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 7
Here we are at the halfway point of this book, and nearing the end of the flashback portion. Chapter 10 is very short so I may lump that in with chapter 9, meaning we have essentially three more entries (including this one) to find out what happened to Talin IV. So we’ve already seen the one thing they didn’t plan for actually happen. How this leads to the end of the world we’re about to find out. And since I have nothing else to say to fill this section out, let’s just get to it already.
Now I’m starting to wonder how much actual blame can be placed on Kirk and crew. Clearly something is fishy with this first contact. Last time we saw two Talin at the door, but the contact team was ready for it with a neural stunner. Apparently this isn’t the first time they’ve gotten caught…nine in person and who knows who else saw one of their Wraith ships besides the photo in the news report. Things go from bad to worse when someone decides to bomb the facility. Kirk doesn’t want to stun anyone else in case the building starts falling apart but the explosions not only wake up the stunned Talin but two more running around also drop in, with the team just managing to be beamed out at the last second as the chapter ends.
There’s a lot swirling around these events. We’ve seen that not only members of the Enterprise crew but also the FCO are wondering if first contact shouldn’t be made early to avoid planetary destruction, but I get the impression it’s the FCO’s actions that are causing the disruptions. While they keep claiming the response is no different than Earth’s history with UFOs when the Vulcans were keeping an eye on us, think about flying saucer history. B-movies aside, the US government did set up Project Blue Book to look into the various reports of unidentified flying objects moving as speeds and in ways that are a bit abnormal for flying craft at the time. Even today airplanes and helicopters can’t make some of those maneuvers and drone technology in 1947, when they started, to 1969, when it ended, was non-existant…as far as we know. (Wink wink nudge nudge.) With some sightings near airports or military bases one of the assumptions by those who rejected “little green men” was that the military was testing new types of aircraft, and the US wasn’t the only one creating a team like Project Blue Book.
Imagine if the militaries were ignoring the space men theory and thus blaming the other countries unofficially. The FCO agents are not in the “war rooms”, they’re only following decoded military and civilian broadcasts, which means the Talin may have concerns off the record of the other side taking their formerly peaceful disagreements more seriously. Just because they’re close to developing space travel, and we know they can get a bomber into space, doesn’t mean they don’t have some version of the Space Race or that their version of the “Cold War” doesn’t have the possibility to become more serious if they think the other side isn’t prepared to attack them. It’s why President Reagan wanted a space-born missile defense network and President Trump started the US Space Force, concerns that less than friendly nations would use modern technology to attempt to destroy the country, and we can all think of a few leaders who might be willing to do so if they got the chance if only for how they run their own countries. I’m not going to go further into that because this isn’t that kind of site and we’re talking about the two Talin national powers here.
My point is by writing off the Talin’s responses as being along the same lines as Earth’s and other worlds with similar pre-space glimpses of extraterrestrial evidence in the Star Trek universe they may have actually caused this situation where the two sides are afraid of the other, and it was only a matter of time before one decided to make the first move if only for their own imagined safety concerns. It looks like the FCO may have screwed this one up, and we’ve seen that Richter isn’t the only one questioning the stand-off nature of pre-first contact protocols and the Prime Directive. Kirk was worried that this group may be manipulating things to push up the time table and this may be more evidence.
It’s still a couple of chapters until the end of the world as we know and I’m not sure how fine I feel just yet. This was a properly suspenseful chapter, and as GOOD Star Trek does (outside of the modern “believe what we tell you or you’re a horrible person and let us preach it to you so you know what to believe” version) makes us ask these questions. We’ll see what answers we get next time.