Pocket Books, out now
Negotiations with a potential new member of the Federation are complicated when their planet is threatened by its former occupants…
This is another strong standalone tale for Jim Kirk and the crew of the original USS Enterprise, which gives each of the Big Three (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy) plenty of time in the spotlight on their own while still building its story around their interaction, and their relationships with the guest characters. The latter half of the book also sees Mr Scott receive some attention in a nice piece of character development that sets the scene for a particular TOS episode (which, to be fair, you can guess pretty early on given who one of the guest characters is!).
Galanter sets up two opposing races, one of whose members carry multiple other personalities within them (for reasons I won’t spoil), the other of which have incorporated technology into their bodies so they can be in easy contact with others of their kind. I must admit that I expected the book to go in a slightly different direction when this contrast became apparent – after all, the Starfleet personnel are the only ones who have to speak out loud to have any communication with other beings in the tale – but Galanter uses one as the basis for a discussion about the power of the individual and the other more as a plot device (a good one, but a plot device nonetheless).
The characterisation of the Enterprise crew is handled well – even moments that feel out of kilter are explained by the end of the novel – and Galanter fleshes out the various alien races that the ship encounters with scenes from their perspective. There’s potential for a sequel, maybe set during the movie era, and it would be interesting to see how much the societies have been changed by the events of this novel.
Verdict: A solidly entertaining slice of classic Star Trek. 8/10