Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Damian, Apr 7, 2020.
I didn't, no, Christopher did that on his own.
Which is why I tapped him for Book 5 specifically.
"The Blood-Dimmed Tide" by Howard Weinstein:
This story takes place in 2291, during one of my favorite periods to explore in Trek novels, the time between TFF and TUC. This one is closer to TUC in time frame. Captain Kirk and the Enterprise-A arrive at Mestiko and along with Raya investigate an attack on the scientific base on the moon. They learn a subspace weapon was being developed there and was stolen by another faction from Mestiko. Like the group in Christopher's story, they want Mestiko to be independent and not reliant on help from others like the Federation. However, unlike that group these are not religious zealots. They're fine with technology and advancement. Unlike the earlier group they want to turn Mestiko into a galactic power.
Meanwhile, Captain Spock and now retired Admiral Morrow are secretly meeting with a Klingon General who represents a group that wants more peaceful relations with the Federation because they feel that is better for the Empire in the long term (Gorkon is never mentioned by name, but I think the inference that this is a faction supported by Gorkon is pretty clear). There are more warlike Klingons, including Chancellor Kresh, who believe in a more warlike stance. There is also what I would call a 3rd group of Klingons, represented here by Kang, who are warlike but see the value of honor and have the ability to take the 'long' view. A number of novels depicting Klingons during this period seem to show a transition of the Klingons we know from the original series and the more 'honorable' Klingons of the 24th century. This novel certainly depcts that. Kang is one of those Klingons I know I look at from the original series that even then seemed to have a hint of something a kin to honor--he wasn't just a killing machine.
Anyway, this faction from Mestiko has taken their weapon to a new Klingon dreadnought type battle cruiser and managed to steal this ship to use with their new technology. Kirk and Kang must team up to stop them.
This is pre-TUC and Kirk is still very anti-Klingon at this point. He is disgusted that he has to work with the same people who murdered his son (even if these weren't the ones that actually committed the murder). He is bitter. But he is still a Starfleet captain and knows his duty and follows through as we would expect. It also features a return of Captain Klaa from TFF who wants to use the weapon to usher his own new age of the Empire (so yet a 4th faction I guess). However he is disgraced in the story and Spock forces him into a mind meld to determine where the Mestikan group was going to. This was one of the only elements of the story I did not care for. I think Weinstein uses this to foreshadow the forced mind meld of Valeris in TUC....however, it has generally been pretty clear Vulcans view this as a form of mind-rape. I have a hard time seeing Spock carry this out on Klaa with virtually no hesitation. Ultimately what happens to Klaa is unresolved in the story. He is a prisoner on Kang's ship and that is the last we hear of him (the actor does make an appearance as an interpreter in TUC and it was never specified if it was the same character or not--maybe he was reduced to interpreter in disgrace, though more likely he would be executed).
Overall I enjoyed the story. Despite the Mestikan faction being the aggressors here, this was a story that felt less like a Mestikan story than the others. Perhaps because it's the only story thus far to almost completely take place away from Mestiko, save for the start. At times the Klingon storyline dominates. But it was an enjoyable story nonetheless. In a way it was like a field trip story--a chance to get away from Mestiko for a while.
I also liked some of the interaction between Morrow and Spock. You know, I of course knew Morrow was in TSFS, but i wasn't really thinking about Morrow's role in trying to order Kirk against going back to Genesis to save Spock. That is until Morrow noted the irony at one point. Spock at one point saves Morrow's life and Morrow expresses his regret that he tried to prevent Kirk from going back for Spock. If Kirk hadn't disobeyed, Spock wouldn't have been there to save Morrow. Spock of course tells Morrow his regret is unnecessary. His actions were logical based on the information he had at the time. However, Spock has grown as a character, particularly since two major events in his life, his encounter with V'Ger that Christopher also touches on at times which made Spock realize there is more to life than simple logic. And his resurrection. And he says to Morrow that sometimes, as humans like to say, things do work out for the best. In a way it's a redeeming moment for Morrow. He admits to Spock that had he known then what he does now he would have let Kirk take the Enterprise back to Genesis with his blessings. It was a nice moment for Morrow, a character that sometimes I know I don't care for because of the way he reacted to Kirk's request (even if it was understandable). Saavik is also on board the ship, substituting for Spock while he is on his secret mission. Sulu is not referenced at all, by this point he was captain of the Excelsior.
