Library Computer: Review – Star Trek Troublesome Minds | TrekMovie.com
jump to navigation

Library Computer: Review – Star Trek Troublesome Minds May 28, 2009

by Robert Lyons , Filed under: Books,Review,TOS , trackback

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.


"Star Trek" collectors edition

The ‘collectors edition’ of "Star Trek" is available on June 8th and costs $35. You  can pre-order the book now at premierecollectibles.com.

 

Comments

1. ugh - May 28, 2009

Anyone else not like these photoshopped covers?

2. Captainfirst - May 28, 2009

I think these covers are a way for Pocket Books to save a few dollars here and there. That said, I do miss seeing original artwork.

3. Shatterhand - May 28, 2009

#2:

It wasn’t really “original” artwork, though…at least, not when it came to the characters on the covers. Usually they were just slightly altered versions of previous promo pictures of the characters. Personally, I like the newer covers better.

4. Millennium Vulcan - May 28, 2009

I picked this up today at Barnes & Noble. While I do not read as many Trek novels as I used to, I was in the mood for a good old TOS story. So far so good.

Whenever reading a Trek novel, I recommend recreating it as a TV episode in your head. It’s surprisingly enjoyable.

5. Joseph Coatar - May 28, 2009

Wow, just three responses, Trek prime LIT is truly dead, give it up pocket

6. noirgwio - May 28, 2009

I bought this the other day. Can’t wait to read it. Just finished DeCandido’s fantastic A Singular Destiny, and I am all over the Trek prime stuff too, am reading the Captain’s Table #6 with Pike, Where Sea Meets Sky, then onto another Pike tale Burning Dreams, I loved such books as Excelsior, Vanguard 1 thru 4, Destiny trilogy, To Reign In Hell – which is a Khan book – Vulcan’s Glory, all in the last 8 months… I have 10 Trek books on my shelf right now that I’ve yet to get to. I never knew how great these novels were and in my excitement for Trek XI, as well as missing ENT, I started last year with The Good That Men Do, followed into Kobyashi Maru etc. Love these books, keep’em coming! With Trek XI ones in WITH them.

7. Johnny - May 28, 2009

#5

What rubbish!! The Star Trek Prime timeline is alive and well. My thanks to pocket book for this!!

8. bolianbob - May 28, 2009

#5

Absolute garbage. Well said #7. Prime Trek books will always rule in my world.

9. MC1 Doug - May 28, 2009

#1 – 2: “Anyone else not like these photoshopped covers? … I think these covers are a way for Pocket Books to save a few dollars here and there. That said, I do miss seeing original artwork.”

–bitch bitch bitch– so typical of an unfortunate vocal minority of TREK fans.

I happen to like the cover quite a bit. Just bought my copy a few hours ago and look forward to reading it.

Just because the cover is a photo-edited classis pose, it does little to dissuade me from liking the cover art. Edting in Photoshop is not something for the casual artist. It does takes some time, skill and dexterity to manipulate and render images in an artistic fashion.

I will be interested to see what direction Pocket Books now goes with the franchise. Will we continue to see ST Prime novels… or new stories that follow the new time alternity (my word for the new universe-maybe I should patent it)? or both?

10. MC1 Doug - May 28, 2009

oh.

Nice review Robert! Not too many details given out, and just enough to entice a reader into picking up a copy.

11. Iowagirl - May 28, 2009

Just 9 responses ’cause people are busy reading…:)

12. ster julie - May 28, 2009

I…I don’t believe it! Pocket Books is actually putting out a novel that is NOT formulaic??? (Crisis A is solved by gallant Kirk. Everyone else is unimportant.)

You had me at “”Troublesome Minds” gives off all the right vibes to be reminiscent of the classic TOS books of the early ’80’s”. I can’t wait to buy this book!

13. Smitty™ - May 29, 2009

@5 Riiiight!

Yes comments on a single Trek blog is a perfect barometer on the status of the franchise!

Brilliant!

To quote Keith R A deCandido “Don’t mistake fans bitching on the internet as any kind of a trend.”

-cs™

14. Smitty™ - May 29, 2009

Looks like another tome I wanna pick up on my next sojourn to the book store!

-cs™

15. Father Robert Lyons - May 29, 2009

#4 – It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that when I read, I often find myself blending in musical cues in my mind from the classic TOS soundtracks. The opening fanfare, for example, when the Enterprise approaches the screen as the episode begins is often high in my mind when I crack the cover to a TOS book. In this instance, however, I found myself picking out orchestrations from various scores from throughout the original series – even some of that moody third-season music near the end. Nevertheless, the score from “The Doomsday Machine” took a high point at several moments, as did elements of the “Balance of Terror” score – not because there was a ton of battling in the story (I mean, it has its fair share), but because the tones just fit so well.

