Next round of the Classic Review Threads.
Enterprise: By the Book by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In their first few weeks in space, Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the Enterprise™
have already discovered several new species and explored strange new worlds. But each planet brings new discoveries...and new dangers.
The Fazi, whose ultraregulated culture ranges from strict conversation protocols to unvarying building designs, inhabit half of a planet discovered by the Enterprise.
But after a disasterous first contact with the ruler of the Fazi, Archer must depend on Vulcan science officer T'Pol and communication specialist Hoshi Sato to help him mend relations with the people of this planet, and unravel the mystery of the other creatures living on the world.
My review from 2004:
The only real unusual thing in this novel is the RPG some of the crewmembers are playing. It’s good to get to know some of the more “unimportant” crewmembers like Cutler and Mayweather better, but there aren’t enough ties to the main plot, so it’s a little bit to unrelated to it for my taste.
The characterizations are O.K. , but sometimes it’s slightly over the top for Archer in my opinion. At some points he’s too “eager” to argue with T’Pol. Granted, especially at the beginning of the Enterprise’s mission he was very suspicious about the Vulcan science officer, but it’s just to much here for me.
The main plot about the first contact(s) isn’t very innovative and a tad to simple to make something special out of “By the Book”. You could summarize the whole novel with one phrase : “No first contact is like the other.” The predictable end, that archer sees the logic in letting develop the relationship of the two races of the planet on their own in the end doesn’t help much either in making it something unique.
Overall “By the Book” is a typical D.W. Smith / K.K. Rusch novel, definitely no gem, but if you’re searching for a solid novel from the beginning stages of the Enterprise’s mission you can “Buy the Book”.