This week the Library Computer journeys to the last days of the original Enterprise’s five year mission as a troublesome mind wreaks havoc aboard ship and throughout a star-system. Dave Galanter’s "Troublesome Minds" gives off all the right vibes to be reminiscent of the classic TOS books of the early ’80’s, but does his story deliver the goods?
REVIEW: STAR TREK TROUBLESOME MINDS (By Dave Galanter)
Any Star Trek fan worth his or her salt knows that answering distress calls can be a great way to provide a humanitarian service, or to find one’s self smack dab in the middle of some kind of problem… and it is exactly ‘some kind of problem’ that author Dave Galanter presents to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in June’s release from Pocket Books, "Troublesome Minds".
When the ship moves in to answer a distress call from a ship in an unexplored star system, they rescue Berlis, a compelling figure who leads Isitra Colony First. His people, who are telepaths, have no vocal language – though a linguistic device enables communication by interpreting their complex manual sign language system into spoken words. However, it quickly becomes apparent that something isn’t quite what it seems to be when Spock’s behavior changes, and Isitra Zero’s planetary council asks that Berlis be turned over for elimination. Berlis isn’t unique in his ‘skills’, however, and eventually the concept that ‘the only thing that can take care of an X is an X’ is put into play as the fate of a people, and possibly of the Enterprise’s science officer, hang in the balance.
In "Troublesome Minds", Galanter presents what amounts to a solid one or two part episode of the original series, together with added details that only a novel could provide room for. His development of the people of Isitra is an interesting, unique, and thoughtful way of handling world-building. Focusing on a narrow line of culture and communications (as opposed to the ‘whole enchilada’ approach that some other novelists follow in creating their settings), Galanter gives just enough of a glimpse into the Isitrians that the real danger of the situation for the crew and the people of Isitra (and a neighboring stellar system) becomes quickly apparent.
"Troublesome Minds" has two other strong hearkening points that leads at least this reader to develop strong connections with classic Star Trek episodes; first, Galanter, while featuring an interesting pair of ‘guest stars’, allows the crew of the Enterprise, in particular Mr. Spock, to shine through on nearly every page of the book. You cannot escape that this is a story about the crew of the Enterprise, and the story serves to paint some very compelling reasons for Spock’s eventual choices at the end of the original five-year mission. Spock’s final scene with Berlis is, in particular, a startling and shocking moment, and I can almost hear Leonard Nimoy responding in a cracked voice to any questions that might be asked in light of the encounter. It becomes very clear, however, that Spock is now a different man, one whose path is drastically changed… and the closing chapters of the book portray this very successfully.
Second, Galanter – either intentionally or coincidentally – gives the reader an outstanding moral dilemma that plays out chapter after chapter. Galanter, while illustrating the Enterprise crew taking one particular path to resolving the matter leaves you with enough to chew on as you consider their path to resolve a situation that, arguably, is (at least for them) their own making.
Well paced, surprisingly engaging, and ultimately fulfilling, "Troublesome Minds" is an excellent journey into the final frontier.
"Troublesome Minds" now available at Amazon and showing up at bookstores across the country
REMINDER: Limited edition signed ‘Star Trek’ hardcover coming June 8
The limited edition hardcover of the "Star Trek" adaptation comes out on June 8th. Each book is signed by Alan Dean Foster and comes in a leather box with a numbered certificate of authenticity.
The ‘collectors edition’ of "Star Trek" is available on June 8th and costs $35. You can pre-order the book now at premierecollectibles.com.