I find it fun to imagine camera angles too – how would I set this up if I was the director? “Troublesome Minds” was a blast in that regard.

Rob+

16. Joseph Coatar - May 29, 2009

“Don’t mistake fans bitching on the internet as any kind of trend”

There seems to be a trend of unpopularity for Trek-prime fiction (don’t take my bitching for it), go to any brick and mortar bookstore, check the Trek section and you’ll see how tiny it is, it’s barely half a shelf, much less than it was just a few years ago, we know that pocket has cut back on the number of published titles each year, and downsized it’s editing staff (no doubt due to dwindling sales), every time this site puts out one of these book reviews it gets very little response, versus other articles, there are plenty clues out there which suggest, interest in this kind of Trek product is dwindling, these books are becoming pathetic professional fan-wanks, and it’s embarrassing.

End it please Pocket

17. Geoffers - May 29, 2009

Lordy.. something else for the “fans” to dislike!

18. Geoffers - May 29, 2009

Here is an idea for 16 et al..

If you don’t like the “old films” (Nemesis included).. don’t watch them.

If you didn’t like ENT, don’t watch it.

If you hated the new film… (guess what).. don’t watch it.

If you don’t like DAC… don’t download it.

If you hate the books.. don’t buy em!

And when no more (new) Trek is out there, cos the “fans” don’t stop moaning and nit picking and ciritisising… DON’T BE SUPRISED!

Wow.. what counts as being a “fan”…

19. Mitch - May 29, 2009

Interesting. I wonder if the erasing of the Trek Prime timeline indeed will hurt book or comic sales.

Glad that they are still using a Nimoy image though. I think all the books should always use the original actors’ images no matter who plays the role.

20. Father Robert Lyons - May 29, 2009

16 – With respect, while bookstores may not be stocking as much as they used to in many places, this is not always the rule. While I don’t buy as many books in brick and mortar shops as I used to, I frequently visit bookstores for browsing. Used bookstores have shelves upon shelves of Trek in my area, and several local new-sale shops carry at least two (one carries four) shelves of Trek Books.

I have yet to go to a bookstore that doesn’t have the last year and a half’s releases on the shelf for purchase, as well as a few select older titles.

Pocket has been publishing 15 to 20 titles a year for several years now. They did cut back on the eBook line, true, but the hardcopy sales have remained, evidently, strong enough to justify staying in existence. The staff layoffs have far more to do with the environment of business than they do low sales, though almost certainly sales today are lower than they were a few years ago on account of the economy.

“Troublesome Minds” is anything but fan-wank, and while I could identify some material as such, I would probably offend the vast majority of my fellow Trekkies by what I would choose to label as such… if you don’t like the books, that is certainly your perogative… but I enjoy them, and evidently enough other people enjoy them enough to have a secured lineup through December 2010!

Book reviews get little response, however, because the number of people reading tie-in fiction is dramatically lower than the number of people who go to the cineplex or flip on the TV. Always has been, always will be. That doesn’t stop anyone else from publishing tie-in fiction, and it won’t stop Trek.

Rob+

21. NC Trekker - May 29, 2009

This is probably off-topic, but does anyone have an opinion of the Vanguard series they will share? I enjoyed the first book in the series by David Mack. Are the other Vanguard books as good?

22. Father Robert Lyons - May 29, 2009

21- Indeed, the Vanguard books are outstanding. You can read my previous reviews of Vanguard books here on the site! Just click on the Books listing in the archive and scroll back. You’ll find one from about a month or two ago, and another one about a year back…

Rob+

23. Steven - May 29, 2009

When will Roberto Orci and Alex Krutzman release a published copy of their script? Does anyone know?

24. T'Leba - May 29, 2009

I pre-ordered this book months ago when I pre-ordered the new movie novelization, so I’m glad to read that such a wonderful review. (I can’t wait until it arrives next week with the movie novelization. If it weren’t for this book, I would have already had my movie novel.) I took a chance on this book by buying it from the synopsis provided. I bought all the TOS books up through the early 1990s until the quality went downhill, IMHO. Now, I buy few books.

I’m so happy to read a great prime TOS book, and I hope there will be more. Also, I’m hoping to see great new books based on the new movie.

I would love to see the movie script released, hopefully soon.

25. JTK1999 - May 29, 2009

This sounds exactly like the type of Trek book I would enjoy reading. The main reason I stopped reading as many Trek books as I used to is because they stopped focusing on the main TV characters and became too much about the original Pocket Books characters.

