1981-1984
Table of Contents

The Entropy Effect

How long does it take?

A little over six weeks. My guess is thirty-eight days, until Mr Spock fixes time and things loop back. Even after time is changed, the story still seems to last at least 34 days, while Spock studies the singularity.

When does it happen?

This is the first “post Motion Picture” novel, so it is set towards the end of the five-year mission, and is intended to lead towards the film, at least slightly.

What about the stardates?

There’s one, and it appears twice as time takes on a different aspect. S.D. 5001.1 is Wednesday 1st January 2268 by the “official” conversion, and Tuesday 24th November, 2268 by mine. By both systems of chronology, this can only work as a “replacement” for TOS “The Paradise Syndrome”.

Does it fit?

Janice Rand is aboard, which may or may not be a problem. It depends whether you can accept that she was transferred somewhere so out of the way that we never saw her after the first season shows.

Mr Spock is a hybrid, created by advanced genetic techniques that only existed for a few years before he was born. This really doesn’t match up well with later suggestions that most humanoid species can interbreed with each other by completely natural means. One of the other crew people is genetically engineered for life on a high gravity planet. I was going to say that genetic engineering is a no-no in “Star Trek”, but then I remembered TNG “Unnatural Selection”. I think things are more complicated than “genetic engineering is bad and illegal,” but that’s just my opinion.

One thing I can say for certain is that we never see Sulu with long hair and a moustache on screen, so it either happens after TOS “Turnabout Intruder” (by my timeline), or he gets a haircut pretty sharp once a promotion’s in the offing. Which raises the point that the promotion must happens “off-screen” too. We also never get to see Security Chief Mandala Flynn, or her exotic assortment of subordinates.

What did I think?

Like most of these books, it’s a long time since I last read this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The new characters are interesting, and it’s a real shame we never see them again.

The final verdict:

Never mind whether it fits or not. Just read the book anyway.

The Klingon Gambit

How long does it take?

That’s not clear. I doubt everything could happen in less than a week, but there’s no absolute internal chronology except for the stardates, which suggest 23 days if one unit is equal to a day.

When does it happen?

The book’s quite specific: the third year of the five-year mission.

What about the stardates?

There are lots, throughout the story, running from S.D. 4720.1 right at the start to S.D. 4744.8 on what seems to be the last day. The “official” conversion makes that Friday 20th to Sunday 29th September, 2267. Unfortunately, TOS “The Ultimate Computer” falls right in the middle of that. I don’t see that the story couldn’t fit into that amount of time, though. My conversion suggests Wednesday 5th to Saturday 29th August, 2268, so again, that’s quite long enough. I have it falling between TOS “By Any Other Name” and TOS “Patterns of Force”. Unfortunately, that comprehensively clashes with TOS “The Ultimate Computer” and TOS “Return to Tomorrow”. I just don’t have space for it.

Does it fit?

That kind of depends on what counts as the “third year” of the mission. I have the first stories happening in 2265 so if the first year is 2265-2266, the second is 2266-2267 and the third is 2267-2268, then maybe. I’d have preferred it earlier in the year though. Similarly, if the “official” mission runs 2264-2265, 2265-2266 and 2266-2267, then it might work. Since 1,000 stardates is just about exactly an Earth year in both systems, it would all work a lot better if the stardates were S.D. 3720.1 onwards; but nobody knew that then. Other than this quibble, the story does fit quite well, at least I thought so.

An Andorian’s antenna is called a “hearing stalk.” Although later on we see they have ears as well, I’m not sure it’s wrong.

What did I think?

Kind of “this again?” I’m afraid. A Magic Jewel makes everyone behave oddly, but they don’t really notice. Captain Kirk guesses what’s happening, but doesn’t bother to explain any of it to his crew. Once again, we get to meet some new crewmembers. Scotty and Spock both have attractive women assistants. Once she stops chasing Spock, Candra Avitts is quite an interesting addition to the crew. Heather McConel? Well, I think one Scottish stereotype in engineering is quite enough. Putting Chekov in front of a court martial was an interesting idea. Setting it all up and then not doing it struck me as cheating. As for the entire shipload of Vulcans who just wish themselves into a higher existence (but leave their dead bodies behind), without explaining or without a single one of them wanting to say goodbye to their family? It didn’t convince me, and since it was the “hook” to the story, that is a bit of a disappointment to put it mildly.

The final verdict:

This story doesn’t really fit where it’s supposed to, either by overall chronology, or the specific stardates. I can’t say it comes as a huge blow.

The Covenant of the Crown

How long does it take?

My rough count of the days makes me think that it has to take at least fourteen days, and probably a little longer. I’ve rather arbitrarily decided on seventeen.

When does it happen?

Although it’s not explicitly stated, this is the first novel to be set at a time after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. Christine Chapel’s a doctor, Sulu and Uhura are both lieutenant commanders and Chekov is in charge of security. It also begins on Doctor McCoy’s birthday.

What about the stardates?

There are two, fairly early on in the story: S.D. 7815.3 and S.D. 7816.1. The “official” conversion puts both dates on Monday 25th October, 2280. My own interpretation would give dates on Wednesday 21st to Thursday 22nd September, 2281.

Does it fit?

It seems to. Both the “official” and my own versions of events are somewhat thrown by the direct reference to the events of TAS “The Pirates of Orion” but it’s only referred to as happening “years ago.” The Organian Peace Treaty is also mentioned. Doctor McCoy’s birthday has never been fixed. Captain Kirk recalls being stationed on the planet Shad for a year, eighteen years before when he was a lieutenant commander. Sticking to my own dating suggestions, that would be 2263, or 2262 by my “official” conversion. The dates are possible, assuming Kirk passes very rapidly to commanding a ship.

What did I think?

The impression I get is that this was intended to be a sort of science fiction fairytale romance, with a beautiful princess, a Magic Crown, a doomed romance and some fierce monsters thrown in. It’s a book that focuses on Doctor McCoy, and gets away with it because McCoy is easily able to carry the story. It’s just a shame that happens so infrequently.

I have to admit to having a personal dislike for a lot of the underlying plot. I live in a monarchy, with governments selected from a remarkably small pool of extremely wealthy families. The idea that certain people are entitled by birth to enormous privileges is one that I wholeheartedly disagree with, Magic Crown or no. I found myself wishing that the people of Shad could have the chance to sort themselves out, rather than spending around twenty years being kicked about by the Klingons and the Federation. The Klingons are meant to be nasty. The Federation should have managed better than this.

If it’s all that important, why stake everything on such a spectacularly unlikely gamble?

The final verdict:

Personal preferences aside, this novel does sort of fit. Although it does seem to work better with my late dating of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, I think that was the inadvertent result of trying to get the princess’ age to work more than anything else. I’d place it over sixteen days (because both stardates are on the same day) by the “official conversion, Thursday 21st October to Friday 5th November, 2280: S.D. 7803 to 7846. My own interpretation puts the story over seventeen days, Saturday 17th September to Monday 3rd October, 2281: S.D. 7811 to 7847. That makes McCoy’s birthday 17th September, and means that since by my dates he was born in 2226, it’s his 55th birthday in the book.

