Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Star Trek: The Original Series: Present Tense (The Janus Gate Book 1) - L.A. Graf

Title: Present Tense (The Janus Gate Book 1)
Author: L.A. Graf
Published: 2002
Chronological Period: 2266

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Present Tense” by L.A. Graf is the first book in a trilogy of Star Trek Original Series novels entitled “The Janus Gate”. The story follows on from the events seen in the episode “The Naked Time” with their escape from the planet Psi-2000 resulting in them being flung several days back in time. In order to limit the contamination of the time line the Enterprise travels to an uninhabited world for an early rendezvous with a geological team that had dispatched prior to the events of the episode. However, upon arrival then soon discover that one of the survey teams are missing and something is draining away power from their equipment and has potentially caused previous older starships to crash. And so Kirk heads down to the planet alongside a new recruit named Chekov in order to help find the missing team and investigate the strange power drain.

To be honest I found this book to be a bit of a major surprise because the synopsis I read on the back cover bore no resemblance to what actually took place. I can only assume that at some point in the editing process half the plot was thrown out but somebody forgot to change the associated summary. Whilst it didn’t bother me too much there was still a mild sense of irritation present due to the fact that it felt like I had been mis-sold something.

The plot itself wasn’t anything new or different and it felt much like many other Star Trek stories but there was still enough adventure and fun involved to keep me engaged. As this is the first book in a series there is a fair amount of set up involved which did at times cause the pacing to suffer a little. However, there was still enough going on to ensure that I didn’t just skim over large sections of the novel. Quite simply, the plot itself is probably best described as an average but entertaining enough Star Trek adventure.

What I did really appreciate with the novel is in the fact that Graf has written a story which looks beyond the three main characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. A fair amount of the story is focussed on the “minor” crew such as Chekov, Uhura and Sulu which I enjoyed seeing. These characters are so often shunted off to the side but in this novel Graf has put them right in the centre of the action. She has also tried to enhance their personas so that whilst they do still feel like the characters we saw on the screen, they also felt a little bit more like complete individuals.

Overall, the plot in “Present Tense” felt like one we have seen many times before in Star Trek novels but it was still a fun, light read with the real plus point being its attempt at showcasing the “minor” crew. As it is a first novel in a series it can be a little slow in places but the mysteries introduced here have intrigued me and I am looking forward to seeing their resolutions.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Star Trek: The Original Series: Seasons of Light and Darkness - Michael A. Martin

Title: Seasons of Light and Darkness
Author: Michael A. Martin
Published: 2014
Chronological Period: 2254 & 2264 (Framing Story: 2285)

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Seasons of Light and Darkness” by Michael A. Martin is an Original Series novella which focuses on part of Dr. McCoy’s life before he joined the Enterprise that was mentioned in the TV episode, “Friday's Child”. This period of his life is when he spent time on the planet Capella IV as part of time sent there to look at accessing a highly valued mineral. Whilst there he discovers that the natives have a rather warrior like ideology where people live and die by their own wits and it is wrong to interfere in that with medicine or other sciences. McCoy of course doesn’t appreciate this view point and must try to walk the line between his oath to Starfleet in regards to respecting other cultures and his oaths as a Doctor to try and save lives.

In addition to this main storyline there is also a framing story set in 2285 which focuses on McCoy trying to relate his own experiences to that of Kirk who was suffering from his time as a desk bound Admiral. This was actually one of things I didn’t really get with the novella to be honest. I saw the link between the two points but the story he tells just didn’t feel like something that McCoy would have only finally revealed at that point.

In regards to the Capella part of the story, well it was fun to follow and I found the titbits about Capellan culture rather interesting to follow. In addition McCoy felt in character and I appreciated that this novella was being used as a character piece rather than just trying to be a short version of standard Star Trek novels. Although I do have to say that whilst I did enjoy reading it I am not sure if really revealed anything new about the character.

Overall, this is a okay novella that acts an interesting character piece on McCoy. I do think the framing story didn’t work as well as it could have done and I am not sure if we really learned that much new about McCoy but I still enjoyed it and appreciated the way in which it reminded me of DeForest Kelly who created this great character.