Pocket Books, out now
Lieutenant Arex’s first mission on the Enterprise is suitably eventful…
Jim Swallow’s latest original series novel goes back to the very start of the period charted by the animated series, with Lieutenant M’Ress already aboard, and Lieutenant Arex replacing Pavel Chekov – the book starts with Chekov’s farewell to the ship and Arex’s arrival. As the Triexian quickly learns, there’s no such thing as a quiet or ordinary day on the flagship of the line.
He’s not the only new arrival on the Enterprise. The Federation Diplomatic Corps – never great fans of Jim Kirk’s actions – have a presence aboard, as there’s a new civilisation to hopefully enfold within the Federation, one that Kirk and co. had first contact with two years earlier (not the year on the back cover!). The Syhaari are very well developed by Swallow, who eschews the broad strokes sometimes given to new races in early appearances by showing the many differences within their society, and creates a strong antagonist for Kirk and his crew to deal with. And that’s before the Syhaari come under attack…
To say more would be to spoil some of the many surprises that Swallow presents during the story, which marries harder science than found in many Trek novels with some very well observed character moments for all the command crew. Because of the nature of the problem they face, Spock and Uhura have to work closely together, and it’s in these scenes that we see most clearly the difference between the Prime universe crew and their Kelvinverse counterparts. As with the best of these novels, you can hear the actors saying the lines in your head – even James Doohan’s squeaky Arex! And amidst the drama and the action sequences, there are some beautiful pieces of lyrical writing and use of imagery from Swallow to accompany the apt quotation from Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Verdict: A highly enjoyable serious Trek tale. 9/10