The Prometheus Design

How long does it take?

My rough count of days says at least four. I’d call it about a week, since there are no very specific references.

When does it happen?

That’s very clear. It’s after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. There are a lot of foot-noted continuity references. The foot-notes are very clear that this story also follows “The Price of the Phoenix” and “The Fate of the Phoenix” by the same authors. At one point Spock reflects that he’s known Kirk for almost ten years, so it can’t be later than 2275, and Spock can’t have met Kirk before he took command of the Enterprise. That makes a bit of a mess of all my theories so far. It also ignores the strong (but “unofficial”) hints that they at least knew of each other at the Academy.

What about the stardates?

There are none.

Does it fit?

As with all the books by these authors, I find it difficult to answer this question. The characters have the right names, but they don’t behave in a way I recognise. A lot of it is due to all this “alpha male” nuttiness, but there are some bits that just don’t make sense to me. It’s taken as read that Spock’s “wife” T’Pring is treated as “property” in TOS “Amok Time”. I disagree completely. Arranged marriages do weight individual rights differently, but don’t ignore them altogether. The people involved are not “property.” Spock’s comments to Stonn have always sounded more to me like a warning, not a signing over of rights.

I can just about accept that their general vision of what Vulcans are doesn’t contradict what we had been told up to that point, but I don’t think it matches the later development of them. Incidentally, the authors suggest that Vulcans have deliberately segregated themselves from Humans, leading to the all-Vulcan crew of Intrepid; they also give it as a reason why Spock’s father was so unhappy with his decision to join Starfleet. I don’t know whether it’s original to this novel, but Spock is supposed to be the first Vulcan in Starfleet, at least the Human bit.

What did I think?

Well, I suspect you’ll already have a pretty good idea by now. To be fair, the Vulcans later reveal that they don’t segregate themselves because they have “superior” abilities. But everyone believes the cover story without question. I have a big problem with the idea that being strong and able to do complicated sums quickly makes anyone “superior.” It’s nonsense, and pretty offensive nonsense, too. The fact that everyone in this book takes the idea so seriously is perhaps the biggest single problem I have with it, but there are others.

On one level, this book is packed full of ideas that really ought to be a lot more interesting than they are here. It sets a big problem that Our Heroes have to solve, and opponents that can out-think them at absolutely every turn. Without giving everything away, the plot is resolved by pointing out something blindingly obvious (at least, I thought it was) to ageless god-like beings with super-intelligence that have devoted centuries at least to the problem. But they missed that.

Part of the plot draws direct parallels with UFO abduction stories. At the time the novel was published, this stuff was news. Now it all seems very quaint.

It’s also very obvious that the authors are rather interested in the idea of two big muscly men having huge hand to hand fights where one or both are almost killed. Their interest in this is a great deal more than mine.

Finally, they call their fierce Vulcan admiral “Savaj.”

The final verdict:

As with the earlier novels by these authors, I prefer to see them as happening in some odd alternate reality. Although this book might slot into any spare week following “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (so long as you ignore Mr Spock’s guess as to how long he’s known Jim Kirk) it would immediately raise the question of when The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix happen. I had problems fitting them into the end of the five-year mission in the first place, and this book offers no extra clues.

The Abode of Life

How long does it take?

“Several weeks” is what the book says, plus at least two weeks for the main action. There’s also a month’s shore leave on Starbase 4 before the story begins. My guess is a minimum of two months, not including the 300 parsec trip back to Starbase 4, which could take a while.

When does it happen?

During the five-year mission. The reference to Spock’s rank as “lieutenant commander” and the presence of Yeoman Rand imply that it’s early on in the mission, but the equally visible presence of Chekov and Dr M’Benga support a later date. It’s safest to say that it could be anytime, since many of the novels take it as read that everyone was on the ship for the whole time.

What about the stardates?

The stardates run from S.D. 5064.4 to S.D. 5099.5. Assuming each stardate unit is a day, that implies a duration of 36 days between the two. The “official” dates are Friday 24th January to Thursday 6th February, 2268. Obviously, there’s the possibility that stardates are more complex than the way I’m calculating them, but it does fall quite a bit short. My conversion gives Friday 27th November, 2268 to Friday 1st January, 2269. The overall duration of the story goes up to around three months, and places it from the start of November 2268 to at least the beginning of February in 2269.

Does it fit?

As an exercise in stardates, it’s a complete bust. The story clashes comprehensively with TOS “The Paradise Syndrome” and then extends on over TOS “The Enterprise Incident”, TOS “And the Children Shall Lead” and TOS “The Empath” in my timeline. Whilst the actual dates would fall between TOS “And the Children Shall Lead” and TOS “The Empath” in the “official” conversion, there’s no time for a month at Starbase 4 beforehand, and it would involve telescoping the action down to a degree I’m not sure is possible.

Stardates aside, since it’s hardly fair to reach a conclusion based on calculations the author of the book couldn’t have made, how does it work? My guess is that this book works perfectly if you use the Star Fleet Technical Manual as your main reference. Certainly the “geography” of the Federation is based on the map in that book, although it sits less comfortably with later information. The radiation from the star is a variation of the Berthold Rays that feature in TOS “This Side of Paradise”. Spock tells Kirk that he’s thinking of studying kolinahr when the mission’s finished. The aliens in the novel are of “standard humanoid stock,” partway between Humans and Vulcans. McCoy claims that Humans could breed with them, and that certainly fits the pattern with “Star Trek” aliens. The crew have to hang universal translators around their necks on chains to talk to the aliens. It’s an interesting idea, but the universal translator itself only made one appearance (in TOS “Metamorphosis”) and there are many other occasions when that arrangement would seem to have been necessary. I’ll arbitrarily pick TOS “A Taste of Armageddon” as an example; unless everyone in the “Star Trek” galaxy really does speak English.

What did I think?

“‘Yeoman, how about your input here from the woman’s point of view?’ Kirk wanted to know.
“‘Captain, we’ve probably already disrupted this culture by simply beaming down a landing party,’ Yeoman Rand replied thoughtfully. ‘But unless we’re very careful, I think it could turn into a situation like a woman trying to raise a feral child…’
“‘Go on,’ Kirk prompted her when she paused.
“‘A feral child doesn’t have cultural programming,’ Janice Rand explained. ‘No matter what we do, we’ve changed things already. And this feral culture could react to us in a way we can’t anticipate. In other words, Captain, my woman’s intuition tells me that we’re in great danger…’
“Yeoman Janice Rand was correct.”

Well done for not just leaving all the women on the ship; but this does let it down.

