Tag Archives: Nyota Uhura

Book Review – Star Trek: Death Count by L. A. Graf

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Last week we stopped off in the Marvel Universe for a fun trip down memory lane. Today’s destination promises to be fairly exciting, even though it is a voyage forward rather than backward in time. Once again we return to the Federation of Planets for another adventure aboard the famous U.S.S. Enterprise, readers!

Aboard Sigma One, a space station a few days from the Federation/Orion border, Captain Kirk has gone out to dinner. Scotty and McCoy have whisked him off to a Scottish restaurant aboard the station in order to help him unwind. For the past three days, which were supposed to be used for shore leave by the crew, the men and women aboard the Enterprise have been pestered almost to death by four auditors from the Auditor General.

It seems the Auditor General has teams of auditors surprising starships throughout the fleet with on-site inspections. For the last three days the crew of the Enterprise has been running efficiency drills to prove they are following the regulations properly and can react to a stiuation as fast as possible, with the clipboard-wielding inspectors looking over their shoulders the whole time. In the process these four individuals have, unsurprisingly, made themselves an enormous nuisance to the crew.

This has put everyone aboard the ship on edge, meaning those who can grab shore leave are not letting it pass them by for any money. While Scotty and McCoy help Kirk relax, Chekov has convinced Sulu to help him try and beat a record set by another ship’s crew on the station’s piloting simulator. After failing the simulator’s sixth level, the door opens automatically, allowing Uhura to ask how much longer the two men plan to continue playing.

My Star Trek Scrapbook: Sulu and Chekov...BFF!

Sulu answers the question by getting out before Chekov can reactive the machine. He then leads his two best friends to a plant shop he has already visited three times so far. On the way there the three bump in to some Orion police officers in riot gear. Since they are out of uniform, the men merely push past them instead of goading the Starfleet officers into a fight. Not long after they enter the plant shop, however, an Orion policeman comes to “inspect” the premises for something/someone.

His “inspection” consists mostly of wrecking the store owner’s property. This infuriates the businessman, who attacks the alien with a broom. Chekov and Sulu intervene on the man’s behalf after he is tossed across the room, earning the latter a free gift of plants, pets, and the lily pond they need to survive and be happy. Unfortunately, Chekov’s gift is entirely different; the Orions cast his actions as assault, leading Sigma One’s security forces to throw him in the station’s brig.

Meanwhile Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy’s relaxtion proves to be premature. Like a troubadour leading his not-so-merry band, the head auditor arrives at the restaurant, fuming about being barred from the Enterprise. Kirk is sanguine until he learns that he has new orders to go to the Andorian/Orion border – with the inspectors in tow.

Tense once more, Kirk goes to speak to the commodore in charge of the station, a friend whom he helped to promote to his current position. The commodore explains that since an Andorian scientist named Muav Haslev – who was developing some kind of technology for the Andorian military – disappeared from their space, the Andorians have blamed the Orions for the incident. The Orions claim they had nothing to do with his vanishing act, but no one believes them. And even without definitive proof, the Andorians are spoiling to pick a fight with the Orions. The sector between the two is heating up and threatening to embroil the Federation in a war with Orion, which is a neutral stellar nation.

Kirk is fine with this part of the assignment; he has done this kind of thing before, and knows how to handle it. His problem is the auditors. While traveling to the Andorian/Orion border is dangerous enough for him and his crew the way things stand now, taking four civilians (one of whom is extremely annoying and has a superiority complex) into a possible war zone isn’t his idea of a smart move.

Dog Star Omnibus: Captain's Blog pt. 92: The Enterprise ...

But as he soon learns, neither assignment is negotiable. The ship that was supposed to take the auditors next and deal with the Orion/Andorian issue at the same time recently suffered a containment breach of its warp core. Though the damage could have been much worse, it is bad enough; the vessel may never be spaceworthy again. She’s barely able to limp to Sigma One with the help of tug shuttles.

This leaves Enterprise to carry out the mission – exasperating auditors and all. Once Chekov gets out of the brig and boards the Enterprise with Sulu and Uhura, the ship heads for the border….

…Only to be struck by a burst of radiation that sends her instruments haywire. Sulu just barely manages to keep the starship from warping straight through Sigma One after the radiation scrambles the helm. The computer turned the Enterprise back toward the station thinking it is open space.

Returning to their normal course, the Enterprise gets under way at last, only to be intercepted a short time later by a disguised Orion destroyer. Following on its heels is an Orion police cruiser, whosse captain is intent on arresting Chekov for the incident back at the station. Upon learning the details of the confrontation on Sigma One, Kirk realizes the Orions set him up to get his security officer. After a brief word with the Orion commander, he has the Enterprise continue on to the border.

