Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence
Written by: Dayton Ward
Published by: Pocket Books
Available as: Paperback (368 pages), ebook, and audiobook
“Captain, you have to know your reputation precedes you. So, with that is mind and on a scale of one to Kirk, how crazy is this plan?”
Spies Like Us
Spies. Saboteurs. Infiltrators. Star Trek: The Original Series had a few episodes that memorably showed us agents working undercover behind enemy lines. In “Journey to Babel,” there was an Orion agent disguised as an Andorian diplomat. “The Trouble with Tribbles” featured a Klingon surgically altered to appear human. “The Enterprise Incident” had Captain Kirk himself undergo cosmetic surgery to appear Romulan to steal a cloaking device from a Romulan ship. Espionage and intrigue have been baked in to the Star Trek Universe from the very beginning.
Dayton Ward’s Agents of Influence, the new Star Trek: The Original Series novel, has spies on top of spies on top of spies. The extraction of three deep cover Federation operatives from within Klingon space goes wrong, and the Starship Endeavour is stranded in a dense and anomaly-filled asteroid field in nonaligned space between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Rescuing the crew of the Endeavour and retrieving these agents and their valuable data becomes the mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise during the last year of Kirk’s first five-year mission. As the story unfolds, there are secret research projects, secret alliances, agents from various governments disguised as their enemies, and plans within plots within schemes.
To say more would give away too much of the game. Agents of Influence is a sparkling adventure/espionage tale that makes good use of the “Kirk mystique,” of characters old and new, and of situations that I’ve always wanted to see. The action pieces feature both a tense, low-gravity ground assault on the surface of an asteroid and a terrifying space combat sequence between small ships in an asteroid field. It’s like the asteroid belt scene in The Empire Strikes Back infused with the kinetic energy of the space dive sequence in Star Trek Into Darkness.
TrekMovie’s own Christine Rideout gets a shout-out in the form of a namesake character aboard the Endeavour, and there are other fun character names, like a Klingon named Dav’Mak (presumably named after Trek author David Mack), a Starfleet pilot named McCormack (after Trek writer Una McCormack), and an appropriately-appelated Klingon jerk named Dk’Had. I was also delighted that one of my favorite minor Trek characters, Admiral Heihachiro Nogura, plays a major role.
The whole thing wraps up perhaps a little too quickly, and the identity reveal of one of the double-agents seems anticlimactic (wait, he’s WHO?) but those are nitpicks in what is a fun, twisty adventure that embraces the spy culture of much of Star Trek while firmly stressing the life-affirming values of the Federation.
Agents of Influence is available now
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence was released on June 9th. You can pick it up now at Amazon in Paperback ($13.79), e-book ($10.35), and Audiobook CD ($31.68). There is also a digital audiobook available at Audible.
More Star Trek summer fiction
Coming up on July 14th is a trip to the Mirror Universe in John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing. On August 11th, Pocket Books will release David Mack’s More Beautiful Than Death, the second Kelvin universe novel from the set they pulled from the schedule in 2009. And on September 8 Titan is releasing the Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, by Una McCormack.
Keep up with all the Star Trek books news, previews and reviews at TrekMovie.com.
Thanks again for a compelling review Dénes.
I’ve been avoiding new TOS-era novels while I’m still working my way through the Vanguard/Seeker series.
You’ve convinced me to reconsider, sincerely.