Just one story to go, Margaret Wander Bonanno's story, which takes place after Kirk's 'death', a Lost Era story basically (though a very early one).
This was definitely my favorite moment in this entire story -- the conversation between Spock and Morrow that I'd always imagined probably took place at some point following the events of TSFS and TVH between the two characters, and how this whole point of contention was eventually resolved.
It's clear from The Voyage Home that Morrow suffered a demotion (or rather, as it turns out, was forced into early retirement) due to the shitstorm-confluence of things that took place across the "Genesis trilogy" (Khan's escape, the theft of the Genesis Device, Kirk's theft and destruction of the Enterprise, the destruction of the U.S.S. Reliant and Grissom, etc.), but Spock forgiving him (and Morrow's admission of circumstantially-understandable skepticism in the film) was great to finally see depicted.
Damn topic, you all made me so curious that I have bought the omnibus.
Started the first book this evening, with the "bad" special effects in my head
"It's Hour Come Round" by Margaret Wander Bonanno:
This story takes place in 2293, several weeks after the 'death' of Captain Kirk on the Enterprise-B. A very early Lost Era story, if you will. Before the events leading to his 'death' Kirk had set up a summit for the Mestikans to determine if they wished to join the Federation or not. Also attending is Chancellor Azetbur who also wants to see if the Mestikan recovery efforts could be applied to Qu'onos.
The Excelsior under Captain Sulu makes a cameo delivering some of the former members of the Enterprise to Mestiko, including Spock, acting as an ambassador here, Commander Uhura, and a depressed and despondent Dr McCoy. He is stills smarting over the loss of his friend and just wants to be left alone. However a mystery brings him out of his despondency when he learns a far away group on Mestiko is dying of a mysterious illness. This awakens the doctor in McCoy and he goes to investigate. They learn old biological weapons were developed by one of the former nations of Mestiko prior to the pulsar disaster and the remains were left to rot. They contaminated the water supply of this group. Dr McCoy finds a cure.
Meanwhile Raya is distressed at learning of Captain Kirk's death but tries to manage the summit regardless. As has been the case throughout the history of Mestiko since the 'Pulse' there is great disagreement with whether they should join the Federation or not. Raya does find a kindred spirit in Azetbur, at one point having sort of a heart to heart discussion about politics and Captain Kirk.
Mestiko is portrayed as having come a long way. The surface is once again able to support life, and people can venture outside again, however, there is still much work to be done. Another good story. I found this one to be average to above average. The story followed the pattern of the previous stories, building on what came before while having a story all it's own. My only criticism is that it seemed a tad formulaic. In a way that's not Bonanno's fault. She's writing the last story and they all followed a similar pattern so by this point it was familiar. It was a good enough story but it lacked some of the gravitas of the previous 2 or 3 stories. At times it felt like a coda, yet it still was a necessary story to complete the saga.
"Mere Anarchy"--Overall thoughts.
I figured I'd make this an overall post, separate from the story specific thoughts to differentiate it.
I really enjoyed "Mere Anarchy". While it has some characteristics of some of the crossovers we've seen in the past, this also has some differences. First of all it's focused on the Enterprise crew mostly. And it's centered around one world, Mestiko. So in many ways it's a single narrative following the history of this world after a disaster and it's slow, but steady recovery.
It also touched on some philosophical issues like the Prime Directive, how much assistance the Federation should provide, did they do enough, are they unduly influencing the planet, and it also gives us some insight into what led to the events of TUC from the Klingon perspective.
