Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
PART TWO: The Last Mission chapter 1
Finally we get to explaining stuff. Again, this is a personal complaint right now and not a critical one but I was not a fan of how this book started after the triggering event. It just took too long to get past the in medias res opening being a novel. I spent more time wondering what’s going on than really connecting to the events shown. I don’t like being in the dark that long and while in medias res can be used for dramatic tension this just didn’t work for me.
So now we have Kirk telling his side of the story. Will the narration reflect that or will it just be a regular dose of narration. Let’s find out.
Outside of the Captain’s Log the story is told through regular narration. This is a good thing as it will in later chapters allow us to see the events through others eyes, though the focus of this chapter is on Kirk. The First Contact Office has been monitoring Talin IV, currently where Earth was in around the time of this book’s release (just without the Eugenics Wars, which we’re now told happened in secret due to attempts by writers to keep our history in line with Star Trek history. I’ve always found that to be in error. It’s not our universe, so if Earth took a different path in 1990s so be it. It’s like the G1 Transformers cartoon, where the Autobots eventually chased the Decepticons off of Earth and formed an intergalactic alliance similar to the Federation. It’s another timeline apart from what we know.
Due to worries about being picked up by Talin’s radiotelescopes if they move at high-speed, the Enterprise is going slow and most of the crew seems to be finding ways around it. I guess they didn’t decide to include the proto-holodeck “rec room” from the cartoon but Kirk does consider something similar to Ten Forward from The Next Generation. It seems everyone is at the A&A meeting, which I’m assuming means “archaeology and anthropology seeing as it’s being run by Lieutenant Palamas, a character seen in the TV show before and having made extended media appearances elsewhere. This is where the bulk of the chapter takes place as the Reeves-Stevens layout their vision for Talin biology and part of their culture, which leads of course to Spock and McCoy dragging the poor woman into their usual “logic versus emotion” debates even as Kirk tries to give her a chance to escape. This could have come off as the Reeves-Stevens showing off in how they discuss the alien history and biology but it’s done in a manner that feels like it would happen given events and it is an interesting creative endeavor.
The discussions eventually lead to the Prime Directive and worries that the aliens might nuke themselves, as well as Earth history and how they nearly wiped themselves out, though not with nukes. It’s a bit much to get through in this review but I have a feeling this is going to play an important part in the story given the name of the book. The question is whether or not the Federation would violate the Prime Directive and reveal themselves early to save the planet from destroying itself, which Palamas suspects the crew is in favor of and may be why they’re so interested in these A&A meetings. (Of course they don’t have a holodeck or Ten-Forward so I imagine at this point they’d attend a musical based on Yahoo Serious’ Young Einstein at this point. If you don’t remember the movie, I didn’t even see it and I still pity you. The trailers looked really bad and so did the reviews.)
This was a good chapter, setting up the situation the crew are bound to be dealing with and would have been only slightly too long to be a good cold open. It could have been boring but between Kirk’s commentary and the inevitable Spock/McCoy debate it does a good job bringing you in. And I’m half-asleep right now so if I wasn’t bored it should be fine for most other readers. Next time I’m assuming we’ll reach the secret First Contact moonbase and learn why the Enterprise is here.