suggestions at the end of the book that Katalya Tremain will return to the Enterprise. If she ever does, it’s something we don’t see.

What did I think?

Again, coming back to this novel after many years, I’m not really sure that it wears its age very well. It does have this:

“Professionalism was warring with his gonads, and it was going to be a neck-and-neck race as to which side won.”

My copy of the book also has a cover illustration by Boris Vallejo. It only vaguely reflects the story, but: SPOCK versus GIANT ANTS!!

The final verdict:

There’s nothing to stop it falling between Planet of Judgement and Spock: Messiah! as long as you don’t have to fit Spock Mist Die! into the sequence. I wouldn’t be that disappointed to lose it. Your opinion might be quite different.

The Starless World

How long does it last?

The internal chronology isn’t always clear. It would seem to be at least a week, and the stardates used imply eleven days from start to finish.

When does it happen?

Again, the stardates are pretty clear that it happens towards the end of the five-year mission, after the end of the live-action TV series, although there are no real continuity references. The Klingons are present, but they do surprisingly little. It’s either before Spock Must Die! or after some hypothetical reset, or in a different overall continuity.

What about the stardates?

They run from 6527.5, right at the start, to 6537.7, on the last day. The “official” conversion gives Monday 12th to Friday 16th July, 2269, and insufficient time to accommodate the internal continuity references. My dates are Monday 13th to Thursday 23rd June, 2270.

Does it fit?

Once again, it’s difficult to reconcile with Spock Must Die! There just isn’t enough time for it to be before that story, and it certainly can’t come after it. Leaving that aside, I think this is the first time “Star Trek” has the Enterprise visit a Dyson Sphere. There is a suggestion that the Klingons are less of a threat to Galactic peace than they would be if they’d stop fighting amongst themselves, which I found interesting. Some of the background is a little out of step with what is established later. I think you could argue that it isn’t absolutely impossible that the Enterprise is less than twenty years old at this point, but I don’t think it’s the majority opinion. More particularly, Uhura’s father makes a brief appearance. He’s supposed to have been a space explorer before there was ever a Star Fleet. From what was established later, that makes him a quite remarkably old man. The whole story happens at the Galactic Core. That’s further out than is usual, but “Star Trek” will keep on going there anyway, so it fits, and it doesn’t; it depends how you look at it.

What did I think?

The sheer scale of a Dyson Sphere is almost impossible to convey effectively to the reader (in general, not just this novel), leading to a world with more surface area than thousands of planet Earths having all the action happen in a single village and a bit of forest. The basic idea that there are gods, and we’ve just met one, crops up in “Star Trek” elsewhere. It might just be me, but I found this god too powerful to permit of a rational explanation, and too unconvincing as a supreme being to carry the idea along. As the song says “there are more questions than answers,” and I found the need to try and work the answers out myself after the book singularly failed to address them simply not worth the effort.

The final verdict:

It could be at the end of the five-year mission, but the back-story for Uhura’s father really doesn’t fit that well with other information. I’m tempted to consign it to a variant time-line, although not one where Spock Must Die! happens as well. If it happens before The Price of the Phoenix I could have a whole time-line of books I didn’t think that much of. If I wanted to.

Trek to Madworld

How long does it last?

The internal evidence isn’t entirely clear. I’d guess at least four days, but probably five.

When does it happen?

Once again, it seems to be sometime after all of the broadcast episodes of the original series. There are continuity references to quite a few of the stories, and a particular point is made of the trade agreement between the Romulans and the Klingons, based on TOS “The Enterprise Incident”.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 6188.4 to 6191.9. I think four days were intended. I get Tuesday 25th to Friday 28th January, 2270. The “official” conversion gives Wednesday 10th to Friday 12th March, 2269; that’s still pretty close, as far as I can see.

Does it fit?

It’s the end of the five-year mission, but there’s no way Spock Must Die! can fit in beforehand, and putting it in afterwards will cause problems with the stardates. Overall, nothing happens that won’t fit in with the overall continuity. In fact, the idea of a rogue Organian using their enormous power for idle amusement is very reminiscent of Trelane in TOS “The Squire of Gothos”, something the book does nothing to try and hide. Interestingly, the whole thing comes over as being very similar to a “Q” story from later “Star Trek”.

