Tag Archives: Star Trek The Original Series

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!

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Book Review: Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey

The Great Starship Race

Well, I did not begin posting about Star Trek fiction as soon as I had hoped.  But better late than never, right?

Today’s focus is Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey.  If you were to type the title of the book into the search engine of my blog, you would come up with several quotes from the novel posted here.  Not nearly so many as you would get if you typed in The Cherokee Trail, but you would get a good number nonetheless.

The Great Starship Race takes place in the Original Star Trek series timeline.  It focuses primarily on Kirk and his point of view, with occasional shifts to McCoy’s perspective.

But The Great Starship Race actually begins from the viewpoint of Valdus, a Subcenturion on the Romulan ship Scorah.  The Scorah and its supporting Swarm are out patrolling a sector of Romulan space when they stumble across an old spaceship with barely any warp capabilities.  Picking up the ship, they find five aliens aboard, aliens sent on a mission of exploration from their homeworld in the hopes of finding other life in the galaxy.

The aliens are friendly.  They fall all over the Romulans, they are so happy to learn they are not the only intelligent beings in the galaxy.  But when the Romulan commander tries to get them to reveal their planet’s location, things fall apart.  Somehow, someway, the nervous fright of the five aliens aboard the ship drives all the Romulans into murderous rages.  They kill each other and destroy the Scorah

All of them die except for one:  Valdus.  He is the only one to escape the conflagration, the only one to come back to sanity.  He is therefore the only one to realize how dangerous these aliens are to the Romulan people.

Fast-forward eighty-six years.  The Federation ship U.S.S. Hood, under the command of Captain Kenneth Dodge, made contact twelve years earlier with the people of Gullrey.  Now, twelve years later, the Rey are about to be accepted into the Federation.  And they are so happy about it that they are throwing a party, which will hopefully become an annual event:  the first Great Starship Race.

Among the competitors are four Starfleet ships – including Captain James T. Kirk’s U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.

Captain Kirk is looking forward to the race on several levels.  Races are part of sailing history, so as a historian he is naturally happy to be participating in a race, the way that the sailing captains of the past once did.  On another level, he is looking forward to showing off his ship – his “favorite girl.”  And how can participating in a race not be fun?

He finds the answer to that question soon enough, when they are on their way to Starbase 16.  The starting line of the race, Starbase 16 sends a frantic call to the Enterprise about a Romulan heavy cruiser which has crossed the Neutral Zone.  It is headed for the base and transmitting interstellar truce.

What, you ask, is the Romulans’ reason for violating the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space?  Oh, nothing really important – they just want to join the race.

If it were not such a dangerous situation, Kirk would laugh about it.  But a Romulan heavy cruiser in Federation space, whatever their proclaimed reason for entering, is no laughing matter.  He finds it even less funny when he meets the commander of the Red Talon:  Valdus.

And Valdus is none too happy when he sees Kirk.  Loathing using view screens for first meetings, Valdus sees something in Kirk’s eyes that disturbs him.  He knows Kirk is not a man who will give up, and that could be a problem.

As for Kirk, he can tell by looking at Valdus that the Romulan is not here to just run a race.  He knew that before he saw him, but seeing him convinces Kirk that there is something else to Valdus’ desire to join the contest, some dangerous ulterior motive.  And it has something to do with the Rey, whose planet is the finish line of the competition…

That is all I am telling you, readers.  The Great Starship Race is a really good piece of Star Trek fiction.  I think that it was one of the first Star Trek novels which I read.  The entire Enterprise Seven is present and accounted for, though Chekov gets short shrift in the dialogue and action departments.  Still, he is there.  That is what counts.

I do not know if Diane Carey wrote any more Star Trek fiction.  I think she did.  Either way, The Great Starship Race is a Star Trek story which I highly recommend to you.  So warp on over to the nearest library and see if they have a copy!  If they do not, then you should request it.  This is a story that ought to be on at least one set of library shelves!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

More Favorite TV Themes

Many a tale can be found in old television series which is better than those found in a current series.   Below are some introductory themes from some favorite television shows of mine. They may be a bit old, by the standards of certain people, but whoever says what is old is useless needs their brain examined.

Enjoy!

The Mithril Guardian

(I have not seen Airwolf, but I have researched it a little. Wheresyourcave was kind enough to remind me to include it in my next TV intro theme post, and here it is!)

