Library Computer: Retro Review “Enterprise First Adventure” + Pocket’s 2009 Book Plans

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.

January
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.

February
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")

March
MERE ANARCHY
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 

April
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).

May
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.

 

 

newest oldest

I have that book!

They never released these Trek books in Finland and so where i can buy Star Trek noves?

Boborci

I have that book, too.

Artrek

3. TerPor – April 21, 2008
They never released these Trek books in Finland and so where i can buy Star Trek noves?

Try Amazon.com
They have sites in …
U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany, France, Canada and China too.

bill hiro

The aspect of the novel I really liked was the worldship and its inhabitants. They seemed genuinely alien in a way that could never have been portrayed on the series. I also remember liking that the novel was very humane, with many of the problems the characters dealt with arising from conflicts of personality and differing viewpoints, rather than from explosions and battles and fist fights. Thus it would probably make a terrible basis for a movie, but as a read, I enjoyed it.

I don’t know if anybody remembers the abridged audio version, with George Takei and Leonard Nimoy, but it was pretty entertaining too. Takei did a lot of characters and voices. He and James Doohan did yeoman’s work on those audio books.

CaptainRickover

I have that book too.

And I’m sorry to say that, but I rellay loved the Bagovanli character. He was quiet funny. The other parts of the book were indeed a bit boring, especially the space circus and Stephen.

CmdrR

Interesting that here and in other places, Rand is portrayed as being very young. (One fan story had her being underage for Starfleet.) Yet, the character was originated by an actress who was born one year before William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Grace is gorgeous in the part, but hardly a shrinking teenager. Hence, part of the conflict in Charlie X.

If we get a new Rand, is she gonna be a tween queen? Hannah Montana in Space?

Jack

I loved this when I read it in high school — back before TNG even, I think. I liked the cocky kirk and the extreme mccoy-spock tension. But that was 22 years ago (good grief) and I frankly could have been a little addled by mousse fumes.

Looking forward to Vanguard 4. In Germany we only have book1, yet. The second one comes out on next wednesday and #3 in june. I´m wondering when the 4th will come out here… I guess 2010? =(

Denise de Arman

I applauded Vonda McIntyre when I first read The Entropy Effect a few years back, then immediately bought all the other Trek books she had authored. Quickly enough, I became disappointed with her overblown novelizations of the movies – long on heretofore unknown characters and situations, short on major character screen motivations and thoughts. I also found myself immensely annoyed with her preoccupation with creating conflict and dire circumstances which were nonexistent in the films. Our beloved characters, in McIntyre’s hands, are cardboard cutouts, not good quality cardboard, at that. A shame, considering the potential she displayed in Entropy Effect. Sincerely hope she is not considered for future novelizations.

Holger

Never liked the idea of substantial Trek history being developed in non-canon novels. Just look at Star Wars where the prequels have messed up a few novels, with the books being canon on the other hand!! Good decision to have novels non-canon in Star Trek.

I would assume the movie novelization will be a hardcover, and thus could be released whenever without pushing one of the paperback slots out of the way.

cd

#3 – So, Boborci, what did you think of “Enterprise: The First Adventure?”

THX-1138 The Fandom Menace

I have this one, too.

I found it typical of most Trek books. Quite pulpish in it’s execution. A whole lot of eye rolling. Characters acting uncharacteristically. But you have to read all of them, if you are me.

Boborci

cd – April 21, 2008
#3 – So, Boborci, what did you think of “Enterprise: The First Adventure?”

In general agree with the review that it doesn’t age as well, but still like it…

so bob…how many circus performers in your ‘first adventure’

I have to also agree with Rob. When I asked him to do this retro review i had fonder memories, but i re-listened to the audio book and well it was kindof silly. Kind of like a lot of the things from the 80s I no longer think are cool.

