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Library Computer: Review “Star Trek Inception” February 23, 2010

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

With the recent release of S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison’s novel “Star Trek: Inception”, we are given a window into the lives of Kirk and Spock several years ahead of their adventures together aboard the Enterprise. What does the window reveal? Find out in our review below

 

 

REVIEW – Star Trek Inception
written by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
Mass-market Paperback, 320 pages

SPOILERS BELOW

When Dr. Carol Marcus develops an experimental method of transforming barren regolith into soil that could be viable for agricultural applications, the Kraden Corporation is more than eager to jump on board with the financing to support the experiments. With a small test plot set aside on Mars, things seem to be moving in the right direction, until the Martian equivalent of Greenpeace (among others) decided that the potential for harming the native environment is too great to allow the program to go forward.

At the same time, Dr. Marcus and one of her team members, Leila Kalomi, are dealing with very personal decisions as they look at both the present state of their lives and their futures. Their decisions surround love, and are focused squarely on James Kirk and Spock.

There you have the basic setup for “Inception”, and, frankly, that’s about all you need.

Star Trek fans have long been curious about Jim Kirk’s relationship with Carol Marcus, and a few of those questions are answered by Perry and Dennison, but on the whole, “Inception” comes across as a morality play on environmental issues (which isn’t bad in-and-of-itself) using Star Trek characters to provide an audience. Nothing about the storyline feels particularly original, and both Kirk and Spock feel enormously underused; especially considering the prominence with which they are displayed on the book’s cover.

Little about the Kalomi/Spock arc seems to fully explain the feelings of the botanist when Spock will again encounter her in the TOS episode "This Side of Paradise." Kalomi essentially comes across as being ‘on the rebound’, and horribly desperate. Marcus, on the other hand, is handled far more thoughtfully – presenting her with some real dilemmas to address with regard to her relationship with Kirk, but ultimately her arc is cut far short, and ends unsatisfactorily.

Other than the promise of food for all, little about Project Inception seems noteworthy, not even the potential side-effects of a failure. It has obvious ties to Marcus’ later Project Genesis, and while the environmental activists of Redpeace and the Whole Earth organizations are busy talking up the potential disastrous side-effects of Inception, there is no grand wonder and terror inspired by the work, unlike its later successor.

Ultimately, “Inception” fails on nearly every level. The narrative suffers from a rushed feeling, the storyline is terribly un-engaging, and one would enjoy a more compelling story surrounding environmental concerns and conservation by watching a few episodes of “Whale Wars”.

[available now at Amazon]


COMING NEXT: Lots of Trek books over the next month

There is a lot more Star Trek reading coming to your book store in the coming weeks. Due out this week is the mass market reprint of Peter David’s 2009 novel "Star Trek New Frontier: Treason". And in March Pocket Books has the "Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins" trade paperback collection of novellas exploring different Trek races, using the classic seven deadly sins as a framing structure. Later in March comes "Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many", the ‘oral history’ as told to Jake Sisko (via Michael A. Martin) set in the
universe of the new massive multiplayer game. And also coming in March is Margaret Wander Bonanno’s "Star Trek: Unspoken Truth", a TOS movie era novel focusing on Saavik.


Star Trek books for March

Comments

1. Hat Rick - February 23, 2010

This is interesting. We have here one of the few mentions of corporate involvement of sorts in the affairs of the Federation. (This is not to say that the Federation is devoid of corporations, but only that mention of corporations is sparse in Trekdom.)

The effect of Avatar, perhaps? (Avatar’s main villain is ultimately the employee of a corporation and arguably the corporation itself.)

2. S. John Ross - February 23, 2010

#1 “The effect of Avatar, perhaps? (Avatar’s main villain is ultimately the employee of a corporation and arguably the corporation itself.)”

I would agree with the argument that, in Avatar, the corporation is the villain, with Quaritch simply representing his employers.

I would doubt, however, that there’s any kind of “Avatar Effect” manifesting this early in “Inception,” unless these novels are proposed, tentatively approved, outlined, greenlighted, drafted, edited, re-drafted, finished, proofed, laid out and published _far_ more rapidly than I’d want to believe :(

3. S. John Ross - February 23, 2010

On the other hand, maybe it’s been laying in a drawer for two years and the Avatar Effect is an editor remembering it and saying “maybe now’s the time …” :)

4. David Mack - February 23, 2010

^ No, it really isn’t. This book’s content would have been finalized months before Avatar opened.

5. Capt Krunch - February 23, 2010

Sounds a lot like Avatar or Alien with corporations running things behind the scenes..with a secret agenda….like Paxton in Terra Prime…not the anti alien side…just the business side…or Weyland Yutani in the Alien movies…

6. mntrekfan - February 23, 2010

I loved the cover but thats it. Nothing exciting. poor Leila. She comes off as a lovesick puppy. I’m only 2/3rds through it but i can’t get into it enogh to finish it. Think I’ll just skim it to see how Carol tells Kirk about the baby!

