1985-1986
Table of Contents

Uhura’s Song

How long does it take?

The main action seems to take around sixty days. There’s at least five weeks after that, suggesting a total length of around 100 days.

When does it happen?

The ranks make it quite clear that it’s during the “five year mission,” and it seems to be towards the end of it. Clear references are few, but they’ve met Harry Mudd, and it seems to be after TOS “Amok Time”.

What about the stardates?

They aren’t helpful. There’s one on the first day, S.D. 2950.3. Then about a month later, it’s S.D. 1573.4! About three months into the story it’s S.D. 2962.3. All of these are too early to fit with TOS “Amok Time” by my system, or the “official” one I’m comparing my dates to. It also won’t allow anything like a long enough period of time, by either conversion system.

Does it fit?

Not by stardates. Other than that, it seems to, although I found all the saluting a bit strange.

What did I think?

The idea of making Uhura a major character seems to me a good one. For the first few chapters, I was really enjoying her moving the story forward. I was a bit surprised that Doctor McCoy was banished to the quarantined planet, but it did serve to make it less “Uhura and the boys.” Then, “lovable” Evan Wilson seemed to be moving more and more to centre-stage. Uhura is back to being a background character, and then all the rest of the Enterprise crew seem to be nothing more than the supporting cast to Evan’s big adventure. At the risk of spoilers, I really thought that turning her into some sort of trickster-spirit wasn’t a good idea. Maybe it would take a supernatural being to compete with Kirk and Spock on any kind of equal basis, but it didn’t make for a novel I enjoyed. Of course, I might have misunderstood, but I don’t think I did,

Although my main gripe about this novel has to be about the way everyone was sidelined for the new character, I wasn’t convinced that the entire urban population of an advanced planet would move to another star system entirely, just because the yokels thought they were making a bit of a smell.

Maybe it’s because I live in Scotland, but I did think the “only one Scottish accent per starship” joke was a bit crass.

Finally, this was one of those stories where the plot could have been resolved much more quickly if the Stupid Aliens were less determined to be stupid. There are times when people would literally rather die than admit something a bit embarrassing, but I always struggle to believe that an entire society would commit mass-suicide unless some “enlightened” Humans come along and show them how silly they’re being. Your ancestors 2,503 years before were thought of as criminals? It seems really unlikely to me that they’d all still be so hung up about it.

The final verdict:

I suppose this story could fit into a suitable four months at the end of the five-year mission. It wouldn’t leave a lot of time for anything else, though. I’d have to completely abandon any attempt at interpreting any of the stardates too.

It probably won’t come as a big surprise, but I’m sending this one off to an alternate universe.

Shadow Lord

How long does it take?

My guess is that it took no less than eighteen days. The time-scale given at the start of the story is thirty Angosian days, with a week or two before hand to transport Prince Vikram. Very roughly, I’d say six or seven weeks.

When does it happen?

During the five-year mission, judging by the ranks of the characters. Other than that, there aren’t many clues.

What about the stardates?

There’s one, about the time they arrive at the planet. S.D. 1831.5 is quite remarkably early on. I make it Thursday 21st September, 2265, and my “official” conversion would be Monday 31st October, 2264.

Does it fit?

I didn’t spot anything obviously out of place, although it did strike me as odd that the Starfleet officers were so willing to run off with the Prince, rather than attempting to open relations with the new planetary government. It’s not the first or last time that happens, though.

What did I think?

I particularly liked the way the aliens in this story were humanoid, but very definitely not like Humans. The contrast with the picture of the Prince on the book cover made it even more entertaining.

As the author says, this is a swashbuckling action-adventure story. I enjoyed it a lot, even though I kept thinking the Angosians deserved better than a choice between a playboy prince and a murderer.

The final verdict:

If you’re willing to assume that it happens near the start of the mission, then this actually fits into the big gap between TOS “Balance of Terror” and TOS “The Squire of Gothos”. I’d have it running between Thursday 7th September to Friday 20th October, 2265: S.D. 1767 to 1940. My “official” version would be Monday 17th October to Tuesday 29th November, 2264: S.D. 1792 to 1912. The “official” dates would overlap the only really plausible Thanksgiving for TOS “Charlie X”, but I’m trying to stick to stardates as much as possible, so I’m not convinced that it can be a show-stopper without invalidating the whole of what I’m trying to do.

Since it fits, and I didn’t spot any obvious impossibilities, I’m going to put it into my “prime” timeline, at least for now.

Ishmael

How long does it take?

The sequence in the past lasts around four months in the nineteenth century. The “contemporary” sequence only seems to last a week or ten days, although the passage of time isn’t very clear.

When does it happen?

The sequence in the past lasts from September to January. The year isn’t entirely clear. Spock manages to send a clue back: “1867,” but is that the year he’s sent to, or the year Kirk goes to find him? Logically, Spock’s stranded for months, so it seems likely that he arrives in 1866 and the others come to fetch him as early as they can manage in the specified year, 1867. You may disagree with this interpretation.

The twenty-third century part of the story happens after TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles”, if they’re unknown to that point; the fact that Captain Lorca has a pet tribble in DCY “Context is for Kings” puts that in considerable doubt. It’s really odd that nobody takes one look and says “oh, no, tribbles!” On that topic, a “Ceti eel” is also mentioned in passing. Whilst there’s a little room for doubt, nobody seems to know about them until “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. This story appears to be set during the five-year mission, and so I’m not really convinced that they’d have been discovered, even though it is after TOS “Space Seed”.

What about the stardates?

There’s one. Spock’s date of birth is given as S.D. 3492.6. That doesn’t fit with any of my ideas, certainly.

Does it fit?

This novel has quite a bit to say about the background of the Klingons. Whilst it might not be absolutely impossible for the Klingons to have been annexed and advanced from a medieval level of society by the Karsid Empire between 1486 and 1540, later information does seem to make it tremendously unlikely.