USS Endeavour

In the spirit of Infinite Diversity, let me say I think the review is a bit harsh. I liked the book. In fact, when I first heard of the Abrams movie I found myself wishing they could film this story. Yes, Kirk is brash and self-centered, but I thought it worked, considering this is supposed to be a young Jim Kirk just learning what it means to be captain. Spock rang true for me as well, especially having to deal with a new, young, brash captain. By the end of novel the characters have developed and begun to gel into the crew we know.

I’d agree about the circus; that didn’t do it for me either, nor was I fond of her characterization of the Klingons. But I did like the Worldship. I think McIntyre does a good job at creating truly alien aliens and cultures.

Boborci

Anthony Pascale – April 21, 2008
so bob…how many circus performers in your ‘first adventure’

I have to also agree with Rob. When I asked him to do this retro review i had fonder memories, but i re-listened to the audio book and well it was kindof silly. Kind of like a lot of the things from the 80s I no longer think are cool.

A: We have magicians instead…

SPB

FOR A MORE ENTERTAINING “FIRST ADVENTURE…”

…try reading the DC Comics STAR TREK ANNUAL #1, published around 1985, I believe. Far more concise and entertaining, IMO. I seem to recall trudging through “The First Adventure” novel back in ’86 and being fairly underwhelmed and bored.

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=39482&zoom=4

Paul Martin

#16

I’ll take my Adam and the Ants posters down Anthony! :)

Denise de Arman

My fav Trek books- Price of the Phoenix and Fate of the Phoenix by Sondra Marshack and Myrna Culbreath (sp?). Also Yesterday’s Son (do not recall the author). Was able to buy a box of used Trek books at an estate sale for 2.00 and spent a few weeks devouring every word…except with McIntyre. I ended up throwing all hers out, except for Entropy Effect.

star trackie

Anyone remember the Pocket novel that tied into “Here Come the Brides”?

Talk about an obscure cross-over that 99% of the readers were probably never even aware of! Those were some fun reads.

But yeah, Enterprise-The First Adventure wasn’t so hot. And the only thing worse than a bad novel is a long bad novel. Entrprise was a chore to get through. At least some of the Bantam stinkers weren’t so thick.

CmdrR

Strangers from the Sky and the two Phoenix books are my favs, although I fully confess it’s been years since I went Trek book shopping. At the risk of judging them by their covers, many of the newer ones seem fanboy driven… Kirk meets Sisko meets Frankenstein meets Bambi kind of things. (Am I kidding? An actual book involves the TNG crew meeting the X-Men. I guess Stewart gets a double payday if they make that into a movie.)

thomoz

#20:

I’ll take my Adam and the Ants posters down Anthony! :)

Hey buddy – I STILL listen to that band!!! All those cd’s got reissued
recently w/ bonus tracks, so I’m not the only one listening to them.

CmdrR

thomoz — actually, yes you are the only one listening to those.
all the others are being used as coasters at Cyndi Lauper’s chain of “Planet of the Eighties” theme restaurants.

(he said, popping in his Monkees cd, which he only has because his Monkees vinyl and 8track no longer play)

cd

Speaking of how the characters are portrayed at different points in their lives, I just (re)watched “The Conscience of the King” last night, I noticed how more direct and abrupt Spock was in the earlier episodes; he even shooshed Kirk during the phaser on overload scene. Obviously, there was some adjustment in how Spock was supposed to act as time went on and they figured out how they wanted Spock to be, but I think that quality was very interesting. Boborci, did you notice that aspect of Spock and is there some of that in the movie? IMO, I think much of Spock’s command presence may have been due to his service with Pike. Any thoughts you can share?

bill hiro

I agree with #19 that the first annual of the DC Comics Star Trek series had a more adventurous and generally more traditionally entertaining story as compared to McIntyre’s novel. Interesting that both were done so close in time and yet are so different. McIntyre’s take seems to be from the school of “screwing with the audience’s expectations”, which some people obviously didn’t care for. The “first adventure” is something that everybody probably has a difference expectation of, and one of the things that was nice about having a few “non-canon” takes on it is that everybody can kind of pick one that suits their taste.

Not for long though.

Anthony Thompson

Vonda is going to be ticked by this review. Watch out!