What did I think?

As the author says in his foreword, this is the first novel to try to recapture something of the more “light hearted” original series stories. I have to say, the last time I watched the shows in order (on the Blu-Ray release), I found a new appreciation for the way the “serious” stories were balanced with something that wasn’t afraid to laugh at itself, and that impression has spilled over to this book. I enjoyed it a lot more now than I think I did the first time I read it.

The final verdict:

You may disagree, but I have no difficulty in seeing this book as part of the main continuity, immediately after Planet of Judgement.

World Without End

How long does it last?

My guess was six days for the main action, with another week after to reach Starbase 3, plus however long it takes to repair the ship; not to mention the four weeks beforehand doing a survey. In effect, at least six weeks, and possibly two months.

When does it happen?

As appears to be usual for the Bantam novels, “after the end of the original series.” The Organian Peace Treaty is specifically referred to, as are the Tholians, suggesting that it’s after TOS “The Tholian Web”. The Klingon references make it plain that the story would have to happen before Spock Must Die! rather than after it.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 7502.9, which seems to be in the afternoon, to 7508.9, specifically matched to ship time 08:20. How long that makes one stardate unit isn’t entirely clear, but it doesn’t seem to match 24 hours. The “official” conversion manages an afternoon time for the first date, but is in the evening for the second. The “official” dates for the mission run from Sunday 3rd to Tuesday 5th July, 2270, a bit short by my guess, but quite plausible for the end of the five year mission. My dates are a quite impossible Saturday 3rd to Friday 9th June, 2271, after the end of the mission, according to VOY “Q2”.

Does it fit?

Maybe. I admit that my stardate conversion being so out of the question might be influencing this, but I’m not at all sure. Is it possible that Jim Kirk’s father was a small-town politician who indulged in low-technology farming? I can’t definitely say no. Could Uhura and Scotty have considered starting a relationship? They seem to in this novel, but I really don’t know. Is their conversation in “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” a hint in this direction, or just the affection of people who’ve worked together for a long time? The landing party is consistently referred to as a “confrontation team.” Maybe they briefly tried it on for size around 2270, but it sounds strange to me. I really do have a problem with the Klingons, as they are portrayed here. All the Klingon ships have priests on them, who enforce a positively suicidal religion. This really doesn’t match up terribly well with the Klingons in the original series, since it was Kang in TOS “Day of the Dove” who suggested that the Klingons had killed their gods. It certainly isn’t compatible with the Klingons as they later developed. My last criticism is one that is based more in the “real world” than “Star Trek”. There’s a suggestion that several interstellar colonisation ships were launched 250 years earlier. That means there’s going to need to be some pretty amazing developments very, very soon. The ships themselves are propelled by “Bussard ramjets.” These were a popular suggestion at the time, but subsequently it’s been discovered that the Solar System lies in the middle of an area where the interstellar medium is quite unusually thin. The idea of R.W. Bussard’s ramjet proposal is that an enormous magnetic “scoop” sweeps up the interstellar medium and uses it for fuel. The guess in 1960 was that it would take something 3,000 kilometres across to get enough hydrogen to work. That might have been over-optimistic. Current opinion is that a ramjet system is theoretically possible, but our bit of the Galaxy makes it an extremely unlikely option.

What did I think?

I’ve read this book several times, and enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s a bit lightweight, and I certainly felt on this reading that it sort of “just finishes,” with everything sorted out in a jiffy once Spock gets to mind-meld with the intelligence that’s been driving the plot forwards.

The final verdict:

After arguing that Planet of Judgement should get in partly because it’s by Joe Haldeman, I’m now going to completely reverse course, and say that I don’t think this story happens in whatever “main continuity” I end up with. Feel free to disagree with that.

The Fate of the Phoenix

How long does it last?

It’s not entirely clear. My rough count of days suggests that it takes at a minimum three weeks, but could be considerably longer.

When does it happen?

The story picks up straight from The Price of the Phoenix, so like that book, it’s some unspecified time after the television series finished.

What about the stardates?

