Genre: Sci-Fi/Star Trek
Read again? Yes
It's been more than 10 years since my last time through this one. It's about as good as I remembered. Good to see my memory working properly for once.
It's the end of the USS Enterprise's five-year mission [somewhere between the end of the original series and The Motionless Picture] The ship's going into an 18-month refit, her crew going on to other assignments.
James Kirk, now 35, is offered a promotion he doesn't want, from Captain to Rear Admiral, from starship to "troubleshooting" diplomatic situations and being a public face for Starfleet, which is still stinging after an attempted coup by Vice Admiral Vaughn Rittenhouse. After fighting it for six months and threatening to resign, he gives in. Kirk is assigned to work with Vice Admiral Lori Ciana--and their first "troubleshooting" assignment drives the rest of the book.
Spock has his choice of several teaching job offers--Starfleet Academy and the Vulcan Academy being the most noteworthy. When he learns that Kirk has taken the promotion, Spock chooses to stay on Vulcan.
Leonard McCoy leaves to do research on the Fabrini--and to rekindle a romance with Natira, but is heartbroken to find that she's gotten married. He hooks up with Dr. Keridwen ("Dwen") Llewellen and does a short lecture tour, sharing his research on advanced Fabrini medical technology. They end up at Vulcan, where they hang out briefly with Spock and his fiancee'.
The first 118 pages are the First Act, getting everyone into place.
There's a dispute between two populations of Space Cows, the Djanai and the Inari. The Djanai are kind of like Amish Space Cows--their religion requires them to shun technology, live simply. The Inari are technocrats and are the ruling minority of Djana--and they've desecrated holy land with their factories and technology. It's assumed that the Romulans are stirring up trouble, since Djana is in a strategic location for both the Romulans and the Federation.
Kirk and Ciana attend a reception where the Space Cow ambassador and key Federation Council members will try working things out. Things go wrong: Ambassador Sarek (Spock's father) and Uhura are taken hostage, beamed out of the conference center by Space Cows who want to sabotage the peace talks.
So now Kirk and Ciana have to go to Djana to try getting the hostages back AND to get the Space Cows moo-ing to each other again.
McCoy gets himself kidnapped by a Vulcan carrying the spirit of a long-dead Vulcan Mind Lord bent on training Romulans (they used to be Vulcans, y'know) to use his fearsome powers.
"Lost Years" isn't a great Star Trek novel, but it's definitely not the worst. It's cleanly-written, a fun read with strong characters and a good grasp of the "feel" of "Star Trek". Though Dillard takes 118 pages to spin up the plots, there's no dragging.