"Trek to Madworld" by Stephen Goldin (1978)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Damian, Aug 12, 2018 at 10:41 PM.

  1. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    One of the books I've read for my summer old school book reading from my Bantam Books collection. In this story the Enterprise is sent to pick up a pioneer explorer whom Kirk admires named Kostas Spyroukis and his daughter Metika after their bid to expedite their colony world (Epsilon Delta 4) to the Federation failed. They are to return them home but on the way Spyroukis dies of a mysterious ailment that they later learned has something to do with unusual combination of radiation on their planet. They learn everyone needs to be evacuated and on the way the Enterprise gets sucked into an anomaly that they find is run by a madcap Organian who is lacking in something. Along with the Enterprise is a Klingon and Romulan warship and whomever solves the puzzle get whatever they want as an award.

    I didn't really care for this book for a couple of reasons, not the least of which there is way too much going on for a book less than 200 pages. The whole radiation plot is all but forgotten soon into the book. Kirk takes an interest in Metika but she is conned by the Klingon commander to help him then she starts developing feelings for a Romulan she ends up stranded with.

    Sometimes novels can have several threads going on at the same time and it works out well. Even episodes of TV shows have been known to do that, and movies too. But for this book it just doesn't seem to work because there's too much going on and what ends up happening is the last chapter basically has to tie things up in rapid order and certain plot lines are just forgotten about.

    Also if found the characterizations of the Klingon commander to be way off. I avoided applying what we know of Klingons now to the book, since it was written in 1978. But the Klingon here is a slimy character who tries to get others to do his dirty work and is portrayed as paranoid, and a coward. Thinking of some of the major Klingons we saw up to that point including Kor, Koloth and Kang, it'd be hard to believe any of them sneaking in the shadows like this commander. The Organian was another, though I could buy that since he even states he was basically kicked out by the other Organians. It's reasonable to think that even among Organians there may be rogue elements. And he is essentially harmless. The Romulans here remind me more of Klingons, with a sense of honor the Romulan Commander refuses to scheme with the Klingon.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's interesting to see a review of Trek to Madworld that doesn't make any mention of it being a comedy. It is a hard book to take seriously, but you're not really meant to. I found it insubstantial but fun, one of the more enjoyable Bantam Treks. Although David Gerrold's introduction is even funnier than the book itself.
     
  3. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    He also wrote an amusing foreward to Kathleen Sky's "Vulcan!" book, who I learned was Goldin's wife.

    I just found it to have too much going on. I agree it had it's comedic elements but some very serious elements as well, including the death of Spyroukis and the sadness of Metika, the dire need to evacuate the colonists, the attempted sabotage of the Romulan vessel. The Organian reminded me a bit of Rumpelstiltskin portrayed in DS9 (I'm not sure why but that's who I thought of whenever the Organian showed up). It just got to the point that I stopped caring how everything was resolved. And it was sort of those happily ever after endings that could have been in an Disney movie. Everyone is happy and gets what they want, even Metika and the Romulan guard. It's not that I don't like happy endings. It just seemed he was running out of pages and had to quickly write a resolution to finish it.

    But I guess the whole hard to take seriously was probably one of the points of the book.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018 at 12:28 AM
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    This book was never in stock in my first few years of avid Trek book collecting (Dec '79 through to the early 80s) and I started cutting down on trips into the city if I suspected there was nothing worth finding. I rang Galaxy on impulse to ask "Anything new?" and the manager said, "No, only some reprints of 'Trek to Madworld'," and I almost jumped through the phone. At the time, it was the only Bantam I was missing!

    I hopped on the train, went straight to the shop - Thursday late night shopping, and it was winter, so the sun was setting early - and found several copies on the shelf. I picked one up... and all the lights went out!

    "I'm sorry," said the manager. "It's a power outage. We can't get the till open. I'm going to ask everyone to put their intended purchases back on the shelves. It's only an hour before closing, so I think that'll be it for the night. Sorry."

    I wandered out into the darkened street in a depressed funk and walked a block to some shops that still had power. About 15 minutes before closing, I decided to swing back past the bookshop on my way home. Everything was back to normal! I picked up my copy for the second time and handed over my cash.

    It wasn't a particularly memorable novel, but the purchase of it certainly was!
     
