The former refugees of the Fabrini worldship Yonada are divided.
Some cling to their theocratic past, while others envision
a future governed by reason alone. Years ago the officers
of the Enterprise helped to overthrow the Oracle, the
machine-god that controlled Yonada. Now Kirk, Spock and McCoy
must confront the consequences of those actions, and also
face echoes of their recent encounter with the vast artificial
my opinion, there should be more stories set between Star
Trek: The Motion Picture and Star
Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn,
and far fewer that take place during The Original Series.
More books and comics have already been set during the original
five-year mission than could comfortably fit within that timeframe.
By comparison, the period between Star Trek: TMP and
Star Trek II remains relatively unexplored, despite
the widespread acceptance among fans that a second five-year
mission took place in the interim.
you may have guessed (otherwise I would have been rambling
on for no reason), Ex Machina is set after TMP
- almost immediately after it, in fact. This setting allows
author Christopher L Bennett to deal with some of the personal
and emotional ramifications of the movie that haven't really
been addressed elsewhere.
example, there is the fact that Dr McCoy is serving aboard
a vessel that already has a Chief Medical Officer, Dr Christine
Chapel. Why does McCoy remain in such an uneasy situation,
and how does Chapel feel about it?
Then there's Spock. How does he deal with the aftermath of
his V'Ger-inspired epiphany and his newly adopted emotions,
and how does he get from this stage to become the more easy-going,
yet still logical, Spock of Star Trek II? Bennett suggests
And neither Kirk nor several members of his crew are entirely
comfortable with the circumstances in which he snatched command
of the Enterprise from Willard Decker.
from TMP (more specifically the Director's Edition
and the novelisation of that movie), the author's other main
source is the third
season episode For the World is Hollow and I
Have Touched the Sky, to which this book is a sequel.
Once again, the author irons out some of the episode's unanswered
questions, such as how a race that was forced to travel between
the stars in a sub-lightspeed asteroid could have known where
to find a habitable destination planet in the first place.
(I'm less convinced by Bennett's assertion that some of the
Yonadi might have visited the asteroid's surface. It seems
fairly evident from the episode that Yonada's general population
do not realise their world is hollow. Perhaps the author is
referring only to a privileged few in the know.)
is an astonishingly well-researched book, in terms of real
and imagined science, and also in terms of Trek continuity.
More fleeting references suggest how Kirk might have been
impelled to accept his promotion to desk-bound Admiral prior
to TMP and tie in several contentious depictions of
the Vulcans in Enterprise. Most of these references
are unobtrusive, however, and you only really need to have
seen TMP and For the World...
the book has far more to offer than mere fan-pleasing continuity.
The socio-political situation depicted on Daran IV, the new
Fabrini home world, reflects present-day difficulties in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Like those countries, the Fabrini have recently
been "liberated" by the actions of forces (i.e. the Federation,
represented by Kirk) whom some regard as cultural imperialists.
The people are now "free", in the Federation's eyes, but some
factions are unhappy about the way in which their old way
of life has been overturned by the new government (led by
the former High Priestess, Natira). The new High Priestess,
Rishala, might just as well be talking about George W Bush
and the American ideal of liberty when she says of Kirk and
the Federation, "You let us make our own choices... so long
as they're the choices you think are right."
I must say, it is good to read a meatier and more complex
narrative than we have tended to get of late from the likes
of Christie Golden and Michael Jan Friedman. This is also
a heftier tome than usual: almost equivalent to the so-called
"giant" Trek novels. Bennett's writing style is sometimes
a little long-winded, but in general his story is engrossing.
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