Pocket Books, out now
Trouble never comes singly for Captain Christopher Pike – there’s an epidemic aboard the Enterprise, and a mercy mission brings him in conflict with the Klingons…
This book came out at the back end of 2015, long before any details were announced about the premise for Star Trek Discovery, but there are some interesting coincidences. The new show will follow a member of the command crew, rather than the Captain, as they come to terms with who they are so they can cope with the outside universe; this story, at its heart, is about a member of the command crew (Spock), who comes to terms with who he is – specifically his dual heritage – and decides to cope with the outside universe, rather than taking an opportunity to stay with his own people. Cox, of course, is restrained to use the technology and terminology established in The Cage – something I doubt for a nanosecond will even be a consideration for the new series writers! – and he makes a strength of the differences between the 200-strong Enterprise Chris Pike commanded with the ship we’re more used to in the five year mission, and the very different personnel aboard her. (That’s not to say that there aren’t shoutouts to the Enterprise series and its additions to the mythos along the way.)
A large part of the story is about people choosing their place in society, and what it is that defines you – to an extent, the nature vs nurture debate on a very personal scale. Pike sees the way in which Spock deals with this (or, at the start of the story, perhaps doesn’t deal with it so well), and the Vulcan’s interaction with another character who is similarly caught between two worlds is the heart of the book. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s not some great character moments for the other crew, notably Dr Boyce, and Yeoman Colt, while Number One has her own plotline to deal with for much of the time, and comes across well.
Verdict: An interesting trip to a period we’re going to come to know very well soon. 8/10