The reference to the Hoka is “product placement” for a series of novels being published at the time. As far as I’m aware, they have nothing at all to do with “Star Trek”. The same can be said for the reference to the “time lords.” If we’re to believe My Enemy, My Ally, then “Doctor Who” is a television show in “Star Trek”, but I don’t think that’s definitive.

Vulcan’s star hasn’t been discovered by Humans in the 1860s? If the star in question is 40 Eridani, then that isn’t so.

I think New Year’s Day is supposed to fall on a Friday. That’s not the case in 1867 (Tuesday) or 1868 (Wednesday).

Emperor Norton really did exist, and lived in San Francisco at the time this novel is set.

The Kzin are mentioned in passing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the animated shows form part of this continuity.

What did I think?

When I first read this novel I was completely unfamiliar with “Here Come the Brides”, and there was no Internet to provide me with the details. Now, apart from spelling Aaron Stempel’s name as “Stemple,” this book seems to me a straight “crossover” novel between the two series. So much so, I’m a bit surprised that “Here Come the Brides” isn’t mentioned on the copyright page. The story is very loosely based on real events in Seattle, but all of the characters are straight from the television show, not real life.

The time-travel element struck me as “off.” Why does Captain Kirk wonder if time travel is possible, and the ship’s engines need to be modified for time-travel. It is more personal opinion than absolute fact, but I can’t help but conclude that this story must come before TOS “Assignment: Earth” for that to make sense.

The Karsid Empire seemed a really good idea to me, and might have explained how all the races of the Federation seem to be at about the same level of development. Things didn’t go that way, though.

The whole idea of having to smuggle large quantities of hard-copy printout from place to place struck me as being incredibly quaint now.

Spock’s first name is S’chn T’gai?

The final verdict:

Can I find the ten days between TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles” and TOS “Assignment: Earth”? In my own version of events, I think I can. The book could come quite soon after TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles”, between TOS “A Piece of the Action” and TOS “By Any Other Name” in July 2268, but I prefer to make it a bit later, closer to TOS “Assignment: Earth”, so that Starfleet makes use of Enterprise’s new capabilities sooner rather than later. That puts it after TOS “By Any Other Name” and before TOS “The Ultimate Computer”. My dates are Thursday 30th July to Saturday 8th August, 2268: S.D. 4694 to 4703. The “official” conversion I’m using would place the story between Thursday 5th and Saturday 14th September, 2267: S.D. 4677 to 4703.

In the end, I think the background about the Klingon Empire consigns this to an alternate universe. You’re free to differ with that.

Killing Time

How long does it take?

My count came out at fifteen days, but Enterprise has been patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone for the previous two months, which makes ten or eleven weeks altogether.

When does it happen?

It’s “years” since TOS “The Enterprise Incident”. If I haven’t misunderstood, since it’s also five years since the Romulan Praetor last communicated with the Federation, then it’s at least five years after?

What about the stardates?

There are none, luckily.

Does it fit?

Most of the action in this story takes place in a very definitely alternate universe, created when the Romulans change the history of the Federation. As such, most of the details are a matter of opinion, and I’ll be dealing with them in the next section.

The possibility that the Romulans have tampered with their own past and changed their genetic make-up is an interesting one, especially since the Romulans ended up looking markedly different from Vulcans. The divergence between the two is much more than 2,000 years or so in this story, since the book puts it at several million years.

The idea that a ship’s captain in one universe is practically an outcast in another does have some interesting parallels with “Star Trek: Discovery”.

What did I think?

This is a book that has a certain notoriety. The first edition was an unrevised draft that hinted rather too strongly at a physical side to the relationship between James Kirk and Spock. Later editions were the “approved” text. I’ve read both, and we’re not talking about anything explicit. All the same, both versions of the book do emphasise a more “charged” relationship between the two men than I thought is warranted by anything that was in the television series or the movies.

If the Vulcans are in charge in the alternate version of history, how come so many of the crew of Captain Spock’s ship are Human? I would have expected most of the senior officers to be Vulcan. The time-frame of the novel is a bit vague, but if it’s meant to be during the five-year mission, then I really had problems with the idea of Chekov being Spock’s First Officer. It seems doubly unlikely.

Once again, Spock is under a death-sentence because he’s not married. I really find this difficult to believe. There’s no way a viable population of Vulcans could have survived if that’s how their biology works.

I was a bit surprised that the thrilling finale to the story involved Spock deliberately holding back so that Kirk could have a big fist-fight, against a robot. A Human enemy, I could believe, but a machine stretched my credulity.

It is only a personal viewpoint, but I really wasn’t convinced that tampering with a small area of one of billions of galaxies in something as huge as the universe could break the whole thing, and that the effects of the tampering would happen at the point where the saboteurs set off into the past, rather than at the point they changed history.

The final verdict:

When this story is supposed to take place isn’t that clear to me. The internal references would seem to place it quite late on, once Chekov is a more senior officer, and at least five years after TOS “The Enterprise Incident”. On the other hand, the events of Kirk’s life in the alternate reality don’t seem to fill more than would be required to take him up to the five-year mission. Also, Christopher Pike is not only still Spock’s predecessor as commander of the (Vulcan) ship, he’s a serving officer, which makes a later date less likely, although not impossible.

Taking everything at face value, I would put this story sometime after December 2273. In practice, it would have to be after “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, in the 2280s, to reflect Admiral Kirk’s comment that he has five years’ worth of experience commanding Enterprise, neatly ruling out any extended later missions in the “prime” timeline.

Once again, that means I’m sending this one off to another universe, one of the many versions of reality where James Kirk and Spock become very good friends.

Dwellers in the Crucible

How long does it take?

It’s impossible to be precise. About six months is the best I can manage.

When does it happen?