26. Jorg Sacul - May 29, 2009

I heartily agree with #9, in that Photoshop-a trademarked product, not a verb- (or more likely Adobe Illustrator) is not a casual tool that anyone can use for great results. An artist must still have an artist’s eye and skill. Giving Word to a monkey will not yield Shakespeare anymore than giving Photoshop to a hack will yield original artwork.

I like the cover, it’s a nice approach to a classic Spock image. Would I have preferred that it was entirely rendered by human hands? Sure. I like seeing artists employed. However, I find it an acceptable image for a paperback book that will fall to dust in 50 years due to being printed on the cheapest possible paper pulp available.

I really quit reading the Trek books when the first L.A. Graf novel was released. You all know that it stands for Let’s All Get Rich and Famous, (not a real, single author) right? This one sounds interesting, however, and I’m going to give it the 10 minute breeze-read at my local bookstore to see if the prose will make me want more. From the description, it just might.

So, there’s my two credits worth.

27. Tox Uthat - May 29, 2009

I read everything of Trek I can get my hands on. Since I have cards to 3 different libraries, I have some selection. And I might buy a book or two. I find the books since 2000 much more interesting than the earlier works.

Just finishing up Destiny Book 3 and really enjoyed it.

Looking forward to the DS9 reboot.

Most of the books are good and entertaining. Alot of the same themes but I tend to look at the books as really big television episodes. And most current books will touch on adult themes in a serious and non-pandering way.

But I’m sure some will view the new Prime line with disgust because of how it has changed with the times.

28. Chris Dawson - May 29, 2009

Star Trek books are alive and well. I feel they should now begin to be considered for canon material, certainly the books that flesh out the universe and show us different crews and events throughout the grand world started by photographed media.

Certainly the Vanguard, New Frontier, Stargazer and Klingon series’ as well as singular books like Burning Dreams. I am reading it now and it is definitely a page turner and seems to in no way violate any on-screen canon.

I’d even suggest the various new IDW comics too, such as Crew and Alien Spotlight series’

29. Jefferies Tuber - May 29, 2009

The problem with the books is that they’ve been increasingly rarefied and obscure.

The problem with the Pocket franchise is that they were investing in DS9, VOY and ENT–the products that killed the franchise. It’s like, ‘hey, can I interest you in some snack-sized cancer?’ I’m as open-minded as they come, but I can’t stand Kira or the sonorous Avery Brooks, the parrothead on VOY or Scott Bakula’s North Hollywood-quality theater acting on ENT.

The last few TOS-based books have been very inventive. They should stick to TOS-TUC hard covers and actually market them.

30. Daoud - May 29, 2009

Sounds a bit as if it’s similar to “Spock, Messiah!” which also had Spock being affected mentally, and running a bit, erm, amuck. ;)

But bringing back the late 70’s and early 80’s, when reading Trek novels was pretty much all we had to go on… is a pleasant thought.

#5 Dude!

#27 There’s too much to patch together. Too much to keep up with. Should we start with “Mission to Horatius”?

31. Simon Jessey - May 29, 2009

I read “Troublesome Minds” last week and I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed. Part of the problem for me was that Kirk seemed very much along for the ride – not nearly as “involved” in the situation as you feel he would normally be. The final shocking scene with Spock and Berlis was clever though, because it makes you think about how the sudden change in Spock’s character may have been one of the reasons he decided to return to Vulcan for the Kolinahr.

And while I’m on the subject, it is worth mentioning that the novelization of the new Star Trek movie was absolutely rubbish – not at all up to the usual standard of Alan Dean Foster.

32. Father Robert Lyons - May 29, 2009

31- I actually enjoyed seeing Kirk ‘along for the ride’. He relied on the skills of his crew and stepped in when the situation required it or strategic concerns demanded it.

The conclusion of the Spock/Berlis arc was the ultimate payoff, and indeed your comments on Kolinahr were rattling through my mind as I read.

Rob+

33. Closettrekker - May 29, 2009

#30—“Part of the problem for me was that Kirk seemed very much along for the ride – not nearly as “involved” in the situation as you feel he would normally be. ”

That’s sounds rather refreshing to me!

As much as I love Captain Kirk, Spock has always been far more interesting to me, and one of the problems with the formulaic approach to Trek novels is that they are often required to adhere to the “Kirk must save the day” approach in the end.

34. Millennium Vulcan - May 29, 2009

15.

Same here Father. Camera angles, commercial cues, background music, Shatner acting and sometimes even guest stars. I do it all.

IMHO, it adds much to the experience of reading any novel.

35. Christine - May 29, 2009

I really prefer the “Photoshopped” book covers, honestly. ^__^;; I think they look a lot better than some of the older book covers.

Personally, I find them more visually appealing.

Anyways, on the book, “Troublesome Minds” looks really interesting. I’ll have to check for it at the library.