Reading this novel again, I can’t help thinking that the big build-up is to (wait for it!) a ten-day meeting on organisational restructuring. As action-adventure plots and thrilling denouements go, it seemed to lack a certain something.

The final verdict:

The stardates have consigned this story to an “alternate universe” as far as I’m concerned. I can’t say I’m motivated to try and drag it back into the main sequence of events.

Black Fire

How long does it take?

The best I can manage is to say it lasts well over a month, and quite easily a year. Other than that, I’m just making a wild guess.

When does it happen?

It’s bridging the gap between the five-year mission and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

What about the stardates?

There are three. S.D. 5505.6 which the “official” conversion makes Saturday 4th July, 2268; I make it afternoon on Sunday 6th June, 2269. It’s when Spock and Scotty steal the U.S.S. Raven. The second is S.D. 6101.1, which is the date of the preliminary investigation. The last is S.D. 6205.7; the “official” conversion makes that Wednesday 17th March, 2269, which means we’re 262 days in as far as I can see. I make it Friday 11th February, 2270, and I think we’re 252 days into the story at this point. It’s the day Captain Kirk is recovered enough to return to Enterprise.

Does it fit?

There are some interesting points here, although I think they’re coincidental. The USS Raven is the name of the ship Scotty and Spock steal, although I don’t think it can be the same ship from VOY “The Raven”. Scotty discovers trilithium, but here it’s an improved power source, rather than explosive and toxic as it turned out to be in TNG “Starship Mine” and “Star Trek: Generations”. Spock tries to get the Federation and the Romulans to cooperate, and travels to Romulus, as he does in TNG “Unification”, although the circumstances are quite a bit different.

The Tomariians live “far to the other end of our galaxy” and that doesn’t really fit with later galactic “geography.” Mr Spock also thinks that their empire occupies more than an eighth of the galaxy, and that would make it massively larger than the Federation if later information is to be believed.

There are also direct references to the events of TOS “The Menagerie” and TOS “The Enterprise Incident”.

Enterprise is extensively damaged. The Bridge is completely destroyed, the primary hull has to be jettisoned and both the warp nacelles shear off. The idea is that the ship has to be rebuilt for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

What did I think?

I had problems with the idea of Mr Spock running away from Starfleet to become a space pirate, even if all turned out to be not as it seemed. It’s a very “Spock-centric” story, and I did think everyone else was a bit short-changed.

This is only one of many occasions when Spock happens to bump into the Romulan Commander from TOS “The Enterprise Incident”. I thought that this book is spot on in saying she wouldn’t want to have anything at all further to do with him. It seems the most plausible scenario to me.

If I’m confused about times, the book doesn’t make it at all clear. Does (severely injured) Spock really live for months on nothing more than water and a few handfuls of space-dandelion leaves?

Despite being set specifically to bridge the gap between the original television show and the first film, I thought that the one thing that wasn’t tackled was why Spock decides to suppress his emotions totally. This is something that I personally don’t think makes much sense in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, so it’s not the book’s fault. Even so, if you’re going to carefully set up the changes to the ship, why avoid addressing the most extreme change to the personality of one of the main characters?

Can you really have a space-pirates’ lair and the home world of an empire covering over an eighth of the galaxy in the same star system without anybody noticing?

And I can’t help observing: Captain Astro the space pirate?

The final verdict:

Personal preferences aside, I think this story is supposed to begin six days before Spock and Scotty steal Raven. The “official” date would be Monday 29th June, 2268: S.D. 5492. My version of stardates would make it Monday 31st May, 2269: S.D. 5499. In my “official” version of the timeline, the starting date means that all the stories placed after TOS “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” can’t happen, and that’s thirteen stories, just counting the live-action television series. My own attempt would place the start of the book after the same story, but it would then completely overlap the final fifteen episodes. It shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to guess where this is going: off to an alternate universe.

Of course, I have a lot longer between the five-year mission and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” than anyone else, and it might all fit in sometime in the late 2270s, just before the movie. I don’t think that can work, because Spock will already be on Vulcan, and Kirk will be an Admiral at Starfleet Command.

Triangle

How long does it take?

From the internal references, the whole thing seems supposed to happen in no more than 24 hours, spread over two days. I think.

When does it happen?

It’s definitely after the five-year mission, based on several continuity references. It’s not entirely clear, but they seem to be on the “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” version of the ship. A big deal is made of Spock and pon farr, so maybe it’s intended to be seven years after TOS “Amok Time”. That would be in 2273 by the “official” version of the timeline, and 2274 by my own ideas. Naturally, my theories about when the films happen throws a bit of a spanner into that.

What about the stardates?

There are none.

Does it fit?

It’s difficult to separate whether I think this book fits into the wider “Star Trek” universe, and what I thought of the book itself. Since my judgements are unashamedly subjective, I’ve put the whole thing into the next section.

What did I think?

It was very tempting to point out that this is the last “Star Trek” novel by these authors, and give some suitable quote about “male dominance” by way of a comment. I decided not to, because I was frustrated by this book and I would have been dodging the issue.

Why frustrated? There are some genuinely interesting ideas here. What if Spock and Kirk both fell for the same woman? Why did Spock suddenly head back to Vulcan to purge his emotions? Who are the “New Humans” Gene Roddenberry mentions in his novel of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”?

The problem is the answers to those questions. I thought they ranged from the unlikely to the frankly risible. Once again, James Kirk shambles through the book getting beaten up and then miraculously cured and then beaten up again, only worse. It’s the motif of these novels, and it doesn’t help me see Kirk as a human being. Indeed, none of the people in this book come over as human to me; they’re just ciphers that happen to have the names of the people in “Star Trek”. As before, incredibly powerful beings will take over the universe; but first they have to get into a big sweaty wrestling match with Kirk and Spock, otherwise their plans cannot proceed. Why? I have no idea. The authors explain it, but the titanic struggle of alpha (and invariably male) personalities makes absolutely no sense to me. Foiling a plot for galactic domination is fine. Only being able to proceed with that plot once two fairly junior officers in a space fleet have been eliminated is silly.

Once again, we’re treated to titanic psychic “battles” that, once you strip away the overblown prose, consist entirely of two men standing about scowling at each other. Although I’ve already said this, I really do think that if people really could see into each other’s minds, our whole history and society would be radically different. “Star Trek”’s society would be different too, if psychic powers were real and widespread. People really do think that this stuff is true, but that doesn’t stop it from being no more than wishful thinking. The solid evidence isn’t at all ambiguous: it’s nonsense. You don’t even have to believe me; find some of the stuff a genuine genius like Carl Sagan wrote about psychic powers, or perhaps track down a book for magicians on “Mentalism” and then see for yourself how easy it is to fake the “incredible powers of the mind.”