James Kirk’s an Admiral, and Saavik is on the ship. She’s variously referred to as a cadet and a lieutenant. It’s a “few years” since “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

What about the stardates?

There aren’t any.

Does it fit?

Vulcans have only known around 1,000 years of peace, and that’s how long it was since Surak lived? The first Federation Congress was held in 2124? It might have been plausible at the time, but it doesn’t fit with later information.

Tricorders have actual tapes inside them? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely to me.

Admiral Nogura appears. He was in the novel of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, but not the actual film. Commodore Mendez also appears. He’s the very long-serving commander of Starbase 11, as seen in TOS “The Menagerie”. Ambassador Shras of Andor returns, from TOS “Journey to Babel”.

Doctor McCoy says that Eminiar and Vendikar, the planets in TOS “A Taste of Armageddon” are back at war, as are the planets in TOS “Elaan of Troyius”.

Spock says he’s been exposed to Humans for 28.73 years. I’m not sure how that’s been calculated. From starting at the Academy? Has he missed some time out for kohlinahr? Does Amanda not count?

Anwar Sadat is a hero in the Middle East. That’s certainly not the case just now, although if a peaceful arrangement in the region ever emerges, he’s likely to be regarded as one of the pioneers of a negotiated settlement. There really is a Sadat City in Egypt. “Smell the Breeze Day” is a loose translation of the name of the Egyptian festival Sham el-Nessim. It’s a real and very old holiday, celebrated the day after Coptic Easter. It certainly wasn’t started off by Anwar Sadat.

Saavik’s real name is T’Saavik, and she’s changed it to make it easier for Humans to pronounce? I’m not convinced, and I think it’s the only time it’s mentioned.

Klingons have three testicles? It’s possible we might even get a “canon” answer to this one, the way “Star Trek: Discovery” is going.

What did I think?

“Icky” is the word that springs to mind. Perhaps it’s because this book made me think about things that I found uncomfortable. My own feeling is that this tale of torture, murder and rape is just pointlessly unpleasant.

Perhaps if I’d found the idea of the “warrantors” more plausible, I might have been a bit less negative. Even if you assume that Sarek and the other ambassadors will have to seek peaceful solutions or be responsible for a death, it’s hardly going to make them plausible as negotiators, or convince people that they’re acting in good faith. Even if you apply it to the “real world” and imagine that the only way the leader of a nuclear power could start a war is by tearing out the heart of a close relative; the people most likely to end the world deliberately are precisely the ones who wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. Then there’s the whole question of how ethical it is to do something like that. Don’t important people’s relatives have any right to a life of their own? How come the Vulcans get to use substitutes? The process is based on it being a close relative. What’s another random death if you’re starting a war where millions will die anyway?

The final verdict:

This story definitely happens at around the time of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. As such, it’s very difficult to see how it can happen after that film. “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” picks up very soon afterwards, and by the end of that film they’re all exiles on Vulcan. The Star Trek Chronology assumes quite a gap between the films, but it’s difficult to see how that could happen, and if you’re trying to stick to stardates, it’s impossible.

So, I have to assume that this story happens in the six months before “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. My version of events will place it from July to December 2291: S.D. 7625 to 8080, approximately. The “official” conversion I’m using would place it in August 2290 to the end of January 2291: S.D. 7580 to 8080.

In the end, I’m dubious. The background details just don’t seem right to me. I don’t think the months leading up to “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” were like this. Maybe the Romulan Commander does go on to become Praetor of the Romulan Empire, but she seems to be cropping up in so many of the novels, and the details of her life just aren’t the same. Even her name changes. Perhaps I’m being unfair because I didn’t like it, but I’m sending this one off to an alternate universe.

Pawns and Symbols

How long does it take?

It’s not fixed precisely. I’d say it has to be seven months at a minimum, but definitely no more than a year.

When does it happen?

Towards the end of the five-year mission. TOS “Day of the Dove” was “some years” before, and it happens after TAS “More Tribbles, More Troubles”. A specific reference to the battle of Donatu V being “nearly thirty years ago” would imply that it’s between two and four years after TOS “The Trouble with Tribbles”.

My guess is that the original series is viewed as the first three years of the mission, and this happens in the last year. It’s not my approach, but it’s not wrong. It does mean that I’m going to have problems with it.

What about the stardates?

There are two. S.D. 5960.2 is about a week into the story. My “official” conversion makes it Thursday 17th December, 2268; my own conversion system says Friday 29th October, 2269. The second is S.D. 6100.0. I’m not sure exactly how long is intended between the two, but it seems to be long enough for a crop to be planted, grown and harvested. If the gap between the two is taken to be 138.8 days, then I’m sure that would be enough time. Applying a conversion creates problems. My “official” date would be Saturday 6th February, 2269, 52 days later; my own option is Friday 7th January, 2270, 71 days. Both of them seem a bit short, but how fast does Space-grain grow? To add to that, the book strongly suggests that it’s supposed to be a Sunday that day.

The real problem is that the stardates aren’t the only dating clues. The heroine’s diary entries are dated 10/5/06 and 10/11/06. She’s from Aldebaran, and she’s living on Sherman’s planet, so the evidence is pretty strong that they might not be Earth calendar dates. The big problem is that quite a long way into the story, by my estimate several months after the last stardate, it’s Chinese New Year. That’s a very specific date, and there’s nothing in the story to suggest that it isn’t the Lunar New Year at that point. In 2269, the “official” option, the date would be Tuesday 2nd February, and that’s before rather than after the stardate! The 2270 option for my own system is Saturday 22nd January, a whole fifteen days later. It can’t be the year following, because Jean Czerny says the whole story can’t last more than just over a year. I’m willing to allow the “official” option to run from December 2268 to well after the start of February 2270, although it’s stretching “just over” beyond reason. It leaves time for very little else to happen before the five year mission finishes. My own dates collapse completely. The mission doesn’t extend into 2271. It’s one of the few definite things we know.

