“Eighteen years ago, the Starship Enterprise thwarted an alien invasion from another universe, and Captain Robert April took possession of the interdimensional transfer device that made it possible. Since then, each captain of the Enterprise, from Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk, has guarded this secret with his life. Now, Romulan agents have succeeded in stealing the device and using it to banish Ambassador Sarek and Councillor Gorkon to an unknown realm in the midst of their groundbreaking Federation-Klingon peace negotiations. With time running out as interstellar war looms in one universe—and alien forces marshal in another—will Captain Kirk and his crew preserve the tenuous peace and reclaim the key between the dimensions?”
While Purgatory’s Key, the third book in this Legacies series, has some great science fiction elements to them -indomitable and slug like foe the Jatohr- the book is somewhat of mess and highlights why (at least to me) modern Star Trek is caught in a rut.
Part of the problem lies in the story itself, which would’ve made a great one-off book (even if the ending was already known) but was ballooned out to three novels. Again there is some complex ideas here, but like every other modern Trek TV series, is bogged down in techno-babble and unflappable notion that luck does indeed protect fools, small children and ships named Enterprise.
What is detracting here is that both Klingons and Romulans are more or less the same thing. And while book two focused on Romulans and their ship and the drama that unfolded there –leading to a mutiny of sorts, the same exact thing happens here, but instead it’s the Klingons. Despite honor, despite that both the Romulans and Klingons value honor and hate the Starfleet and the Federation, both (conveniently and coincidently) have soldiers who go against the grain. This speaks –maybe- of modern Klingons, but in a series of novels set during season two of the original series run, these Klingons are reflecting modernistic Star Trek notions. It’s the retcon aspect that has pissed off hardcore Trek fans concerning not only TNG and later series, but JJ Abrams reboot.
My conclusion has come that Star Trek books have a place today still, fifty years later. But until a writer –perhaps even David Gerrold himself- can write a book that actually takes some risk, then I’ll need to stop reading them for a while. I need to focus on stuff that stirs my brain and not rote books that puts beloved characters in danger only for the reader to know that all will be wrapped up in a neat bow by the end.
Finally, I made note in my last post concerning this series, that featuring Joanna McCoy –Bones daughter- was (again) too convenient. As it happens, back in 1987, Pocket Books released Crisis on Centaurus by Brad Ferguson that was set sometime during the fourth year of Enterprise's five year mission (though, as the Star Trek Wiki points out, “the stardate in the book implies these events took place after Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But that’s nitpicking). The point is, a previous novel, nearly 20 years old and set some two years after this series, had established that Joanna McCoy living on Centaurus. My bad.