Airwolf

Happy Days

Family Matters

Bonanza

Gilligan’s Island

Get Smart

Star Trek (Original Series)

Daniel Boone

The Big Valley

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Psych

Monk

Star Trek: Enterprise

Quotable Quotes #14

Political correctness is just tyranny with manners. I wish for you the courage to be unpopular. Popularity is history’s pocket change. Courage is history’s true currency. – Charlton Heston

Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid. – John Wayne

Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him? – Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. – John Wayne

Human beings can always be relied upon to exert, with vigor, their God-given right to be stupid. – Dean Koontz

Sometimes, to be silent is to be most eloquent. – Charlton Heston

Nothing gives us courage more readily than the desire to avoid looking like a damn fool. –  Dean Koontz

“The best diplomat that I know is a fully-loaded phaser bank.” — Lt. Cdr. Montgomery Scott in “A Taste of Armageddon”

Maybe it’s good if God gives you something to think about every so often. – Charlton Heston

I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life. – Dean Koontz

Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much. – John Wayne

Book Review: Star Trek: The Janus Gate Trilogy by L. A. Graf

Image result for star trek the janus gate Image result for star trek the janus gate Image result for star trek the janus gate

With all my focus on Marvel Comics lately, I have let a few of my other favorite stories go by the wayside. (What do you mean, Mithril? You have all but ignored them! Insert eye-roll here.) A while ago, I wanted something light to read, so I went to my bookcase, pulled a volume from the shelf, and read it.

That book was Star Trek: The Janus Gate – Past Prologue by L. A. Graf.

L. A. Graf is the pseudonym of two writers – Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone – who write, or wrote, fiction based on the original Star Trek series and its following series. Once, there was a third writer (Melissa Crandall), but she did not stay to write more than one book with the other ladies. L. A. Graf is supposed to stand for “Let’s All Get Rich And Famous!”

Obviously, the writers have had some success with that. 🙂

Star Trek was/is one of my favorite TV series EVER! I can remember watching reruns of original Star Trek episodes from a very young age; I think I was five or six when I saw it first. I have always enjoyed Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and I eventually learned to pay attention to the rest of the Enterprise Seven: Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov. After a while, I ended up reading novels based on the original Star Trek series. (Star Trek: The Next Generation, is not high on my favorites list. Neither is DS9, really; Voyager and Enterprise are sequel Trek series I do like, however.)

The Janus Gate trilogy, made up of Present Tense, Future Imperfect, and Past Prologue, takes place after the first season episode The Naked Time. In that episode, the Enterprise landing party is infected by a virus which killed a Starfleet research crew on planet Psi 2000. The virus makes those who receive it go mad; sometimes by releasing rage and psychopathic fury, sometimes by making the person go “La, la, la!” and doing crazy things, such as showering in sub zero temperatures with their clothes on. Depends on the person who gets it.

The book trilogy picks up at the end of this episode when, to escape the dying planet, the Enterprise is sent hurtling three days back in time. Since going on to their next assignment while the Enterprise is technically headed to Psi 2000 (the dying planet) would completely muck up the time stream, Kirk decides to take the Enterprise back to a different planet, where he had left three research teams before going on to Psi 2000.

Before I go any further, I must warn you that Star Trek books, or some of them, have no bearing on the original TV show/original film timeline. They are, as fans like to say, non-canon stories which were written to amuse the fans and the writers. After all, the Enterprise in the original TV series is supposed to be on a five year deep space mission. CBS, the TV station which produced and showed Star Trek in the 1960s, hated the series and tried to kill it after two seasons.

That did not work, as Star Trek fans flooded the studio with letters demanding that the series remain on the air. CBS relented long enough to allow a third season of Star Trek, but they cut the show’s funding so much that the special effects for season three were very poor. Star Trek did not return for a fourth season.

But that is not where the story ends. CBS prevented Star Trek from carrying on beyond three seasons, true, but the series has never been off the air since it was killed. Though finding the reruns on TV now is next to impossible (for me, anyway), I can recall when the original Star Trek series would play on TV.

