We are a year away from seeing JJ Abrams Star Trek origin story, and so this week the Library Computer journeys back to 1986 to look at how the books tackled this moment in (non canon) Trek history with "Enterprise: The First Adventure," by Vonda McIntyre. Also this week we look forward with news on 2009 Trek books coming out of New York Comic Con.
RETRO REVIEW – ENTERPRISE: THE FIRST ADVENTURE
In 1986, little was known about the origins of the Star Trek universe. Three televised seasons, twenty-two animated episodes, and three movies were available (with a fourth film in production). Speculation on Captain Pike’s decisions behind stepping down, why Kirk was given the Enterprise, and how the Kirk-Spock-McCoy triumvirate of The Original Series came to be was left to fan fiction. Enter "Enterprise: The First Adventure" Star Trek’s first attempt to explore the early days of Kirk’s Enterprise. The author, Vonda N. McIntyre, had successfully novelized both the second and third movies, and had a successful original work, "The Entropy Effect", making her an outstanding choice to draft this particular tale. Unfortunately, past performance, in this instance, did not ensure future results.
McIntyre’s story suffers from a significantly juvenile feel from start to finish. To put it another way, it feels like the Star Trek equivalent of "Muppet Babies". Jim Kirk, having just survived a major battle, assumes command of the Enterprise, but proceeds to pitch a fit when his comatose friend, Gary Mitchell, isn’t given the position of first officer. He throws a tantrum when he is told that is first mission on this glorious ship is to ferry the Warp-Speed Classic Vaudeville Company on what amounts to a twenty-third century USO tour to Federation bases near the Klingon border. Of course, like any child, his mother is nipping at his heels in his early hours aboard the Enterprise, scolding him for his poor attitude and his outbursts against Amelinda Lukarian and Admiral Noguchi.
McIntyre’s story also suffers from the continued perpetuation of over-exaggerated clichés. Within a few days aboard ship, Kirk is already chasing a woman, Spock is showing a level of contempt for emotionalism that goes far beyond his statements in any of the early episodes of the series. McCoy is off hiking the mountains with no way of getting any communications, and Janice Rand is a scared teenage waif who shivers in her boots anytime she is around Captain Kirk. And the ‘guest stars’ of the novel, Ms. Lukarian and an emotional Vulcan named Stephen, are every bit as annoying as the juvenile expressions of the Enterprise crew. The Klingon involvement in the novel is barely worth mentioning, and feels like something of a rehash of unused ideas from Star Trek III.
The climax of the novel is, predictably, over the top, and wraps up the story way too neatly. Suddenly, everyone wants to stay aboard the Enterprise, the circus act is performing away on the hangar deck, and James T. Kirk is the larger than life hero that he always wanted to be. "Enterprise: The First Adventure" was probably far easier to appreciate twenty-two years ago than it is today. While Gene Roddenberry commended the story to fans, too much time and history have passed since then. The origin story told in McIntyre’s novel is wholly unsatisfying and falls, at least for this reader, out of the realm of believability when viewing it as a part of the Star Trek ethos as a whole. Those who are nostalgic for the past may want to give it a try, but with so many other fine past Trek books (including McIntyre’s other excellent efforts), you can definitely pass this story by without missing much.
"Enterprise – The First Adventure" is available used from Amazon
POCKET BOOK OUTLINES EARLY 2009 BOOK PLANS
At the NY Comic Con over the weekend, Pocket Books held a panel outlining plans for the next year. TrekMovie.com has already covered 2008 plans, but pocket did have news for 2009. Below are what Trek book lovers can expect for the first five months of 2009. The biggest news appears to be a return of Voyager and that the Voyager series will be brought up to be in sync of time with the TNG books (following the 2008 crossover Destiny Trilogy). There will also be a Titan book which is also in sync with the post-Destiny era.
ERRAND OF FURY, BOOK THREE: THE SACRIFICES OF WAR
by Kevin Ryan
Third and final book in the TOS-era Errand of Fury series which began back in 2005.
A SINGULAR DESTINY
by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Described as a "Tom Clancy-esque" adventure in the post-Destiny TNG era. Not focusing on a particular crew, but more of a focus on the Federation (like "Articles of Federation")
by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore; Mike W. Barr; Dave Galanter; Christopher L. Bennett; Howard Weinstein; Margaret Wander Bonanno
eBook Omnibus reprint covering 30 years of TOS history (trade paperback)
TITAN: OVER A TORRENT SEA
by Christopher L. Bennett
The 5th book in the Titan series, will follow from the events of the Destiny Trilogy
VOYAGER: FULL CIRCLE
by Kirsten Beyer
First Voyager book since 2006, follows the events of the Destiny Trilogy (will also deal with events of other TNG era books that have used Voyager characters).
VANGUARD 4 (NOT YET TITLED)
by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Where is the movie novelization?
One obvious omission from the above list of books from Jan – May 2009 is a novelization for the JJ Abrams Star Trek feature film. TrekMovie.com has been told that a movie book is still the subject of much discussion.