Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
This is the novelization of the best of the Star Trek movies. I read it a couple of times when the movie first came out and then picked it up on a whim recently to read on my phone. The author, Vonda McIntyre has written original Star Trek novels (Enterprise, The Entropy Effect) and two other novelizations. She has a subtle understanding of the characters and a real gift for putting them on the page. Yet the best thing about this novelization is the parts that weren’t emphasized properly in the movie. There is a character named Peter Preston who came off terribly in the movie (probably because of the cutting room) but really shines in the novel as does Kahn’s man, Joachim. If you like Star Trek, this is a book worth reading. Then when you finish, go watch the movie again. This really is Star Trek at its greatest.
The Sorrows of Empire by David Mack
This novel is a tour de force of the Star Trek universe. Set in the Mirror Mirror alternate universe, it explores how the alternate Spock might have taken up Captain Kirk’s challenge to start a revolution that brings down the Empire and establishes a Federation-like Republic. Every chapter is filled with cameo appearances of figures from the original series and the movies. In the early chapters, Spock has to solve problems that confronted the Enterprise crew in the original series. Later he has to outmaneuver Star Trek personalities as he accumulates the power necessary to break the Empire and reform it. I found the most surprising and interesting character to be Lieutenant Marlena Moreau, the “Captain’s Woman” from the original episode. She becomes Spock’s strong right hand, covering his back, and making the whole revolution possible at great personal cost. This is a very well thought out, totally intriguing, alternate Star Trek history that is well worth your time.
Star Trek Memories by William Shatner
Every once in a while I feel the compulsion to indulge in a bit of Star Trek nostalgia. Sometimes I read a novel set in one of the many Star Trek series but other times I pick up an audio book like Star Trek Memories and relive some element of the Star Trek experience. In this one, Shatner reminisces about the creation of the classic television show and what made it such a great series to be a part of. He did his homework, interviewing many of the members of the old cast and production crew, so it’s more than just his point of view. And the recollections are a lot of fun. There were many points when I wanted to go find one of the old episodes like “Where No Man Has Gone Before” or “The Devil in the Dark” and see if I could convince my teenaged son to watch it with my wife and me. If you’ve a fondness for the original Star Trek series, this book is a nice walk down memory lane.
Star Trek Movie Memories by William Shatner
Having recently read Star Trek Memories, I decided to complete Shatner’s run with the series by reading the sequel, Star Trek Movie Memories. It’s a nostalgic trip through seven movies I thoroughly enjoyed, but the real value is in the first chapters when Shatner describes the years between the series and the first movie, including a planned sequel series that never came about, and the early plot ideas for the first movie. Perhaps the saddest thread in the book is the account of Gene Roddenberry’s growing obsession with changing his idea for the original series into his current vision of what the future should look like. So Roddenberry fought with Paramount, arguing that there was no conflict in the future and that Star Trek did not have a military component and so should not have any violence. The fact that the original series very much did have a military component and often featured violence did not sway him from the certainty that everyone was destroying the series he loved so much by including military-based action. For the Star Trek lover, there is a lot to be enjoyed in this book.
Errand of Fury 1 Seeds of Rage
I’ve been in a big Star Trek mood lately and so decided to give this trilogy by Kevin Ryan a try. It’s set in the original series and focuses on the growing tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The Klingons are gearing up for war and there is concern in the Federation that they just might win. There are a lot of familiar names and faces in this book, especially Ambassador Fox who made such a good naive and clueless diplomat in the episode, A Taste of Armageddon. Yet the best character is security legend Michael Fuller, a red shirt who actually lived long enough to retire, but now has come back to Star Fleet after his son was killed in a classified action against the Klingons. Fuller has a plan—never fully explained—to get revenge for his son’s death and we just know it’s going to make Kirk’s life difficult. As if that weren’t bad enough, there are factions within both the Klingon Empire and Star Fleet maneuvering for war and the Enterprise is flying right into the middle of the hornet’s nest. This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel and I’m eager to see what the rest of the series has in store for the Enterprise.
Errand of Fury 2 Demands of Honor
The second book of the Errand of Fury trilogy picks up right where the first book leaves off. Most of it is a fairly typical Star Trek adventure, rescuing civilians and struggling to counter Klingon tactical moves surrounding a planet on the edge of Federation space. An internal struggle between Klingons on the path of honor and a counselor interested only in his own power adds to the tension, as does the fact that the population of the planet that is the focus of the Klingon maneuvering is biologically Klingon, but not part of the empire. This causes difficulty for Security Chief Michael Fuller and his plan to avenge himself on the Klingons who killed his son as he begins to question whether or not all Klingons deserve to suffer his revenge. It’s not as strong a novel as the first book, but it’s an enjoyable read.
Errand of Fury 3 Sacrifices of War
The conclusion of the Errand of Fury trilogy reads like a couple of classic Star Trek episodes. I have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t see where this novel was going. War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire has been building for the entire trilogy and the “Errand of Fury” series title obviously is reminiscent of the “Errand of Mercy” Star Trek episode which deals, of course, with the war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. The build up to this moment is well done and the author expands a lot on the actual episode. If you love the original series, you’ll enjoy this book.
Redshirts by John Scalzi
This is an excellent satire of the original Star Trek series, giving a look at the lives of the extras in the show and how they responded to a life in which every week brings a new away mission in which one or more of them are going to die. It’s frankly hilarious to see how a culture of avoiding the “stars” of the show develops. Yet at the same time, it is utterly fascinating to see these “extras” working out the perverse physics that guide the series, protect certain people, and doom others. Finally they try to take it to the next level and figure out why this is happening and how to stop it. Every aspect of this story is well thought out and clever. You don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate it, but it certainly adds a lot of enjoyment to the novel if you are.