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  5. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    I found my copy at a used book store a few years back. It's actually a first printing and I will say it was in what I would call very good condition. Almost excellent, it just shows a little bit of age on the cover, but no creases and the pages were in great condition.

    I was excited when I found Killing Time though. It was the only early Pocketbooks Star Trek book I didn't have. I collected my last few years ago and this was the only one I was never able to find. Finally I found one and I didn't realize at the time it was an unaltered first edition. In this case it was in what I would call fair condition. It has some tape holding the cover together. So it probably wouldn't fetch top dollar, though maybe someone would be willing to pay a few more dollars then normal for a similar conditioned book since it's somewhat rare (though I'll never sell my copy ;) ).

    Trek to Madworld as a story though, I just thought Goldin was trying to do too much with it. It has some good elements to it but it just got to the point I stopped caring about how it was all going to end. Some early Star Trek books are like that for me. Some are great. I always say I loved "Chain of Attack" by Gene DeWeese, I read that in a single weekend. "The Wounded Sky" was another favorite of mine. Then there were others that I struggled to finish. "The Entropy Effect" is an example of a book that I was sort of blah about (though I read it years ago, back in the early 90's I think so maybe I'd feel differently about it now). I didn't care for "Enterprise, The First Adventure" all that much, but partly because I was bothered by all the continuity errors with "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and partly the whole vaudevillian aspect was a bit dopey to me. I do plan on re-reading that though at some point to see if my opinion of it may change (esp. in light of some new productions since it was released). I just remember with that I was a newbie fan just finishing up the original series watching and I was really looking forward to it...at the time I didn't know books weren't part of the 'canon'. I thought it would be part of the 'official' storyline of Star Trek and was disappointed to see it didn't jive well with WNMHGB.
     
  6. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    One thing, I made a mistake in my title line (I don't think I can change the title of the thread). The book was released in 1979, not 1978. Sorry.
     
  7. Garrovick

    Garrovick Commander Red Shirt

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    IIRC, Stephen Goldin is a were-koala. But it's been a few years since I read TTM so I could be wrong...
     
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  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    "The Entropy Effect" remains a favourite. It was previewed over several issues of "Starlog" and finally arrived in shops after a long delay (Bantam was permitted to release all the novels they had in production). It also caused a controversy with fans angered that Kirk was supposedly being killed off (somehow those fans ignored the fact that it was set before ST:TMP). I really enjoyed every page!

    "The Wounded Sky" I bought in Hawaii at the start of six weeks travelling around USA and it was my companion on several flights. (The testing of the new drive was a bit freaky as my plane was taking off.) Again, loved it!

    "Chain of Attack" was a bit tech/hardware for me. It seems to be the popular, first novel for a lot of fans, though, possibly because it was first original novel released after ST IV, the big crowdpleaser movie?

    I, too, found the book hard to love because it was at odds with DC Comics' Annual #1, at a time when some compatibility had started to occur between the books and comics. It did have some fun stuff in it and I appreciated it was such a chunky read.

    I have found the circus stuff works quite nicely in the abridged audio. I have played the first four or so audios more than any of the others.
     
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  9. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    I plan on re-reading some of those early novels in the near future. I'm currently reading the Bantam Books I managed to pick up over the years, along with Killing Time which I'm reading now for the first time. But once those are done I plan on re-reading those early Pocketbook releases from the 80's.

    I may have been mixing up Entropy Effect with the Prometheus Design now that I think of it. I know it was one of those two that I was sort of blah about. But I'll re-read both and we'll see how they turn out on second reading.

    I was sort of inspired by Desert Kris' post about the 80's books he's reading and thought to myself that it's been years, decades really since I read a lot of those 80's novels. He got me curious to read them because it was a time before even TNG was born. It'll be interesting to read those novels and how Star Trek was viewed before we had all this continuity. When Star Trek was just the TV series and 1, 2 or 3 movies (I don't believe they were allowed to consider the animated series at that point in time). And it will be interesting to compare the Star Trek universe as it was viewed them and today.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018 at 5:57 PM
  10. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Klingons at the time were meant to be treacherous and sneaky examples of mustache-twirling villainy. I think the 1968 book "The Making of Star Trek" talks about how honor is something despicable to them. Romulans, on the other hand, were noble and honorable.