As for 2009 books, the only one I want to see is a “Making of…” book. But that (and a novelization) might be victims of the uber-secrecy of the production of this movie.

Thorny

22… “Anyone remember the Pocket novel that tied into “Here Come the Brides”?”

That was “ISHMAEL” and was a hoot. I think the author got in some trouble with Pocket for pulling that stunt, and never got to publish another Trek novel. The joke was that Mark Lenard starred in “Here Come The Brides” (so did “The Apple’s” David Soul.) and his “Brides” character ends up being an ancestor of Amanda.

There’s another Star Trek novel which features the Battlestar Galactica (original version) on the cover, albeity upside-down.

Dom

It’s a little unfair to dismiss Vonda McIntyre’s stuff so brutally, 20-plus years after it was written. As the review points out, there was precious little Trek spin-off material around back then: a few pulpy comicbooks and annuals, the James Blish novelisations and the film novelisations. Holger (no 11 and, no, I’m not laying into you, I promise!) for example complains about large amounts of ‘canon’ being created in spin-off literature. But at the time there simply wasn’t anywhere else fans could get additional material. heaven forfend the thought that Star Trek would ever return to television! Take Vonda McIntyre’s allegedly ‘overblown’ movie novelisations: they massively expand the universe these characters live in, also drawing from the likes of other drafts of screenplays and so on. there was no other TV show to do that back then. In Star Trek II, Captain Sulu is on board the Enterprise for a fun jaunt with the trainees before taking command of the Excelsior. He nearly dies after being electrocuted and survives thanks to David Marcus. In Star Trek III, he agonises over his decision to join Kirk, knowing that he’ll never regain the Excelsior, which has been taken away from him in the aftermath of the Genesis explosion. All this more deeply embellishes what we see on screen. Christine Chapel, who once loved Spock has to come to terms with his death. The aging of the various crew members is even more deeply felt, as Scotty returns to his family in the… Read more »

websbestcomics

Huh? I must have read a different version of that book, because I thought it was great! Haven’t read it in about about 20 years though, so…

Denise de Arman

Thorny#29- I remember reading that! There was a line in there I remember during the scene at a wedding – Spock’s memory resurfaces when he looks up, sees Klingons standing in the doorway, and he thinks, “What are the Klingons doing at such-and-such’s wedding”, then poof, his memory is restored.

Another one I chortled throughout is How Much For The Planet? Funniest Trek novel, hands down. A scene where Sulu and Fed co-horts are (supposedly) kidnapped and taken before a droolicious, Dom-type, amazingly endowed woman wearing all-black leather begging for a wardrobe malfunction… a must-read, definitely …

OM

…McIntyre’s story fails from the fact that Vonda was, is and always will be nothing but a low-quality fanfic author. Pocket had no business letting her write that novel, and the sole reason that Entropy Effect did as well as it did was that it showed up during a drought of Trek novels – there weren’t really any new ones being written around that time, and the old adage about a dying man drinking dirty water from a horse’s hoofprint applies here without question.

…A lot of us old Trek fandom types recall Vonda – along with Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath – and her early fanfic attempts, and to be blunt hers were lame at best. The general concensus was that Vonda *had* to have slept with -someone- in order to get the book deal for Entropy Effect, especially since it contained an obvious “Mary Sue” in the character of “Hunter” – something that Pocket did a pretty good job of keeping to a bare minimum until Diane Carey’s first two crap novels, I should note.

The bad thing is that Vonda had two more Trek novels in the works. The good thing is that fan reaction to First Adventure scuttled those quicker putting an “Eat Me!” sign on a planet with a Doomsday Machine passing nearby!

Viking

Somewhere, deep in a dark, musty corner of my mother’s attic, is an old box of Trek books from the 70’s that probably got more attention the most of my high school text books of the same era.

Jeez, am I dating myself, or what? LOL

I’ve re-read a lot of my “high school years” Trek novels; I still enjoy the novelization of ST:TMP after many years. My favorite — the one I always remember and have found a book club (hardcover) edition recently — is THE WOUNDED SKY by Diane Duane. The concept is great, though I found the ending a bit existential (but very Trek).