Does it fit?

It’s fairly obvious that it doesn’t sit at all happily with my approach to “Star Trek” chronology. Ignoring that aspect, I don’t think this book does too badly. There are a lot of continuity references. Assuming that the stardates aren’t meant to mean anything, and it starts at least twelve months after TOS “Turnabout Intruder”, then I think the internal references work pretty well, in general.

Where the problems start is with the extensive look at Klingons. This book goes into a lot of detail about them, in all kinds of ways. Unfortunately, it’s detail that’s been contradicted later on. The Klingon language elements aren’t based on Marc Okrand’s “official” version. I suppose that’s because the dictionary wasn’t available when the book was being written, but it could equally be that the author didn’t want to use it. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” didn’t stick to it, in the beginning.

The Klingons have an emperor, and a complicated system of succession that doesn’t at all reflect what we found out about the Klingons later on.

In TOS “Day of the Dove”, Kang says that the Klingons killed their gods. Whether that makers them atheist is another question, and I don’t think there’s a definitive answer. Certainly the Klingon gods “Cymele” and “Durgath” sound surprisingly familiar, and didn’t strike me as particularly Klingon. They don’t seem to appear anywhere else.

There’s a lot of interesting things about differences in eyesight. No one has ever demonstrated conclusively that Vulcans can’t see magnetic fields as a lot of wiggly lines, but I think this is the only time anyone refers to it. As for Klingons, I can’t help thinking that if they can’t easily distinguish between red and black, the colour schemes of their clothes, spacecraft and buildings don’t make a lot of sense. On the other hand, it does explain the Klingon preference for yellow-tinged street-lighting. I’d thought the sodium street-lamps were a bit of an odd detail when they were mentioned.

Yeoman Tamura from TOS “A Taste of Armageddon” returns, and I liked her portrayal here. The fact that her first name is Keiko did have a resonance that it didn’t the first time I read the book. Of course, it’s not a unique or unusual name in Japan.

Kevin Riley is on the ship, but it’s made plain that he’s returning after several years away.

The detail that jarred most was when Lieutenant Johnson of security starts smoking his pipe.

Maybe I’m just not open-minded, but if acupuncture is so amazingly effective, why hasn’t it completely replaced conventional anaesthesia? Not just in “Star Trek”, but real life?

What did I think?

Maybe I’m labouring the point, but the idea that important members of royal families get to wander around “incognito” and get into scrapes really doesn’t strike me as convincing. The stuff about the Empire being divided into rival houses is certainly in line with later evidence, and “Star Trek: Discovery” in particular.

I was surprised that the Federation sent James Kirk to negotiate a settlement with the Klingon Empire. You’d think there would be at least one obnoxious, short-tempered Federation diplomat available. It did seem that every area of disagreement between the two governments was related to incidents involving him, so perhaps that was why.

Maybe racist crew members on Enterprise do have a go at Mister Spock sometimes; it seemed odd to me, and unpleasant.

The sequence where someone removes an object from the hull of Enterprise and then throws it by hand so hard that it falls into the atmosphere of the planet they’re orbiting and burns up seemed impossible to me. Human muscles could hurl it into a different orbit, but unless you can throw it at hundreds of miles an hour, it’s not going to be one that takes it terribly far away from the ship.

It’s the second book in a row where a feisty heroine is captured by the Klingons, casually beaten, tortured and engages in sex by very dubious consent.

The final verdict:

I have the feeling that this book was worked out quite carefully. The time is late in the fourth year (October?) until well into the fifth year of the five-year mission, with the Chinese New Year falling roughly half-way through it. This might just about work for my “official” version of events, so long as you ignore the stardates. My own chronology just can’t accommodate it, especially if the cartoons have to be fitted in as well.

I’m sending it off to yet another alternate universe, although the details about the Klingons may have done that for me anyway.

Mindshadow

How long does it take?

The internal references specify “over a month.” How much over a month isn’t all that clear, though.

When does it happen?

Again, there aren’t any really specific references, but the stardates seem to place it right at the end of the five-year mission. It is “scarcely three years” since TOS “The Enterprise Incident”. My “official” conversion puts that in January 2268, so if you’re generous and assume that it’s a bit under three years, it might just fit in late 2270. My date is December 2268, and I think that means this story won’t fit.

What about the stardates?

Oh, dear. There’s one on what seems to be the second day, S.D. 7003.4. My “official” conversion makes that Sunday 2nd January, 2270; my own system has Saturday 26th November, 2270. Unfortunately, the dates then run up to S.D. 7008.4. I make that six days later, and the “official” date is only three days after. The book is quite clear that at least a month has gone by.

If I make the assumption that the stardates are similar to those in TNG “A Matter of Honor” and 0.1 stardate units is 24 hours, then the gap between the first and the last would be 52 days, and that seems a lot more plausible. If the first log entry is made on the second day, then there would be others on the 33rd day (7006.4), the 38th day (7006.9) and the 42nd day (7007.3), with the final one being on the 53rd day (7008.4). Of course, it knocks both my systems of stardate conversion to bits.

Does it fit?

Sarek and Amanda are looking after a half-Human, half-Vulcan woman who’s studying on Vulcan. You would think someone might mention that Earth girl called Michael?

ShiKahr isn’t the capital of Vulcan?

Spock’s name means “uniter”?

Romulan hearts are two centimetres higher than Vulcan ones?

The secure institution in TOS “Whom Gods Destroy” is “Elba II.” At the risk of being nit-picky, “Ebla” cannot be anything other than a misspelling.

What did I think?

Once again, a feisty heroine appears on the ship and sweeps everyone off their feet. In Kirk’s case, literally. I found it really odd that officers could just “turn up” on a starship. Surely they have to arrive from somewhere? I have other criticisms, but I think they drift off into being spoilers about the story.