    Kor
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's understandable. It had TMP-era art on the cover, and the differences between the eras aren't generally obvious unless you pay attention to details (just higher ranks for most of the crew, and Chekov being security chief).


    Perhaps because it was the first novel to put the Star Trek logo on the cover above the title, instead of just having the title by itself and "The [adjective] new STAR TREK novel!" in smaller print. So maybe that made it easier to spot as a Trek novel if you only saw its spine on the shelf or something.


    For me, it wasn't just that Enterprise: TFA conflicted with Mike Barr's DC version (since I was used to different books being incompatible with each other), it was that Mike's version was better. E:TFA had some odd choices in it, like making Rand a teenager rather than a contemporary of Kirk. And while I understand the marketing reasons behind featuring the whole series-era crew (even Chekov) rather than Mitchell, Kelso, and Alden (since a big-event anniversary novel would attract a more generalized audience that wouldn't be as likely to know or care about the pilot crew), it did make it feel less authentic to the period.

    Plus I could never really reconcile McIntyre's glum, insecure Sulu with the cheery, confident fellow Takei played onscreen. It was one thing to have him act that way in The Entropy Effect, where he was dealing with some pretty heavy life decisions, but having him be just as sullen and angsty in E:TFA, if not even more so, just didn't work for me.


    Right. The reason Kruge told Valkris "You will be remembered with honor" in TSFS was that they were originally scripted to be Romulans, and nothing was really changed beyond the name when they switched them to Klingons (which is also why Klingons suddenly had Birds-of-Prey and cloaking devices). Then TNG latched onto the "Klingon honor" idea because the Klingons were supposed to be good guys now.
     
  12. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    I was trying to avoid applying later standards for Klingon honor with this book. It's just when I tried apply just original series Klingons like Kor and esp. Kang, I found it hard to believe Klingons would act in such a manner. Even back then I got the impression Klingons would handle their own dirty work and not get a proxy to act for them.

    The only Klingon that maybe came close was the one portrayed in "Friday's Child" who was a bit of a coward.
     
  13. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Ah yes, "Bob the Discount Klingon."

    There was also the guy that Kirk and Spock jumped and threatened in "Errand of Mercy." He spilled the beans pretty easily.

    Kor
     
  14. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    Yeah, no doubt they were a different animal at that point, though I still have a hard time buying the using a proxy idea.

    I know some fans criticize the 'honorable' Klingons seen in later shows, but I didn't have an issue with it. I think otherwise they would have been too one dimensional, token bad guys that just like to break stuff and kill people. They were still temperamental and warriors, but they weren't just blind warriors. Plus you'd think there'd have to be some rules or they'd end up being a bunch of anarchists.

    I know some later novels tried to explain the discontinuity in how they were portrayed by saying basically they had lost their way and weren't following Kahless anymore, basically. Even Enterprise added something to that with the augment virus, that they perhaps took on some human characteristics (I know some fans eye roll that as well but I enjoyed those episodes--it was one of the last major lose threads tying everything together IMO).
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Don't forget Arne Darvin. One tribble waved in his face and he confessed everything.
     
  16. Damian

    Damian Captain Captain

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    Well now, that's not really fair. Tribbles almost brought down the Klingon Empire. I've never seen a more dangerous creature in all my life :rofl::klingon::rofl:
     
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  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've always liked Trek to Madworld. And I never particularly cared for The Entropy Effect.
     
  18. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I wanted to love Trek to Madworld, but... no. It's no How Much For Just the Planet? I do love that it works "Trek" into it's name, a bit like Star Trek Into Darkness.
     
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  19. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    [​IMG]
    Mirror Universe tribble
    by Ian McLean, on Flickr
     
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  20. alensatemybuick1

    alensatemybuick1 Captain Captain

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    I've got a TON of the old Pocket and Bantam books I am thinking of chucking (buncha "Best of Treks" too), as I'm downsizing and just don't have the room. I've had most of these for 30+ years. I'm keeping "Entropy Effect", "Pawns and Symbols", "New Voyages" (1 and 2), and "Yesterday's Son", but few if any others (coupla the movie novelizations too I guess). They would be expensive to ship, but if anyone wants to come to central NJ or the PA Poconos to get them...gratis.