7. Hat Rick - February 23, 2010

Interesting comments, S. John Ross. It’s nice to talk to someone who obviously enjoys Trek and is knowledgeable about other cultural phenoms, as well.

I think we live in interesting times, as far as SF. It seems to be experiencing a mini-Renaissance, although a question may be raised concerning the quality.

I’ve always wanted to read more Trek lit but, sadly, do not have the time. I’m almost sure I could find some connections between Trek novels and other things that could be fodder for some great discussions.

8. Khadka - February 23, 2010

How is it S.D. Perry keeps getting Star Trek commissions? I’ve yet to come upon one of her books that was any good. Carol Marcus isn’t an uninteresting character–it’s a shame her story was taken up so poorly–and if anyone is interested in her, I’d recommend the Vanguard series.

9. Daoud - February 23, 2010

Tell us what you really think, Robert. :)

I don’t look forward to this one though. Leila Kalomi was a competent biologist, yet under the influence of the spores. She wasn’t a sucker for Spock, he was a logical interest: and he was half-human after all. I would have prefered to see Leila as a character meeting Spock on Vulcan. Amanda Grayson was a librarian, Sarek a diplomat and Science Academy fellow: it wouldn’t have been so crazy to have Leila studying at the VSA, would it? And Amanda encouraging them? Alas.

Carol should be someone Kirk met during command training (or in the alt universe, during his academy training). McCoy and Mitchell clearly would be involved, as McCoy knows the old wound well, and deranged-mind-state-Mitchell kids insensitively about “that little blonde lab tech”. Both clues for when this story should have happened.

I don’t understand the story assignment here. These stories should have gone to someone like garamet, or Dayton Ward, or Peter David… it should have had an expert on Trek and characterizations. Sounds like from your review, Robert, that’s it’s more of a paint-by-numbers book.

I can’t bear the thought of reading the character Jill Ireland brought to life as lovesick recently-dumped puppy. That’s pathetic.

And it dishonors the memory of two great actresses, both sadly struck down in their prime by the same disease… breast cancer.

10. Michael Hall - February 23, 2010

The Mars-ecology plot sounds much more inspired by Kim Stanley Robinson than Avatar

11. Kirk's girdle - February 23, 2010

If they got all up in arms about Dr Marcus’ attempts to grow plants in regolith, they would have crapped themselves when they saw the Genesis proposal.

Still, aside from a “take only pictures and leave only footprints” mentality, what moral imperative is there to preserve a dead ecosystem? Also, I think it’s pretty well established in Trek lore that Mars had been colonized quite early on. I’m sure they were growing their food under a dome for decades by that time and Marcus’ experiment would simply allow them to use native soil as opposed to bringing in fill dirt.

From what I’ve read, the issue is not so much the soil nutrition, but the other aspects of the Martian environment, namely extreme cold, drought, and low atmospheric pressure that are the real hurdles to Martian cultivation. However, scientists at the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts are currently crafting a plant to exist in this environment by combining a gene from an extreme-tolerant microbe called P. furiosus and a small, fast growing plant called arabidopsis.

To me this sounds like a Harlequin romance “bodice-ripper” disguised as a Star Trek book – probably a side-effect of the last movie’s crossover success with women.

12. John from Cincinnati - February 23, 2010

Anyone know where I can locate a Star Trek novel database? I am looking for all the TOS era novels.

13. sunspot - February 23, 2010

Here is a link to The Complete Starfleet Library Database of TOS era books. This includes novels, short story anthologies and other Star Trek fiction as well as non-fiction Star Trek books.

http://www.well.com/~sjroby/lcars/tosindex.html

The site also catalogs all of the other series books also. Go to the main page and you can find almost anything you want by year, title, series, etc.

14. Bob - February 23, 2010

Both women on th cover are dead. Died of the same cancer I believe. Shame.

15. Bob - February 23, 2010

Why did they feel the need to kill Kirks son in STTSFS?

16. bill hiro - February 23, 2010

@15, because the writer, Harve Bennett, set up a scenario on Genesis in which there were three characters – Spock, Saavik, and David Marcus – who the Klingons were threatening to kill, and he thought it was a cheat to the audience to not follow through on the jeopardy he’d set up and kill one of them. Of the three, David Marcus was deemed most expendable. Spock couldn’t die again since the movie was called “The Search for Spock” and, at the time, Saavik was perceived as having more potential to “the franchise’ going forward (which turned out not to be the case), so David got whacked and Shatner got to emote.

17. Imrahil - February 23, 2010

Pity about the cover. Remember when they actually had paintings for the book covers?