Although TOS “Amok Time” is quite clear that Spock’s pon farr is over once he’s killed Kirk, this book insists that Spock is living under a death sentence because he’s not “consummated” his “bonding.” That’s why he goes to Vulcan to purge his emotions, and break the cycle. That really doesn’t seem compatible with what we know, or other information. Pon farr is a biological process, and presumably can only be halted or averted by having sex, the catharsis of combat during plak tow, or some surgical intervention. (I can’t imagine anything less than castration would work.) Great emphasis is laid on the fact that Human females are too “fragile” for Spock’s style of lovemaking. Similar comments were made about Worf in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, but the presence of characters with various kinds of mixed ancestry in the show, including Spock himself, gives the lie to all that. Taking that kind of thing deadly seriously is sort of weird. Worf’s comments are supposed to be jokes, not a legitimisation of sexual violence against women. Aren’t they?

As for the New Humans, this book chooses to link them to the “space hippies” in TOS “The Way to Eden”. Whilst some of the less memorable episodes of “Star Trek” can be (and have been) made more interesting and relevant by exploring the characters and themes in greater depth in novels, this particular story is, as far as I’m concerned, a lost cause. The idea that group consciousness could replace individuals is one that’s been raised and explored numerous times in science fiction. In “Star Trek” the obvious example are the Borg, and they do kind of sum up the general conclusion in the show: surrendering one’s individuality is always wrong. The reality, if we ever get there, may be quite different. This novel makes a big deal of how “seductive” the idea could be, and then shows something else entirely. Because of course, the psychically-boosted personalities of “dominant males” instantly take over control of the group mind, and they become nothing more than a bigger version of one individual. Something that could have been genuinely interesting is made into just more of the same.

So, titanic forces are ranged, and the very course of evolution is at stake. There’s everything to play for, but they decide not to bother after all. At the risk of spoilers, that seems to be the plot of this novel. It’s always up to the individual reader to decide whether they like something or not (I’m working out the chronology of each book, and recommending the ones I liked, not trying to dictate what people should read or like for themselves), but my personal opinion was that I’m really glad this was the last one of these books.

The final verdict:

Off you go to an alternate universe, and take all that nonsense like “Kirlian auras,” “psychic powers” and “dominant males” along with you.

Web of the Romulans

How long does it take?

My rough count of the days gave at least five. The stardates suggest six, so I’m saying six days from start to finish.

When does it happen?

I think this is the first novel to be so specific. It’s during the five year mission, and follows TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, with a week’s shore leave at Starbase 8 in between.

What about the stardates?

There are stardates throughout the story, from the first day to the last. S.D. 3125.3 to S.D. 3130.4 converts to Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th February, 2266 by the “official” conversion I’ve made up. As usual, it’s rather short. My own attempt at a system gives Friday 18th January to Wednesday 23rd January, 2267.

Does it fit?

Oh dear. If I budge up TOS “Return of the Archons” to follow TOS “Space Seed”, then I have space for this story, although it all gets very crowded. The number of days is quite fiercely squeezed, but this story will just fit in between TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday” and TOS “Space Seed” without obviously overlapping anything.

That’s just the stardates, though. There have already been problems with which members of the crew are on the ship when, and “they’re all there, the whole time” seems to be a common answer, and it’s impossible really to disprove. Where I thought this novel came unstuck was what had already happened. According to the footnotes, this story comes after TOS “Balance of Terror”, TOS “The Enterprise Incident” and TOS “The Gamesters of Triskelion”. The first of these is obvious. The other two, less so. TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday” was a first season story, as is TOS “Balance of Terror”. TOS “The Gamesters of Triskelion” is a second season story, and I have difficulty placing it this early. Even an absolute adherence to stardates won’t move it that far. As for TOS “The Enterprise Incident”, it was in the third season, and has to fall much later in the five year mission, however you arrange things. Even if you ignore the footnotes and assume that the reference to two previous encounters with the Romulans means TOS “Balance of Terror” and TOS “The Deadly Years”, that story still falls too late. As it is, why is TOS “The Deadly Years” omitted?

As you will recall, the Enterprise computer is reprogrammed just before TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, to be given a “personality.” That’s part of this story, too. The Romulan Empire suffers a crisis, and although I’m not sure how damaged the Romulans can be if they’re the threat they are in the 24th century, there’s no proof that something like this story couldn’t happen. I have the feeling that internal problems for the Romulans are leading in to how Spock ends up looking after Saavik, but there’s no reference to any of that in this novel.

What did I think?

I was very happy indeed that the whole “the planet’s run by women, so what can you expect?” element of the reprogrammed computer sub-plot was completely dropped.

Overall, since I’m reading these books from a chronological point of view, the niggling problem of not even trying to put TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday” at a plausible point in the mission rather distracted me. Overall, it’s a competent novel, but the fact is that I wasn’t really distracted from the chronological problems by the story.

The final verdict:

I could shift things around and make this fit in the right place after TOS “Tomorrow is Yesterday” but that wouldn’t do anything to address the fact that there is no possibility that the continuity of the five year mission presented here reflects anyone else’s, let alone mine.

This one’s going to a remarkably odd alternate version of events.

Yesterday’s Son

How long does it take?

My rough count suggests that if everything happens according to Captain Kirk’s figures, it’ll be the 27th day when they go through the Guardian of Forever. McCoy then helpfully points out that he’s known Zar for seven weeks at the end of the story. I’m guessing at around 80 days from start to finish.

When does it happen?

During the five-year mission. It’s two years since TOS “All Our Yesterdays” and four years since TOS “City on the Edge of Forever”. Yes, that does cause me problems.

What about the stardates?

There are three. The first is on what I think is the third day, S.D. 6324.09. My “official” conversion gives that as Thursday 29th April, 2369. My own system says Tuesday 22nd March, 2270. The second falls one or two days before the end of the story. S.D. 6381.7 converts to Thursday 20th May, 2269 “official” and Friday 8th April, 2270 by my conversion. Neither of those seem to be far enough on for the internal chronology of the story as given. Even assuming stardates last 24 hours and are completely sequential only gives 58 days between the two. The last stardate only happens around a day later, but it’s jumped up to S.D. 7340.37, Thursday 5th May, 2270 “official” and Sunday 2nd April, 2271 for me. That’s too far on. It may be a misprint, but I’m really not sure what for.

Does it fit?

The story has a lot of continuity references. It’s a direct sequel to TOS “All Our Yesterdays”, and offers the intriguing suggestion that going through the Atavachron affected Spock, so that he behaved out of character. There are also references to events and characters from TOS “Journey to Babel”, TOS “Amok Time” and TOS “The Immunity Syndrome”. There are a lot of passing references to other stories too.

If I ignore the stardates, and any attempt at a stardated continuity, then this story seems intended to fit into a chronology where the first three seasons of “Star Trek” happen in broadcast order, and are the first three years of the five-year mission. This story would then be in the fifth year, towards the end of it. That would put it two years on from TOS “All Our Yesterdays” near the end of the third season, and four years after TOS “City on the Edge of Forever” towards the end of the first season. It’s not what I’m trying to do, but it certainly isn’t wrong or impossible.