For an unsyndicated series – that is, a TV series with less than a hundred episodes – to remain on television for as long as Star Trek has is amazing. In the 1960s and even today, TV shows in the U.S. are not rerun on television unless they are syndicated – that is, unless they have a hundred episodes or more. Star Trek, and now Joss Whedon’s series Firefly, are enormous exceptions to this rule.

This is the reason – or one of the reasons – for all the original Star Trek novels. We Trekkers and Trekkies like our original series too much to let anyone kill it, and if no one is going to tell the stories we want to hear, then we will tell ‘em ourselves. Preferably while being paid bucket loads of money to do it, but only a few lucky people actually manage to get that.

Someone in the publishing department messed up when they printed The Janus Gate trilogy, because the blurbs on the backs of books one and three – Present Tense and Past Prologue – describe the wrong story and refer to actual Star Trek episodes from the original series. The blurb on the back of book two, Future Imperfect, is mostly accurate.

With these digressions out of the way, we can now get back to business. L. A. Graf books always focus on the three “lower level” officers from the Original Star Trek series: Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, and Ensign Pavel Chekov. This is part of the reason I enjoy L. A. Graf’s books so much. I do have other favorite fan fiction novels for Star Trek, of course. L. A. Graf books, though, are the ones I keep my eyes peeled for.

The Janus Gate fits into L. A. Graf’s modus operandi, focusing mainly on Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, though Kirk gets very good “screen time,” too. That is always a plus!

The first book of The Janus Gate trilogy, Present Tense, picks up immediately after the events of The Naked Time. Kirk brings the Enterprise to the barren planet Tlaoli 4, where he left three research teams before going on to Psi 2000. Contacting the lead team, Kirk finds out that Team Three went spelunking – against orders – and has been missing for several hours.

Kirk also learns from Team One that the reason they broke with his orders was because they found the wrecks of at least nineteen starships buried in Tlaoli’s scoured surface. Afraid the Enterprise could suffer the same fate, Team One sent Team Three to investigate nearby caves where something was draining the research teams’ power from their equipment, and even from their shuttlecraft!

With the power drain likely stranding Team Three in the caves, Kirk decides to move in and rescue his people, sending down a landing party from the Enterprise. He also orders “primitive” equipment such as chemical batteries and carbide lamps to be sent along with the rescue team, so they at least have light and an alternate source of power for their phasers, communicators, et al. Kirk will lead the team, and he calls on several others to join him. The people he wants are short, so that they can fit into the caves’ tight spaces. That lands Uhura on his spelunking team, and Chekov ends up in the landing party because he knows how to make maps by hand.

Once in the caves on Tlaoli, Kirk’s team cannot find the research team. Finally, the spelunker on Kirk’s team, Zap Sanner, figures out where the leader of Team Three would have gone. He does this after Kirk and the others’ use of their phasers to light the dark caverns so he can see more of the cave system.

However, despite the use of the chemical batteries, the phasers, communicators, and tricorders are still losing power. No one can figure out why and, with a stranded team of their fellow officers somewhere in the caverns, they do not take time to work out the why. Sanner throws a rope ladder down the crevasse where the research team went. But then Chekov, who is going down first, slips and falls into the hole before you can say “Moscow.”

Kirk, who was next in line down the ladder, goes to rescue the Russian kid. He drops down the crevasse and lands in icy water, having forgotten it was there. Swimming to shore, he finds a disoriented and somewhat hypothermic Chekov already there. The ensign seems bemused, as if he is suffering from déjà vu. Worse, he has lost the maps he was making. Now he has to write them up again from memory. Yay.

Further exploration of the caves ends in the discovery of the lost Team Three. But when the Enterprise tries to beam up both parties, the ship experiences an immense power loss. It takes everything Sulu and Scotty have to get the ship back into a safe orbit above Tlaoli. In fact, they end up throwing the ship away from the planet.

When the transport Kirk and his people are expecting does not occur, they settle on trying to find another way out of the caverns. Research Team Three leads them to an “ice cave” which may have a back door out of the cavern system. When Kirk goes to help Chekov take a measurement of the cave for the new maps, he suddenly stops. “Do you hear that?” he asks the young ensign.

Then, without warning, he and Chekov vanish from the cave.

This leaves a startled Uhura in charge of the landing parties. As she gets them out, they discover some flame-like blue energy wafting around the ice cavern. It is only visible in the pitch dark. Unsure just what it is, but assuming it is some kind of transporter device, Uhura gets the team back to the cavern where they found the research team – and they find Chekov, totally unhurt but equally miserable. However, there is no sign of Kirk in the cave with him.

