So, here we are in the glorious fortieth year of Star
Trek and to honest I was hoping for some good stuff to
be released, so far it's been a bit of a damp squib. A bunch
of re-released DVD's, which have already been released on
a number of different formats, and books which proudly display
"Celebrating Forty Years of Star Trek", even
though they would have been released anyway.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is such a creature. Wading
in at volume nine it's obvious that the book would have been
released regardless of the year. The format follows the previous
eight books in that the short stories are all by relatively
unknown non-professional writers who have had no more that
two short stories previously published. The book is the result
of a competition that is run each year, but before you go
into the attic and brush the dust off what I'm sure you feel
is the best Trek short story ever written by anyone
in your household, I must stop you there as the competition
is only open to residents of the United States and Canada.
that the stories are from relatively untried authors the quality
is at times variable and some of the underlying themes and
plots just reek of fan worship. Hell, even the Tribbles get
three mentions. The book has stories from all five shows as
well as a Speculations section where imagination can
run a little more riotously around the page.
The book opens with a forward by the editor Dean Wesley Smith
and closes with little vignettes of information about each
what about the stories themselves? Well, as I said, a lot
of them come over as banging away at some themes that should
have been put out to pasture long ago. We have the ensign
who discovers that Data is more than a machine (Home Soil)
Scotty saves the day (Terra Tonight) Kirk didn't die
(Rocket Man) and not even Sisko is dead he's just resting
(Living on the Edge of Existence), which pulls the
level of revisionist imagination down to Bobby Ewing coming
out of the shower in Dallas.
is not to say that there are not some nuggets of gold hidden
amongst the fan boy fun. Shadowed Allies by Emily Bloch
and Book of Fulfilment by Steven Costa both try, with
differing success, to play with the expected story structure.
book contains the three top winning stories. Third prize went
to Mestral by Ben Guilfoy which tells the story of
a stranded Vulcan helping Zefram Cochrane to survive the holocaust
so that he can develop his first warp drive. It's a well written
and interesting piece which avoids many of the pitfalls of
the weaker stories. Second prize went to Susan McCrackin's
Choices with Seven of Nine injured and stranded on
an alien planet whose religious tenants denies the development
of medicine. Grand prize went to Orphans by R.S. Belcher
which pulls together elements of the Dominion war and Danar,
a super soldier from The Next Generation - it's most
probably the best written short story, but not my favourite.
That honour must go to the witty The Last Tree on Ferenginar
by Mike Devitt, which was the only story in the collection
to make me laugh.
not a bad collection, though many are not yet up to professional
standards. On the good side, as there are stories from all
the shows, there is a little bit of something for everyone.
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