First mentioned in Star Trek II, The Kobayashi Maru is legendary in Trek fandom as the infamous no-win scenario simulation that Academy cadets must face. Julia Ecklar gives us a look into how Kirk, Chekov, Sulu, and Scott faced the simulation while dealing with a literal life-and-death situation. The accounts are personal to each man as we get a glimpse of these characters when they were just cadets, personally I can not pick one as the best of the four however I will say that Ecklar’s version of Kirk’s creative solution is more impressive than presented in the 2009 Star Trek film. I would have preferred to have given this 4.5 stars instead of 4, but this is by far the best Star Trek novel I’ve read and I found it difficult to put down.
The premise of Timetrap by David Dvorkin is a slight of hand that the reader falls for from the experience of James Kirk, who himself falls for the Klingon deception. The Enterprise encounters a Klingon Bird-of-Prey in Federation territory near the Tholian space, Kirk beams over in an attempt to grab a Klingon for questioning only for the ship to disappear as the result of an interstellar storm that also affects the Enterprise. Kirk waits up among Klingons supposedly 100 years in the future during a period called “The Great Peace” between the Federation and Klingons to learn he is the reason it occurred. However, the battered Enterprise arrives at Starbase Seventeen where Spock starts his investigation into Kirk disappearance. Events quickly transpire that sends Kirk with a Klingon fleet into Federation space, but along the way the deception starts to unravel and completely falls apart as the two hostile factions face off with one another.
While the pace and overall story of the novel were good, it was the character development of Kirk that was really off putting and though at the end of the novel his behavior is hand-waved as a product of chemical manipulation it’s still off putting. The internal conflict of the Klingon undercover spy is well done and completely tricks the reader when the true is revealed.
Overall Timetrap is an quick, average read. If your a Star Trek fan, I halfheartedly recommend it with the warning about Kirk. If you’re not a Star Trek fan then watch out because your perception of Kirk could get warped.
On it’s own Time for Yesterday by A.C. Crispin is a decent, fun Star Trek novel whether one has read it’s precursor novel Yesterday’s Son. With that said, one’s enjoyment of the novel and understanding of the interactions between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (as well as the majority of the TOS Enterprise crew) with Zar can only come after having read Yesterday’s Son. The book contains two plots that cross with one another thanks to time travel, but it’s the initial one of the malfunctioning Guardian of Forever that comes across as the better of the two especially as the reader meets the creators of the Guardian.
Having been given this book by a relative, I didn’t know what to expect. The book was a fun read, but after the Guardian plot was wrapped up the rest of the book was missing the backstory that Yesterday’s Son would have provided. So you’re thinking about reading this book without having read Yesterday’s Son, I recommend you don’t. Find Yesterday’s Son either on Kindle or at a used book store or at a friend’s house and read it first before Time for Yesterday. I fully intend to find Yesterday’s Son so I can re-read this book and have a better appreciation (and review of it).
Star Trek: Log One by Alan Dean Foster features three short stories adapted from “the best episodes” Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS). The three episodes are in order “Beyond the Farthest Star”, “Yesteryear”, and “One of Our Planets is Missing” which correspond with the first three episodes of TAS which makes one think they just adapted all the stories of TAS into books to make money, but that is another discussion all together. The three stories are loosing connected as Foster presents them as a sequence of events transcribed from the Captain Logs of James T. Kirk, even though they are connected I feel its best to give a brief review of each story.
“Beyond the Farthest Star”- The longest story of the trio, it is also the slowest to develop. The Enterprise gets caught in the pull of an uncharted black hole and barely are able to get into orbit when they encounter an dead alien vessel that has been in orbit for 3 million years. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty decide to explore the vessel and realize that it had been taken over by a malevolent energy being that transports over to the Enterprise when the four return then takes over the ship. The standard crew versus creature-taken-over the ship trope then follows. (2.5/5 stars)
“Yesteryear”- Whether all of TAS is considered canon or not, it seems this episode is considered canon. The Enterprise returns to the Time Planet and the Guardian of Forever with several historians. Kirk and Spock accompany one of the historians through the Guardian, but when they return no one recognizes Spock especially the Andorian first officer and Kirk’s apparent best friend. After examining the evidence it is deduced that Spock used the Guardian to return to Vulcan when he was seven and saved his younger self, posing as his cousin Selek. A fair amount of the episode takes place on Vulcan following Spock and his younger self, giving insight into Spock’s childhood along with Vulcan culture and philosophy. This story is worth the buying the book alone. (5/5 stars)
“One of Our Planets is Missing”- Standard Enterprise encountering large space creature trope. Well-written, but heavy handed with Vulcan telepathy as a deus-ex-machina. (3/5 stars).
While the quality of the stories range from meh to great and some typos that should have been corrected during editing are present, Star Trek: Log One shows the continuing adventures of the original U.S.S. Enterprise and it’s crew. If you’re new or long-time fan of the original televisions show I would recommend getting your hands on this book, especially for the story “Yesteryear”.