It’s an aspect of McCoy that we never really see, even in TOS “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”; but I did think that the jealous and manipulative side to him that true love brought out didn’t show him in a good light.

The stuff about the conference and the delegates seemed very similar to TOS “Journey to Babel”. I also thought it wasn’t really necessary, in the end.

Everyone seems to be quite incredibly forgiving of someone who tries to sabotage their mission and (unless I missed the point) murders a number of people, and tries to damage others. I think Kirk would have been more angry, but that is just a personal opinion.

I’m going to be picky about the martial arts clothes. Stiff white jackets are called uwagi. “Togas” are something totally different. Ancient Romans wore them, and they’re enormous woollen things bigger than bedsheets; completely unsuitable for martial arts. Indeed, TOS “Charlie X” shows us exactly what people wear: bright pink tights. I absolutely insist on strict “canon” being observed in this matter.

The final verdict:

Perhaps I’m being unduly harsh, but I think the stardates and the length of time since TOS “The Enterprise Incident” send this one off to an alternate universe.

Crisis on Centaurus

How long does it take?

The internal chronology is specified in the story. It’s around two weeks between the explosion at the start and Enterprise leaving the planet, followed by six weeks of repairs at Starbase 7. So at least eight weeks, and possibly nine.

When does it happen?

The novel is a great deal more accurately dated, now that we know Kirk was born in 2233. If Joanna was nine when he was twenty-two, and she’s twenty-one at the time of the story, then it has to be 2268, or possibly 2269. It’s after TOS “A Piece of the Action” and two years after TOS “Court Martial” which took place in the first twelve months of the five-year mission. Assuming a bit of vagueness, I think that’s implying a 2268 date, myself.

What about the stardates?

They run from S.D. 7513.2 to S.D. 7521.6. I make that Sunday 4th to Monday 12th June, 2271. That’s only nine days, nowhere near two weeks, and it’s a year too late to even be in the five-year mission. My “official” conversion does no better: Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th July, 2270. A complete failure all round.

Does it fit?

At the risk of spoilers, Sam Cogley from TOS “Court Martial” makes a return appearance.

The description of the Alpha Centauri star system is very detailed, and accurate.

French Francs went out of use when the Euro was introduced, and the references to anything but Federation credits seemed a bit odd.

The description of First Contact with the Vulcans has been totally overtaken by “Star Trek: First Contact”. In this book, Humans visit Vulcan, and it’s just before transporters come into common use. That doesn’t fit at all.

Enterprise can get from Centaurus to Starbase 7 just using impulse power?

James Kirk’s father died on Hellspawn? In fairness, this is “prime” Kirk, so his father’s death hasn’t been established. All the same, volunteering to go to a place called “Hellspawn” seems a bit unwise.

Earth’s oil ran out about 2050, but it wasn’t a problem because interstellar travel was already possible? Again, it seems unlikely given “Star Trek: First Contact”, but I admit that there’s quite a bit of wriggle room with this, based on the references to “sleeper ships.” I’m not sure the fossil fuel reserves are that close to depletion, either.

There are only two shuttlecraft on Enterprise? Again, it’s never been formally established, and only having two helps the plot along. The only clear reference there is came in TOS “The Omega Glory” where Exeter is stated to have four shuttlecraft.
Whether that applies equally to Enterprise is unknown.

Chekov spent some time working on a collective farm?

Doctor McCoy’s daughter Joanna, who gets mentioned extensively in The Making of Star Trek but never actually appeared on TV, is a character in this book.

Artificial gravity was developed at the same time as warp drive? I’m not so sure about that.

What did I think?

Uhura getting to command the ship was a great idea. Having McCoy refer to her as “our lady captain” wasn’t so great.

I’m not convinced James Kirk owns an enormous wilderness estate on Centaurus, that he doesn’t like to talk about. The book is spot-on in suggesting that Kirk really likes to relax in a remote log cabin, although the one in “Star Trek: Generations” is very definitely on Earth.

The whole “Centaurus has capital punishment and the Federation doesn’t” aspect of the plot struck a sour note with me. The UFP is supposed to be civilised and enlightened. State-sanctioned murder of people you can’t deal with is neither. The member worlds of the Federation should know better, although that’s very definitely a personal view.

Again on a purely personal basis, I’m not so sure Alpha Centauri is colonised by Humans. One of the names for this star system is Rigil Kentaurus, also given as “Rigel Kentaurus.” Whilst it’s a wobbly chain of conjecture I can’t help wondering if the “Beta Rigel” in ENT “Broken Bow” might be Alpha Centauri B, and the “Rigellians” closely related to Vulcans mentioned in TOS “Journey to Babel” might not be settlers in the Alpha Centauri system. A pre-Sundering Vulcan colony that close to Earth would explain why the Vulcans take such a close interest in Earth, happen to be “just passing” in “Star Trek: First Contact” and how Zephram Cochrane can retire there so soon after inventing warp drive. My scenario is that Proxima Centauri is a Human colony, and the other two stars are settled by Vulcans. Your opinion may very well be completely different, and just as valid.

Once again, the villains of the piece are nasty, racist fascists. Is the future just right-wing nutters causing trouble, forever? The evidence in “Star Trek” is equivocal about this, but I hope there’s an end to this madness, before it puts an end to all of us.

This is only a personal opinion, but I’m not sure Edith Cavell is the best person to name a hospital ship after. For those who haven’t grown up with the story, Nurse Cavell was stationed in Brussels during the German occupation of Belgium during the First World War. She helped Allied soldiers escape, and the Germans found out. She was tried and sentenced to death for aiding the armies opposing Germany. She was undoubtedly a brave patriot, and is still regarded as a British heroine. All the same, naming a major spacecraft after a victim of the “beastly Boche” seems a bit insensitive, especially when there are many other British nurses who deserve commemoration for their nursing, rather than their war service, however distinguished it was.