Questioning him, Uhura and the others learn that Chekov remembers nothing but falling into the crevasse and its icy waters. He has no idea where the captain is and does not recognize anyone except the members of his own landing party, and them only by face, not by name.

Eventually, the team makes it out of the caves and back to the base camp. Gambling that the power drain on the equipment here has not been terrible due to distance, they try to contact the Enterprise. Unknown to them, Sulu has already made two runs to Tlaoli’s surface to pick up the remaining researchers and bring them back to the ship in a cargo shuttle with a shielded engine.

Also, on the way out of the caves, Chekov found human tracks and a handprint. This proves that someone – hopefully Captain Kirk – got out of the caves ahead of them. In hopes of attracting the captain’s attention and leading him back to the base camp, Uhura allows the two weapons officers in the group to set up a beacon. However, despite the distance, the equipment at the camp is losing power. Before Uhura can decide whether to shut down the beacon or keep it on, Sulu lands the cargo shuttle Drake at the camp, having found the location more easily thanks to the beacon.

McCoy, who arrived with Sulu in the shuttle, spends the rest of the night operating on an injured member of the spelunking crew. Meanwhile Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov muse on how to find the captain. Uhura reluctantly lets Sulu take the shuttle back into the air to do aerial recon to find the captain, while Chekov and two others follow him on the ground.

It does not take Sulu long to spot Kirk. He gives Chekov and the others his signal, only to disappear in a flash of light when his shuttle collides with the strange energy field that made Kirk and Chekov vanish.

Uhura is horrified by this turn of events. But the geologists in the landing party figure that, if Kirk and Chekov are still on Tlaoli, and since they found Chekov in the caves, that is where Sulu will be. Where the shuttle went – well, that they will find out sooner or later. Uhura lets Chekov and his team search for the captain while she takes McCoy and Sanner back into the caves. There, they find Sulu in one of the pillars of rock in the cave – only to realize the pillar is a travertine-encased, alien healing device. But it is healing a Sulu who is twenty years older than the pilot they know!

Elsewhere, hunting down the captain, Chekov gets a similar shock. He finds and corners, not a great starship commander, but a rebellious fourteen year old James Tiberius Kirk!

Back in the caves, Sulu comes to and Uhura tries to get him to calm down. It takes a few minutes, but eventually Sulu realizes he is not only out of place, he is out of time. When they question him, McCoy, Sanner, and Uhura learn that in this Sulu’s timeline, the Gorn have invaded the galaxy and are on the verge of destroying the Federation. Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov were on a mission to stop the Gorn when the Tlaoli device picked the younger Sulu up to replace his older self.

Trying to find out just when he is, Captain Sulu asks who the captain of the Enterprise is. In the process, he names Captain Kirk’s former first officer, Gary Mitchell, as a previous captain of the ship in his timeline.

Uhura and McCoy share a blank look, then explain that Mitchell is dead and James Kirk is captain of the Enterprise.

Now it is Sulu’s turn to give them a blank look, dropping the bombshell that he has never heard of a James Kirk commanding any ship in Starfleet. In fact, to the best of his knowledge, no such man ever existed.

Well, now that I have basically spoiled the first book in the trilogy for you, readers, I will have to tell you to pick up the three volumes yourselves and allow you to take the adventure on your own. Suffice it to say that I greatly enjoy these books, as we get a look at how the three “lower level” Enterprise officers learn about the great friends they are going to become through their adventures in the original TV series.

Temporal mechanics being what they are, we readers have the best chance of remembering the whole adventure. After all, since the trilogy is set in the first season of the original Star Trek series, L. A. Graf cannot go jumping around that much! Still, the trilogy is a fun sci-fi story and a grand illustration of Uhura’s, Sulu’s, and Chekov’s characters.

I have to warn you, the ending for the trilogy, Past Prologue, is a heartbreaker. It is very, very hard to see what happens to the older versions of Sulu and Chekov at the end – but at the same time, it makes me so darn proud of the two of them!

Sooner or later, I may get around to reviewing my other favorite Trek fiction here, readers. Until then, “Live long and prosper!”

The Mithril Guardian