As he knows all too well, though, missions that begin this badly don’t get any smoother the longer they last. So when a transporter accident turns out to be a triple murder, Kirk isn’t really surprised, just angry and determined to find the culprit. But how can he catch a sabatour while keeping four number-crunching civilians determined to nose their way into vital systems safe and out of the way? The answer is…

An Oral History of Star Trek | pufflesandhoneyadventures

…Not for me to tell! If you want to know how Death Count ends, you will have to read it yourself. It is a good book, but unlike most L. A. Graf novels, it doesn’t include Uhura’s direct perspective of events. The three points-of-view explored in this novel belong to Sulu, Chekov, and Kirk. That is a fairly unusual choice for L.A. Graf. Normally, the writers using this pan name include Uhura’s viewpoint along with Sulu’s and Chekov’s to explore their characters, while giving fans a view of life from “below decks.” Kirk’s POV is included to show how he regards the three younger members of the “Enterprise Seven” as officers and people.

For some reason, Death Count breaks this pattern. While it is not irritating or a loss in any sense of the word, it does make one wonder. I only note it for the curious and for those L.A. Graf fans who have not managed to acquire this story yet.

Until next time, readers: “Second star to the right and straight on til morning!”

Death Count (Star Trek, #62) by L.A. Graf

Book Review – Star Trek: Traitor Winds by L. A. Graf

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Well, we have been to the Witch World, Newfoundland, and a toy castle from England. Let’s see what is going on in the United Federation of Planets, shall we?

I gave this book as a gift to a friend, so I do not have a copy of it with me as a reference. Please forgive me if I mess up some of the details, readers. 😉 The novel, written by the ladies who use the pen name L. A. Graf – “Let’s All Get Rich And Famous!” – takes place in the interim between the end of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Kirk has become an Admiral some time before this book starts; McCoy is enjoying being a crotchety, grounded Earth doctor; Spock is away on Vulcan, and Scotty is aboard the Enterprise, which has been docked in orbit for a refit.

Meanwhile, Sulu is working as a test pilot for a new shuttle with a cloaking shield in White Sands, Arizona. The project is top secret, but he has told his best friends – Uhura and Chekov – all about it anyway. After all, if they cannot keep a secret, who can? At the same time, Uhura is teaching a communications class at Starfleet Academy and Chekov is going to the Security Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Of the three Chekov has, as usual, gotten the short end of the stick. He wants to be a Security Officer so he can gain the experience he needs to enter the Officers’ Academy which Kirk attended. Kirk was admitted to this school at a young age because he was a special case. Chekov is special, too, of course, but the guys in charge have deemed him too immature to enter the school at this time.

This has stung his pride so badly that he has decided Security is the only place to gain maturity. Unfortunately for Chekov, one of his classmates absolutely hates him. This man’s name is Leong, and he has been in Security for quite some time. He thinks all Starfleet officers are flash and splash; that they do not have the mettle to take on real threats. Because Chekov is not as graceful or fast as he is, Leong can outmaneuver and whip him easily in practice fights. There is nothing wrong with Chekov, who has faced worse opponents in deep space and lived to tell the tale. It is simply that he cannot keep up with Leong when it comes to speed.

Chekov does not see it that way, though, probably due to a combination of the Officers’ Academy’s vitriolic rejection letter and his natural Russian pessimism. He rarely has any fun at the Security Academy, and he has almost no friends there. The only bright points in the whole mess are the occasional dinners he has with Uhura and Sulu when they leave their much nicer jobs out west to visit him on the weekends. Then they all get to sit down, reminisce, and relax at a nice diner, restaurant, or café somewhere in Annapolis.

The latest dinner includes McCoy and Dr. Piper, the physician for the Enterprise before Kirk took command. The dinner is merrier than ever, and Chekov gets an offer from Dr. Piper he cannot refuse. Dr. Piper is working on finding a way to treat injuries caused by Klingon disruptors. The problem is, no one at Johns Hopkins University knows how to fire the one disruptor they have. Starfleet officers who have faced Klingons in combat are not exactly lining up at the door to shoot it, either.

Knowing how bad a disruptor injury can be, Chekov jumps at the chance to help. It is only later that Piper confides in Chekov the real reason he wanted to hire the ensign: he thinks a traitor in Starfleet is trying to steal the disruptor. Afraid to trust anyone at the University, since those attached to the project might be compromised, he hired Chekov because he served under Kirk aboard the Enterprise. If Kirk trusts him, that’s good enough for Piper.