The final verdict:

No prizes for guessing where I’m going with this, but are there eight or nine weeks in 2268 in either version of my timelines? My timeline does have around eight weeks between TOS “The Immunity Syndrome” and TOS “I, Mudd”. TOS “Court Martial” isn’t in the first twelve months of the mission, by any stretch of the imagination. My assigned date in November 2266 is (very) roughly two years before. The story might potentially take place between Tuesday 31st March to Sunday 24th May, 2268: S.D. 4313 to 4497. My “official” timeline also fails to place TOS “Court Martial” in the first year, and the December 2265 date I’ve assigned it makes it more than two years before 2268, but is about as roughly “two years earlier” as my own version of events. There is an extensive gap between TOS “The Empath” and (possibly) TAS “Yesteryear”. I’d place it between Thursday 19th March to Thursday 16th May, 2268: S.D. 5213 to 5368.

I think this story has been overtaken by later events, and has a stardating system that’s completely incompatible with anything I’m trying to work with. Off to yet another alternate universe with it.

Dreadnought!

How long does it take?

The main part of the story doesn’t seem to take terribly long. Piper breaks the simulator, and then leaves for Enterprise the next day. Star Empire is stolen at 15:00 that same day, and the villain is thwarted on the next day. How long there is between then and the final scene is anyone’s guess.

When does it happen?

It’s pure speculation on my part, but I think this is a book that fell foul of the “no novels set after the five-year-mission” rule that was temporarily introduced. Many of the descriptions of the uniforms and even the mention of Scotty’s ’tache would seem to place it between “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. I can’t help thinking that the original idea was to provide the story of how James Kirk ended the first film as captain of the Enterprise, but started the next as an admiral again. The reference to “experimental” transwarp drive on Star Empire being planned for a new ship would certainly fit better with a placement after the first movie and before “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”. Unfortunately, all these clues have been rather brutally overridden by references that make it absolutely plain that this is the five-year-mission.

It’s definitely after TOS “For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky” because the Fabrini are mentioned in passing.

What about the stardates?

There are only two. S.D. 7881.2 is seventeen years before the story. Amazingly, my system can make it Wednesday 22nd December, 2252. That would place the story in 2269 or 2270. The later option would be Saturday 30th September, 2271, putting the novel in 2288. It would still just about fit with my theories, but it really wasn’t what was intended. The “official” conversion I’m using would give dates of Monday 18th November, 2250, putting the novel in 2267 or 2268, or Thursday 17th November, 2270 making seventeen years later 2287 or 2288. The second stardate relates to Piper’s presence at Starfleet Academy. It seems to be her graduation date, but that’s not absolutely stated. Anyway, it’s S.D. 8180.2. That’s a problem, because it has to fall very, very close to the stardates used in the second and third films if you want to use a “later” date. Conversely, it’s really far too late to fall anywhere in the five-year-mission. Basically, it won’t fit with being seventeen years after the earlier stardate. My conversion could make it Saturday 18th April, 2263. This would reflect the fact that Piper left her home on Proxima six years before the story. My own opinion is that the second stardate is an all-round fail in both the systems of conversion I’ve come up with.

Does it fit?

Again, it’s a matter of personal opinion, but I do think it fits awkwardly.

The story begins with the Kobayashi Maru test, seen in both “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Star Trek” the 2009 film. Here, the opponents are Romulans, not Klingons. I do think that the whole scenario would have made a lot more sense if the “threat force” in the films had been the Romulans, but it wasn’t. Whether that makes this book wrong is a matter of opinion.

Magellan is referred to as a Galaxy-class ship. Remarkably, dialogue in DS9 “Sacrifice of Angels” seems to confirm this. The problem is that it’s a century too soon! It can’t be the same ship, but the impression this gives is that Starfleet has a very limited repertoire of ship names and classes.

Although the descriptions of the ships bear little resemblance to the drawings, the names and registries of the ones that appear seem to match ones given in the Star Fleet Technical Manual.

Enterprise was equipped with two-man fighters during a refit in the fourth year of the five-year mission? I can’t say that it didn’t happen, but we never saw it.

There’s a “Memory Alpha” in the Alpha Quadrant and a “Memory Gamma” in the Gamma Quadrant? There was nothing to contradict this at the time, but it sits uncomfortably with later information. The suggestion that part of the Federation-Klingon border might be in the Gamma Quadrant also doesn’t reflect what came later.

Klingon birds of prey have feathers painted on them? We never saw any (ships or painted feathers), although Klingon ships of this period are difficult to pin down precisely, as far as I can see. Especially since the two “prequel” series.

38-45 Vulcan years is 25-29 Earth years? That suggests that one Vulcan year is about 0.65 of an Earth one. That’s a reasonable guess, but sits uncomfortably with later information, and my own guess at how long Vulcan might take to orbit its sun.

Starfleet security wear helmets? This is possibly unfair, since it’s just one of the many hints that this story was originally supposed to happen later on. The most glaring example of this is a Gorn crew-person on Enterprise. How on Earth did they manage it in the short time since TOS “Arena”?

I don’t think it would just be me that spotted some strong similarities between the plot of this novel and what happened in “Star Trek into Darkness”.

Why did Admiral Rittenhouse need an interpreter at Gamma Hydra? The planet in TOS “The Deadly Years” didn’t seem to require one.

The handy charts again seem to be based on the Star Fleet Technical Manual, and the table listing the main members of the Federation is perhaps not entirely comfortable with what came later. The First Federation from TOS “The Corbomite Maneuver” has joined? “Tau Lacertae IX” was given as the home planet of the Gorn in the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual, so they’re the Peleus Coalition? Tau Ceti is politically unified with Vulcan? Why is the “Alpha Centauri” Concordium apparently based in the Procyon system?

Finally, although it’s a surprisingly common mistake, the name is “Potemkin” and not “Potempkin.” I even checked the spelling in Russian to be sure.