Zar travelling back to Sarpeidon to “kick-start” their civilisation is given as an explanation of why that society speaks English, and presumably why it has a time period that closely resembles Restoration England, and has managed to go from primitive hunters in an ice age to a high degree of development in fifty centuries.

I’m still not convinced that a planet like Sarpeidon could exist that close to a star about to go nova. There is a lot astronomers don’t know about what makes stars explode, and I know even less about it than they do. But a star at that stage of its life-cycle is not going to be something you’d want to be that close to. The book suggests that the years on Sarpeidon are shorter than Earth years. I have a really hard time believing that.

What did I think?

Quite a while ago, LMFAOschwarz posted a theory on the TrekBBS that the Atavachron didn’t send people back into the past, just to a recreation of it. There are problems with this idea, but it’s kept niggling at me. What if the Atavachron is like a holodeck in reverse? Instead of creating a fake environment for real people, what if it converts people into an electronic analogue and puts them into an environment that’s completely real for them in a way that a holodeck could never be? That would explain the “preparation” process, since you’d need to be backed up in case the version of you in the created environment suffered damage. It’s possible that the temporary conversion initiated by jumping through the portal isn’t stable, and so the information would start to degrade anyway, matching the warnings in the story. It also kind of explains to me why the set up in the cave with Zarabeth seems so odd. It’s more like one of Quark’s more lurid holoprograms than anything that might plausibly happen. Perhaps Spock’s personality has even been deliberately “tweaked” so that he’ll enjoy the experience more? My guess is that Sarpeidon’s library is a set of tapes recreating environments from class-M worlds all over the Galaxy, and was built by an advanced civilisation, not the locals. The people on the planet were trapped there by a catastrophe (perhaps they’re descendants of the Kalandans?) and rearranged the tapes to make a single “history” of their own world. It’s a theory still riddled with problems, but I can’t seem to drop the idea completely.

Of course, anything like that would rule out this book.

The final verdict:

Since this is an exercise in making stardates work, I have problems with this book, and the sequel. TOS “All Our Yesterdays” was one of the last two episodes made of the original series, and any attempt to apply stardates means that the story falls too late for there to be another two years left of a five-year mission. I can’t make it fit.

Mutiny on the Enterprise

How long does it take?

A LONG time. Well over a month just from internal continuity references, and the stardates suggest we see 244 days, with a journey of “weeks” back to Starbase 1 at the end of it. I’d be unsurprised if the whole thing didn’t last 260 or 270 days, and that’s not the whole of it, as you’ll find out below.

When does it happen?

The reference to Delta Canaris, the stardates and the presence of Heather McConel and Candra Avitts on the ship all make me think that this story follows on directly from The Klingon Gambit, written by the same author. So it’s the third year of the five year mission?

What about the stardates?

There are quite a few, scattered through the story from the first to the last day. The first one is S.D. 4769.1; the “official” conversion makes that Tuesday 8th October, 2267. My own conversion would have to accommodate The Klingon Gambit, so it must be Thursday 3rd September, 2268. This creates problems all round, because the second date has to be more than three weeks later. S.D. 4801.4 comes out as Sunday 20th October, 2267 by the “official” conversion and Saturday 5th September, 2268 by my own system. That’s a comprehensive fail for both. The final stardate is S.D. 5012.5; that’s Sunday 5th January, 2268 “official” and Wednesday 25th November, 2268 by my system. Just to keep track, that comes out as 90 days by the “official” stardates, and 84 days using my own version.

Does it fit?

I think this section could be better titled “how could it possibly fit?” All of the criticisms that led me to reject The Klingon Gambit apply here too, only more so. The two books together cover Friday 20th September, 2267 to Sunday 5th January, 2268 by the “official” conversion and Wednesday 5th August to Wednesday 25th November, 2268 in my version of the timeline. Since the point will be made quite well enough without further elaboration, I’ll forget about the “weeks” that are supposed to follow on. In my version of the “official” stardated timeline, this period will comprehensively overlap TOS “The Ultimate Computer”, TOS “Return to Tomorrow” and the whole of TOS “The Paradise Syndrome”. Given how long that story takes, it’s quite an achievement. My own timeline would see these stories completely replace TOS “The Ultimate Computer”, TOS “Return to Tomorrow”, TOS “Patterns of Force, TOS “The Omega Glory”, TOS “Assignment: Earth” and most of TOS “The Paradise Syndrome”.

The stories would also clash with the earlier novels The Galactic Whirlpool and The Entropy Effect.

I was also intrigued to the reference to the shuttlecraft. Kirk identnifes it as the “Galileo 7” which struck me as a bit odd. If it is a standard shuttle, where is the cargo bay, and how does one shuttle hold so many people, let alone a huge quantity of shielding material?

It seems churlish to say so, but I wasn’t sure that the references to “the Orion Arm” really fit in with the position or size of the Federation in other sources, including the Star Fleet Technical Manual. It is the case that the sources themselves are pretty contradictory, so I don’t think there’s anything extreme enough to rule this story out on the basis of it.

What did I think?

Getting an even halfway-plausible mechanism for the crew of Enterprise to mutiny is quite an achievement. I did wonder why it took so long for anyone to realise what was happening, and how it is that out of a crew of over four hundred, only James Kirk has a strong enough personality to fight back against insidious powers acting on his mind.

I really liked that the mysterious powers of persuasion had nothing at all to do with psychic powers.

On the mysterious “uni-life” planet, if communication isn’t by talking, how did Lorelei get to speak to it? How come no-one else could?

The final verdict:

Fitting this story and The Klingon Gambit into the main run of stories is impossible, as far as I can see. Sending these stories off to an alternate version of events has the added bonus that Heather McConel goes with them, too.

The Wounded Sky

How long does it take?

Take a guess. It could be anything from just under a fortnight to well over a month. There aren’t many clues, especially once it stops being clear what’s “real” in the sense that time’s passing, and what isn’t.

When does it happen?

That’s a lot clearer. It’s sometime after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. The references to crew assignments and the layout of the ship make that very clear.

What about the stardates?

There’s one near the start, S.D. 9250.00, which the “official” conversion would make Sunday 2nd April, 2282. My own attempt places it on Sunday 18th February, 2283. There are also some stardates from articles published by McCoy and Spock once the story’s finished. Spock’s is S.D. 9258.0, implying everything was over in a week. I’m dubious about that, but it could be Thursday 8th March, 2283 in my system. The “official” conversion is less flexible, giving Wednesday 5th April, 2282. I’m sure four days isn’t sufficient. McCoy’s article is stardated S.D. 9315.0 . That’s Wednesday 26th April, 2282 in the “official” system, and Sunday 25th March, 2383 in my own.

Does it fit?

Maybe, as long as you assume that the spiffy new superdrive they’ve come up with at the end of the story doesn’t pan out.