There are two: S.D. 9722.4 about a fortnight into the story. The “official” conversion is Saturday 21st September, 2272. My interpretation makes it Monday 11th August, 2273. The second date is some unspecified time later, as the ship arrives at the world of Ravan; S.D. 9789.2. If one stardate unit is a 24-hour day, then the overall length of the story stretches to 85 to 90 days or so. There’s nothing to say absolutely it’s not that long, but it reads as being over a much shorter period than that. The “official” conversion would be Tuesday 15th October, 2272, making the whole thing about six weeks long. My preferred date would be Sunday 7th September, 2273, giving an overall duration of about a month. Both of them seem to fit with my rough guess for the story’s length.

Does it fit?

Like The Price of the Phoenix it is difficult to fit into the tail-end of the five-year mission, but The Prometheus Design will be absolutely specific that both this novel and the earlier one must happen before “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. The idea that the Romulans will be sealing off the Neutral Zone at the end of the story for another 100 years is intriguing, but it doesn’t fit with the later continuity.

What did I think?

“She saw the primordial male, untouched by training or culture, and not to be denied his ancient right to protect and defend.”

Usually these little quotes aren’t terribly representative of the overall tone of the book. This one kind of sums up the whole approach. As with The Price of the Phoenix I found it really difficult to identify with these people, and the way they behave. Everyone has amazing psychic powers, and I don’t think that’s justified by the original series, or anything that comes later. You’re welcome to completely disagree with that if you want to. The original book publication has another Boris Vallejo cover; it’s not up there with SPOCK versus GIANT ANTS! but it is mightily odd and memorable. I suppose if the thought of a tough woman forcing Captain Kirk to serve her dinner in just his underpants intrigues you, then this is definitely the book you want.

The final verdict:

It’s off in the same fervid alternate reality as The Price of the Phoenix. Despite the stardates being in 2272 or 2273 depending on how you convert them, The Prometheus Design will later place this story sometime in the five-year mission, so it cannot be later than 2270.

Devil World

How long does it last?

From the internal evidence, it has to be over a week long, probably by quite a bit.

When does it happen?

During the five-year mission. There are absolutely no references that would suggest when, other than it has to be after Chekov joins the ship.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 4231.2 on the first day to 4257.1 on the last. If each unit is supposed to be a day, then the implied length is 27 days. The “official” conversion gives Tuesday 26th March to Thursday 4th April, 2267. That’s ten days, a bit tight, but as far as I’m concerned, not a fail. My suggested dates would be Tuesday 18th February to Sunday 15th March, 2268, 27 days.

Does it fit?

In this case, the question is purely about what’s happening at the times suggested by the stardates. The “official” dates can be accommodated easily, placing the story between TOS “A Private Little War” and TOS “The Immunity Syndrome”. I run into problems, since the story overlaps TOS “A Private Little War”. I also shifted TOS “The Gamesters of Triskelion” to right into the middle of the allotted time. Basically, I’d have difficulty fitting it in. It does also leave the question of what happens to Albert Schang open, but since he’s a redshirt by the end of the story, it probably involves a sudden encounter with something fatal.

What did I think?

This book’s by the same author as The Starless World and once again, there’s some high-concept stuff that never really seems to take off. I thought the initial set-up was quite disconcerting, but the story never really ran with it, and the ending left me feeling dissatisfied. Another society enslaved by a Giant Computer? Why does Spock launch into an explanation of Jains and Jainism when they see a woman in a surgical mask? Why doesn’t he logically assume that she’s got a nasty cold and is wearing the mask as a way of not spreading it, like they do in Japan? Or that she’s obsessed with “I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”?

The final verdict:

Although I would have to do a bit of juggling with the stardates, this story can fit plausibly between TOS “A Private Little War” and TOS “The Immunity Syndrome” by both “official” dates and my conversion. I’m not sure I’d want to bother, though.

Perry’s Planet

How long does it last?

It’s not altogether clear. It must be at least a couple of weeks, and possibly longer.

When does it happen?

The internal evidence isn’t absolutely clear on that either, but the stardates and the fact that Chekov is at the navigation station suggest sometime towards the end of the five-year mission.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from 6827.3 to 6848.2. That suggests an intended duration of 22 days. The “official” conversion gives Saturday 30th October to Saturday 6th November, 2269, just over a week. Once again, the dates don’t really fit, but there is obviously something “extra” going on. What that is escapes me, I’m afraid. My conversion was Wednesday 21st September to Wednesday 12th October, 2270.

Does it fit?