What did I think?

I’ve made this clearly a personal opinion. One of the plot points I can’t avoid spoiling is that Scotty is supposed to have got Boma court-martialled for insubordination after TOS “The Galileo Seven”. I really don’t see it. Starfleet just isn’t that military. Even if it was, officers have a great deal more latitude than enlisted men to question orders, and I don’t think Boma stepped too far outside that. I can’t help thinking that the acid test is whether an officer’s actions adversely affected the mission. Putting Boma on trial would be extremely risky. Spock himself admits that his own conduct has been logical, but he’s still responsible for the deaths of two men. I’m not sure that Boma’s actions genuinely placed his colleagues in more danger than they were already in. You may totally disagree with all this, but I think Spock, Scotty and Kirk would be more likely to recommend him for advancement than have him cashiered. I also found the idea that Boma has a festering hatred of Mister Spock difficult to reconcile with the story I’ve watched, many times.

I think it’s just Piper that concludes that Starfleet discriminates against non-Humans in this story. Even though it doesn’t always fit with the evidence, I’ve always preferred the model that says that Starfleet is a basically Human institution (as we see in all kinds of ways) that is much more open to diversity than, say, the Vulcan equivalent. That is just an opinion. The facts are less clear, and open to different interpretations.

I’m also going to disagree with the political analysis, which I doubt comes as a surprise. I did try to complain at length, but I’m sure I’ll get the chance to do so later, so I won’t bother here.

The final verdict:

This story will be picked up in Battlestations!, where it is more obvious that it’s towards the very end of the five-year mission, so: it’s the very end of the five-year mission, sometime in 2270.

Since the stardates don’t really support that conclusion, and I think Mister Boma deserves a better fate, I’m sending this one off to another corner of the multiverse. As usual, you’re welcome to differ.

Demons

How long does it take?

I don’t think it can take less than eleven days. It’s not always clear how much time is meant to be passing, so two weeks from start to finish is the best I can do.

When does it happen?

Sometime in the five-year mission. It has to be after TOS “Journey to Babel” because Kirk knows who Spock’s parents are. Getting extremely nit-picky, Spock recalls that I-Chaya died of le-matya poisoning about thirty years before. Thanks to Chrissie’s Transcripts I can quote Spock as he returns through the Guardian in TAS “Yesteryear”: “One small thing was changed this time. A pet died.” Although the actual text is a little vaguer than this summary, the strong implication is that the novel takes place after this story.

The internal chronology of the story is a little more problematic. It’s 39 years since Sarek and Amanda met. There’s a portrait of Spock and Amanda, painted when Spock was ten. That is later stated to be 26 years before, making Spock 36. That doesn’t really fit with TAS “Yesteryear” where it’s strongly suggested that he’s 37 years old, but there’s enough wriggling space for that not to be a huge problem. Where later information doesn’t come in helpful is the fact that Spock is now established to have been born in January 2230. That means that it can only be 2266 (or 2267, if you’re pushing things).

Even more problematically, Chief of Security Ingrit Tomson and her deputy Mohammed al-Baslama make a return visit after appearing in Mindshadow (by the same author). Without giving away the plot, this book has to be later. As you will recall, I had difficulty getting that book into my timeline, too.

What about the stardates?

Very wisely, the author didn’t include any.

Does it fit?

The capital of Vulcan is ShanaiKahr, and ShiKahr is specifically somewhere different. That doesn’t fit with later information, where ShiKahr is the capital of Vulcan. This Vulcan very definitely has no moon, or even a “sister planet.”

Vulcan is placed around an otherwise unidentified star in the Eridani constellation. Later information very strongly suggests that Vulcan’s star is 40 Eridani. During the course of the story, Enterprise leaves Vulcan heading for “Rigel” and Earth lies “beyond” that system. As astro-navigation goes, that really doesn’t fit. My own theory is that at least one star referred to as “Rigel” is actually Rigel Kentaurus or Alpha Centauri. That would just about work, and might make sense of the “Rigel” references in ENT “Broken Bow”. It’s stretching things to breaking point and beyond, though.

The era of Surak is about 5,000 years before, which again doesn’t really fit with later information.

Sarek’s father is named as Skon, as in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”. Spock has an Uncle Silek that he’s never met, which just about works (I was going to say more, but it pointlessly spoils the story). Silek does ask after Sarek’s “wife and son.” It’s not absolutely wrong, but it seems a bit sparse, given later information about Sarek’s family.

Doctor M’Benga is on the ship.

There are only two shuttlecraft on Enterprise? It is consistent with Crisis on Centaurus, but I still have the same problems with the assertion as I did then.

What did I think?

As with the previous book by this author, a feisty heroine joins the crew and McCoy falls in love with her. I do have to say, I didn’t find this feisty heroine as annoying as the other one.

I did think that they were awfully slow in working out the solution to the problem. I also found it a bit unlikely that the entire population of a sector or planet couldn’t work it out soon enough not to be totally wiped out 1,000 or maybe 20,000 years ago. The details for that bit of background weren’t terribly clear, at least to me.

The final verdict:

This story is obviously meant to happen fairly late on in the five-year mission, after Mindshadow. I had problems with that book, and this one raises its own issues about Spock’s age. I’m not sure that the background details about Vulcan can be ignored to make this fit, even if I ignore the previous book and try to cram it into a spare fortnight somewhere.

Off to the same alternate universe as Mindshadow, I say. You might decide differently.

Enterprise: The First Adventure

How long does it take?

I don’t think the main part of the story can happen in less than five days. It could be much longer.

When does it happen?

That’s pinned down: it’s the autumn (“fall” in North America) of the year when James Kirk is 29. It’s supposed to be just after his birthday, but that won’t work because they’re definitely not in the southern hemisphere. The year is 2262, although that wouldn’t have been so definite at the time this book was written. All the same, it does make it a good four or five years before TOS “The Deadly Years”, however you determine the dates, since James Kirk is 34 by then.