Favorite trek novel would have to be EX MACHINA by Christopher L. Bennett. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_Machina_%28Star_Trek%29

One more thing: my favorite TNG Trek novel, I think, is still VENDETTA which, IMO, should have been the first TNG film.

Tony Whitehead

Of all of the early Star Trek novels, my favorite still remains Star Trek Final Frontier by Diane Carey. That is a book that I can always pick up. Would’ve loved to see George Kirk in action in that one. By the way, if you have it, check out how closely the cover art looks like George Kirk in the upcoming movie…Boborci, have you ever read that one?

AJ

My first was John Ford Klingon one where he followed with “How much for Just the Planet,? which I thought was not up to speed. Then there was a great book on the Romulans, if I am not mistaken, by Diane Duane on the Romulans, and perhaps the Vulcans as well. Been a while!

Viking

Ralph, I’m talking about the JAMES BLISH novels and the Whitfield book, among other ones. LOL We’re talkin’ REAL retro here…….

Denise de Arman

Dom#30- Must disagree with you, Dom. Trek literature has been around in the form of fanfiction since it first aired. When the conventions began after the series cancellation, these “fanzines” began circulating throughout the fan-based community, prompting Trek ‘pedias, commpendiums, sourcebooks, manuals, finally novels. These fanzines, comprised of short stories, novellas, novels, poetry and essays are still going strong today, and many authors published in fanzines, and now on the internet, are, by far, more enjoyable reads than most of the Trek novels on shelves in bookstores. Critique of an author is to be expected on this column, and where McIntyre, Blish and many others failed, fanfiction excelled. Anyway, Trek fans have been able to read thousands of volumes of spiral-bound, Trek-based fiction, circulated via conventions and the Post, ever since the series was still being aired.

Denise de Arman

AJ_ You didn’t like How Much For Just The Planet? I thought it was Hilarious… not even the Dom scene where she made our guys moan in frustration as she teasingly strutted back and forth cracking her whip (I think there was a whip)…

AJ

Denise:

Is there a good place to find this stuff? I read the “New Voyages” for a while as a child (where the actors are on the ship instead of their characters and meet the Klingons, now there was a good one), and that was ages ago.

I had fanzines with drawings of Kirk Spock and McCoy practically kissing each other on the cover, and people would write about the holy trinity, and that’s just silly. So is K/S slash. It’d be great for Kirk to get Rand or Marlena and have a relationship. Or McCoy, poor guy.

I guess it’s all googlable, but separating good from the bad before you read requires feedback from other readers.

AJ

Denise:

I bought it the day it came out. I remember nothing. Maybe it’s worth a re-buy.

I’d read Fords previous one twice. First time hated it, second time loved it, and wanted more of the same.

Smitth

I had the first edition of that book and that had a secondary cover behind the main cover. Note the Enterprise in the corner, well the first edition front the corner cropped and you open and you’d see a great painted pic of Spock, McCoy and Kirk in second pilot uniforms.

That was absent in reprints but I’ve been looking for it for years now.

http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Enterprise:_The_First_Adventure#Cover_Gallery

-cs™

Denise de Arman

AJ- There is so much fanfiction on the net you could read from now until doomsday, non-stop, and never read it all. However, some of the bound zines that I have picked up at conventions and on ebay I will give you the titles of (forget the preposition hanging out at the end of that sentence…):

The Company of Humans
Encounters
Shadows of the Mirror
Baselines
A Friend Such As You
Prince of Vulcan
Enterprise Incidents
Legends
Spockanalia

I would recommend these zines although I have read many others, as well as vintage Trek which is now on the net. I think I still have all of these in my collection – I have given some to friends to read and think I have gotten them all back. If I were you, however, I would go to the net first and just plow in. Just as an aside – there are many K/S zines (which I also love and own) which have the same titles as non-K/S zines, so if you buy look for notations of that nature.