Unfortunately, as Chekov learns too late, Piper is right about those attached to the disruptor project being compromised. Unable to get to Dr. Piper in time to save him and, robbed of the recordings proving what actually happened, Chekov ends up on the run from the authorities after he is accused of killing Dr. Piper. Though Uhura and Sulu know this is not true, Starfleet’s top helmsman soon has other things to worry about. The plans for his stealth shuttle have been copied and stolen, and the Navajo engineer helping him to test the shuttle has gone missing.

The engineer is blamed for the theft, naturally, but Sulu finds this hard to believe. His faith in his friend is rewarded when he is testing the shuttle some days later. During the test flight Sulu finds a message from the engineer embedded in the shuttle’s systems. Through the message, the engineer warns him that someone in Starfleet has turned traitor and stolen the plans in such a way that either the engineer or Sulu would take the blame. To take the heat off of Sulu, the engineer ran off and hid in a place only the Navajo can find.

He left the message because he wants Sulu to know someone is out to get him. And Sulu has a feeling he is not the only target. The theft of the plans, the disappearance of the disruptor, and now Chekov’s supposed murder of Dr. Piper have happened too close together to be coincidence. They were both senior officers aboard the Enterprise, so whoever the traitor is, Sulu can only assume that he is trying to black Admiral Kirk’s name by framing him and Chekov for treason.

Star Trek: Traitor Winds is a good standalone Trek novel. It rotates through the POVs of Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Kirk. Spock is the only member of the Enterprise Seven absent from the story, while Christine Chapel and Janet Rand get guest appearances. As a high stakes race to the finish, Traitor Winds is one of the best. Engage that warp drive of yours, readers, and search this novel out. It is worth the read!

Book Review – Star Trek: The Covenant of the Crown

Image result for Star Trek: The Covenant of the Crown

Any Star Trek fan worth his salt will be able to tell you about the episode The Trouble with Tribbles. Tribbles, overgrown living puff balls, are soft, furry, harmless creatures that breed faster than rabbits. One of the things which make this episode so interesting is that it was written by a fan of the original series. That fan’s name is David Gerrold. And he wrote and sold The Trouble with Tribbles to Gene Roddenberry and the rest when he was twenty-three years old.

But Howard Weinstein did one better. He wrote a short, fan fiction story for his high school science fiction magazine called “The Pirates of Orion.” Later, in 1973, when Star Trek was made into an animated television series, Weinstein rewrote the story and sold it to the series creators. It became the first episode for the second season of the animated Star Trek series, retaining its title. Why is this important?

Howard Weinstein sold the story to the studio when he was nineteen and in college. That’s why it is important; he was the youngest writer for Star Trek ever, a position he may still hold. I cannot say for sure that he does, but it seems reasonable to assume this. At least, of the original fan base, he is the youngest writer they ever had, fan or otherwise.

Anyway, his love of Star Trek gave him the desire to become a science fiction writer. “The Pirates of Orion” was his first major success. The Covenant of the Crown, a novel set in the Star Trek universe, was his second.

In this story, McCoy is hiding in his room, curled up on his bed. Why?

It’s his birthday. And he is feeling old.

Captain Kirk is trying to talk him out of the room, and he finally convinces McCoy to get up and move by saying he wants the doctor to bait Spock while the Captain plays chess with him. They head down to the rec room on deck seven, Kirk opens the door….

On a dark room.

Thrusting McCoy into the room, Kirk watches the lights turn on and the crewmen pop up from behind the tables and chairs, shouting, “Surprise! Happy Birthday, McCoy!”

With this mission successfully completed, Kirk stands off to the side with Scotty to watch the festivities. Then he and his Chief Engineer feel the Enterprise kick into a higher gear. They make for the comm. as Spock calls Kirk to the bridge.

Star Fleet Command has called the Enterprise to Starbase 22 for a secret mission. Eighteen years ago, the planet Shad was thrust into a civil war due to Klingon meddling. Why? Shad is home to an ore known as Tridenite, a clean, efficient source of energy. The planet supplies twenty other planets with this vital ore. Half those planets are Federation, the other half are neutral. And they are all right next door to the Klingon Empire.

If Shad falls to the Klingons, they can take the entire sector because they will have control of the Tridenite.

Eighteen years ago, Lieutenant Commander James T. Kirk convinced Shad’s King, Stevvin, to escape Shad to protect his wife and daughter. It was supposed to be an exile of a few months, but it turned into an exile of eighteen years, during which time the queen died.

But the king and his daughter are alive. And with the Loyalist forces on the brink of winning the war – and falling apart as they try to divide the spoils before they even win – it seems it is time for the king to go home.

