books continue the rather excellent run of Star Trek: Corps
of Engineers door wedges. The new book, Grand Designs,
is number nine in the series and showcases another six novellas
detailing the continuing voyages of Captain Gold and the Starship
USS da Vinci. All the stories are also available as
Ring Around the Sky, by Allyn Gibson, the crew are
sent to help repair a planet straddling space station which
was damage during the Dominion War. The ship is sent to Kharzh'ulla,
a Tellerite colony world and home to Mor glasch Tev, a character
who is normally regarded as arrogant in the extreme. However,
the reader discovers that even the most arrogant person has
their regrets and weaknesses. It's obvious from his detailed
descriptions that Gibson gets a real kick out of technology
as he indulges himself and the reader in descriptions of the
station that rings a whole planet. Two plot threads are nicely
woven together. On the one hand you have the technological
problem of repairing such a huge structure, whilst at the
same time you have the planets expert on the ring being, surprisingly,
a bit pants for an expert, which makes for a mystery.
by Kevin Killiany, and we're into a good old golden age sci-fi
plot of a runaway generation ship. Okay, so the basic plot
of a generation ship out of control has been used before,
but Killiany still finds an interesting twist to this old
idea. The da Vinci, with the help of a Klingon ship,
must find a way of diverting the ship from crashing into the
Klingon home world. Obviously, the inhabitants of the ship
have no idea of how to control their flight, indeed, most
aren't even aware that they are on a ship. The da Vinci
has to contend with potentially hostile Klingons and the
indigenous population in a effort to save the day.
Designs, by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, is a tale of
subterfuge and duplicity and that's just the Starfleet personnel.
In a slight departure from the usual formula of the da
Vinci being asked to sort out an engineering problem,
this time the ship is sent to mediate between two hostile
forces. Ward and Dilmore obviously do not believe in a slow
build up, as the reader is thrown straight into an action
sequence, before back tracking in time to detail how things
had gone so wrong.
by David Mack, sees a Starfleet probe crash landing, intact,
on Teneb - a pre warp civilisation. Well there goes the idea
of non-intervention. With such a large amount of potentially
lethal technology there for the taking, the da Vinci
is dispatched on a mission of retrieval. Unfortunately, Teneb,
is very similar to twentieth century earth - with a vastly
uneven distribution of power and resources between the various
nation states. Although Mack has used the story to hold a
mirror to our own world, he also produces an even handed story,
showing the tale from various viewpoints which prove that
right and wrong more often are determined by who and where
you are, rather than being universal standards.
Medicine, by David Galanter, sees the ships medic Dr Lense
taking centre stage as the da Vinci finds a ship which
contains a virus which could potentially wipe out whole planets.
The problem is that the ship has a single survivor, a child,
Dobrah, who is immune. If Lense cannot find a cure the child
will have to be abandoned - condemned to live out the remainder
of his life alone in a decaying ship. As Lense struggles to
find a cure she finds herself inextricably drawn to Dobrah.
It's another departure for the series, being mainly a character
study and medical mystery. This is not a complaint. One of
the nice things about the series is that there are no boundaries
as there is no TV canon to constrain it. Therefore, the stories
have a greater feeling of freedom than the novels which use
the characters from the shows.
last story is Sargasso Sector, by Paul Kupperberg,
who takes the idea of this freedom and runs with it to produce
a tragicomic tale. The da Vinci is sent to clear a
path through the junkyard that is the Sargasso Sector so that
a bunch of colony ships can have clear passage. As usual things
start to go wrong very quickly.
six great tales, without a dog amongst them. For less than
a tenner, what more could any self respecting Trek fan want?