This is the first appearance of Lieutenant Mahase, who’ll be popping up in later novels.

What did I think?

It’s all remarkably cutting-edge stuff about the effect of conscious observers on physical reality. To be absolutely honest, I was terribly confused a lot of the time, and horribly disappointed when the punchline of the story seemed to be the opening of the Book of Genesis apparently played for laughs. Perhaps I just didn’t understand. That’s not very satisfying either, though.

The final verdict:

Disregarding my own opinions, the intent seems to be that this story is supposed to happen during the “extra” five-year mission that may or may not have happened after “Star Trek: the Motion Picture”. Certainly if the stardates fit a system, then they imply something about two years on from the first movie.

As I’ve pointed out, the “official” conversion I’m using here squishes the story into an unnaturally small amount of time. I’d place this story from around Tuesday 13th February to about Monday 5th March, 2283: S.D. 9205 to 9255 using my own. The “official” dates require more massaging, but might be Sunday 26th March to Saturday 15th April, 2282: S.D. 9230 to 9287. I’m not sure I’d bother, but you might.

As I discovered later, this story must happen before Diane Duane’s next novel, My Enemy, My Ally. Between the two books, an editorial decision was taken that books would never be set other than in the five-year mission. Although this book is absolutely definitely later, I think some “fixing up” was done to later editions of the book to make it seem earlier. I’m not at all sure there’s space at the end of the original mission, but if you can fit it in, that seems to be where it’s retrospectively meant to go.

The Trellisane Confrontation

How long does it take?

Once again, it’s not entirely clear. I’d say at least a week. The stardates strongly hint at twelve days, with a few days extra to tie up the loose ends.

When does it happen?

It’s sometime during the five-year mission. The Irapina from Planet of Judgement are mentioned, so it must be after that story.

What about the stardates?

They run from S.D. 7521.6 on the first day to S.D. 7532.8 on the last. The “official” date conversion makes that Sunday 10th to Thursday 14th July, 2270. Five days is pushing things a bit, in my opinion, although the year works. My own attempt would be Friday 2nd to Tuesday 13th June, 2271. My system’s dates fall because of the 2270 conclusion of the five-year mission.

Does it fit?

From the dates, no. Otherwise, perhaps it does. The Romulans are led by Tal, the same officer who appeared in TOS “The Enterprise Incident”. Kirk reflects on his rapid promotion, but even so, it rules out moving the story too far forwards. The layout of the galaxy seems to owe a lot to the Star Trek Technical Manual map, and that means the Federation is a lot bigger than you might expect.

What did I think?

One planet in this story is inhabited by intelligent aquatic mammals. It’s called “Sealon.” Once I’d read that it was quite disappointing that “Trellisane” wasn’t the home of giant ambulatory frames for climbing plants.

Cheap jokes aside, this is one of those stories where the Stupid Aliens really do justify me insisting on calling them that. It was difficult to see why Kirk, Spock and McCoy didn’t just let the Klingons take over and have done with it. The only really interesting and ultimately likeable character was the “group being” who gave Nurse Chapel something interesting to do for once, and then was killed out of hand. It explains why Christine Chapel wasn’t one-quarter of an alien being later on, but I thought it was a pity.

The final verdict:

I can’t fit this story where it seems to be supposed to go. Off to an alternate universe with it.

Corona

How long does it take?

My count of days suggests that it lasts well over 40. The stardates seem to agree, as you’ll see below.

When does it happen?

The Pocket Books chronology in Voyages of Imagination puts it in 2270. The stardates would put it in 2267 (“official”) or 2268 by my system. If it happens during the five-year mission. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. All the ranks and “incidental” references seem to place the story in that era. But Kirk’s age is given as around 45 (although he looks younger) and Chekov is in charge of security. If Kirk’s 45, then it has to be set around 2278. My system of stardates allows this exactly, and the “official” conversion I’ve adopted would allow the story to be set in 2277. Since the 2260s dates are obvious non-starters, it’s a pity that 2277 or 2278 bumps into the preliminaries for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”; Spock should be off to Vulcan around April 2278, and Kirk’s a deskbound admiral from October, according to my analysis.

What about the stardates?

There are three. One, S.D. 4386.5, is the deadline for getting across the neutral zone, and would be Wednesday 22nd May, 2267 or Tuesday 22nd May, 2277 by my “official” system; or Friday 3rd April, 2268 or Monday 1st April, 2278 by my own conversion. The next is S.D. 4380.4 which converts to Sunday 19th May, 2267 or Sunday 19th May, 2277 “official” or Saturday 28th March, 2268 or Tuesday 26th March, 2278 for me. I think it’s on the 23rd day, but the time of day isn’t a good match by either of the conversion systems. The last stardate is S.D. 4997.54 which converts by the “official” system to Tuesday 31st December, 2267 or Monday 31st December, 2277, and Friday 20th November, 2268 or Monday 18th November, 2278 by mine. That gives a total duration of 260 days by my system, and 249 by the “official” system I’ve made up.

Does it fit?

As the author Greg Bear puts it: “More subtle differences from the canon are probably matters of interpretation.” This book was written a long time ago. Quite a few things have changed since then.

That point made, apart from the crew’s ranks being definitely from the five-year mission, there’s a reference to Uhura’s uniform being red (but that could mean “maroon”?). Mister Spock seems to be preparing himself mentally for his 79th birthday (although he could just be starting in plenty of time, although it really is plenty of time). It’s “years” since TOS “Devil in the Dark”. I have that in February 2267, so the 2278 option is the only one that is really convincing for that, otherwise it’s only last year. Vulcan is placed in the Epsilon Eridani system, rather than orbiting 40 Eridani (and yes, they are two completely different stars). I did wonder if “environment fields” are the same as “life-support belts”?

What did I think?

I enjoyed the book. Like a lot of “Star Trek”, the same plot has been used quite a few times, to varying degrees of success. I thought this take on a super-intelligence wanting to remodel the Universe was entertaining and made sense. I also liked the suggestion that warp drive directly manipulates the geometry of space. Whilst it might not have been what the author had in mind, it did make me wonder if that’s why warp speeds manage to get spaceships such long distances in such short times, especially given the “canon” values of warp speeds. (If you don’t think they’re really official, take a look at the graph in ENT “First Flight”. The values are there on the screen.)

The final verdict:

I have problems with both the 2260s and 2270s dates, which is a pity because I enjoyed the book. I can’t make it fit in my timeline, though.

The Final Reflection

How long does it take?

The book is in two sections: a “book within a book” set many decades earlier, and a contemporary “frame.” The contemporary section lasts as long as it takes Jim Kirk to read the book. My wild guess is about a week. The main story in the past takes place over some ten to fifteen years, I think.

When does it happen?

