Leonard McCoy, displaced in time, saves a woman from being
killed in a traffic accident, and in so doing alters Earth's
history. Stranded in the past, he struggles to find a way
back to his own century... Leonard McCoy, displaced in time,
is prevented from saving a woman from being killed in a traffic
accident, allowing Earth's history to remain unchanged. Returning
to the 23rd century, he encounters a medical mystery he is
committed to solving. But the echoes of an existence he never
lived haunt him...
sure you set aside plenty of time to plough through this book.
Printed on deceptively thin paper, this hefty tome weighs
in at a stonking 624 pages. And this is only the first in
a trilogy of novels devised to celebrate the 40th anniversary
of Star Trek.
book in the trilogy focuses on one of the three central characters
of The Original Series - Kirk, Spock and McCoy - and
the impact that one pivotal moment had upon their lives. That
moment is the conclusion to the classic episode
The City on the Edge of Forever, in which Kirk
is forced to allow the love of his life, Edith Keeler, to
die in order to preserve the future of the entire planet.
Provenance of Shadows deals with Leonard McCoy's life
after that point, covering the original five-year mission
(including the animated series) and subsequent movie adventures,
all the way forward to the aged 24th-century physician seen
in the Next
Generation pilot Encounter
at Farpoint and beyond. Particular attention
is paid to the events of The City on the Edge of Forever,
Operation -- Annihilate! and For the World is Hollow
and I Have Touched the Sky. The latter episode was recently
dealt with in the novel Ex
Machina, which similarly explored McCoy's relationship
with Natira, though the two books can co-exist comfortably.
Several scenes that have already been depicted on television
or film are presented again here, a process that can try the
reader's patience and does seem like padding in places. However,
author David R George III is going somewhere with this, and
he also works in background material of his own that explains
or sheds new light upon familiar episodes. For example, he
expands upon McCoy's relationship with Yeoman Tonia Barrows
in Shore Leave, and defends the apparent deficiencies
of Captain Harriman in Star
Trek: Generations, while his descriptions of
the neural parasites in Operation -- Annihilate! seem
intent upon compensating for the shortcomings of the screen
depiction of those "flying pizzas".
far more original material around the second half of the novel,
which includes an intriguing adventure set during Kirk's second,
seven-year-long, mission in command of the Enterprise.
There's also a riveting sequence depicting events that brought
the first five-year mission to an end (though this contradicts
several previous pieces of licensed fiction, including A C
Crispin's Time For Yesterday).
makes the author's tie-in with The City on the Edge of
Forever so ingenious is that it allows him to explore
two alternate versions of McCoy. In addition to the character
with whom we are already familiar, we also follow the exploits
of an alternate doctor who remains trapped in the past. This
is the McCoy of the altered timeline that Kirk, Spock and
the rest of the landing party briefly experience in City
before they set history back on its correct course.
One thing that bugs me a little, as an obsessive follower
of stardates, is that George sometimes ignores or overlooks
the stardates of the episodes to which he refers, favouring
their production order instead (as indeed do the majority
timelines). Thus, for example, the events of Spectre of
the Gun (stardate 4385.3) are said to take place after
those of I, Mudd (4513.3), The Trouble with Tribbles
(4523.3-4525.6) and By Any Other Name (4657.5). However,
I think this might say more about my own obsession that it
does about the author's writing! On other occasions, the author
is either comfortably vague about the precise chronology or
he strictly follows the stardate order, as is the case with
his placement of the events of the animated episode Yesteryear.
more serious flaw is the number of typographical errors. In
just the first 50 pages, we have "no where" spelt as two words
rather than one, "then" when the author means "than", "your"
when the author should have used "you"... and that's not an
exhaustive list. Later on, we have a mixture of Starbase 10
and Starbase Ten, and of Daran V and Daran Five. But I suppose
such errors are a function of the sheer number of words involved
in such a lengthy volume.
is at times a rather slow-moving novel that really feels like
it spans decades, which sometimes makes it more of a slog
than a captain's log. Nevertheless, it also offers its fair
share of excitement and intrigue.