Star Trek: The Original Series – The Antares Maelstrom
Written by Greg Cox
“I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia, and ’round the Antares Maelstrom, and ’round perdition’s flames before I give him up!” – Khan Noonien Singh, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
While Khan Noonien Singh, brilliant man out of time that he was, chased Admiral Kirk into the Mutara Nebula, he paraphrased Captain Ahab’s vow about chasing Moby Dick around the Norway Maelstrom and into the very gates of Hell if that was what was necessary. But what terrifying area of space could be even more dangerous than the Mutara Nebula?
And who better than author Greg Cox, who gave us the “Khan Noonien Singh trilogy” (The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Volumes 1 and 2, and To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh), to take us there in this TOS-era novel, set in the latter years of the USS Enterprise’s five-year mission? In so doing, Cox gives us a space-age “gold rush” crisis, a Prime Directive crisis, and above all, a thrilling adventure featuring the classic Trek characters that many of us grew up with.
As Captain Kirk and the Enterprise intervene to help the overburdened authorities on Baldur III, where the discovery of a wealth of raw pergium has drawn waves of prospectors and settlers to this remote colony, straining every public resource, Lt. Sulu works to shore up the resources of Deep Space Station S-8, a necessary way station for travelers on their way there. In between S-8 and Baldur III lies the Antares Maelstrom, a treacherous region of space that has destroyed countless vessels seeking a legendary passage through it, which would shorten the traveling distance considerably. At the same time, Spock and Chekov take the shuttlecraft Galileo to Baldur’s stellar neighbor Yurnos to track down the source of a Prime Directive violation, bringing them in conflict with rogue tea smugglers. (I am not making that up!)
As is already evident, Cox gives each of the members of the original crew important missions to accomplish, deftly weaving together Uhura’s attempt to win the hearts of the growing populace of Baldur III with Scotty’s battle to keep the planet’s crumbling power plant from going critical. Along the way, Cox salts the narrative with fun and insightful “deep cut” references to TOS, Enterprise, and Discovery.
My favorite aspect of this novel is how well Cox utilizes chronologically prior Trek stories to illuminate what is in characters’ minds at any given time. Sulu remembers his adventures just as well as we do, and they form part of his decision-making process in relevant and believable ways. Cox isn’t just referencing anecdotes for nostalgic value, he’s presenting these characters as thinking people, whose experiences have prepared them for what they are doing next. It’s very well done.
Each narrative thread is interesting and exciting in and of itself, and Cox weaves them together expertly, never losing us in the process. The Antares Maelstrom is a well-constructed adventure, with compelling characters and stakes that matter. I enjoyed the perdition out of it. Highly recommended.
The Antares Maelstrom is available to buy now
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