And he wants to; he really wants to go home. And Kirk wants to take him and his daughter home, to make up at least a little for leaving them stranded on an exile planet for eighteen years.

There is just one problem. The king’s daughter has a diabetic-like condition. She needs shots of a special serum, or she will die in a matter of hours. She is not physically as strong as she could be as a result. And the king himself, Stevvin, is dying.

Bonus points, McCoy and the king’s daughter start doing the Romance Two-Step. And if that did not complicate matters, throw in a few Klingon agents and a traitor in the King’s entourage, and you have a story filled with intrigue, romance, and danger. A little humor is added as Chekov tries to lose ten pounds he gained invisibly.

The Covenant of the Crown is a very good Star Trek story. With forewords by Howard Weinstein and David Gerrold, it also offers a window into what Star Trek fandom used to look like.

If you can, readers, find yourselves a copy of The Covenant of the Crown. If you do not like it, I am sorry to hear that. But I think it is a fantastic, fun story. It is at least worth one reading.

Live long and prosper!

James Kirk, Carol Marcus, and Nyota Uhura

Marcus and Kirk

Hey – DiNozzo!

That is my drink!  Hands off! 

First you shortchange me on the Klondike bars, now you go after my drinks – do you want another round of Torture DiNozzo Week?

Then hands off!!

Right.  Now that I have my drink back, we can resume probing the final frontier. 

Yes.  I got Black Widow out of my system.  But I have not gotten The Avengers out of my system.  So don’t expect me to keep talking about Star Trek for the rest of the week.

Come on, DiNozzo!  This is what makes life interesting!  Besides, this is my forum.  I get to talk about whatever I want whenever I want. 

Anyway, back to my real reason for stopping by.  One of the things that I noticed about Into Darkness is how Kirk handles the film’s two leading ladies: Lt. Nyota Uhura and Carol Marcus, Admiral Marcus’ daughter.

In Uhura’s case, Kirk now respects her as a friend.  He is no longer contemplating pursuing her, as he tried to in the first Star Trek movie.  This makes sense; it would not be smart for Kirk to continue chasing her after she so obviously showed her preference for Spock in the previous film.        

One scene that I enjoyed from Into Darkness occurs after Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, and Uhura have returned to the Enterprise in one piece.  It is the scene where the volcano Spock is attempting to stabilize begins to erupt. 

Kirk tries to find a way to safely beam Spock back to the Enterprise from the heart of the volcano, only to come up against numerous physical dead-ends.  As the situation escalates, it is easy to see that Uhura is becoming overwhelmed by her fear for Spock’s life. 

Kirk sees this, too.  He is watching her during the discourse with Spock over the comm. and he sees her beginning to lose control.  He keeps shooting her glances that say, “Hold on!  We’ll get him back!”  A couple of times Kirk even raises his hands to waist level, palm up, as if to say, “Just keep it together!  We’re going to get him!”

When the situation reaches its crisis point, the one where Spock says, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” Uhura nearly bursts into tears.  Kirk looks at her, looks back at the screen, then asks what Spock would do if their positions were reversed.  It is possible that Kirk said this to snap Uhura out of her emotional spiral, trying to get her to concentrate more on saving Spock than on the idea that she would never see him again.  Whether or not that was the point, McCoy jumped into the breach and crassly suggested that Spock would let Kirk die.  This is proved untrue later in the film, but we covered that in my post ‘Into Darkness,’ so I am not going to rehash it now.

After Pike is killed and Kirk gets the Enterprise under him again, the brash young captain discovers that Uhura and Spock are having a fight.  This shocks him.  Actually, it is a bit of a surprise, because in the first film it was implied that Uhura and Spock understood each other very well and had a perfect system of communication.

Not so much so in Into Darkness.  I am with Kirk.  What the heck is it like to be in a lover’s spat with a Vulcan?  I would think it would be absolutely exhausting.

In the end, of course, Uhura and Spock re-establish ‘communications’ and stop fighting.  This is achieved on Kronos, of all places, when she and Kirk both express their disappointment with Spock’s attempt to switch off his emotions.  Ironically, Uhura becomes upset at Spock for controlling his emotions in the volcano when she was fast losing her hold on her own feelings at the same time!

Hollywood lovers’ spats – gee whiz!  How dumb can it get?

Still, I cannot get over Kirk’s attempts to calm Uhura down earlier in the movie.  It is a well-performed scene that shows just how far their friendship has progressed since the first film; Uhura trusts Kirk enough that she will pay attention to him now, and Kirk shows here that he respects her.  I guess it comes of the two of them having a mutual friend in Spock.

