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Star Trek: Enterprise: Surak’s Soul by JM Dillard

01/05/2003. Contributed by Donna Jones

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Pub: Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster. 218 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 6.99 (US), $10.50 (CAN). ISBN: 0-7434-6280-7.

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Captain Archer responds to a distress call from an unknown planet. It seems on first impressions as being a veritable utopia of bright blue and green seas and peace-loving aliens.

However, Archer and his crew are too late to experience their lifestyle because they are dying. The landing party go down expecting to find eleven survivors but the number dwindles to just one. In the grips of this, finding the last survivor, a decision is made by Sub-Commander T'Pol that she dearly regrets and a whole race disappears from existence.

Surak's SoulTo add to the problems facing the Sub-Commander, the Enterprise is suddenly thrown into the grip of an undefinable assailant. First put down to radiation sickness then an undetectable microbe, so small detectors cannot pinpoint it, however, the mystery remains.

Intertwined amongst this, T'Pol has to realise who she is. What is threatening the crew of the Starship Enterprise threatens the very moral fibre of her Sub-Commander.

This book is as entertaining as an episode of ‘Enterprise’. It even has the predictable-ever-emerging-storyline that dominates ‘Star Trek’ over and over again. I'd like to not give away the story but in this case anyone who doesn't see it coming needs glasses!

Entity gets on board Enterprise. Entity decides to target crew. Entity gets nasty. Entity is exited from the vessel via cargo bay doors that hit entity in arse! I think that these episodes and storylines should just merely be called 'The Entity'! Unfortunately, because of the glaringly obvious plot, you wonder why you are reading the book.

Then again, let's just take a look at the formulaic writing that dominates ‘Star Trek’. The Enterprise are nine times out of ten answering a distress call. There are invariably aliens to be introduced to, who are either naughty or nice. Then comes the slaying of an innocent ensign.

The Captain, whoever that is at the bridge, takes responsibility for finding out why their crewman or woman died. Once the mystery is solved all is restored to peace and tranquillity aboard the most predictable Starship in the fleet...until the next time that confounded communications officer utters the words, 'We're receiving a distress signal Captain.'

Now you are sitting there thinking she didn't like it. You'd be right, sort of! The story may be predictable, but I have been brainwashed by the Roddenberry Brainwashing Machine that is ‘Star Trek’. The reason I believe that ‘Star Trek’ works is that we don't care whether the alien is some Styrofoam block or massive jelly blob thing as long as we relate to the main characters and feel what they feel.

I actually related to the frequent usage of the character of Porthos, Archer's very well trained beagle. You don't get to see him in the series much and well, we all want to know...what happens when he relieves himself on the ship? Does it (well ahem) dribble through?

With those walkways even using a poopah scooper would be a tad problematic! However, no such illumination to those and other doggy dilemmas await you in this book. I can live in hope!

So this is a mediocre fare. Best measures to take in this scenario is as follows. Proffer your library card at your local librarian and have a read. This is a take it or leave it book. The decision is yours!

Donna Jones

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