What about the stardates?

Luckily for me, there aren’t any.

Does it fit?

Once again, if it doesn’t that has more to do with the things that came later. I was surprised that Chekov took over the helm when Sulu was busy elsewhere. I think he’ll be just about 18 in 2262. He’s definitely going to be remarkably young.

Gary Mitchell is older than James Kirk, though only slightly. This is long before anyone could call up a transcript of the information given in TOS “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, but now that you can, I think Gary was intended to be much younger. Your opinion may vary, of course.

In the other direction, Janice Rand is presented as a teenager, and a young one at that. I can’t help thinking that it was a deliberate choice by the author, to try and add some plausibility to one of the characters from the original show that really does sort of scream “1960s!”

Kirk and Spock wear “field suits” to avoid contamination. The description makes them sound identical to the “life support belts” used in the cartoons.

The background details of the Klingon Empire don’t mesh well with later information, but that’s a problem that affects many of the novels. All the same, I found it difficult to accept that there is a widespread belief in witches and witchcraft in the Klingon Empire, no matter how vital it was to the plot.

Spock has a relative who is fully Vulcan, but wants to explore emotions? Does that sound familiar?

There are zero-gravity spots on Enterprise that sound a lot like the “sweet spot” that we saw in ENT “Broken Bow” and then never again.

Spock is referred to as “commander” but so is Gary Mitchell, so I’m not sure if that’s a mistake. He really ought to be a lieutenant commander at this point, based on later dialogue in the early shows.

What did I think?

Overall, I thought that the first “Giant Novel” was a bit underwhelming. I remembered it as a bit of a disappointment, and this second reading didn’t change my mind. On paper, it really is a big and challenging adventure. In practice, it seemed to fizzle out a bit. Did nobody want to travel with the mysterious aliens? Was “our food won’t support you” a good enough excuse? I’d go on, but I think I’ve spoiled the story enough.

Although I’d be the first to admit I’m not really able to criticize Jungian theory from anything but ignorance, I thought the idea the Universal Translator worked by tapping into a “universal unconscious” a bit over-elaborate. Why not just say the different races in “Star Trek” have similar brains and vocal apparatus?

The final verdict:

This book is intended to set up the five-year mission, and tie later plot developments like Carol Marcus into the story. One thing that doesn’t get explained is why Doctor McCoy is chief medical officer here, but gets replaced by Mark Piper for TOS “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. I think it’s the same reason Gary Mitchell is conveniently kept on Earth for this story: the crew has to be the same one as for the TV show.

I don’t see that Kirk’s, Mitchell’s and Rand’s ages can be correct, especially since I don’t have James Kirk assuming command of Enterprise until early 2265, when he’ll be 32.

I’m sending it off to the infinite multiverse. You may find it difficult to believe at the end of this hatchet job, but I did enjoy this novel. The character moments are well thought out, it’s just that the main plot fell a bit flat for me.

Battlestations!

How long does it take?

It’s “weeks” after Dreadnought! with no opportunity for anything else to have happened in the meantime. There are several days while they sail to an island, and then the main action of the story seems to take five or six days. At the end, Enterprise is quite badly damaged and most of the crew are in need of medical attention, so the whole sequence of events must take at least a month, I’d say, and probably quite a lot longer.

When does it happen?

It’s a direct sequel to the earlier Dreadnought! (see further up this page). It’s more obviously set towards the end of the five-year mission, and seems to be leading in to the extensive refit seen in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. The implication is that it’s right at the end of the mission, and the fact that the events have already been portrayed differently (Black Fire springs to mind) and will be covered again in the future doesn’t shake my opinion that it’s meant to be the last story set on the “old” Enterprise.

What about the stardates?

There are three. The court order is dated S.D. 4720.2. Dates associated with Piper’s command of her ship then loop back to S.D. 3988.1 and 3374.4. As I concluded with Dreadnought!, I think the stardates are essentially random.

Does it fit?

Except for Dreadnought! references, there’s really very little in the way of direct continuity. They make a return trip to Argelius, seen in TOS “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m not sure about the way it’s portrayed, but that will be handled as a personal opinion. There’s nothing that completely contradicts what we saw.

James Kirk owns a sailing vessel called Edith Keeler? I can’t say he doesn’t, but we’ve never seen it, or heard it mentioned.

I’m not sure how the various timings fit, but I couldn’t help wondering if the mysterious “forked ship” in the Big Space Fight was a “tease” for the Ferengi. Diane Carey did write the first “Star Trek: The Next Generation” tie-in novel (Ghost Ship) so if anyone had advance word about the planned new baddies it was likely to be her.

What did I think?

Argelius is portrayed as a stagnant and “sedate” culture. This doesn’t really mesh with the unashamedly hedonistic (as far as was possible on television at that time) portrayal in TOS “Wolf in the Fold”. I thought that it was a Federation member, so the Klingons and especially Romulans on shore leave struck an odd note, as far as I was concerned.

The novel is written in the first person, so I think it’s fair to attribute the opinions to a gung-ho young Starfleet officer, rather than to the author. All the same, I thought Argelius got a bit of a raw deal here.

Mister Boma is still a dyed-in-the-wool Bad Hat, and I’m still not convinced it makes any sort of sense.

I know Piper is meant to be from a colony world, but I had difficulty believing she wouldn’t realise that she was wearing a belly-dancing outfit until someone told her to start dancing.

The final verdict:

I would place this story sometime in 2270, at that remarkably crowded point where Enterprise gets badly damaged and requires a major refit.

Since I’ve already sent Battlestations! off to an alternate universe, Dreadnought! can follow it there. Once again, you’re welcome to differ on that point.


1981-1984
Introduction

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 27 May 2018 10:54, last updated on 27 May 2018 10:58