That, and even starships are too small for people to completely avoid each other.

Now we come to Kirk’s ‘friendship’ with Carol Marcus.  From the minute he lays eyes on her, the audience can tell Kirk likes her.  For her part, Marcus appears to totally blow him off.

The last time someone blew Kirk off successfully, it was because they already had a boyfriend: Uhura studiously refused all of Kirk’s advances in Star Trek.

This time around, though, Kirk has run into a lady who is very hard to impress.  While Carol Marcus seems to think as highly of Kirk as he does of her, she still keeps him at arm’s length. 

Honestly, I think this may be one of the reasons he likes her so much.  Carol shows more spark during Into Darkness than any of Kirk’s previous dates.  This is established in the shuttle bay when, while discussing the torpedoes her father sent with the Enterprise with Kirk, she begins to get changed after telling him to turn around.

Of course, Kirk’s curiosity gets the better of him and he turns back around too soon.  At which time Carol sternly reminds him in a calm, firm voice, “I said, turn around.”

What she was actually saying was, “You may be the captain of this ship, but I am getting changed.  And that is none of your business because it has nothing to do with the safety of the ship.  So turn around and let me finish.”

Kirk’s regard for Carol grows throughout the film.  When she and McCoy go down to the surface to inspect one of the ‘special’ torpedoes Admiral Marcus gave the Enterprise for this mission, McCoy accidentally triggers the weapon and gets his arm trapped in it.  Although McCoy and the bridge crew urge Kirk to beam Carol aboard the Enterprise to safety, Carol strenuously argues that she be allowed to stay.  And she is doing this as she frantically works to disarm the torpedo.

Deciding to trust in the woman’s talents, Kirk is rewarded when Carol safely defuses the torpedo and frees McCoy.  This scene shows her competence under extreme pressure; I would hate to think of how any of Kirk’s previous girlfriends would have reacted in the same situation. 

Later, Carol again proves her mettle when she attempts to convince her father not to annihilate the Enterprise, arguing that if he wants to destroy it, he will have to kill her with the rest of the crew.

But while Admiral Marcus may be prepared to send the galaxy into the tailspin of war, he proves that he will not harm his daughter when he beams her aboard the Vengeance.  Carol subsequently proves that she seems to have inherited some of her father’s stubbornness when she slaps him to show her contempt for his decisions.  She may be his daughter but she’s still got a firm grasp on the principles he so deliberately tossed aside.

Finally, Kirk shows how much he has come to respect Carol at the end of the film.  When Kirk walks onto the bridge as the crew is preparing for their five year mission, he checks on each member of his command crew individually, finishing with Carol.  Having lost his father when he was an infant, and more recently his father-figure, Admiral Pike, Kirk understands how Carol feels about her father’s death.  When he speaks to her, Kirk makes his tone and words as comforting as possible. 

In this scene, he shows that he does not consider Carol Marcus as simply a friend, or even as a run-of-the-mill one-time date.  He considers her his equal, a woman who can keep up with him no matter where he goes or what he does.  And that shows just how much Kirk has grown during the trials he has undergone throughout Into Darkness.

So where will it go from here?  Beats me, Tony.  But fingers crossed that the next movie is as good as Into Darkness

Yes, I want the next movie to be better than this one.  But if I go in with my hopes as high as the Seattle Space Needle, I may end up disappointed instead of happy.  So I will go in with my hopes small, and either come out with the same amount of satisfaction or with a mountain of satisfaction.  It is much harder to for me to be disappointed this way.

And you know what else, DiNozzo?  It makes the movie all the more satisfying if it exceeds my expectations!



It’s a Start….

Memory Prime

Memory Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Mr. Chekov, you have the conn.”  Spock handed the ensign the log pad and headed for the turbo lift.  “I shall be in the main transporter room.”

“Aye-aye, sir.”  Chekov sat in the captain’s chair and, as soon as the lift doors closed, spun it around to survey his new command, which consisted of Uhura.

“What’s wrong with the commodore?” Uhura asked with a frown.

“Simple,” Chekov replied with an all-knowing shrug.  “I have seen the condition many times in the past.”

“And what condition is that, Dr. Chekov?”

“She is a starbase commander.”  Chekov said it as if it was the complete answer to Uhura’s question.


“Meaning she is not a starship commander.”  Chekov smiled widely.  “Such as I am.”

“For the next half hour only, mister.”

“Some may think of it as a half hour,” Chekov said mock imperiously, “but I, on the other hand, prefer to think of it as…a start.”

Exchange between Chekov and Uhura in Star Trek: Memory Prime by Gar and Judith Reeves-Stevens