21. Denise de Arman: Yesterday’s Son was written by A.C Crispen. And it is a favorite of mine as well. I can’t say the same about Sondra and Myrna’s output however. :) 25. CmdrR: Hey hey! I’m a Monkees fans too. 26. cd: I tend to prefer the 1st season no non-sense and super efficient Spock over the 3rd season serene guru Spock a great deal. 22. star trackie & 29. Thorny: Ishmael was written by Barbara Hambly. And it indeed was very interesting and very good. And the Mark Lenard connection was brilliant. :) And Thorny, the other book with the Battle Star is a TNG novel called Ghost Ship. Here is a pic of the cover so everyone can see: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Image:GhostShip.jpg 33. OM : Sorry OM, gotta disagree as well. In addition to the comments above about the loads of fanfic. There were the Bantam books. Vonda’s Entropy Effect and the novelization of TMP were the first books put out by Pocket. But there were a couple more books that still came out from Bantam contractually. One of those was The Galactic Whirlpool. Now, certainly there wasn’t near as many novels then as now. But as a voracious reader and used book store scavenger, trust me, there was still a lot. :) 34. Viking: Mine aren’t in the attic. They are on shelf right across the room from me as I type this on my laptop. LOL. 37. Tony Whitehead: That’s John M. Ford and he was one… Read more »

Sebastian

Totally agree with the review of First Adventure on all points. It did not feel like a “first adventure” and the crew was written so out of character. And Yeoman Rand a scared teenager?? Grace Lee Whitney is the SAME AGE as (in fact, a year older than) William Shatner! She NEVER looked any younger than Shatner, even in TOS. And Stephen read more like a silly boy than a Vulcan (he’d be immature as a human character as well). And the Vaudeville troupe were annoying, one and all. I know the hammy actor (Cockspur, or whatever name he had; it was something overdone like that) was the “comic relief” of sorts. And the big, funny pay-off of having the Klingons LIKE his bad performance was, to quote Geordi in Generations, “NOT funny.” When I read that book, I was relieved the books were conjectures only, and not canon! Kirk came off as so foot-stompingly petulant, it seemed that Janice Lester’s soul had invaded him in that time period, too! Bad book; best forgotten (in my opinion only, of course). To any that DO like it? Hey, I like plenty of bad stuff, too. So, we ALL have our guilty pleasures. But guilty or not, to me (in my opinion) this book was NO pleasure.

Viking

#46 – I’m thankful they’re stored in a cool, dry place 800 miles from here. You don’t know my wife when she gets her semi-annual home excavation bug up her whatsis. I gotta keep my guns, Trek ornaments, and R. Lee Ermey Marine doll locked up in the cedar chest, or they’d all disappear at one of her infamous yard sales. LMAO Our bookshelves are suspiciously lighter since last week, and I’m trying to figure out which books disappeared…….

Sebastian

My favorite Star Trek books (since my last overly negative post) are “Burning Dreams” (great Chris Pike life story; with a nice resolution, despite a “Crimson Tide” ripoff sequence mid-book). The first Eugenics Wars book was excellent, and a virtual encyclopedia of Trek characters and events well-blended into actual history. Tough job, but nice effort by Greg Cox. Also enjoyed Shatner’s “The Return.” Some great bits about the connection of the Borg and V’ger, plus good use of NG, DS9 characters, too. But not his later books with the mirror Kirk /Tiberius stuff (it’s just never-ending captures and escapes…dull). And I liked “The Good That Men Do.” Helped wash away the bitter aftertaste of “These Are The Voyages…” This book could’ve been subtitled, “These Are The Voyages….Oh No They Are NOT!” Some of the new books coming out sound promising, too.

AJ

Denise:

I found a piece of K/S fiction today online. First one I googled.

Kirk and Spock talk about work for 5 minutes, then get down to business. Love was clearly there, But the roles were wrong, and they both get out of character immediately.

Also, I respect all people, but I like girls, and it was a bid weird. And so do Kirk and Spock.

Not a discussion for this thread, either ;-)