18. James - February 23, 2010

“as told to Jake Sisko (via Michael A. Martin)”

No…

“as told by ‘Jake Sisko’ (to Michael A. Martin)”
or:
“by ‘Jake Sisko’ (as told to Michael A. Martin)”

Yes…

19. Colonel West - February 23, 2010

@ #4

If it is indeed yourself ;) just wanted to say thanks & excellent work on your Trek work both in print and on DS9…

With regard to Inception, it’s an interesting concept for a book and S.D Perry is usually pretty reliable for a good read so the review leaves me in two minds whether to pick this up now.

20. Losira - February 23, 2010

I am looking forward to reading this novel I realy enjoyed their richness in carcter but carol was the blonde tech Gary set Kirk up with. I did wonder. At 1st I thought it was Ruth “shoreleave” but may I make a suestion. It would be great to sell the books and proceeds benefit. Breast Cancor reserch in memory of of these wonderful women who’s live were robbed by this horrific disease. May I suggest the Susan Colhman reast cancor fund.

21. Losira - February 23, 2010

Also thank you for that website on all trek novels TOS in particular. I lost several of these books on my many moves around the country. Great guide.

22. Imrahil - February 23, 2010

Wow, David Mack is here?

Awesome, AWESOME job on Vanguard, Mr. Mack. I’m in the middle of Precipice right now and it keeps causing me to stay up too late.

23. John Trumbull - February 23, 2010

I’m about halfway through the book and I’m enjoying it so far. I’ve certainly read worse Trek novels.

24. MorbidGorn - February 23, 2010

I will def give “Inception” a try. SD Perry did an excellent job with the DS9 novel “Rising Son”. It was a much better read than I expected.

However my top faves still remain, those being Peter David, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Keith RA DeCandido, and the team of Magels/Martin.

While there are some good Trek authors out there, the best books seem to be those penned by the authors I listed IMHO.

25. Christine - February 23, 2010

#24 :: Hey, you stole my favourites. (Nah I kid.)
But I would add Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens to that list. They write those “to heck with canon!” books that completely defy all that we know about Star Trek, but they’re just so gosh darn entertaining. Hehehe.

I want to read “Needs of the Many” so badly. I neeeeeeeeeeed it. 83 And Inception, because I have been and always will be a Spock/Leila Kalomi fan. Sue. Me. I dare you!

26. ryanhuyton - February 23, 2010

I haven’t read any novels in years, but I might pick up the “Seven Deadly Sins” book though.

But I really hope Pocket Books reconsider their position on non-fiction Trek books, like an updated encyclopedia, a second volume of “Ships of The Line” and maybe another technical manual. But Pocket Books claim they can’t make money and so its only novels. And they may end up cutting back on those with the focus being solely on TOS and TNG.

27. ryanhuyton - February 23, 2010

Anthony, which novels have you read and which are your favorites?
And did you ever read the “Nitpicker’s Guide(s) For (TOS),(TNG)(DS9) Trekkers”?

28. MorbidGorn - February 23, 2010

#26/27

You really should give some of the newer TrekLit a chance, seriously.

I’m currently reading Klingon Empire: A Burning House by Keith R A DeCandido and it is excellent. It totally shows you different aspects of life in the empire from different characters viewpoints. This is from both characters you have seen on screen and those that exist soley in TrekLit.

A lot of the recent novels “force” you to go back and revisit episodes so you can get maximum enjoyment out of the reading experience.

Trust me, you will immensely enjoy going through your DVDs and watching episodes again that are tied to the novels. The current book I am reading made me go back and watch TNG :Birthright and DS9: Sons of Mogh and it was a lot of fun doing so.

29. Anthony Pascale - February 23, 2010

I have read quite a few trek novels, and listened to all of the audiobooks, but i am not caught up on the books from the last decade, except the shatner/reeves-stevens books, Destiny a few of the ‘time for’ books, some of the DS9 relaunch. Too hard to pick favorites but all the reevesstevens books are a good place to start. Peter Davids Imzadi books, Strangers from the sky, i dunno thats all i got off top of head

RE: Nitpick guides
Pointless

30. Bucky - February 23, 2010

So the book where Kirk knocks up Carol is called “Inception”? Heh. Cute.

31. CarlG - February 23, 2010

@24, 25: Great author picks! You should also check out anything by the two Dianes: Carey and Duane.

Diane Carey is a must-read for anyone who even slightly likes Kirk; she absolutely gets him. She also gives her books this cool nautical feel to them (I read somewhere that she’s actually worked on sailing ships).

I could wate paragraphs fanboy-ing about Diane Duane, but suffice it to say that her books could make a Vulcan laugh, and wring tears out of a Horta. ;)

32. Zebonka - February 24, 2010

Nice cover.

“Redpeace”?? Is that serious?

33. The Love And Demand For Dsquared Shoes - March 9, 2010

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34. Sxottlan - March 20, 2010

I’m a couple chapters into this and right now, yeah, this doesn’t really feel like a Star Trek novel.

I think a more interesting plot would be trying to get to the bottom of why Carol Marcus always wants to take on these ultra-quick terraforming projects that always seem poised for disaster.

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