36. Dave Galanter - May 29, 2009

Hiya. I wrote the book. :-)

31, 32:

Yes, the idea (unstated but in my head) was to explain one possible reason why Spock might push himself toward Kholinar.

31,33:

In this case Kirk’s main frustration is that there are times when there’s not much he can do. THAT is his role in this book, but it’s a Spock-centric book and so I focus more on him, is all. But Kirk is always in command and if you think about it, it’s his decisions which drive the dilemma which needs to be resolved.

I am glad people are mostly enjoying the book, and I am sorry if anyone does not.

That said, the main goal WAS to write an episode of Star Trek–and I, too, hear the music in my head and see the camera angles. ;-)

Cheers,
Dave

37. noirgwio - May 29, 2009

@ #21: Get those Vanguard books! David Mack, Ward & Dilmore have crafted a wonderful, coexistent to TOS world, with real drama, dark undercurrents, humor and zaniness, unexpected and unbelievable twists and turns; everything TOS gave us in an even bigger, grander bread box! My favorite characters to follow, which are all of’em really, but Diego Reyes – the sort of Optimus Prime of Vanguard making much harder decisions than most, beautiful and enigmatic T’prynn, and especially as thier relationships get broader Pennington and Quinn. These novels aren’t too heavy whilst also being none to soft. I am anxiously, with my foot tapping, for December’s 5th Vanguard book, Precipice. I cannot wait to see where we go from the end of Open Secrets… Cuz, woah!!

38. Saavik001 - May 29, 2009

36: Congrats on the book. I plan to read this after I catch up the last two Enterprise novels and the latest Vanguard book! Sounds like a winner…

39. T'Leba - May 29, 2009

36: Dave, congratulations on the book. My copy should arrive by June 3, so unfortunately, I haven’t read it yet. I, for one, am glad to see a Spock-centric book. Since Spock is my favorite character, I love books where Spock has a big role.

I stopped, for the most part, buying Trek books when characterizations became poor in the early 1990s and also when many books stopped revolving around the three main characters.

Dave, do you have any plans for publishing a book based on the new movie?

40. Smitty™ - May 30, 2009

#Dave Galanter

I bought it yesterday.

But not sure when I’ll start on it, right now I’m in the middle of the Mere Anarchy omnibus actually I’m reading your story!

-cs™

41. Dave Galanter - May 30, 2009

39: I wouldn’t mind writing one based on the new movie. To me the characters are mostly the same, with some very interesting tweaks to explore.

40: Cool! Hope you like it! That’s a Kirk-McCoy buddy movie from me in that book. :-)

42. Smitty™ - May 31, 2009

I kept thinking of their banter when they were on Rura Penthe in STVI.

McCoy:”Weren’t you two…”
Kirk:”Don’t remind me!”

-cs™

43. Trekkie - June 1, 2009

Looks like a great book, congrats to Dave Galanter

But people who think that prime Trek fiction is dead, I have to disagree.
The latest novels in the Trek universe have been mostly good

For those who haven’t enjoyed them, then thats your opinion

44. Jinho - June 21, 2009

@dave
The book was very well done.
I’m beginning to love Star Trek (I know, where have I been), and your book was exactly what I needed during an afternoon stay at my favorite book store!
I do enjoy the fact where Spock was more of the “main” character – Kirk is cool, but the others do need to shine! ;)

45. ster julie - July 10, 2009

I refuse to stop reading this book! The last chapter and epilogue was so powerful that I have read it a few times. I kept sending out psychic cries for Sybok to come and help Spock, then I remembered that this is reality, Greg, and Sybok wasn’t going to come charging in on his blue steed to save the day.

For some reason I didn’t realize where this story fell in the 5 yr timeline. Now it makes even more sense and ever more poignant.

It is so refreshing to FINALLY read a good TOS pronovel. There are so few of them worth reading once. I usually find them formulaic and Kirk-as-hero. It was good to see Spock get some real action. I wish there was more McCoy, though, to balance out.

Also, it was good to see a humble and uncertain Kirk, just like he was in the early part of the first season. Oh, but what a mess he made of things by applying old-fashioned human values to a truly alien culture!

I found this story to be well-crafted, thought provoking, exciting and interesting. And I learned some alien sign language as well, like the sing for “different.” (one hand a fist, the other flat) Fascinating!

I give the book 10 out of 10!

Oh, and Dave? I’d LOVE more books from you!

46. Tifany Koltz - April 21, 2011

Can I just say what a relief to locate somebody who genuinely knows what theyre talking about on a online. You genuinely know ways to bring an difficulty to light and make it essential. A lot more individuals have to read this and realize this side in the story. I cant feel youre not a lot more well-liked since you truly have the gift.

TrekMovie.com is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.