It also touches on some of the missing periods in Star Trek canon. The time between Kirk's assuming command of the Enterprise and WNMHGB, between the end of the 5YM and TMP, the time between TMP and TWOK, the time between TFF and TUC, and the time immediately following the prologue of Generations. I've always been interested in those eras. And there is a bit of continuity building as well.
We get to see an "Admiral Kirk" mission prior to TMP, focusing on his role of Admiral the first time around, we get to see an earlier Reliant mission with Chekov on board, and we get to see some of the power plays going on in the Klingon Empire before TUC. We also see the reaction of the other crew members to Kirks supposed death that we did not see in Generations.
Each story did a great job building on what came before, but at the same time each story was it's own self contained story.
I'd be curious to see how Mestiko is doing by the time of TNG. How far would they come in the decades that follow. I doubt we'll ever find out but it'd be interesting for some future novel of that period to make a visit, or even just give us a glimpse on how much farther Mestiko has come.
The conversation between Raya and Azetbur in Its Hour Come Round is one of my favorites.
Yes, that was a nice chat they had. I also liked the conversation between Morrow and Spock in the "Blood-Dimmed Tide". Morrow doesn't come across very favorably in TSFS (even if his reaction is 'logical'). It was a redeeming moment for him. I especially liked when Morrow admitted to Spock that had he known what he knows now he would have sent the Enterprise himself. And Spock's reaction is entirely within character. It never even occurred to him to hold any sort of grudge.
I also liked the little in joke in Christopher's story about Morrow not having the best handle on the passage of time. As an aside I noticed he picked up on that again in "The Higher Frontier". 10 years, 12 years.....20 years, 40 years, what's the big deal
Kind of nice too that Christopher is still keeping the 'Mestiko universe' alive in his current novel.
Mere Anarchy was a great experiment with a mini-series of short stories. I wouldn't mind if they tried that again at some point.
They were novellas not short stories, and they did do a TNG miniseries in the same basic style. Slings and Arrows was a six part miniseries that covered the first year of the Enterprise-E. I haven't read them yet, but from the descriptions, a lot of them seem to deal with how things from the DS9 impact the TNG crew, like the Changeling infiltration of the Alpha Quadrant in the lead up to the Dominion War, Tom Riker joining joining the Maquis, Luwaxana Troi's pregnancy and the Klingon/Federation war.
that was precisely the appeal of the omnibus to me. in "in between" / "lost years" / "lost era" stuff is pretty much exclusively what i read and collect. i'm glad i came across your thread; i hadn't read mere anarchy since 2009 when the paperback came out, and you prompted me to read it for a second time last week. it's far better than i remember, and well-paced, as each novella is about a night's read.
yea, that's the kind of character moments that bonanno does really, really well. my only regret is her contribution felt shorter than the others. not necessarily in page count, but in narrative beats. the ending moments felt a tad rushed imo.
Slings and Arrows is another I have to look into, along with the DTI stories. I think I saw them more as short stories because I bought the print version of Mere Anarchy so they appear more like a series or short stories to me. But yeah, they're more correctly referred to as novellas.
I guess Slings and Arrows is only available as e-books, not print (unless I missed a print collection somewhere--I usually prefer print if possible).
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed we never found out if Mestiko actually joined the Federation. I don't recall, does anyone know if any future novel answered that question?
I also liked the handling of the Prime Directive, esp. in the first story and in Christopher's story. It was a good balance of when to interfere and not to interfere. In Christopher's story (and referenced again in the final story) we see that Kirk's 'non-interference' in Raya's exile actually was a positive in the long term. I always saw one primary goal of the PD is that the Federation does not rule or force cultures to do things they do not want to--that their free will must be respected. We can argue how far to take the PD, but I think one thing that has been consistent with the PD throughout Star Trek is that the Federation acknowledges it's role is not to impose it's will onto others.
Sometimes civilizations need to be allowed to make mistakes so they can learn and grow. Kirk's actions (or more correctly non-actions) was ultimately the right call.
yea i think that's what was nice about the expansion of its exploration during TNG, that the prime directive was not an absolute that would be either followed or ignored. it's design is intentionally a gray area.
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