The story in the past happens when Spock and McCoy are children. The contemporary part is quite clear, since the Organian peace has been in force for ten years. There are few details about the ship and crew in the framing story, and so that’s not really contradicted. It’s definitely after TOS “Day of the Dove”, because Kirk remembers Mara. I would put the “contemporary” part of the story in 2277, and the “official” version would be in 2276. Why they’re on the ship just then, I’m not sure.

What about the stardates?

There are two. The preface of the book is dated S.D. 8303.24, and there’s a log entry right at the end for S.D. 8405.15. They’re problematic, because my system would put them in 2272 or 2282, whilst the “official” conversion would give 2271 or 2281. They’re far too early, or more than a bit too late. Not to mention getting tangled up with the date for the end of the five-year mission and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. Beyond that, the format of the dates suggests that they are intended to operate according to a different system. See the next section for my ideas on that.

Does it fit?

This is where things get complicated. The book was published in 1984. That’s before the first version of the Klingon Dictionary came out in 1985, and long before “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and 24th century “Star Trek” started to fill in the details of Klingon society. In effect: the stuff in this book is “wrong” only insofar as it has been contradicted later.

The book itself is carefully researched. Judging by this book and the one which follows (My Enemy, My Ally), Pocket Books seems to have deliberately commissioned two books intended to drastically “flesh out” the background of the Klingons and Romulans. Perhaps if things had panned out differently, this would have been the way everyone envisioned Klingons to be. Who knows?
The details of the various Federation starships are taken directly from the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology published in 1980. The Klingons themselves are realised in considerable detail, with explanations being offered for the difference in appearance between the Klingons in the original “Star Trek” and their brief cameo at the start of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. A language and culture is developed for them, along with an explanation for why the spoken Klingon in the first film isn’t really the same.

The book came out a month before the release of “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”. The Klingons in that film don’t really fit with the version of them shown here, and once the dictionary came out to explain all the Klingon dialogue, it’s obvious that “official” Klingons are not at all like the ones in this story, and the divergence has only grown wider over the years.

I’m not in any position to know exactly what happened next. Luckily, an account appears in the second edition of the FASA role playing game supplement The Klingons, published in 1987. The “Designers’ Notes” on page 77 explain that John M. Ford was a friend of one of the writers of the supplement. When they realised that they were both writing a more detailed background for the Klingons, they decided to pool their resources. The end result is more two closely-related parallel projects than one single one. This novel doesn’t use any of FASA’s game background, and the game supplement hasn’t got anything in it that might be said to belong to Pocket Books. All the same, the FASA book and the novel together present a coherent version of Klingon language and society, and I would strongly recommend getting both of these if you want to explore this version of Klingon society in detail.

The stardates in the book are of the type used widely in “Star Trek” fandom at the time, and were also used as part of the FASA “reference stardate” system. The first two digits are a year, the second two are a month, and the last two are the day. That means that the first would be 24th March ’83, and the second 15th May ’84. What century they apply to is anyone’s guess. They could refer to the dates the book was commissioned and due to be published, they may reflect chronological decisions made by the author. They don’t follow any version of the FASA chronological system, or the suggested timeline in the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology. It’s possible that the book is published electronically, and Kirk reads it quite soon after, but I still don’t see how those stardates can apply to the time-frame suggested by the book.

I do have to point out that unless Leonard McCoy wore nappies into his teens, the relative ages of young Spock and McCoy don’t reflect the later information about when they were both born. Spock is evidently meant to be several years older than McCoy. It’s an interesting idea, but it does raise the question: how old is Amanda in TOS “Journey to Babel”?

What did I think?

I liked it. So what if the Klingons turned out differently? Kai John M. Ford!

The final verdict:

If ever a book fitted into an “alternate universe” it’s this one. I recommend it anyway.

My Enemy, My Ally

How long does it take?

My rough count was fifteen days plus two months plus an unspecified number of extra days. I’d say about eighty days altogether, but that’s anything but precise.

When does it happen?

The internal evidence isn’t always clear, but it seems to be towards the end of the original five-year mission. All of the television stories have already happened, but it’s before the first of the films. That’s unfortunate, because it also happens very soon after The Wounded Sky. That is hugely frustrating, but as far as I’ve been able to discover is the result of some “behind the scenes” decisions that the author had to go along with. So either The Wounded Sky has to happen earlier than I think it does, or this story has to happen later.

What about the stardates?

There are three. The first is the date their orders were issued, S.D. 0112.0; the second is for the first day of the main story, I think, S.D. 0304.6; and the last is after the main bit of the story is finished, two months and a few days before the end, S.D. 2816.3. I think only the author has any real idea about how this was supposed to work. I definitely don’t.

Does it fit?

As with the previous book, it did at the time. If subsequent revelations about the Romulans went a different way, then that was a decision the author couldn’t have done anything about. In a way very similar to John Ford’s Klingons, Diane Duane filled in a lot of the background for the Romulans. The big difference is that the Klingons appeared in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and were given a detailed “official” language. That pretty much invalidated The Final Reflection right then. The Romulans didn’t come back for some considerable time, and it wasn’t really until the later seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that divergences that couldn’t be ignored began to appear. The upshot was to give “Rihannsu” Romulans that much longer to be established in fans’ imaginations. The language developed for this book is still widely regarded as the “real” Romulan language, even though it bears little or no resemblance to the spoken Romulan used (very sparingly) on the screen.

So no, it doesn’t fit. The Romulan history given here is not the same as that established in the later versions of “Star Trek” and the Romulans’ home system bears only the most superficial resemblance to what was eventually established in “Star Trek: Nemesis”. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people out there who don’t prefer this version.

I would quibble about the Battle of Organia being fought and the Federation nearly winning before the Organians stepped in. That’s not how the story seemed to play out to me. Then there’s the fact that great play is made of how Intrepid is a new improved model that is supposed to be the precursor of the refit Enterprise. Unless I completely misunderstood, that means that in this version of events, TOS “The Immunity Syndrome” comes before TOS “Errand of Mercy”. That doesn’t sound right to me at all.

In amongst all this, Tom Baker’s Doctor makes a brief non-copyright-infringing holographic cameo appearance. It would appear that “Doctor Who” is part of at least this version of “Star Trek”, although the excerpt does not appear to be from any story broadcast in our own universe.

What did I think?

This is just the first of several books by this author fleshing out the background for the Romulans. It’s difficult to go back and look at this one without being influenced by what came later. I’m really not sure about the Giant Vulcan Brain in a Box. Is it just a nutty idea, or is my prejudice against psychic powers affecting my judgement?

Taken on its own terms, this is an enjoyable read, although I do admit to preferring The Final Reflection. As part of the overall continuity of “Star Trek”, I don’t think it does well at all. These are not the Romulans we will be seeing later.

The final verdict:

It’s a tricky one. Do I crash ahead and set it after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and The Wounded Sky? Do I shuffle this book and The Wounded Sky into the five-year mission somehow? These books take up nearly four months just by themselves. Neither solution will work well, and the stardates are absolutely no help at all. I think I’m pleasing absolutely no-one but myself when I say that this is off in the most nebulous alternate universe of all, where it might be one year, or then again another. The book and its sequels are fun, even if they don’t mesh with “official” information revealed later. I didn’t mind reading this again, even if I can’t fit it into my timeline.

