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 3
After nearly screwing up the mission last chapter, things are already looking like they won’t be easy. Then again, they didn’t receive the important warning so it may not be their fault. I wonder if this is going to be a running theme. This is probably the most important, or at least the most precarious, potential first contact in a long time. It wouldn’t be an interesting story if it wasn’t.
I think today we’re going to meet the guy in charge of this mission and I’m already prepared not to like him. He’s one of those mysterious types who may turn out to believe too much of his own hype or is just one of the few people who could win a cantankerous-off with McCoy. That actually might be fun to see. So let’s find out what happens next.
The sign of a good chapter cliffhanger, at least when reading a classic-era Star Trek novel is when I can hear the dramatic cut-to-commercial stinger in my head. This chapter delivered that, and while I have other praise for the chapter I can’t give it a higher one than that.
As figured in the last chapter review the wall everyone was flying into was a hologram hiding the entrance Batcave style. Inside we meet Carole Mallett, who basically is in charge of planetary sample collecting. She shows them around the base, but one news story comes up showing an image of one of their supposedly hard to detect “wraith” shuttles. We also get the usual “we abandoned traditional television” stuff, though it sounds like they’re all reading interactive novels or visual novels since we know video games are almost unknown in the Star Trek universe as well. At any rate something is clearly wrong.
Then we get to meet Richter and thankfully he’s not the jerk I was expecting, meaning his cantankerousness is just going to be fun…I hope. In a franchise that until recently didn’t have much swearing (and what’s going on in today’s Star Trek shows lacks the charm of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in a bid to sound more mature and failing) having Richter using alien curse words gets across the personality the writers are going for. It’s a nice work around. They’re soon joined by the station director, the half-Centauran Zalan Wilforth (which I guess is playing into the earlier comment in the book that the Centaurans and not the Vulcans were involved with first contact with Earth), and communications manager Mario Cardinali. I’m guessing these will be our three main guest characters for the story.
I’ll save you as much technobabble, mathematics, and little green men history of Earth as I can. Since the Talin language is a bit difficult the FCO refers to the two groups as the Browns (living in a mostly desert area) and the Greens (more forests), who until recently got along rather well despite a few personal differences. Then seemingly overnight the fan got covered in maneuver. They discovered that some of their crystals were picking up signals, a crude counterpart to dilithium called rubinium. (We also learn that on Earth dilithium was believed to be just another form of quartz until understanding reached into the fourth dimension. It’s nice when a science fiction writer explains why a new element “appeared” all of a sudden.) They also have reached a new form of mathematics that if they ever figure out could be applied to the rubinium might lead to an early connection to the outside universe. This is all kind of strange, but throw in the image taken of a wraith they just got lucky on and anyone not looking for little green men is worried the other group may be developing advanced transportation without their knowledge and who knows what else the got and what the rubinium may be picking up. They estimate the planet has three days left before they take themselves out and with no time to get to a safe distance and get Starfleet’s response that means it’s all on Captain Kirk to decide what to do next.
I’d cue the dramatic stinger if I could @#$%#$$%#$ find it! (Sorry, I’m not as elegant as Richter.) Thanks for nothing, YouTube!
The three chapters together could have easily been the first act to an episode, though I guess that makes all of part one a way too long prologue. I think we now have everything we need for the situation…though unfortunately we already know something happens to screw it all up. How that starts we’ll see next time.