Thursday, October 3, 2013

Friday Forgotten Book: Star Trek: Prime Directive

According  to Wikipedia,  in the universe of Star Trek, the Prime Directive, Starfleet's General Order number 1, is the most prominent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets. The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations.

However, what happens when Star Fleet's most celebrated captain is charged with the breaking of this most important of the laws of the United Federation of Planets? Well, the powers-that-be use the man as an example to teach to others the fate that might befall them if they were foolhardy or arrogant enough to mess with the order.



During the final year of the Enterprise's original five year mission, the Enterprise is asked to the pre-contact world of Talin IV. The situation on that planet is similar to that of 20th century Earth with the two reigning powers: The Greens and The Browns having developed nuclear arsenal which can wipe-out the entire planet in the case of a war. And things are extremely volatile indeed. Many amongst the crew of the Enterprise do want  to make a contact with the Talins so as to prevent a nuclear holocaust. However, Captain Kirk is determined to uphold the sanctity of the Prime Directive. At the same time, it starts emerging that the Talins have an inkling that they are being observed by alien intelligence. Since the Talins are themselves not scientifically advanced to have gathered this, is it somebody from the First Contact Office (established on the Talin moon) who is responsible for making a contact with the Talins?  Kirk trying to unravel this knot, beams down to the planet, narrowly escaping detection. Before they can breathe easy however an accidental nuclear detonation threatens to turn into a full-scale war. By jamming all communication and other signals Kirk is able to prevent the catastrophe but then all the nuclear war-heads are fired at once and  a missile even cripples the Enterprise. Kirk and the other senior-officers, barring Scotty who was not on the bridge, are held guilty and stripped-off their duties, ranks, and privileges.

Kirk, having nowhere to go, works as labourer and cargo-worker under assumed names; McCoy, in a fit of anger tries to punch an Admiral, then resigns and moves to the country-side; Spock is demoted to the rank of an ensign; Uhura fights her case, loses, and is dishonourably discharged; Sulu and Chekov find work in a pirate ship. Only Scotty remains on his beloved Enterprise trying to put it back together even as he chafes under the irritating Lt. Styles. However, all of them work towards the mystery of that fateful day on Talin IV and finally coming together once more are able to clear the matter.

The premise of the novel is interesting. However, the execution of the plot is just not up to the mark. And there were points when the novel simply dragged. Also with the crew scattered, their interaction - which to me has always been the high-point of Star Trek - was severely limited and thus I didn't enjoy the novel much. If only there had been more passages like this:

"Don't you think you should do something for him?" The woman asked Black Ire.

Chekov's mouth fell open. He knew that voice.

"I don't see why, " Black Ire said as he reached up to unhook his translator mask and goggles. "I'm a pirate, not a doctor."

"Dr. McCoy?" Chekov stammered.

"Uhura?" Sulu gasped.

Uhura tossed her contact lenses aside and pulled off her veil. McCoy yanked his battle helmet off and left his hair in wild disarray.

"I hope you two know how to fly this blasted thing, " McCoy said. "Because this big oaf just blew up my retirement savings."

"You paid for that hulk?" Sulu asked in disbelief.

"Do you have any idea how much it cost to but a used spaceship and send out hours of subspace messages to build the legend of Black Ire?"

Chekov and Uhura caught each other's eye and began to snicker as Sulu and McCoy traded complaints.

"What's so damn funny , Ensign?"

"Why, nothing, Dr. McCoy," Chekov said. "I was just thinking how very glad I was to see you too."

For once, the bridge of the Queen Mary rang with the sound of human laughter. (295-296).

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First Line: According to the records as they existed at that time, of the original twelve Constitution-class starships that had embarked on Starfleet's visionary program of five-year missions, five had already been lost in the service of the United Federation of Planets: the USS Constellation as the last causality of an ancient war, the Intrepid in the Gamma 7A system, the Excalibur in war-game maneuvers, the Defiant in the Tholian Annex, and the Enterprise during the incident at Talin IV.

Title: Star Trek: Prime Directive

Author(s): Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Publication Details: NY; Pocket Books, 1990.

First Published: 1990.

Pages: 406

Other Books read by the same author(s): None

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New and old copies of the book can be purchased on the Net. I bought it at Delhi Book Fair in 2002.

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Submitted for various challenges.

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Entry for Friday's Forgotten Books @ Pattinase.

13 comments:

  1. I will say you do read a hugely diverse range of books, I was not expecting to see this one....

    May the force be with you (I know not quite right but the only star trek quote I could think of was . . . . The engines will na take it captain . . . )

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    1. Hi Rob. Nice of you to have a look. Oh! I am very-very fond of Star Trek though this was the first time I read an ST novel.

      Despite the protestation, the engines always did seem to take it. After all, Scotty was a miracle worker.

      Incidentally,my eyes almost popped out when I saw William Shatner in your google+ circle. Great going.

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  2. I've read lots of the First series books but not this one. I have it around the house though.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Charles. I found the book just about okay. Looking forward to your views on it.

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  3. I've read lots of the First series books but not this one. I have it around the house though.

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  4. Neer, interesting selection. I haven't read any Star Trek novels, so I might check this out.

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    1. Thanks Prashant. I too hadn't read any ST novel before this one. This was just about okay so perhaps you should start with another one.

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  5. Neeru - What an interesting choice! I've not read any Star Trek novels, though I've seen it on television. I suppose I ought to broaden my horizons...

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    1. Thank You so much Margot. Having recently rediscovered my ardour for Star Trek, I thought it'd be nice to begin with the novels. However, this was no patch on the series.

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  6. Neer, I used to read Star Trek novels to my son when he was young (Original Series, Next Generation, I don't remember). I enjoyed them too, as I read to him. They had lots of different authors though, so I suppose the books are very variable.

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    1. Hello Tracy. That's wonderful: reading the novels yo your son. Did he enjoy them? I have a few more on my shelves, let's see how they turn out.

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    2. Oh, yes, he liked them a lot. We have always been Star Trek fans. He was a late reader so I read to him for a long time. He was an eager reader (and still is an adult) once he got good at it. I will be interested to see how you like the other Star Trek novels as you read them.

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