Once again, the Klingons have priests. In this particular book, one Klingon swears a blood oath to kill Captain Kirk, which does foreshadow DS9 “Blood Oath”. I was also intrigued by a hologram that was solid, but it turned out to be more a sort of robot with a holographic disguise. Perry’s Planet has been colonized for about three centuries, and that does mean that the colonists would have to be setting off very, very soon. In fact, they might already have had to be off.

What did I think?

The idea of a disease that stops people fighting is intriguing, and the way the story developed reminded me of TOS “This Side of Paradise”. I enjoyed the story, but I wasn’t altogether convinced by it. “Uneducated” isn’t identical with “stupid” and I thought that the colonists immune to the disease would make more of their advantage, and that a much larger proportion of the community would be immune after so long.

The final verdict:

It’s a fun book, but in the end I didn’t really think it fitted in with later continuity. I’m sending it off to an “alternate reality”, but if you want to include it in the “prime” timeline, feel free to do so.

The Galactic Whirlpool

How long does it take?

They’re chasing Klingons for twelve days, and then they take 3,914 hours (plus an extra hour and a half) to find and get close to Wanderer. It’s not terribly clear how long there is after that. A lot happens, but events aren’t split up into identifiable days. Based on the thrilling deadline, there must be more than thirty-one hours. My idle guess is at least three days. That makes 178 days altogether.

When does it happen?

During the five-year mission, based on the crew and their ranks. When during that mission is more problematic.

What about the stardates?

There’s one, at the end of the twelve days Klingon hunting. S.D. 4496.1 is 02:00 on Monday 1st July, 2267 by the “official” conversion. My system gives 03:00 on Saturday 23rd May, 2268. Since both dates are early in the morning, I’ve assumed they’re early on the thirteenth day. That puts the story “officially” between Wednesday 19th June, 2267: S.D. 4464 and Tuesday 3rd December, 2267: S.D. 4922. My version of stardates would place it between Monday 11th May, 2268: S.D. 4484 and Wednesday 4th November, 2268: S.D. 4941.

Does it fit?

Not by stardate. Both conversion systems would have this story overlapping half-a-dozen others, and ending somewhere in the middle of TOS “The Paradise Syndrome”. Even ignoring the stardates, this is six months where nothing else can happen, so it is problematic wherever you might decide to put it. Beyond that, the very brief appearance of Arex and M’ress is a problem if (like me) you’re basically ignoring the animated shows. Kevin Riley also features prominently in this story, although he only appears in TOS “The Naked Time” and TOS “The Conscience of the King”. It’s not a problem if you’re including the cartoons by strict stardate, because then they’re scattered all through the mission (and beyond, I’m afraid), so Riley, Arex and M'ress are all on the ship at the same time. If you want the animated stories neatly all together at the end, then it severely limits the placement options. The Wanderer leaves the Solar System in the early 2080s, however you place the story in the five-year mission, so that sort of works. The reference to the Soviet Union is anachronistic, but who knew? “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fans might be surprised by the presence of the La Forge family as a mainstay of Starfleet, and anyone might be a bit confused by the “Admiral George La Forge” of 270 years before this story. This isn’t chronology gone haywire, or David Gerrold being able to foretell the future. George La Forge was an enthusiastic attendee of the early “Star Trek” conventions; David Gerrold, and later Gene Roddenberry, name-checked him. I’m guessing the “270 years” that puts the admiral in about 2000 was a deliberate joke, not a continuity foul-up.

What did I think?

I liked the book. It kind of wanders off into detailed explanations now and again, and the tone veers around a bit, from outrageously jokey to serious. In the end, it’s a “Star Trek” book by a talented writer who knows “Star Trek” inside out. It’s one I’ve read several times, and expect to be reading again.

The final verdict:

It doesn’t fit by stardate and there isn’t really the time anywhere else to accommodate it either. I’m afraid I have to see it as being in one of these “alternate continua” that will keep splitting off from the main sequence of events.

Why Space “Colonies”?

