Thursday, November 20, 2008

Star Trek: Federation (Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)

Star Trek: Federation (Reeves-Stevens, Judith & Garfield)

Rating: 4/5
Date: 1995
Read again? Yes.
Warnings: None

Yet another Star Trek "Giant Novel." Yes, I'm avoiding the series stuff, getting the good stuff (or what I remember as good) first. I'll suffer for it later, like when I get to Sonni Cooper's "Black Fire," which I'm afraid George Lucas will buy the movie rights for--I mean, the suck's already there, so he won't have to add any of his own, which is good because he used so much of it in the 4th Indiana Jones movie.

"Federation" begins with a soon-retiring James Kirk visiting the Guardian of Forever from TOS's "City on the Edge of Forever." I know what you're thinking: "Oh, great, yet another 'time-travel' story."


In this case, the Guardian is a frame for the bigger story, which is told across three time periods.

First, we meet Zephram Cochrane, the guy who invented Warp engines. It's 2061, and Cochrane has just returned from the first Warp-powered trip to Alpha Centauri. There and back in 243 days. He barely has time for a reluctant celebration, though, for one Adrik Thorsen of the Optimum Movement is after him. Thorsen wants Cochrane's Warp Drive--both as a weapon to be used in cleansing humanity of imperfections and to keep those same humans from escaping the cleansing.

Next, we flash forward to the Enterprise in 2267, where James Kirk is playing Space Poker with Spock and Sarek, and getting his ass handed to him. They're in the ship's Sickbay, recovering from the events of the TOS episode "Journey to Babel" (an assassination attempt on Kirk; Sarek in desperate need of open-heart surgery; Spock unable to leave the bridge to give blood for the cause). Remember the episode where Cochrane turned up alive on a little planetoid, and in the end Kirk promised that he'd keep it quiet?

Ummmm...ooopsie. Just like before, ships are disappearing in the Gamma Canaris region, and an admiral has come aboard wanting to know why Starfleet wasn't warned about that planetoid and its apparent hazard to navigation. And why a dead woman is asking James Kirk for help.

Then, we visit the Enterprise-D in 2366, where Picard is playing Space Chess with Data, bringing the game to a stalemate three times in a row. Mad skills, yo. It's shortly after Picard's mind-meld from the TNG episode where Sarek is suffering from Space Alzheimer's, and some of the Vulcan's chess-playing ability has stuck with the Captain. Nothing more exciting than this happens for a few pages...then the captain and his crew find themselves wondering how a Romulan Warbird has ended up in Ferengi hands, and what they have to do with the Borg.

The three plotlines are told piecemeal, one, two, three, and the Reeves-Stevenses are on the ball in keeping things organized and bringing it all together. I've read this one four or five times (and haven't read it in maybe 10 years), and as always they tell a good story and keep it entertaining. I especially like their treatment of Vulcans as thinking, FEELING beings. It's not like they're unemotional; no--they're a very (almost excessively?) passionate race who came to understand that emotions can and should be controlled, lest they control you. Too many other Trek writers come up with stupid crap like "Spock had come perilously close to feeling emotion." That's just wrong--you can see that in Spock's behavior in the original series. He does express emotions, but it's a subtle thing.


There were some things I had problems with There was little nit-picky stuff--some unnecessary hand-holding from the authors at times (belaboring a point to make sure we get it), a few places where the story gets bogged down, but none of that warrants that point I took away.

Since it's been a while since I last read it, I've changed enough where things that I really dug the first times through are just not so cool anymore--especially the bad guy Thorsen, who simply refuses to die. First he gets himself made into a cyborg, then he's just a personality matrix waiting around to take control of the Enterprise-D and then Data, all in the pursuit of Cochrane. These things happened so often on TNG that I found them as annoying as all the damn time-travel stuff the various Trek shows did. The entire third act of the book hinges on the Thorsen-thing strategically getting into position to capture the ship, and upon its ability to manipulate the Romulans, Ferengi, and ultimately Picard...yet Thorsen is defeated because of a LACK of strategic thinking ability. Didn't sit right, so there goes a point.

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