07 May 2012

Books: Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History by Christopher L. Bennett (2012)

The agents of the Department of Temporal Investigations are assigned to look into an anomaly that has appeared deep in Federation territory. It’s difficult to get clear readings, but a mysterious inactive vessel lies at the heart of the anomaly, one outfitted with some sort of temporal drive disrupting space-time and subspace. To the agents’ shock, the ship bears a striking resemblance to a Constitution-class starship, and its warp signature matches that of the original Federation starship Enterprise NCC-1701—the ship of James T. Kirk, that infamous bogeyman of temporal investigators, whose record of violations is held up by DTI agents as a cautionary tale for Starfleet recklessness toward history. But the vessel’s hull markings identify it as Timeship Two, belonging to none other than the DTI itself. At first, Agents Lucsly and Dulmur assume the ship is from some other timeline . . . but its quantum signature confirms that it came from their own past, despite the fact that the DTI never possessed such a timeship. While the anomaly is closely monitored, Lucsly and Dulmur must search for answers in the history of Kirk’s Enterprise and its many encounters with time travel—a series of events with direct ties to the origins of the DTI itself. . . .

Apparently, this sequel/prequel to last year’s Watching the Clock was to be part of the original Star Trek book line, but due to the success of the first book that carried the moniker of the Department of Temporal Investigations, this book becomes the second volume in the line –whether it continues, I’m unsure.

This one is a detailed history of how DTI came into existence, with the author explaining and writing out the Enterprises varying encounters with time travel in both the original series, and the animated one (which became the defacto last two seasons of series original five year mission). It also expands on plot threads left unanswered in TOS episode Miri. Then it jumps to about 18 months after V’ger incident presented in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Like the first book, there is a lot of convoluted technobabble concerning time travel. Little of science is explained, and what is explained makes me wonder if only students of mathematics and quantum mechanics can truly understand it.  

For many hardcore Star Trek fans, the novels in various incarnations have a tendency to go from good to bad, with little in between that makes them okay. For me, as much as I like authors trying to expand Star Trek by creating new stories, on occasion, it is nice to see someone pick-up interesting plot threads from episodes that were left unanswered and create a whole new story. Also, I like that there are veiled references to Sulu entering the command structure and even a slight comment about the 2009 rebooted Star Trek movie, which I enjoyed.

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