Tears of the Singers

How long does it take?

My rough guess says at least two weeks, and probably three. Since it took them a week to get to the planet, I really have to say I think it’ll take a month altogether.

When does it happen?

There are references to quite a few stories. Kor the Klingon returns, and the events of TOS “Errand of Mercy” are mentioned. His ship is called Klothos, and he has a wife, Kali. These are references to TAS “The Time Trap” although the events of that story aren’t specifically referred to, and Kali didn’t seem to be married to Kor then. It’s open to interpretation, but there’s a strong hint that it’s two years after TOS “Errand of Mercy”. It’s definitely still the five-year mission, and my timeline would suggest sometime in 2269, with my “official” version a year earlier in 2268. TAS “The Time Trap” would happen in March 2269, going by stardates and my conversion.

What about the stardates?

A disaster. There are two: S.D. 3126.7, which I think is on the second day, and S.D. 3127.1. The story is quite clear that this is on the ninth day. Neither system of stardates can accommodate that. My conversion would put the story in Late February and March, 2367 whilst the “official” date would be in February 2266. Neither of these dates match up with the internal references to things that have happened earlier, since it’ll be very close to the time TOS “Errand of Mercy” occurs, let alone any of the later stories like TOS “The Deadly Years”.

Does it fit?

By stardate, absolutely not. Going by other references, there’s no real reason why not. I was taken aback when Uhura announced she’d resigned, right in the middle of a mission. I’m not convinced that would be allowed. I’m also a little sceptical that Starfleet can co-opt civilians as easily as it’s shown here; I’m not sure there would be a story without it though.

I’ll have some comments about the hunters below. Here, I have to say that I don’t see why the Federation would issue hunting licences for unclaimed worlds. What’s the point? There isn’t even a game warden to check on them. This set-up bothers me, because if the jewels are so valuable, why hasn’t there been a free-for-all and a mass slaughter?

Last, but not least: the Stone of Destiny. Scotty is supposed to have been involved in “stealing” it 28 years earlier. Not only is that bit of the book likely to be intensely annoying to anyone Scottish, it has been overtaken by events. The Stone was placed in Edinburgh Castle on Saturday 30th November, 1996. In theory, it’ll be taken back to Westminster Abbey for coronations. In practice, who knows?

What did I think?

It was nice to see Uhura getting more to do for once, but it would have been even nicer if she’d been the star, rather than the devoted acolyte of the guy who saves the day.

The hunters were Nasty Bad Men. That’s a pity, because the issue is fairly obviously the Canadian seal culls that were in the news at the time. It’s a long time ago, and the seals are now dying anyway as a result of the global warming that isn’t happening. Even so, a more detailed picture of who these people were and why they were out hunting would have addressed some of the issues the book raises, and then dodges.

The final verdict:

If I ignore the stardates, is there a spare month in 2269 when this might happen? The issue is that TOS “Day of the Dove” has to happen first, so I’m really left with December 2269, S.D. 6023 to 6053. The “official” equivalent would be Tuesday 22nd December, 2268 to Thursday 21st January, 2269: S.D. 5972 to 6057.

The Vulcan Academy Murders

How long does it take?

The actual story takes ten or eleven days, depending on how rapidly they get to Vulcan. There are several references to Enterprise spending at least a month at Vulcan, but it’s not actually shown, so it might not happen.

When does it happen?

The novel gives two big clues about that. It’s two years after TOS “Amok Time” and TOS “Journey to Babel” has also already happened; it’s also about a month before Doctor M’Benga joins the crew. Other than that, it’s during the five-year mission.

What about the stardates?

There aren’t any.

Does it fit?

Although I never realised it at the time, this could easily be a “follow-on” to The Final Reflection and My Enemy, My Ally as an in-depth look at the Vulcans.

It’s a novel written by someone who likes “Star Trek” a lot, and Vulcans even more. I might disagree with some of the story, but I have the feeling that every bit of this has been carefully considered, and I’d come off worst in any attempt to argue that the portrayal of Vulcans is wrong.

That means that I’m going to confine myself to things that have been subsequently contradicted. The big one is that only Vulcan men experience pon farr. “Star Trek: Enterprise” made it clear that it’s an equal opportunities mating frenzy, since T’Pol also experienced it (off-screen, naturally). Later information is that Surak lived 2,000 years ago, not 5,000, like it says in this book, but I have to stress that this isn’t a “mistake.” The time period wasn’t established until long after this book was written.

Miranda Jones from TOS “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” is mentioned in passing. Sarek, Amanda and T’Pau all make appearances in this book.

There’s a reference to a second time Sarek was on Enterprise, when he was involved in a poker game. The only previous book featuring Sarek I’ve read so far is Death’s Angel. It can’t be a reference to that book, because there’s no poker game, and it’s set after Doctor M’Benga was assigned to the ship.

What did I think?

I liked the suggestion that Sarek met Amanda when she stayed at the Vulcan embassy on Earth to improve her spoken Vulcan.

I’m putting this in with my personal impressions, because I freely admit that I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’m interested in trying to work out how Vulcan would end up looking like it does according to the real laws of physics, and I have severe doubts about the set-up in this book. I have a whole section of this site where I’m struggling to get to grips with what is and isn’t possible, so I’ll just keep it brief here. I don’t think two planets orbiting the same star and not each other can come that close in their orbits. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” and I think that means that if one planet (even if it’s only a smallish one) comes zooming up really close to Vulcan on an eccentric orbit, then Vulcan will have a rather eccentric orbit too, sooner rather than later.

I think the “alt.right” followers of the ancient Vulcan goddess T’Vet are probably completely justified by references from the Vulcan stories in “Star Trek”. I still found the whole thing pretty distasteful. Sending them all off to found a bigoted, violent colony of their own seemed like a great way to create a “Romulan Empire, Mark II.” Letting people like these peddle their hate-filled nonsense isn’t just illogical, it’s immoral.

The final verdict:

What happens to this story rests less on what I think than on how the dates stack up. I have TOS “Amok Time” in 2267, so it has to be 2269. My “official” take puts TOS “Amok Time” in 2266, so the book should be in 2268. However, to fit in with the Doctor M’Benga storyline, it also has to be before his first appearance. Although it certainly seems like he was in more often, there are only two stories where he appears: TOS “A Private Little War” (March 2267 “official;” February 2268 by my own version) and TOS “That Which Survives” (September 2268?; August 2269). I don’t think it works, at least if you’re paying any kind of attention to stardates.

Another “alternate universe” story I’m afraid.


Bantam novels
Introduction

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 16 Jul 2017 09:49, last updated on 21 Sep 2017 08:17