While I was reading The Galactic Whirlpool it struck me that the suggestion that people will be constructing enormous artificial space habitats in the near future now seems a bit odd and unlikely. They’ll crop up quite a few times, and it’s because of a book called The High Frontier, by Gerard K. O’Neill, first published in the mid-seventies. In it, he explains the basic principles behind the construction of vast space stations, able to hold tens of thousands of people apiece. The economics behind it was that OPEC would be able to hold oil prices at high levels for an indefinite period, which turned out not to be the case, and that the Space Transportation System, informally called the “Space Shuttle” would have a truly enormous lifting capacity to Earth orbit. That turned out not to happen either. For one brief period, it was possible to suggest that a very small proportion of the projected launches of the shuttle could provide automated industrial plants on the Moon, sending raw materials into Earth orbit. Once there, they’d be used to construct a network of solar power satellites that could beam almost infinite cheap power to any point on the planet. Once a beam was coming your way, the receiving equipment would have been little more than timber, chicken-wire and some cabling.
Events have moved on. Oil’s never been that expensive again in relative terms, and the shuttle never managed the two or three launches a week NASA confidently projected before the thing had actually flown. I have to admit to never being entirely convinced by the “first we’ll build the power satellites and then we’ll build the enormous colonies” argument. The first doesn’t really lead to the second, and whilst I can see enormous advantages to humanity moving beyond the surface of the Earth, my own feeling is that there would have to be more solid benefits for people staying behind. They’re the ones that will need to foot the initial bills, and provide the long-term support the effort will need. Maybe climate change and reusable space launchers will push people into looking at cheap (in the long term) power from space, and the longer research in space is being conducted, the more chance there is some compelling reasons for moving a few thousand people into space permanently will be found. “Star Trek” pretty much bypasses the whole thing by suggesting that we’ll be able to colonise suitable planets orbiting other stars, so big space stations aren’t needed. They are fun to imagine, though.

Death’s Angel

How long does it last?

My rough guess at a running total gives sixty days, at a minimum.

When does it happen?

It seems to be after the television series. It’s certainly after TOS “Journey to Babel”. Sarek makes a return appearance in this book, as does the ship’s veterinarian, Doctor Ruth Rigel. She first appeared in Vulcan! (also by Kathleen Sky), and I think this is the first time a character introduced in a novel returns.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from the tenth day, S.D. 6914.6, to what I think is two days before the end of the story, S.D. 6982.3. Assuming each stardate unit lasts a day, that sort of implies a duration of 80 days from start to finish, although there do seem to be some problems with the last two stardates given in the story: they don’t seem to be far enough apart. Needless to say, even my sixty-day guess isn’t very friendly to attempts to get the stardates to work.

Does it fit?

For the first and only time in “Star Trek” fiction, we meet officers of the “Special Security Division.” I’m willing to accept that cloak-and-dagger stuff does go with Section 31, but these are ruthless justice machines that swan around in black uniforms and have the literal power of life and death over Federation citizens. Our heroine for this book, Standartenführer, sorry, Colonel Elizabeth Schaeffer was raised in a special facility for the children of SS(D) officers, and has been specially trained from the age of 15. To be absolutely honest, this all kind of washed over me the first time I read this book. Now, it really strikes me as a bad idea.

What did I think?

The whole basis of the book is that people affected by mysterious spores aren’t behaving normally, so all of those people are supposed to be a little “off.” That said, I really thought Spock wasn’t just out of character, he’s thoroughly nasty. I found it impossible that Spock would try to evade responsibility for his actions in the way he does in the story. That is just my opinion, though. Likewise, I thought the acceptance of a supernatural Grim Reaper, and astral projection, was rather too credulous. The people in “Star Trek” live in a more technologically advanced society than ours, not one run by elves and fairies. And the culprit. The book is a murder mystery, so I’m not going to say “whodunnit.” I wasn’t convinced, that’s all.

The final verdict:

I’ve not really had any difficulty sending this book off to some alternate reality. Doing a straight murder mystery in “Star Trek” isn’t a bad idea, but it’ll be done better than this. I also could have done with the ruthless SS-lady spending a bit more time on the case, and having less about her marriage, and whether she was in love with Captain Kirk or not. As you might have been able to work out, I don’t have time for this novel, and not just in my chronological system. I haven’t done a detailed work-up on the stardatesm; I can’t be bothered, and I don’t want to tax your patience to breaking point so soon.


Introduction
1981-1984

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 31 Oct 2016 15:27, last updated on 16 Jul 2017 09:55